SDSU campus

SDSU Leadership


Undergraduate Program Graduate Program Concentration Focus Online Hybrid

Leadership Starts with the SDSU Leadership Minor

The SDSU Leadership Minor is a multi-disciplinary program and a collaboration between the ARPE Department and Student Life & Leadership -- offering students both an in-depth look at leadership theory and opportunities to enact it in practice.

Leadership Minor Graphic


The Interdisciplinary SDSU Leadership Minor seeks to develop self aware, culturally competent, transformational leaders. Established in 2008, the minor complements any major and is open to all undergraduate students. The Leadership Minor consists of required coursework, hands-on learning (internships, service learning, and leadership roles), plus elective coursework determined by the student, and a capstone class that integrates the art and science of leadership. 

We surveyed hundreds of employers and have designed the minor based on what they want from current graduates. Competencies resulting from the Leadership Minor include:

  • Understanding and Applying Current Leadership Theories
  • Engaging in Project Planning and Management
  • Creating a Shared Vision
  • Enacting Compassionate Leadership
  • Implementing Equity-mindedness, Diversity, and Inclusion 
  • Developing Effective Presentation Skills 
  • Working Collaboratively in Diverse Teams
  • Writing Effectively

Program Philosophy & Course Requirements

Light Icon

Students engage the SCIENCE of leadership through sound theoretical exploration by critically examining the underpinnings of current leadership research. The Leadership Minor fosters self-awareness and emotional intelligence and a corresponding awareness of others that transforms people, programs, and organizations. 

Serve Icon

According to our study of the Leadership Minor (2020), leadership, communication, and working in diverse teams are among the top skills employers seek on a candidate’s resume. The ART of leadership is explored through service learning that develops these critical skills:

  • Internships: Students engage in a 1-unit micro-internship experience in an area of work of their choice.
  • Service: Students connect with organizations to serve in the local San Diego community.
  • Leadership Opportunities: Students choose from the many opportunities to serve at San Diego State University in an on-campus leadership position.
Explore Icon

SDSU Leadership Minor students benefit from cross-discipline collaboration with peers and faculty from the College of Education, the School of Communication, the Fowler College of Business, and other academic departments. These schools and colleges afford students the opportunity to choose upper-division electives that prepare them to effectively lead in the workplace and in their communities.

Integrate Icon

A cornerstone of the Leadership Minor is connecting theory to practice. The Capstone course, led by award-winning faculty, integrates the art and science of leadership through the completion of an applied project. The focus of the Capstone is the interplay of current research on leadership, vision development, and project management.


The minor in Leadership consists of 15 units

Learn more about required courses.

Declaration of Minor

It is easy to declare the SDSU Leadership MInor. You can access the form here. Please complete the top portion and send it to Dr. Lisa Gates, the Director and Advisor for the Leadership Minor at [email protected]. She will send it on to Enrollment Services on your behalf. The SIMS Minor Code for the Leadership Minor is 331907.

Have further questions about the SDSU Leadership Minor? Feel free to reach out to Dr. Gates with any questions.  

Alumni Takeaways

In a recently conducted study on the benefits of the Leadership Minor, SDSU Leadership Minor alumni described the value and benefits the minor produced within their profession:

“I learned A LOT from the SDSU Leadership Minor such as: Conflict Management Styles; Time Management; Strengths Based Leadership; Servant Leadership; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI); presentation skills; interpersonal skills; intrapersonal skills, and much more!”

“I think anyone who has the ability to collaborate well with others, acknowledge diversity, have strong conflict management and communication skills is important and can be beneficial in any position.”

“It took all three years of learning, reflecting, and executing with the guidance of the leadership minor and the support of the leadership minor professors for me to envision myself as a leader and advocate in and beyond my nursing profession.”

“The minor also opened my eyes to my previously unrecognized privilege. Privilege is not something a cis white female is taught to think about, but my time at SDSU and within the minor helped that to come into focus for me and the minor allowed me to truly open my mind to racial theories as well as what diversity, inclusion, and equal access truly mean in the workplace.”

“In my current profession, I currently apply project management skills. I am currently attending a year-long training to expand my knowledge in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, and the organization is Strengths Based so we refer to our themes a lot.”

Faculty and Staff

Lisa Gates
Dr. Lisa Gates, Ph.D.

Director and Advisor for the SDSU Leadership Minor

Randall Timm
Dr. Randall Timm, Ed.D.

Dean of Students, Student Life & Leadership

Charles Degeneffe
Dr. Kara Bauer, Ed.D.

Director, Residential Education

Erica Aros
Erica Aros, M.Ed.

Associate Director, Student Ability Success Center

Charles Degeneffe
Dr. Charles Degeneffe, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair, Department of Administration, Rehabilitation, and Postsecondary Education

 Shareka White
Shareka White, M.A.

Associate Director, Educational Opportunity Programs & Ethnic Affairs

Leadership Minor FAQs

Students interested in pursuing the Leadership Minor should enroll in the first required course entitled ARP 205: Exploring Leadership. Next, obtain and complete a Declaration of Minor form available at the Registrar’s Office Student Services West, Room 1641 and deliver it to the Leadership Minor Advisor, Dr. Lisa Gates. You may drop off the form in the ARPE Office Suite in Lamden Hall, Room 246 (LH-246). From there, your form will be signed and submitted on your behalf to the Registrar’s Office for processing. Once your form has been processed, it will show up in Web Portal.
The Leadership Minor is open to students from all academic majors. Every discipline and industry needs strong, global leaders. Our classes are filled with majors from across the university. The Leadership Minor prepares you for success in any field of study.
Everyone leads, they  may not be aware of it just yet. As such, no formal leadership experience is necessary to declare the minor. The Leadership Minor is designed to include high impact experiences that offer you real leadership opportunities. You’ll have opportunities to lead on campus, through service learning opportunities, and through the experience of an internship of your choice.

The university will not allow “double dipping,” that is, having a course satisfy both a major and minor requirement. However, your upper division electives for the minor CAN count toward your upper division GE electives—this will save you time. Also, if you have taken a course/or wish to take one that is NOT on the approved list, and you believe that it could count toward your electives, please email the information below to Dr. Lisa Gates at [email protected], or deliver it to the ARPE Office Suite in LH-246.

Please include:

  • Your contact information (name, Red ID, email, phone number)
  • A typewritten, well-reasoned rationale for why you believe the course should be approved as an elective (include the title of the course, the course number and the course description)
  • A brief (1-2 paragraphs) description of how it relates to the Leadership Minor theories, concepts, pathways, etc., the coursework required, and how many units it comprises.

It depends on your major course requirements. The Leadership Minor requires the completion of just 15 units. Typically, the minor can be completed in four semesters.