Join Us.

If you have landed on this page, then you are likely an intrepid trailblazer, wanting to make the most of your education. You probably have found that you learn best by doing and believe that school should be more than memorization and test-taking. You want your work to have meaning, and you are ready to pioneer a life of impact.

Watson protects your courage while giving you the tools, network, and mindset to craft the life and career you want. You can choose between our 3 year Bachelor of Science Degree or our 4 month semester incubator. We encourage you to explore this page, reach out to us to learn more, and attend our prospective students Watson Basecamp weekend this coming November (and we might even fly you out for it!)

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Want to hear what it means to go through this program directly from a current Watson scholar? Well you’re in luck. Let us know what questions you have and a scholar will get in touch!

Scholar Selection Criteria

We are looking for early stage social entrepreneurs, innovators, and changemakers with a bias towards action. We do not select based on GPA, SAT scores, nationality, or ability to pay. We look at the whole person, and evaluate each application using three main criteria:

The Person

  • Gritty Idealism: Watson scholars are idealistic in the sense that they believe they can make the world a better place, but gritty in that they aren’t afraid to start and bootstrap a solution in a resource-limited environment.
  • Entrepreneurial Courage: Ideal candidates protect their courage by demonstrating that they are not afraid to step out of their comfort zone with a bias towards action. They are simultaneously driven to protect the courage of those in their community through support and peer-to-peer mentorship.

The Idea

  • Addressing the Root Cause: We evaluate the extent to which their entrepreneurial idea addresses the root cause of the problem they are choosing to solve – and how well they have articulated both the problem and the solution. True social change is never achieved by creating “band-aid” solutions.
  • Viability of Idea: We look at how likely it is that the applicant’s venture will succeed. Does the applicant have a solid idea and model to develop, advance, and eventually scale?

The Stage

  • Life Stage: Students can apply to Watson for their full Bachelor’s degree (3 years) or the semester incubator before (gap year), during (semester away), or after their undergraduate studies (pre-career semester).
  • Project Stage, Early Prototyping: The students we select are early stage in the development of their ventures, but in most cases, strong applicants have already implemented at least a prototype of their idea.

Admissions Process

Our admissions process is designed to be fun, draw out creativity, and focus only on the criteria that matter.

Round 1: This takes the form of a written application submitted online. We want to know about you and your idea for social change. What motivates you? Who has most influenced you?

Round 2: If you are selected for round 2, you will be tested on your ability to communicate and think critically. We send you out to survey community members and create a short video introducing yourself to the Watson Team.

Round 3: If you are selected for round 3, we will interview you via video call to assess motivation, communication skills, and depth of thought.

We then send admissions decisions to all selected candidates, and the candidates have a period of time to ask questions, talk to our current students, and deliberate before confirming their spot at Watson.

Are you Ready?

We’re calling all leaders, social entrepreneurs, innovators, dreamers and thought-leaders to pioneer their education. Applications are now open!


Watson is hosting a prospective students weekend, called Watson Basecamp this November, inviting all young, impact-driven social innovators – high school, community college, gap-year, or university students – who are interested in the Watson method. For an entire weekend, participants will be immersed in the world of social innovation education while getting to know our current entrepreneurship scholars from 13 countries and visiting our campus.

Top applicants will be selected to be “Basecamp Fellows” – meaning that they will be flown in from anywhere in the US for this two-day experience. Other attendees will arrange their own transportation. We have limited space, so students may be waitlisted if spots fill up.

Registration has officially closed for the November Watson Basecamp. Stay tuned for more information on future events!

Dates: November 10-12, 2017

Location: Chautauqua Park, Boulder, CO

Requirements to Register: Young individuals with an interest in social entrepreneurship and a passion for social change. Must be at least 16 years old to register.

Basecamp Fellows: Basecamp Fellows are the top selected prospective students who complete the form to attend Basecamp. We will fly several students to Boulder from any US airport for this weekend of learning and being immersed in the Watson experience. All Basecamp Fellow applicants must apply by October 10 to be considered.

What it covers: The Watson Basecamp weekend has no cost. Attendees will come to Boulder for a two day Basecamp and will stay with current students on Watson’s campus to learn the fundamentals of social entrepreneurship and be introduced to the Watson model and method. Food and lodging will be covered for all attendees.

Why basecamp? We want to jump-start the journey of next generation social entrepreneurs through a two-day basecamp for prospective Watson students.

Registration has closed for the November Watson Basecamp. Check back in the spring for future dates.