Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership


The Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership (MSL), led by Principal Investigator John Dugan, and implemented by SoundRocket, is our premier higher education study. It’s not just a study, it is an international movement toward more effective, evidence-based student leadership development.

What is It?

The MSL is an international research program used to better understand the ways that higher education fosters socially responsible leadership capacity in young adults.

The study began in 2006 with 60,000 participants. Since its first data collection, the study has continued with six more major iterations (and several other smaller scale implementations for specific schools) for a total of 610,000 student participants in more than 350 institutions to date.

What is the Study Design?

SoundRocket administers the MSL online using empirically proven standards. They also conduct “studies of the study,” which allows the research team to improve on the data collection design each year.

Students are randomly selected from within participating institutions, and are invited by email to participate.  Data collection spans a period of four months (January to April for Spring data collections; September to November for Fall data collections).. During this time, students are encouraged to participate at a time that is most convenient, comfortable, and secure for them.

What is the Benefit?

The MSL seeks to provide educators with the proper tools to make smart investments when developing leadership in students.

Many institutions have used the MSL in order to design new leadership programs and services, justify and increase human and financial resources, provide evidence of student learning for assessments, and educate the campus community on unique learning needs and ways to positively influence student development,