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Semester Accelerator FAQ

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What are the eligibility criteria for admission?

The Watson Accelerator is a program for college students, recent graduates, and gap-year students, typically between the ages 18-28, with a bias towards action through entrepreneurship. The program is ideal for early- stage social entrepreneurs who are looking to design, validate, and launch their ventures through a 4-month intensive and hands-on accelerator program.

Can students from outside the U.S. apply?

Yes, we welcome applicants from all geographies for both in-person and virtual program formats. Our alumni represent 69 countries so far!

How selective is this program?

Our program is selective. Each cycle we receive hundreds of applications for approximately 25 spots.

What are the application deadlines?

We offer two programs a year, one in the fall and one in the spring.

Fall Accelerator (Aug-Dec) : Application Deadline is June 15th
Spring Accelerator (Jan-May): Application Deadline is November 15th

What is the application process?

You can begin by submitting a free application at The application should take about one hour to complete. We will review your application within two weeks and if you meet our basic criteria, you will be invited to a one-on-one interview with someone from the Admissions Team.

Here is a 20-minute video with tips on how to submit a strong application.

How soon will I hear back after the interview?

You will receive an admission decision within one week after your interview.

How much does this program cost?

Boulder Semester Accelerator Costs
In-Person Tuition: $15,000
Virtual Tuition: $6,000

If attending in-person, we recommend you have at between $200-$400 each month for groceries, transportation, clothing (for the Winter months!) and local activities/travel etc

Do you offer scholarships?

Yes! Students often pay tuition with a combination of scholarships, fundraising or sponsorship. 90% of students receive some level of scholarship funding based on need and merit.

What is a Fellowship?

A fellowship is a fully-funded scholarship to attend the Watson Institute. 6-8 students per cohort receive fellowships. These fellowships are highly selective and have varying eligibility requirements. We also offer a limited amount of Work Study positions each term. Qualifying students are invited to apply to fellowships and work-study positions.

Scholarships and fellowships are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. We encourage applicants to apply early.


What is the time commitment for this program?

This is a full-time program. The time commitment for participating in this program is an average of 42 hours per week. Some students have successfully held part-time internships/jobs or attended school part-time. Another full-time responsibility while in this program is not possible.

Will I be receiving college credit for my courses?

At this time, college credit is not available unless you are a student at a partner institution.

Our partnerships with Lynn University and CU Leeds School of Business allows select students at these institutions to earn pre-approved credits for participating in our Accelerator program. For more information please reach out to

What are Master Courses?

Watson Master Course teachers are the world’s foremost leaders, entrepreneurs, and practitioners who serve as short-term entrepreneurs in residence. Each week a Master Course Teacher is invited to campus to teach a short workshop or share their entrepreneurial journey and experience as well as mentor the Watson Scholars.

Previous master course teachers include: Jerry White, a leader of the Nobel Prize winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines; Hunter Lovins, author of Natural Capitalism and Time Magazine’s Hero of the Planet; Erin Schrode, the youngest person to run for US congress; and Tom Chi, former head of product experience at Google X where he developed technology such as Google Glass and Google’s self-driving cars.

What is Funders Week?

Funders Week: Occurs during week 9 of the Semester. Funders week contains approximately 9-15 hours of additional content in addition to normal workshops, specific to funding a social venture (nonprofit and for-profit). Scholars get the chance to present their projects and receive seed funding.

What is the mentorship program?

Mentorship is a pivotal aspect for personal growth, leadership development, and entrepreneurial success. For this reason, the Watson Mentor Program is a pillar of the Watson experience and a crucial element for the development of our students.

At Watson Institute, students are paired with proven entrepreneurs, innovators, and leaders based on how well they align with their mission and expertise. Mentors coach the students through their entrepreneurial journey and guide them to increase their impact by adding perspective, broadening their network, challenging their assumptions, and enhancing their worldview.

Where will I be living during the Semester Accelerator Program?

If attending in-person, Semester Accelerator Scholars live in Columbine Lodge in the historic Chautauqua Park in Boulder. Each room is apartment style with a kitchenette and a bathroom; bowls, utensils, pots, pans, a toaster and a microwave are also provided in each unit. Each Scholar shares a room with at least one other individual.

What is a typical day like at the Watson Institute Semester Accelerator Program?

The typical day at the Semester Accelerator changes based on the class and meetings you have set up. Expect 2.5 days a week to be dedicated to classes and the rest of the time to be dedicated to building out your venture, meeting with mentors, and co-working with your peers.

What is the weather like in Boulder? What should I pack?

It’s beautiful but may be a little colder at times than you’re used to. Bring a light jacket for hikes in the foothills, a sweatshirt for evening hangouts, and comfortable clothes for learning times.

Outcomes and Alumni

What are the career outcomes?

Watson Institute’s 294 Scholars and alumni from 69 countries have raised over $100 million, created over 1,000 part or full-time jobs, and impacted over 5 million people around the world through initiatives they help lead.

Watson alumni include Patrick Mateer who founded Seal the Seasons which has raised over $1.5 million to distribute local, frozen food in 1,000 stores across North Carolina; Abhinav Khanal who created Bean Voyage to enable female coffee farmers to roast, brand, and distribute directly to consumers thus increasing their income 300%; Tessa Zimmerman who founded ASSET Education to equip teachers with the lesson plans and methodologies to support students with severe anxiety. Two Watson alums have been selected to Y Combinator, five named to the Forbes’ 30 under 30 lists, and others are Echoing Green Fellows and continued their education at Harvard University, New York University, and Princeton University, among others.

How does Watson engage alumni?

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