What is the Leadership Crisis Challenge?

Crisis Challenge prepares you to lead in high-pressure, high-stakes environments. You will be immersed in a simulated business and media crisis where will you test your ability to strategize through extreme turbulence, think on your feet, and demonstrate poise under pressure. You and your team will play the part of senior executives tasked with responding to the crisis as it unfolds: you’ll receive emails, social media updates, phone calls and more throughout Thursday night.

Then, on Friday, you’ll come to Michigan Stadium to present your strategy to your board of directors (made up of esteemed U-M alums), journalists, and the public. Along the way, you receive personalized feedback from business leaders, communication coaches, and faculty experts.

Leadership Crisis Challenge is made possible by the generous support of PNC Bank.

2018 Dates

Graduate Student Crisis Challenge

Thursday, January 11, approx. 5-10 PM
Friday, January 12, approx. 8-5 PM*

Undergraduate Student Crisis Challenge

Thursday, March 22, approx. 5-10 PM
Friday, March 23, approx. 8-5 PM*

* You do not need to be present the entire day. Your team will be assigned a 45-minute window in the morning or early afternoon. The final round typically begins around 3 PM.


Graduate students:

Registration has filled; however, you may join our wait list. We will notify you in the case of cancellations.

Wait list


Fill out our interest form to be notified when 2018 registration opens.



Three finalist teams will receive a scholarship that can be split among team members. The winning team is awarded $3,000 and each runner-up team is awarded $1,000. Winning students in their final semester will receive a reimbursement.


You'll work on a small team of 4-6 students during the challenge. You do not need to have a team formed before signing up. Teams will be decided on the first night of the challenge. You can work with a group of peers you already know or you can choose to create your team the first day of the challenge by networking and using provided information about other students' goals and strengths.


Participant Requirements

University of Michigan student (any academic year and school or college)

Interest in leadership development

Ability to participate both days

There is no cost to participate, and transportation to Michigan Stadium and meals will be provided. You do not need to have a team to sign up. Teams will be formed at the kickoff.

Experience the Challenge

Leadership Skills You’ll Practice


Your team will face competing demands from multiple stakeholders, and decisions that significantly impact the future of the company, community, and environment. Ultimately, you will leverage incomplete information to choose a path.


Your success will depend on whether your difficult decisions are framed effectively, informed by a clear point of view, rooted in rigorous analysis, and based on broad input. You'll need to cut through complexity and make a large percentage of good calls.


You will face a board of directors and the court of public opinion. The stakes will be high and the tolerance for missteps low. You'll have to communicate your strategy in a pressurized environment, while preserving cooperation, composure, and poise.


The situation will change; new information will emerge; new stakeholders will come to the forefront. Your team's ability to adapt will depend on the leadership and resilience of its individual members.