The Ryan Fellowship

The Ryan Fellowship is the country’s foremost principal fellowship that prepares aspiring school leaders through a rigorous three-year program. The first year is a paid fellowship that provides aspiring principals like you with the opportunity to step back and develop a high-impact strategy and plan for creating a high-achieving urban school—in the year prior to your first year as a principal. At the end of it all, Ryan Fellows are stronger, more effective leaders than ever before. Ryan Fellows complete the first year connected to their inner drive to make things happen—unleashing the potential of their students and teachers and allowing for dramatic acceleration of achievement. 

Program Description

The Ryan Fellowship develops the critical skills that are needed to achieve success as an urban school principal. From day one, candidates work with the best of the best to explore proven practices in K-12 leadership and academic strategies. The Fellowship adheres to a practical, hands-on approach to developing the leadership skills of the most accomplished educators in the United States. These future leaders focus on specific, proven strategic skills to develop high-impact plans for achieving academic success—a full year before they become principals. 

  • Year 1: Fellowship Year

    • Accelerate Summer Institute for 4 weeks at the Kellogg School of Management;

    • Field Study placement in a high-achieving, urban school, including playbook development and mentored launch into principalship for Years 2 & 3.

  • Years 2 & 3: Ongoing advisory support with Ryan Fellow advisors

Program Requirements

  • Alignment with Accelerate Institute's mission

  • Strategic Thinking

  • Growth Mindset

  • Professionalism

  • Communication

  • Instructional Expertis

  • Work Ethic

  • Confidence

  • Relationship Building

  • High Level of Emotional Intelligence

Application Requirements

The Ryan Fellowship selection process consists of 9 steps:

  1. Complete the eligibility questionnaire(click apply now above to access). Qualified applicants will receive an email with a link to apply.

  2. Submit your current resume via RIVS.

  3. Please click here to schedule a call with Stephanie Shear, Director of Talent or call 312-216-1713 at your convenience.

  4. You will have 10 days to complete your application from the link provided in the email. Please allow approximately 30-45 minutes to complete the written portion and 15-20 minutes to complete the video portion.

  5. Phone interview

  6. Video interview

  7. Supervisor reference

  8. In-person finalist interview

  9. Additional references and possible school visit

Application FAQs

Closing the achievement gap by creating high-impact school leaders who accelerate student achievement.

The Ryan Fellowship begins in July with the four-week Accelerate Summer Institute at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Fellows then return to their regions and begin a six-month Field Study at an urban charter school in the city where the Ryan Fellow is located. Once Ryan Fellows complete the Field Study, the Fellow is hired as a principal in their region and continues to work closely with their Ryan Fellow advisor during their first two years of principalship. This past year, The Ryan Fellowship recruited Fellows in Chicago, Memphis, and Milwaukee. We expect to continue to place in these regions and are exploring other potential regions around the country for upcoming cohorts.

The Ryan Fellowship has been training principals in Chicago for the past five years. We are proud to partner with many well-known charter networks in Chicago such as Noble Network, Catalyst, and CICS among others.

The Ryan Fellowship’s criteria are based on five main areas: 

  1. Fit with The Ryan Fellowship mission

  2. Instructional expertise (minimum of 3+ years of K-12 full-time classroom teaching experience, as well as experience with instructional coaching for other teachers)

  3. Formal school-based adult management experience (minimum of 1+ years in a supervisory role such as AP or director of instruction)

  4. Experience teaching and leading in a high-need school (70%+ students of color and students receiving free/reduced lunch)

  5. Leadership/management qualities (e.g., confidence, grit, the ability to motivate and inspire, etc.)

The Ryan Fellowship covers tuition and materials as well as room and board for Accelerate Summer Institute at the Kellogg School of Management. In most cases, The Ryan Fellowship will match a candidate's current salary during Accelerate Summer Institute and the Field Study, plus benefits. 


Ryan Fellows are chosen based on their past achievements in urban education and their potential and commitment to becoming leaders who can close the achievement gap. Candidates must have uncommon vision, relentless focus and disciplined execution. 

The Ryan Fellowship has a rolling application and selection process.