Emerging Business Leaders Hero

Preparing tomorrow’s leaders – today

The Emerging Business Leaders (EBL) program at Gies College of Business is a summer program designed for high-achieving Black, African-American, Hispanic, Latinx/a/o, and Native American students entering their senior year of high school.

2025 Program Dates Coming Soon.

Program Activities

  • Interactive discussions featuring Gies Business staff, students, and alumni around career possibilities in business and the Gies student experience 
  • Work in groups to solve business problems
  • Learn about college admissions
  • Have fun and make new friends

Application Criteria

The EBL Program is open to underrepresented students entering their senior year of high school. You must have:

  • 3.2/4.0 GPA or higher
  • Demonstrated leadership through extracurricular, volunteer, or work experiences
  • Ability to attend the entire program 


Program Benefits 

All students who successfully complete the Emerging Business Leaders Program will receive a University of Illinois application fee waiver. Students who apply, are admitted, and enroll into Gies Business will qualify for a renewable scholarship up to $5000 to help cover their academic costs.

Admission to the Emerging Business Leaders program does not guarantee admission to Gies Business and/or the University of Illinois.

Gies News and Events

Gies Business launches Derivatives and Trading Academy

Jun 24, 2024, 08:30 by Aaron Bennett
Starting this fall, a cohort of 34 students selected for this academy will begin taking its three core courses. Future students will apply to join the academy during their sophomore year.

Gies College of Business is launching a Derivatives and Trading Academy this fall for students who want to pursue careers in this field of finance. The academy will entail a three-course program, with additional opportunities for students with strong finance and quantitative skills.

“It is very exciting for the Department of Finance and for Gies College of Business to add the Derivatives and Trading Academy to our strong roster of industry-focused academies,” said Louis Chan, chair of the Department of Finance and the Hoeft Professor of Business. “The new academy's focus holds special meaning for Gies given Chicago's stature as the capital of the exchange-traded derivatives industry, as well as the extensive, active engagement of many Chicago-based Gies alumni on the exchanges and trading firms.”

The Academy will be directed by Professor Rich Excell (right), who received his bachelor’s degree in finance with high honors from Gies Business in 1990. After more than 25 years in a variety of companies and positions in the areas of derivatives, trading, and hedge funds, he joined Gies as a faculty member in 2019. He quickly became an inspiring teacher who had a strong impact on his students. This past spring he received Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching awards from both the University of Illinois and the Gies Business Alumni Association. “These awards are humbling,” he said, “and they motivate me to want to do even more for our students.”

Starting this fall, students selected for this academy will begin taking its three core courses – FIN 412: Options and Futures Markets, FIN 416: Applied Derivative Strategies, and FIN 428: Cases in Financial Derivatives, a project-oriented course. The initial Fall 2024 cohort will have 34 students. Future students will apply to join the academy during their sophomore year. Some of the courses will include outside speakers and experts from the derivatives and trading field. Students in the academy will also have opportunities to visit companies, either virtually or in person.

The derivatives and trading profession is looking for people with very strong backgrounds in quantitative analysis. So students in the Finance + Data Science major would be particularly strong candidates for this academy, although other students who have developed strong computation backgrounds on their own would be welcome to apply.

This new academy will have an additional advantage in its proximity to Chicago, which is home to a number of trading markets, including the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Options Exchange. “Chicago is known as basically the epicenter of options trading. It’s where options were invented,” Excell said.

The academy will be one more opportunity for trading companies and fintech firms to get involved with University of Illinois students. When talking with people in the industry about this new academy, Excell was excited by the response he received.

“They not only think it’s a great idea, but they want to be involved in some way and provide students with data, software, resources, or other opportunities,” Excell said. “That gives me confidence that we are on the right track for creating something that will really benefit students.”