Kenan Scholars Program

Each year, the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise selects a small group of incoming undergraduate and MBA students as Kenan Scholars.

This elite group of students are recognized for their superior scholarship and genuine interest in putting academics into action and, as Kenan Scholars, have an unique opportunity to supplement their classroom learning with hands-on leadership and research experiences. This world-class, transformative educational Program inspires students to engage in thought leadership while gaining practical experience and skills that will advance their research competences and leadership skills. The Program aims to enhance our Kenan Scholars’ Carolina experience and better prepare them to succeed in a diverse and interconnected global economy. The Program has two tracks: MBA Kenan Scholars and Undergrad Kenan Scholars.

MBA Kenan Scholars

The Kenan Institute’s MBA Kenan Scholars Program is the only organized research program for Kenan-Flagler students outside the Undergrad Business Program’s honors thesis and Ph.D. Program. The MBA students who have been selected as Kenan Scholars enroll in a Kenan Scholars Research Seminar course during their first year MBA (Mod III and Mod IV, as well as the following year’s Mod I and Mod II). They are eligible to receive 3 hours of course credits to work on various research projects. The MBA Scholars gain hands-on research experience through a year-long apprenticeship. Working directly with world-renowned faculty at the Kenan-Flagler Business School, Kenan Scholars are privileged to learn directly from these thought leaders. They are paired with Kenan Institute and Kenan-Flagler Business School researchers on specific projects and are able to work on critical issues that occur in real-world business situations, impacting economic growth and business success. Guided by their respective faculty researcher and the Program’s Research Director, along with mentorship from the Kenan Scholars Program Director, the Scholars enhance their subject knowledge, research competencies, and analytic capabilities.

In addition, the MBA Kenan Scholars Program enables our Kenan Scholars to immerse themselves in a collaborative environment where their technical expertise, individual leadership, and professional talents are challenged and further developed through action learning and active engagement in numerous activities at the Kenan Institute.

Program Activities

The Kenan Scholars strengthen and practice their critical success skills through active participation in:

  • Bi-weekly Kenan Scholars group strategy sessions
  • Networking opportunities at Kenan Institute’s invitation-only events
  • Monthly guest speaker Lunch & Learn series
  • Weekly check-in, mentoring sessions with the Program Director
  • Public Policy and Private Enterprise Excursions
  • Semester-end Retreats
  • Professional/Leadership development opportunities


The Kenan Scholars also benefit from:

  • Individualized, professional leadership development coaching and advising
  • Sharpening performance presence on multiple stages
  • Kenan Institute’s Onboarding Program workshops featuring UNC and Kenan-Flagler professors/subject experts. Topics include: team problem solving, creative design/thinking, marketing, and communications.


Meet our scholars
See available projects

Interested in becoming a Kenan Scholar?

Contact Lingmei Howell
Director of Kenan Scholars Program
Director of Outreach
Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise • 919.962.2686

Through the program, I received an interdisciplinary understanding of entrepreneurship and innovation, as well as an amazing network of future leaders.

Violette Zhu

These opportunities were the practicum to what I was learning at the business school.

Sriram Shankar

I was given the unparalleled opportunity to work with professors and MBA students, and hone my skills.

Lucille Zhong

The Kenan Institute has played an important role in my time here...and has helped to shape my entire MBA experience.

Susan Sullivan