10 executive leadership programs that should be on every business leader’s radar

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Many executive leaders spend much of their days in meetings with other people—and yet, their lives can also be very isolating.

“The whole saying, ‘It’s lonely at the top,’ is really true,” says Mike Malefakis, Wharton’s former executive education CEO and associate vice dean. Even though he recognizes this reality, Malefakis also champions the value of continuing education for execs. 

These programs provide an opportunity for connecting, learning, and growing with others holding C-suite positions. The programs freshen up your leadership approaches, and some even offer a sabbatical from typical work life.

If you are especially looking for training that is not as extensive as an executive MBA, many of the nation’s top business schools offer courses and programs tailored for executives that align with leaders’ demanding schedules. Below are 10 executive leadership management programs (some all-online, hybrid, or all in-person) tailored for the C-suite covering topics including risk management, competition, and brand reputation.

10 executive leadership programs that should be on every business leader’s radar

School Program Format Cost
The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania Advanced Management Program In-person or hybrid $72,000
Stanford University Graduate School of Business Black Leaders Program In-person $15,000
The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University Women’s Senior Leadership Program In-person + virtual reunion $25,150
Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College Advanced Management Program In-person $29,000
University of Virginia Darden School of Business The Executive Program: Strategic Leadership at the Top In-person + virtual intersession $53,350
Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program: Prepare for the Highest Level of Leadership In-person + virtual $92,000
Yale School of Management Global Executive Leadership Program (GELP) In-person + virtual check-ins $80,000
Columbia Business School Finance and Accounting for the Nonfinancial Executive In-person $11,950
Pepperdine Graziadio Business School Executive Leadership Essentials In-person $2,999
MIT Sloan School of Management Cybersecurity Governance for the Board of Directors In-person or online $4,700
10 executive leadership programs that should be on every business leader’s radar
The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
Advanced Management Program
In-person or hybrid
$72,000
Stanford University Graduate School of Business
Black Leaders Program
In-person
$15,000
The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University
Women’s Senior Leadership Program
In-person + virtual reunion
$25,150
Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College
Advanced Management Program
In-person
$29,000
University of Virginia Darden School of Business
The Executive Program: Strategic Leadership at the Top
In-person + virtual intersession
$53,350
Harvard Business School
Advanced Management Program: Prepare for the Highest Level of Leadership
In-person + virtual
$92,000
Yale School of Management
Global Executive Leadership Program (GELP)
In-person + virtual check-ins
$80,000
Columbia Business School
Finance and Accounting for the Nonfinancial Executive
In-person
$11,950
Pepperdine Graziadio Business School
Executive Leadership Essentials
In-person
$2,999
MIT Sloan School of Management
Cybersecurity Governance for the Board of Directors
In-person or online
$4,700

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

C-suite life means long workdays, yet little time to reflect and learn from others. “That’s why the five weeks is critical to almost take a sabbatical from what you’re doing on a regular daily basis and invest in yourself,” Malefakis says. During the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania‘s five-week, on-campus Advanced Management Program, you’ll attend breakout sessions, simulations, and experiential learning (think: team rowing exercises to practice communication and coordination) with fellow execs. You’ll leave with a methodology to pause, reflect, learn, then act in future business situations. Wharton also offers a hybrid version of the program in which executives make two bookend trips to Philadelphia and complete online courses. Both the on-campus and hybrid options cost $72,500.

Stanford University Graduate School of Business

The Black Leaders Program at Stanford Graduate School of Business is tailored for Black business leaders or those executives looking to advance Black leadership. The weeklong program focuses on race and leadership, power, negotiations, relationships, communication, and networking. The in-person program also provides a space to discuss barriers to leadership and Black identity in the workplace. Following the sessions, you’ll work on a capstone project focused on career advancement, with peer coaching and feedback along the way. Program director Brian S. Lowery’s research focuses on perceptions of inequity and how to reduce it. The Black Leaders Program costs $15,000 to attend, and you’ll receive a certificate of completion at the conclusion. 

The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University

Kellogg’s yearlong Women’s Senior Leadership Program for top women leaders includes four sessions (three in-person, one live virtual reunion) focused on decision making, negotiation skills, ethical challenges, and external management. The jewel in the crown of this program at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University is a 360-degree assessment that provides feedback about your leadership style free of bias from your own organization. The assessment is made specifically to assess women’s leadership traits, taking into account your individual challenges. Leadership consultants provide check-ins throughout the year to help set your development goals and follow progress. Graduates of the program are CEOs, CFOs, CMOs, and presidents of organizations. Participants pay $25,150 to attend, which includes lodging and meals. 

Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College

Dartmouth’s two-week, on-campus Advanced Management Program moves beyond the basics, offering a deep dive into strategy, competition, globalization, and brand management for senior executives. The program at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business is designed for executives with at least 12 years of work experience, and includes a hearty mix of lectures, discussions, excursions, and workshops. You’ll also work on a management action plan project to take back to your organization. Projects could be focused on addressing business challenges or new growth opportunities. “At the end of the day, it’s really all about impact,” says Phil Barta, executive director of Tuck Executive Education at Dartmouth. “That’s what these organizations are looking to see from their leaders when they send them.” Tuck’s Advanced Management Program costs $29,000.

University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The Executive Program: Strategic Leadership at the Top, hosted by the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, includes in-person modules and online sessions on topics ranging from strategy to personal wellness, entrepreneurship, and risk management. While all participants of this six-month program are senior leaders, they come from backgrounds spanning financial services, government, education, health care—and even aerospace. “You open your mind to different ways of doing things and how people live and think,” says Elton “Neil” Wright Jr., a program quality executive with Boeing who participated in the program, adding that TEP gave him a better sense of the world economy. You’ll meet in person over two, two-week sessions in Charlottesville, VA or Washington DC. The Executive Program costs $53,350 to attend, and graduates can receive a discount on further executive education courses at Darden.

Harvard Business School

Harvard Business School offers a multi-week training that seeks to transform executives through a “life-altering program.” The Advanced Management Program: Prepare for the Highest Level of Leadership begins and ends with around three-week stints on-campus at HBS, with a virtual, live online and self-paced module in the middle. Overall, it is designed to empower executive to create change and renew competitive advantage within their own organizations. Past participants have include executives from companies like Marriott, Coca-Cola, and Maersk. The program fee of $92,000 covers tuition, books, case materials, accommodations, and most meals.

Yale School of Management

Yale School of Management‘s 8-month Global Executive Leadership Program (GELP) is taught in three, multi-day modules, allowing participants to apply course material at their respective organizations during intermissions. GELPwhich is designed for executives with at least 20 years of work experience—focuses on three pillars: leadership in business and society, global perspectives, and executive toolkit. Students attend classes focused on personal insights, marketing, negotiations, and entrepreneurship. You’ll also be invited to Yale’s CEO Summit, which brings together global executive leaders. Upon completion of the program, you’ll be a Yale alum. “They are ready for big thoughts, big changes, and exciting new initiatives,” Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, faculty director of the program, says of attendees. The cost of the program is $60,000, which includes lodging and most meals.

Columbia Business School

You have a strategic mindset, natural leadership ability, and finance fundamentals under your belt, but numbers may not be your forte or your career focus. A solution? Columbia Business School‘s five-day Finance and Accounting for the Nonfinancial Executive course, which caters to creative or technical leaders and covers managerial and financial accounting, ratio calculation, forecasting and valuation, and shareholder value management. This course, which can be completed online or in-person, can also serve as a good refresher for those people who previously held finance or accounting jobs but have since changed roles. Typically, about one-third of the participant mix holds general management roles. The in-person option is $11,950.

Pepperdine Graziadio Business School

During Pepperdine University (Graziadio)‘s three-day, six-session Executive Leadership Essentials certificate program, participants will learn both virtual and in-person methods to engage stakeholders, recruit, and solve problems strategically through the lens of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity). Participants are invited to complete a 360-degree leadership assessment, which allows them to reflect on personal leadership qualities. Attendees leave the program with a personalized leadership development plan crafted specifically to your organization during the final session. The in-person program is advertised to cost $3,599 but is on discount for $2,999.

MIT Sloan School of Management

MIT’s Sloan School of Management is inviting board members, the c-suite, and other senior executives to learn more about cybersecurity—one of the top worries of business leaders—in its course, Cybersecurity Governance for the Board of Directors. The two to three day online or in-person training seeks to teach individuals the best practices of cyber frameworks and regulation, including data protection and privacy concerns. The course also touches on cyber vulnerabilities like human engineering and supply chain. The price of the program is $4,700.


Frequently asked questions

What is an executive leadership program?

Executive leadership programs are advanced training programs for those working to run some of the world’s top businesses. The specialized trainings are designed to challenge executives to think outside of the box and freshen leadership approaches. 

Are executive leadership programs worth it?

Executive leadership programs can be a great way to not only refresh skills in the business world, but it is also an opportunity to hear fresh perspectives from leaders in academia as well as peer executives. While they can seem costly, the program prices often include lodging, meals, and other amenities.

Which executive education is best?

Most top business schools offer executive leadership training. While there is no one best program, prospective learners should pick the program that best aligns with professional growth opportunities.


Mike Malefakis has since left his role at Wharton.

See how the schools you’re considering landed in Fortune’s rankings of the best master’s in public health programs, business analytics programs, data science programs, and part-time, executive, full-time, and online MBA programs.

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