10 Executive Development Programs You Should Consider: Pros & Cons

Typically, Executive Development Programs are offered by educational institutions such as colleges, business schools, or universities. Some professional communities offer an Executive Leadership Development Program as well. The main purpose of executive development programs is to improve leadership skills, build business competence, and develop great leaders. How to pick the best executive development program for you? We defined the executive development program, how to pick the best program for you, and the top 10 executive development programs in this article.

📌 Hint: Do not skip this article, you will find FREE Executive Leadership Training resources throughout the article.

💡 You might be interested in the 21 Leadership Skills Professionals Expect to See in the Workplace article.

What is the Executive Development Program?

Each Executive Development Program differs and targets different types of audiences. Some universities’ executive leadership development programs accept the most academically talented students coming from academia, while others choose diverse profiles coming from different industries and companies. Typically, these programs are offered for business professionals and aim to enhance business skills.

The main purpose of an executive development program is to grow the team leadership skills of the participants, enhancing the cross-cultural leadership experience and improving skills to work in diverse environments.

The following table summarizes the popular Executive Development Programs, fees, lengths, and delivery types.

Ranking Institution Program Name Program Fee Delivery Type
Program Length
1 Wharton School Executive Development Program $29,900 On-campus (Philadelphia, PA) 2 weeks
2 University of Oxford – Saïd Business School Executive Leadership Programme £2,350 Online 8 weeks
3 Harvard Business School Program for Leadership Development $54,000 Hybrid (On-campus, virtual and self-paced) 7 months
4 Kellogg School of Management – Northwestern University Executive Development Program $37,350 On-campus (Evanston, IL) 3 weeks
5 Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Program $82,000 On-campus and Online Options 6 to 12 weeks
6 Sloan School of Management – MIT Leadership in an Exponentially Changing World $2,800 Self-paced, Online 6 weeks
7 Fuqua School of Business – Duke University Duke Leadership Program $12,400 On-campus 5 days
8 INSEAD The Leadership Transition €13,600 On-campus (Fontainebleau, France) 5 to 7 weeks
9 Foster School of Business Executive Development Program $26,640 On-campus (Seattle, Washington) 9 months
10 Graduate School of Business – University of Cape Town Executive Development Programme $4,900 On-campus (Cape Town, South Africa) 2 weeks

We’ve elaborated on each program in detail further in the article.

Things You Should Know About the Executive Leadership Development Programs

While there are no strict requirements, on average, executive development program attendees have five to fifteen years of experience. Typically, professionals working in multinational companies, working in a cross-cultural workplace, and wanting to extend their business skills prefer to attend an executive development program.

💡 Read 15 Types of Leadership article to learn about other leadership styles.

The program fee of an Executive Development Program varies and typically duration of the program, delivery type, and the educational institution offering the program determine the fees. Program fees vary between $2,500 and $89,000. However, several providers offer online and self-paced executive leadership development programs. The self-paced and online programs are much more affordable.

As bad leadership has severe consequences for the organizations, many companies pay the full or majority of the fees for these programs. You can ask your HR leadership or your supervisor in the organization if there are allowances to support your attendance in the executive development training programs.

The duration of the executive development programs varies. Some programs take a few semesters or even years. However, the executive development programs tailored for business professionals are typically for a few weeks.

Enhance Your Leadership Skills – Executive Leadership Training Program

San Francisco Business School offers an online, self-paced comprehensive executive leadership training program. You can consider enrolling in this program to improve your leadership skills.

Executive Development Training Program

5 Tips to Select the Best Executive Development Program for You

There are several factors you should consider when choosing an executive development program for you. We have gone through the top 5 tips in this article. Let’s go through each tip, and ease your executive development program selection.

1- Program Curriculum – Make Sure It Fits Your Career Goals

First, consider your career goals, where do you see yourself in five years, ten years, and twenty years. If you are aiming to lead a multinational company or team, then, a global leadership program is for you. For instance, if you are in the early years of your career and if you are a young leader or manager, an emerging leaders program might be a better fit for your career goals. Review the curriculum, and check the agenda of the courses and deliveries. Make sure the executive development program curriculum will enhance your skills in the right direction.

Review the program content and targets carefully. For instance, if you are planning to develop your particular team leadership skills, look for them in the program curriculum. Some popular areas in today’s leadership are situational leadership, the Blake Mouton model, green leadership, servant leadership, and crisis leadership. You can look for other non-popular areas but important for your career goal as well.

Review the curriculum of the Executive Development Program in the program provider’s pages. You can contact the program provider and ask for further information, brochures, and other materials describing the program.

2- Executive Development Program Delivery Type and Schedule

Many Executive Development Programs require in-person attendance and professionals have to take days off from their jobs to attend the programs. In some cases, participants have to travel to the campus to attend the program. If the program takes several weeks or even months, it will be less likely to attend a full-time working professional.

You can consider a self-paced and online Executive Development Program. For instance, San Francisco Business School offers an Executive Leadership Program.

Executive Leadership Training Program Covers:

  • Generic & Adaptive Leadership – Change is inevitable and leaders must be prepared for the changing dynamics of the business environment. Learn how to adapt your leadership in changing circumstances.
  • Grasping Power – Only powerful leaders sustain in a brutal business environment. You’ll learn how to grasp power.
  • Servant Leadership – Leaders must be adaptive, servant, and transformational in today’s business world. Walk the path to be a servant leader that empowers people and organizations.
  • Emotional Intelligence – Emotional effects are unavoidable wherever there is a human factor. Develop your competence to be an agile, optimistic, and humble leader. Learn how to show people why they matter.
  • Tomorrow’s Leaders – You cannot lead the millennials the same way as you do for boomers. Increase your awareness for future leadership and transformational leadership.
  • Leadership in Hard Times – While being an optimist leader, you have to be ready for unanticipated cases. Improve your contingency planning skills, dealing with conflict of interest, and how to overcome a crisis.

You can check further on the program page.

3- Certificates and Diplomas

We are in a highly competitive age. Thousands of people apply for a vacancy if the conditions are appealing and the company is reputable. One of the best ways of standing out in the crowd is by highlighting certificates and diplomas earned from the programs you attended.

Check what the Executive Development Program you are planning to attend offers upon completion. Some programs have graded assignments, some programs just offer a letter of attendance, and some offer certificates and diplomas. Opt for the programs that offer diplomas and business certificates.

LinkedIn users who’ve added certifications to their profile increased by 44% in the last two years. Having business certificates on your profile or resume can set you apart from other applicants.

San Francisco Business School’s Executive Leadership Program offers a diploma and you can showcase this in your LinkedIn profile upon completing the program. You can see a sample diploma and how you can showcase this on your LinkedIn profile.

Executive Development Program Diploma and Certificate

4- Alumni Testimonials & Reviews

The best way to evaluate an Executive Leadership Development Program is by reaching out to alumni and checking student testimonials and reviews. Some providers are transparent and you can find all reviews and testimonials on their program pages.

When checking reviews, try to find people who have a similar background to you. If they are satisfied with the program, it will double your chances that you will like the program as well.

Watch Laura’s 30 Seconds Experience – Executive Leadership Training Program

Hear from Our Alumni Laura Smith, Head of Design. Laura attended the Executive Leadership Program at SFBS.

YouTube player
Here is Laura Smith’s testimonial:

“I found the content of the course to be extremely informative and applicable to the real challenges of being a leader.

I loved the frameworks and the case studies from real-life companies. Self-paced lectures helped me to follow the program on my own busy schedule on top of a full-time job.

One of the most influential lessons for my leadership development was leadership at hard times. I’m now more mindful of how my colleagues are experiencing me, and less averse to having difficult conversations.

Thanks to San Francisco Business School!”

5- Program Fees

The last step to picking the best Executive Leadership Development Training Program for you is checking the program fees. Executive Development Program fees depend on the length, delivery type, content, and providing organization. Although there are exceptions, the program fees vary between $2,500 and $89,000. Self-paced programs are more affordable while in-person or campus programs cost more.

List a few candidates for Executive Leadership Development Programs you would like to attend, consider your budget, and choose the one that fits your budget. Be careful with the hidden costs of the providers. Some providers may ask for additional registration fees after admission, and some may require a fee for obtaining a diploma or certificate.

For instance, San Francisco Business School’s Executive Leadership Program is $397/year. The program is self-paced and you can watch the lecture as many times as you wish even after completing the program. No additional costs for a diploma or certificate. Attendees receive their diplomas automatically upon completing the program. The subscription is flexible and you can cancel at any time.

Free Executive Development Programs

Some professionals look for a Free Executive Development Program. However, it is very unlikely to find a free comprehensive program. It is very unlikely to access a premium program for free.

However, some providers offer a sneak peek of their comprehensive Executive Development Program. Ask for free materials or demo training from the provider before enrolling in the program. If you can see sample lectures, you will have an idea of how the course is conducted. This will reduce the possibility of your dissatisfaction as you will have an idea of the program.

Free Online Leadership Skills Training Program

One of the requirements to be a good leader is to improve yourself continuously. The best way to do this is, to enhance your competence through training. Take a step ahead and jumpstart your leadership competence. Enroll in our 1-hour Free Leadership Training program.

Free Executive Leadership Development Program

Top 10 Executive Development Training Programs

Now, let’s go through each executive development program we’ve listed above. Note that, although we created a ranking, it is based on the applicability of the curriculum to the executive leadership skills. Depending on your career goals and expectations, you should pick the best program for yourself and it might not be a top-ranking program.

1- Wharton School – Executive Development Program

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is one of the most prestigious business schools around the globe. The Wharton School offers an on-campus Executive Development Program for $29,900. The duration of the program is two weeks. Wharton’s Executive Development Program is designed for successful functional, country, or unit managers preparing to take on broader responsibilities that require leading outside their areas of education and experience.

The Executive Development Program (EDP) is designed to increase the business skills and leadership capabilities of managers who aspire to be among the top leadership in their organizations. EDP takes a multidimensional approach to learning, combining lectures, small/large group discussion, case study, role playing, networking opportunities, executive coaching, and an immersive strategy simulation to provide new insights and give participants opportunities to apply them.

The advantage of the program is enrolling a group of diverse participants coming from all around the world. However, considering the two weeks of the short program, the program fee is higher compared to other executive development program alternatives.

2- University of Oxford – Saïd Business School – Executive Development Programme

Saïd Business School is the business school of the University of Oxford, the UK’s top and one of the world’s most famous educational institutions. Oxford’s leadership development program helps leaders from multiple sectors answer this complex question and empowers them to drive change within their organizations. By examining personal motivation and purpose, and aligning with the goals of the business, you will be equipped to successfully navigate the challenges of leadership and manage high-performance teams.

Oxford’s Executive Development Program is online, the program fee is £2,350 and the program duration is 8 weeks. 

3- Harvard Business School – Program for Leadership Development

No need to brag about Harvard, one of the top universities in the world. The Program for Leadership Development (PLD) prepares emerging executives to become more effective influencers who can contribute to corporate success on a higher level. Harvard’s Executive Development Program is highly personalized and features two on-campus and two virtual, self-paced modules that focus on accelerating your business and your career. You will return to your organization more confident, more capable, and better equipped to take on new challenges.

The program is delivered in a blended format. Two of the modules require you to be on-campus and two modules are virtual and self-paced. The program fee is $54,000 and the duration is 7 months.

Considering the “Harvard” reputation, this executive development program definitely deserves to be on your shortlist if your budget allows. However, if you are a working professional, it might not be easy for you to travel to Boston for on-campus modules.

4- Kellogg School of Business – Northwestern University – Executive Development Program

Kellog’s Executive Development Program offers a multi-modular program that will enrich you with fresh ideas while empowering you to gain a broader perspective and increased confidence. The program fee is $37,500 and the program duration is three weeks. The program is in-person, so you have to be on campus. Two sessions are held every year, one in October, and one in June.

5- Stanford Graduate School of Business – Executive Program

A one-of-a-kind approach to leadership development and personal growth, the Stanford Executive Program builds off the passion and perspective of our faculty, participants, and environment to help you evolve on a personal level, drive change on an organizational level, and make a difference in the world at large.

With a research-based learning model, Stanford’s curriculum, materials, and perspectives evolve with societal shifts and global events to ensure you’re ready for any and every challenge your organization faces. The program fee is $82,000 and this makes it the most expensive executive development program on our list. The program offers online and on-campus options and the duration varies from 6 to 12 weeks depending on your preferences.

6- MIT – Sloan School of Management – Leadership in an Exponentially Changing World Program

MIT offers several niche leadership courses and programs. Leadership in an Exponentially Changing World program exposes you to the perspectives and expertise of a variety of knowledgeable and experienced leaders. You’ll use this information to develop your leadership capabilities further and investigate how you can move your team or organization forward.

The program fee is $2,800 and the duration is 6 weeks. Deliver is self-paced and online, however, there is a time-bound to finish the program in 6 weeks.

7- Fuqua School of Business – Duke University – Duke Leadership Program

Fuqua School of Business Executive Development Program is appropriate for anyone who leads and influences others in their work. Professionals who currently have or anticipate having leadership responsibilities, as either an executive or a manager, will gain the most from this curriculum.

The program fee is $12,400 and the duration is 5 days. Considering a short program and the program fee, this option is a little bit more expensive than other alternatives.

8- INSEAD – The Leadership Transition Program

INSEAD is one of the most famous business schools in Europe and is located in France. The Leadership Transition program by INSEAD is an extraordinary, unconventional opportunity to invest in your professional success as a leader. In this executive development program, you will learn about the systemic factors in your work environment and in your own behavior that can work against your plans. Most importantly, join a vibrant, international network of aspiring leaders and discover the keys to your future impact.

The program fee is €13,600 and is delivered on-campus in Fontainebleau, France. Program duration is 5 to 7 weeks.

9- Foster School of Business – Executive Development Program

Executive Development Program by Foster School of Business is ideal for mid-to-senior level professionals with at least seven years of professional experience or increasing levels of responsibility throughout their career, whether in managing larger teams or taking on more complex projects. Those who benefit most from the program usually have experience with large-scale projects and enterprise-wide scope.

The program fee is $26,640 and delivered on-campus, in Seattle, Washington. The duration of the program is 9 months. Considering the comprehensive curriculum and price of the program, this executive development program is a good option, however, if you are not in Seattle, it will not be easy to attend if you are a working professional.

10- Graduate School of Business – University of Cape Town Executive Development Programme

The UCT GSB Executive Development Program is a high-impact short course designed to equip senior leaders with the strategic thinking, innovative mindset, and values-based leadership needed to ensure long-term competitive advantage for their organizations.

The program fee is $4,900 and delivered on-campus, Cape Town, South Africa for 2 weeks.


Executive Development Programs are offered by many educational organizations and companies. The main goals of these programs are to grow leaders to lead cross-cultural organizations and diverse workplaces.

There are several factors when choosing the best Executive Development Program for you. We have listed the top 5 hints. These are finding the program matches your career goals, delivery type and schedule of the program, certificates and diplomas provided upon completion, alumni testimonials and reviews, and program fees.

If the provider offers a free preview or sample material of the program, check that. By reviewing the free demo, you will have an idea of if the comprehensive Executive Leadership Development Program will meet your expectations.

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