Executive Leadership Program


The Executive Leadership Program is offered by Graduate School USA and is strategically designed around three program components:

Participants are required to attend four one-week residential training sessions, beginning on Sunday evening and ending each week at noon on Friday. Key training is developed under the Executive Core Qualifications designed by the Office of Personnel Management with an emphasis on Leading People. Training focuses on competencies such as Team Building, Conflict Management, External Awareness and Critical Thinking. There is a special emphasis on the study of Emotional Intelligence, Mentoring and Coaching. A 360 Group Report identifies additional training that may be critical to a specific cohort of students.

Leading Teams
Program participants work with an experiential learning team throughout the nine-month program. Teams consist of peers representing diverse agencies and job series. The team environment provides an opportunity for participants to practice new leadership concepts. Additionally, each team is tasked with developing a team project and delivering their final results to their class peers. The ELP emphasizes sharpening skills that define the role of a leader on a team. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) is used as a tool to help teams better understand member preferences resulting in successful team engagement.

Developmental Assignments
Developing the self as well as others is critical to personal and professional growth. This change occurs when ELP participants are exposed to new ideas and new thinking as presented through a number of developmental activities. These activities are required of all program participants:

  • Leadership Development Planning. Participants complete Graduate School USA’s Leadership Effectiveness Inventory (LEI), a 360 assessment, to determine strengths and developmental needs. Through feedback, participants design a Leadership Development Plan, which is used as a road map for the nine-month program as well as for career planning. ELP staff and trainers coach participants in writing a well-defined plan that targets strong personal and professional objectives. Support and final approval for this plan are coordinated with the first-line supervisor and agency program coordinator.
  • Mentor. Participants are required to have a mentor during the ELP. The benefits of having a mentor are significant in helping define goals and providing support and encouragement.
  • Developmental Work Assignments. Developmental work assignments are designed to provide exposure to different leadership/managerial experiences and perspectives. At a minimum, participants complete one eight-week developmental assignment outside of the position of record. Assignments are to be completed during the nine-month program.
  • Shadowing Assignment. Participants complete a three-day assignment “shadowing” a federal manager or executive at the GS-13 to Senior Executive Service (SES) level. By observing executives in action, participants gain exposure to managerial duties, responsibilities, and various leadership styles. They observe how the concepts learned in the program are applied in real-world situations.
  • Executive Interviews. Participants interview five or more federal managers/executives including one equivalent manager in the private sector. Executive interviews provide participants the opportunity to interact at the highest levels of management and gain critical information for long-term networking and career planning.
  • Leadership Readings. Participants read and review three or more books on leadership and management issues. This component helps broaden knowledge of the field and strengthen analytical skills. A leadership reading list is provided at the orientation session.
  • Community Service. Participants are required to complete eight hours of community service to demonstrate a commitment to serve the public.


There are deadlines in place for application submission. Be sure to check the Graduate School USA website to ensure that you have all required material submitted on time.

How To Apply

Completed application packages should be sent by U.S. mail or other service (FedEx, UPS, etc.) to:

Executive Leadership Program
Center for Leadership and Management
Graduate School USA
600 Maryland Avenue SW, Suite 330
Washington, DC 20024-2520
Phone: (202) 314-3580

Or via email to elpapp@graduateschool.edu

The nomination package must be received by the nomination deadline and must include:

  • A completed Executive Leadership Program Application that includes information about the applicant, the applicant’s immediate supervisor, and the program coordinator at the applicant’s organization. The program coordinator is the person who will maintain records of the applicant’s developmental activities and serve as a liaison between Graduate School USA and the participant.
  • A statement from the applicant indicating the purpose for applying and how participation in the Executive Leadership Program will support the applicant’s career goals
  • The applicant’s current resume, signed and dated by the applicant

Payment must accompany the application before it will be processed. We accept:

  • Credit cards (American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, and Visa)
  • Government purchase cards
  • Organization purchase orders; a completed and signed government training authorization form (e.g., SF-182) may be submitted in lieu of a purchase order
  • Cash, money orders, checks, and cashier’s checks

Applicants are advised that their organizations may have different requirements and different deadline dates for submitting applications. Please check with agency coordinators to determine if there is an internal competitive process before submitting an application to the ELP.

If you have questions or need additional information about this program, please contact the Center for Leadership and Management at (202) 314-3580 or clm@graduateschool.edu

Individuals should be nominated based on both their leadership potential and their motivation to fully participate in and complete all program requirements. To complete the Executive Leadership Program, participants will be absent from their positions of record for a minimum of three months (four one-week training sessions and the eight-week required developmental assignment). Participants must finish all program components—NO exceptions will be made. Additional work time will be needed to complete some team activities and other program requirements. Please consider these time requirements carefully before submitting a nomination package.

Withdrawals and Substitutions
Withdrawals and substitutions are accepted at no cost if made more than 14 days before the program begins. For cancellations less than 14 days before the program begins, there is a $1,000 processing fee if no substitution is made. There will be no refund for withdrawal after the orientation session begins. Because of the amount of time necessary to complete the pre-assessments, substitutions will only be accepted 14 days prior to the program beginning.

Graduate School USA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. We make every practical effort to ensure that our programs are accessible to physically challenged participants and participants with special needs. Upon acceptance into the program, students requiring assistance and accommodation should complete a Special Accommodation Request form and submit it to the Office of the Registrar. The Special Accommodations Coordinator may be reached at (202) 314-3349 or registrar@graduateschool.edu and by TDD at (888) 744-2717.

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