Executive Leadership Program

Doctorate in Human and Organizational Learning, Executive Leadership Program

The Executive Leadership Doctoral Program (ELP)

The ELP is a proven executive delivery doctoral program that has successfully served the scholar-practitioner community for the past twenty-seven years. Located at George Washington University’s Virginia Science and Technology Campus in Ashburn, VA., the ELP offers a spacious executive campus conveniently located within a few minutes drive to Dulles International Airport, various lodging options, and multiple shopping locations. For students who fly in for their once-a-month classes, Ashburn is an ideal location combining easy access with exemplary facilities. Inside the classrooms, the ELP program develops scholar-practitioners by focusing on the interrelationships among people, organizations, and learning. The program encourages students to challenge assumptions about organizations and change through critical reflection, research, and linking scholarship to practice. Theory, research and practice are balanced throughout the curriculum through readings, activities, and written assignments. The cohort format provides ELP scholar-practitioners with an advantage over the traditional doctoral studies model. The learning experience is collective, and individuals are allowed the opportunity to express talents and interests, discover new ones, and develop both as individuals and as a team. Students are encouraged to form learning communities to provide collective support, promote action learning, and model a learning culture. Alumni attest to the power of the ELP cohort model, and a vast network of ELP alums regularly support current students through mentoring, student-led panels, and through multiple formal and informal means. During the program as well as after graduation, the program provides and maintains a number of resources that sustain the ELP network. These include email mailing lists, special speaker seminars, faculty and alumni discussion panels, and social events. For more information, contact the Executive Leadership Program at phone number (571) 553-3788.

Student Stories

"The reason ELP is so great is that it makes doctoral study accessible to executive leaders by fielding a variety of professors that are able and willing to recognize executive leaders' achievements in practice... As I receive one of those fancy doctoral hoods this week, please accept my gratitude for all you and your GSEHD colleagues do to make the academy welcome to practical ambassadors like me." -Eric Woodard, Ed.D.

We Believe in the Power of Learning

The ELP is organized around four pillars: learning, leadership, culture, and change. Our multidisciplinary approach to organizational studies draws on the fields of management, sociology, education, biology, psychology, and anthropology, among others. Our research and scholar-practitioner program is committed to:
  • Increasing the learning capacity of individuals, groups, and organizations to optimize organizational sustainability, resilience, and effectiveness.
  • Increasing the leadership capacity of individuals, groups, and organizations in order to meet the grand challenges of the 21st century.
  • Increasing the understanding of culture: the seen and unseen, the known and unknown, and how these webs of meaning and norms influence learning, leading, and change.
  • Increasing the understanding of change theories, processes, and mechanisms in order to meet the increasing demands of a volatile, uncertain, and complex environment.
  • Developing research skills to be able to design and conduct effective research related to organizational issues.

Why a Doctorate in Human and Organizational Learning from the Executive Leadership Program?

Convenient Schedule: Classes are scheduled for one weekend (Friday and Saturday) per month, enabling students to continue working full-time while attending school. Summer residencies are planned well in advance to maximize learning while minimizing work interruption. In the classroom, learning is enhanced through the sharing of professional experiences, action learning, and critical reflection. Group and team activities mirror real-world situations, and many, if not all, assignments require explicit connections to the world of practice.

Diverse Student Body: No two students in our ELP program are alike, and typically range in age from 30 to 70 years old. These life-long learners come from across the country and around the world to participate in the ELP learning community. Our applicants span a variety of professional backgrounds and have a wealth of life experiences -- we draw students from corporate, non-profit, healthcare, high tech, education, manufacturing, military, and federal organizations.

Executive Cohort: A typical cohort consists of 20 to 24 students. Each student has a minimum of five years of experience at the senior or executive level. Cohorts are comprised of executives, HRD practitioners, consultants, self-employed business owners, and other senior-level professionals. Students who apply to the program also have a variety of educational backgrounds, with degrees in fields such as business, engineering, health and medical sciences, and technology.


Doctorate in Human and Organizational Learning, Executive Leadership Program

A new cohort begins each year in June with a summer semester session and residency in the Ashburn campus (note: all ELP courses are delivered in Ashburn). Students are enrolled in a pre-determined sequence of courses that are all scheduled at the beginning of the cohort, giving students the ability to carefully plan out their work and learning schedules well in advance.

After two and one-half years of coursework, students embark on their dissertation journey with their chosen dissertation Chair (e.g., a member of the ELP faculty). Faculty provide a variety of supports and structures to facilitate the completion of the dissertation, which are usually completed within two to two-and one-half years after coursework is completed.

Executive Leadership Program Courses

  • HOL 8100Special Topics in Human and Organizational Learning
  • HOL 8700Foundations of Human and Organizational Learning
  • HOL 8701Theory, Research, and Practice in Adult Learning and Development
  • HOL 8702Theory and Design of Organizational Diagnosis and Development
  • HOL 8703Human Systems Change
  • HOL 8704Leadership Theory, Research, and Practice
  • HOL 8705Organizational Culture
  • HOL 8720Seminar: Applied Research in Human and Organizational Learning
  • HOL 8721Practicum in Human and Organizational Learning (taken for 6 credits)
  • HOL 8722Seminar: Advanced Issues in Human and Organizational Learning
  • HOL 8724Designing and Planning Research that Matters

Research Methods Courses

Plus Three credits from the following:

Dissertation Courses

  • HOL 8998Pre-Dissertation Seminar
  • HOL 8999Dissertation Research (minimum 12 credits needed to complete requirement)

To be advanced to candidacy: Successful completion of comprehensive exam required
To conduct dissertation study: Approved dissertation proposal required
To receive doctorate: Approved dissertation defense required

Career Outlook

Doctorate in Human and Organizational Learning, Executive Leadership Program

The following companies are a sampling of organizations represented in our student body and alumni network:
  • American Airlines
  • American Red Cross
  • America On-Line
  • Baltimore City Public School System
  • Baltimore County Police Dept.
  • Bank of America
  • Bell Atlantic
  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Florida
  • Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Boston University
  • Central Intelligence Agency
  • Charles Schwab
  • Citigroup
  • Dept. of Defense
  • Dept. of the Navy
  • Dept. of the Treasury
  • Discovery Communications
  • Fannie Mae
  • Federal Aviation Administration
  • Fish & Wildlife Services
  • Foreign Service Institute
  • General Electric
  • Honeywell Technology Solutions, Inc.
  • Hughes Network Systems
  • IBM
  • Intel Corporation
  • International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • JP Morgan Chase & Co.
  • Lockheed Martin Corporation
  • Maryland Hospital Association
  • Mayo Clinic
  • Montgomery General Hospital
  • National Institute of Health
  • NASA
  • National Association of Elementary School Principals
  • National Defense University
  • National Geographic
  • New Jersey State Police
  • Newport News Ship Building
  • Niagra Mohawk Power Corp.
  • Northrop Grumman
  • Novartis Pharmaceuticals
  • Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Phillip Morris
  • Pratt & Whitney
  • PRC
  • Price Waterhouse
  • Public Service Electric & Gas
  • Qatar Petroleum
  • SAIC
  • Seagate Technology
  • The Library of Congress
  • The Milton Hershey School
  • The MITRE Corporation
  • The Plaza Hotel
  • The Vanguard Group
  • The World Bank
  • Time Warner Communications
  • Tops Market, Inc./Ahold USA
  • Toyota Motor Sales
  • US Dept. of Housing & Urban Development
  • US Patent & Trademark Office
  • US Army
  • United Way
  • University of Texas Arlington
  • US Army Chemical & Biological Defense Command
  • US Coast Guard
  • US House of Representatives
  • US Postal Service
  • Virginia Dept. of Corrections
  • Volunteers of America
  • Washington County Hospital
  • Whirlpool Corporation


Program Entry: Summer
Prerequisites:Master's Degree
Campus:Virginia Science & Technology Campus

Application Requirements

*Additional application requirements may exist for international applicants

For more information on any of these requirements, please visit our Admissions FAQ page.


Program Faculty

(202) 994-5835
Associate Professor
(571) 553-3763
Associate Professor
(202) 994-7188
Associate Professor
(202) 994-8649
Associate Professor
(571) 553-3786
Associate Professor
(571) 553-3787
Transformation Begins Here

Learn more about the The Executive Leadership Doctoral Program (ELP) program located at our Virginia Science and Technology Campus (202-994-0491).

In the News

GSEHD alumna Dr. Jan Nelson (Ed.D., Executive Leadership Program) published an article in Advances in Global Leadership entitled, "Here Be Paradox: How Global Business Leaders Navigate Change." The article is based on her dissertation

Professor Emeritus Michael Marquardt co-authored a chapter with GSEHD alumna Dr. Robin Hurst (Master's and Ed.D. in Human Resource Development), Associate Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, entitled “Action Learning: Past, Present and Future” which will appear in the book Demystifying Action Research: An Overview of the Different Genres (Emerald Press). Dr. Marquardt also wrote a chapter entitled “Using Action Learning to Build Learning Organzations” for the Oxford Handbook of the Learning Organization (Oxford Press). In addition, he co-authored an article with GSEHD alumna Dr. Veronica Haight (Ed.D., Executive Leadership Program), Training Specialist in People Operations at Google, for The Learning Organization Journal entitled “How Chief Learning Officers Build Learning Organizations.”

GSEHD alumni participated in the annual DCCPA Conference at GW:

  • GSEHD alumnus Dr. Tim Miller (Ed.D., Executive Leadership Program), Vice President for Student Affairs at James Madison University, was part of the "Vice President Panel Discussion" along with Cissy Petty, GW's Dean of the Student Experience, and others.
  • GSEHD alumnus Dr. Robert Snyder (Ed.D., Higher Education Administration) presented: "Helping Our Student Leaders to be Effective in Navigating Power and Influence to Achieve Their Goals and Objectives" based on his GSEHD dissertation.
  • GSEHD alumnae Christina Castiglione (Master's, Higher Education Administration) and Ellie Hansen (Master's, Higher Education Administration) presented: "Training and On-Boarding All Levels of Staff: Who, When, How, and Why."
  • GSEHD alumnus Dr. Andrew Sonn (Ed.D., Higher Education Administration) presented: "Research & Strategic Planning for Student Veteran Strength & Success."

Innovative Applications of Knowledge Discovery and Information Resources Management, edited by Dr. Susan Swayze with GSEHD alumna Dr. Valerie Ford (Ed.D., Human and Organizational Learning), has been published by IGI Global.
The volume contains 12 chapters segmented into three sections: (1) People and Technology Issues in the Twenty-First Century, (2) Knowledge Discovery and Learning, and (3) Perspectives on Information Resources Management. The book was written by 20 authors representing six countries. GSEHD chapter contributors include Dr. Jaehwa Choi, alumna Dr. Letitia Larry (Ed.D., Executive Leadership Program), alumnus Dr. Thomas Gronow (Ed.D., Human and Organizational Learning), doctoral candidate Tina Rodrigue (Ed.D., Executive Leadership Program), and alumna Danielle Young (master's, Assessment, Testing, and Measurement). Although the publication is intended as a reference book marketed to libraries, the scope of this work underscores the interdisciplinarity of information technology and data science.

Dr. Susan Swayze and GSEHD alumna Dr. Johanna Sweet (Ed.D., Executive Leadership Program), Assistant Professor of Business Administration and Economics at Roanoke College, published a study regarding the psychological capital among nurses in a community hospital in the Journal of Organizational Psychology. The research found that nurses' overall psychological capital and self-efficacy scores significantly varied by generation with Baby Boomers reporting the highest psychological capital and self-efficacy followed by Generation X-ers and Millennials.