Philosophy & Structure

PennCLO: An Executive Doctoral Program

The PennCLO Executive Doctoral Program is a doctoral degree program for mid- to senior-level learning leaders who hail from a wide variety of sectors and institutions. It is unique among top-tier universities in that students pursue the Ed.D. while continuing to work. Students attend classes on-site in Philadelphia in week-long intensives, after which they conduct original research and write a dissertation—all within three years. PennCLO is unique in that it is multi-disciplinary and geared toward individuals who seek to become scholar practitioners.

The PennCLO program offers the rigor of an Ivy League institution and the flexibility of an executive format. The intensive professional learning community meets for two separate weeks each semester (block), in person in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. These in-person academic blocks are augmented by a variety of learning modalities: virtual learning seminars, field projects, and academic and practical assignments. The program’s five academic blocks run sequentially over approximately one and one-half years, and include: Strategic Leadership, Workplace Learning, Business Acumen, Evidence-Based Decision Making (research methods), and Technology for Work-based Learning. Students may enter the program at the beginning of any academic block. When all blocks are successfully completed, students must pass a comprehensive examination to become candidates for the doctoral degree. Then, students spend an additional year to year and a half crafting and pursuing an independent research project and writing a doctoral dissertation.

PennCLO has been designed by a host of University of Pennsylvania faculty and business leaders. It is led by a team of faculty who are closely tied to the business, government, NGO, and not-for-profit sectors. There is heavy emphasis on practices and theories that have evolved within the fields of management, psychology, business, and learning, and the program seeks to make theories relevant for the private and public sectors alike.

University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education

PennCLO is offered through the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn GSE). Penn GSE is recognized as being among the best professional schools of education in the world. Penn, as an Ivy League school, provides a unique and rigorous academic environment—one where students will be challenged and supported in equal measure.

The Ed.D. degree is conferred by the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. Students who do not already hold a master’s degree when accepted for admission must complete a master’s thesis while pursuing the doctoral degree. To do so, they must successfully complete at least three academic blocks as well as participate in the PennCLO master's thesis course.*

Academic Course Blocks

The PennCLO program includes five academic course blocks, each comprised of two full weeks on-site on Penn’s campus. These in-person classes meet from Sunday afternoon through Friday afternoon. Courses are held during the fall, spring, and summer sessions. There is an additional sixth block for Ed.D. candidates working on their dissertation.

The program also employs other learning modalities including virtual seminars, fieldwork, and both academic and practitioner-oriented writing assignments and group projects.


*There is an extra fee associated with the master's degree.