The Penn Chief Learning Officer program prepares corporate and nonprofit learning and talent management leaders.

We cultivate scholar-practitioners who know how to develop and implement evidence-based practices that support formal and informal human capital, leadership, and skills development through on-demand, just-in-time, and longer-term learning and development initiatives.

Our multi-disciplinary executive doctoral program is designed to meet the needs of mid- to senior-level executives and learning leaders from a variety of sectors and institutions. The program provides a rigorous academic environment in which executive students gain knowledge and build the skills necessary to ensure successful learning initiatives that will align with an organization’s strategy and guide employee performance across the organization.

What Sets Us Apart

1st First of its kind: A premier university doctoral program for Chief Learning Officers & other learning leaders
3 years Earn a doctorate in 3 years—without interrupting your career
 Learn from faculty across the Penn campus, including Penn GSE & Wharton as well as high-ranking scholars and practice professionals from all over the globe

About the Program

The Penn Chief Learning Officer program offers the rigor of an Ivy League institution and the flexibility of an executive format. Students develop skills necessary to align learning initiatives with their organization’s strategy, while also developing scholarly research skills needed to write a dissertation.

Application deadline
Spring: October 15 | Summer: February 15 | Fall: May 15. The applications for Spring, Summer, and Fall 2025 will be available September 1, 2024.
Entry term(s)
Fall, Summer, Spring
Course requirements
6 course blocks (19 courses plus dissertation research)

Class meetings10 seminars (Sunday–Friday) plus dissertation classes and meetings

Culminating experienceDissertation

  • Executive-Style
Programs for Working Professionals

In a knowledge economy, developing an organization’s talent is a critical component of its success. It is imperative for those committed to human capital development within organizations to infuse evidence-based practice into the creation and oversight of leadership development, learning, and managerial initiatives. For this reason, in today’s organizations everyone is a learning leader.

The Penn Chief Learning Officer program’s intensive professional learning community meets for two separate weeks each semester (block), either in person or virtually. The academic blocks are augmented by a variety of learning modalities: seminars, field projects, academic and practitioner-oriented writing assignments, and group projects.

The Ed.D. degree is conferred by the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.


The Penn Chief Learning Officer program has been designed by University of Pennsylvania faculty and leaders from business, government, NGO, and not-for-profit sectors. The program draws from senior faculty across many of Penn’s world-class graduate schools, including the Wharton School, as well as leading experts from outside the university.

The program includes five academic course blocks that run sequentially over the course of one and one-half years. Three academic blocks are offered per calendar year, and no academic block can be waived. After completion of at least three academic blocks, all students are required to complete the Master’s Thesis and Dissertation Preparation course. The exact timing of this course depends on the academic progress and entry term of the student. This is the final academic requirement before enrollment in the sixth and final course block and entering the Dissertation phase of the program. The sixth block, the Dissertation Block, is taken when students complete their academic requirements and become Ed.D. candidates. It is during this block that students embark on their dissertation research.

Leadership Block: 

The Leadership Block advocates that learning leaders play a key role in strategy development and implementation by working closely with CEOs and C-level teams to design growth opportunities for employees. This course is designed to help learning leaders gain a deeper understanding of strategy, build leadership skills, and better communicate the importance of learning to other leaders. 

  • Developing Emotional Intelligence
  • Diversity and Leadership in the Workplace
  • Leading, Managing, and Coaching People at Work
  • Leading and Managing Organizational Change
  • Building and Utilizing Influence and Credibility
  • Ethicial Leadership
  • Communicating the Value of Learning and Performance
  • Aligning and Integrating Learning and Performance with Organizational Goals
  • Influencing Senior Leadership to Foster a Learning Environmnet

Learning Block: 

The Learning Block explores what it means to be an effective learning and performance leader with a compelling vision for the learning function. This course uses a scientific approach to help learning leaders create informed, purposeful, and dynamic work-based learning environments that can lead to enhanced performance for all employees.  

  • The Relationship between Leadership and Learning
  • Pedagogy and Curriculum in Adult, Work-Based Learning
  • Philosophical Underpinnings of Work-Based Learning and Performance
  • Implications of Diversity for Work-Based Learning
  • Informal Learning
  • Work-Based Learning and Learners
  • Introduction to Organizational Learning
  • Corporate/Higher Education Partnerships and the Structure of Higher Education
  • Evaluating Work-Based Performance and Learning
  • Developing Performance-Based Assessments for Adults

Business Block: 

The Business Block helps students understand the link between learning and organizational outcomes by providing core business knowledge about finance, marketing, leadership, and strategy based on current research and best practices. This knowledge prepares learning leaders to create an environment in which strategy, culture, and human potential are fully intertwined and mutually supportive. 

  • Leading and Managing the Learning Function
  • Knowledge Management
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Corporate Finance
  • Outsourcing and Off-Shoring: The Global Context of Managing Learning
  • Strategic Marketing of Work-Based Learning (double module)
  • Project Management and Work-Based Learning
  • Managing Distributed Learning

Evidence Block: 

The Evidence Block provides students with the basic frameworks, skills, and practices needed to critically evaluate research studies and design and conduct their own research. This course prepares students for dissertation research and helps them apply research techniques to their profession. 

  • Research Ethics
  • The Role of Positionality and Subjectivity in Research
  • Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Research Design
  • Theoretical and Conceptual Frameworks
  • Designing Researchable Questions
  • Research Validity
  • Data Collection and Analysis Techniques
  • Transforming Themes into Findings

Technology Block: 

The Technology Block exposes students to cutting edge technology and learning practices that are increasingly required in today’s global economy. This course advocates that learning leaders need to develop and implement technology strategies for learning in the context of the overall business as well know how to evaluate the effectiveness of the tools and techniques used for learning. 

  • History of and New Directions in Learning Technologies
  • Designing Technology-Enabled Learning Environments
  • Managing Learning Technologies
  • Using Simulations and Games
  • Choosing E-Tools: What is the Correct Tool from the Technology Tool Bag?
  • Emerging Technologies
  • Security and Privacy in a High-Tech World 

Master’s Thesis and Dissertation Preparation Course:

Prior to formally embarking on the dissertation all students are required to complete the Master’s Thesis and Dissertation Preparation course. This course is offered once a year, running from Fall to Spring terms. Classes are held online in both the Fall and the Spring, with the addition of an in-person seminar in the Spring term only.

The exact timing for enrolling in this course is determined by academic progress and entry term. Typically, students enroll in the course either 1) after completion of five academic blocks; or 2) concurrent with enrollment in the fourth or fifth academic block.

This course supports students to write a comprehensive literature review, which serves as the master's thesis requirement. This paper also serves as the foundation for the dissertation literature review and thoroughly prepares students for entry into the Dissertation Block.

Upon successful completion of this course and all academic requirements, students will proceed to the Dissertation Block.

Dissertation Block:            

The Dissertation Block uses in-person and virtual sessions to prepare students to conduct doctoral-level research and write a dissertation. Students write papers related to researcher positionality, conceptual and theoretical frameworks, major bodies of literature, and research methods. Students complete the block and earn their degree by planning and conducting a research project and successfully reporting and defending their findings and conclusions.

For more information on courses and requirements, visit the Penn Chief Learning Officer Ed.D. program in the University Catalog.


The program’s five academic blocks run sequentially over approximately 18 months. The program meets for two separate weeks each semester (block), either in person or virtually. These academic blocks are augmented by a variety of learning modalities: seminars, field projects, academic and practitioner-oriented writing assignments, and group projects.

When all five academic blocks and the master’s thesis/dissertation preparation are successfully completed, students must pass a comprehensive examination to become candidates for the doctoral degree. Students spend an additional 12 to 18 months crafting and pursuing an independent research project and writing a doctoral dissertation. The entire program, including dissertation, can be completed in approximately three years.

Applicants interested in the Penn Chief Learning Officer program are welcome to visit a class session during the following dates:

Penn Chief Learning Officer Program Dates 2023–2025


June 11 - 16, 2023

July 16 - 21, 2023


Oct 1 - 6, 2023

Nov 12 - 17, 2023


Feb 25 - Mar 1, 2024

Apr 7 - 12, 2024

Master’s Thesis/Dissertation Preparation Seminar

May 14 - 16, 2024


June 9 - 14, 2024

July 14 - 19, 2024


Sept 22 - 27, 2024

Nov 17 - 22, 2024


Feb 23 - 28, 2025

April 6 - 11, 2025

Master’s Thesis/Dissertation Preparation Seminar

May 13 - 16, 2025


June 8 - 13, 2025

Jul 13 - 18, 2025


Sept 29 - Oct 3, 2025

Nov 9 - 14, 2025

The Practitioner-Scholar: The Penn CLO Podcast thumbnail

Welcome to "The Practitioner-Scholar: The PennCLO Podcast" where scholarly insights meet industry demands

The Penn Chief Learning Officer Doctoral Programs Podcast Series: The Practitioner-Scholar showcases and celebrates alumni/student accomplishments and their contributions as global impact makers.

Our Faculty

Learn from professors who understand the connection between research and real-world experience, and appreciate the distance between ideas and implementation. While housed in the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, the Penn Chief Learning Officer program draws from senior faculty across many of Penn's world-class graduate schools, including the Wharton School and Penn Medicine. The program also brings in a small number of leading experts from outside the university, including distinguished alumni.

Penn GSE Faculty Ryan S. Baker
Ph.D., Carnegie Mellon University
Penn GSE Faculty Matthew Bidwell
Associate Professor of Management, The Wharton School
Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Penn GSE Faculty Peter Cappelli
George W. Taylor Professor of Management, The Wharton School
D.Phil, Oxford University
Penn GSE Faculty Thomas Donaldson
Mark O. Winkelman Professor, Legal Studies & Business Ethics, The Wharton School
Ph.D., University of Kansas
Penn GSE Faculty Mauro F. Guillén
William H. Wurster Professor of Multinational Management, The Wharton School
Ph.D., Yale University
Penn GSE Faculty Yasmin B. Kafai
Lori and Michael Milken President’s Distinguished Professor
Ed.D., Harvard University
Penn GSE Faculty Dana Kaminstein
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Penn GSE
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Raghu Krishnamoorthy
Director, Penn Chief Learning Officer Program
Penn GSE Faculty Annie McKee
Adjunct Professor & Senior Fellow
Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University
Penn GSE Faculty Michael J. Nakkula
Professor of Practice
Ed.D., Harvard Graduate School of Education
Penn GSE Faculty Sharon M. Ravitch
Professor of Practice
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Matthew Riggan
Co-Founder and Executive Director, The Workshop School
 Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Mike Useem
William and Jacalyn Egan Professor of Management, The Wharton School
Ph.D., Harvard University
Penn GSE Faculty Nick van Dam
Adjunct Associate Professor
Ph.D., Nyenrode Business Universiteit, Breukelen, the Netherlands
Penn GSE Faculty Caroline L. Watts
Senior Lecturer
Ed.D., Harvard University
Penn GSE Faculty Kandi J. Wiens
Senior Fellow
Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania

Affiliated Faculty

Asif Agha
Professor of Anthropology, Penn Arts & Sciences
Ph.D., University of Chicago

Michael Baime
Director, Penn Program for Mindfulness
M.D., University of Pennsylvania

Quinn Bauriedel
Co-Artistic Director, Pig Iron Theatre Company
Diploma, Theatre, Ecole Jacques Lecoq

Ben Betts
Chief Executive Officer, HT2 Labs
Eng.D., University of Warwick

Abhijit Bhaduri
General Manager of Learning & Development, Microsoft
Post Graduate Diploma in Personnel Management & Industrial Relations, Xavier Labor Relations Institute, India

Nicole Mittenfelner Carl
Director, Urban Teaching Residency Program
Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania

Robbin Chapman
Adjunct Associate Professor
Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology

James (Jim) Davis
Fire Chief, City of Fort Worth, Texas
Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania

Nathan Ensmenger
Associate Professor, School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, Indiana University
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

Emilie Feldman
Associate Professor of Management, Wharton School
Ph.D., Harvard Business School

Adrianne Flack
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Ed.D. University of Pennsylvania

Emily Foote
VP, Talent Engagement and Development, Instructure
M.S., University of Pennsylvania

Manuel S. González Canché
Associate Professor
Ph.D., University of Arizona

Abigail Gray
Chief Innovation & Implementation Officer, TRAILS
 Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

Mark Guzdial
Professor, College of Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology
Ph.D., University of Michigan

Todd Henshaw
Senior Fellow, Center for Leadership and Change Management, The Wharton School
Ph.D., University of Kansas

Frances Hesselbein
President and CEO, The Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute
B.A., University of Pittsburgh Johnstown Junior College

Peter Himmelman
Musician and Founder, Big Muse

Nick Howe
Chief Learning Officer, Area9 Lyceum
Bachelor in Chemical Engineering, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK

Don Huesman
Managing Director, Wharton Online
Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania

Martin Ihrig
Adjunct Associate Professor
Ph.D, Technische Universität Berlin

Harold Jarche
Principal, Jarche Consulting
M.Ed., University of New Brunswick

Charles Jennings
Co-Founder, 70:20:10 Institute
University of Southampton

Elliott Masie
CEO, MASIE Productions
B.A., Binghamton University

Mary McDonnell
Assistant Professor of Management, The Wharton School
Ph.D., Northwestern University

Ethan Mollick
Associate Professor of Management, The Wharton School
Ph.D., MIT Sloan School of Management

James P. Orlando
Chief Graduate Medical Education Officer, St. Luke’s University Health Network
Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania

Bridget N. O’Connor
Professor of Higher Education and Business Education, New York University
Ph.D., Indiana University

Kathy Pearson
President and Founder, Enterprise Learning Solutions
Ph.D., Northwestern University

Rosina Racioppi
President and CEO, Women Unlimited, Inc.
Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania

Chuck Ramsey
Co-Chair, Presidential Task Force on 21st Century Community Policing
Master’s Degree, Lewis University

John Reid-Dodick
Senior Vice President, Culture, WeWork
J.D., Harvard Law School

Garry Ridge
President, Chief Executive Officer, and Director, WD40 Company
M.S., University of San Diego

Michael Roberts
William H. Lawrence Professor of Finance, The Wharton School
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley

Ben Sawyer
Design and Production Lead, play2PREVENT Lab, Yale Center for Health and Learning Games

Keith Sawyer
Morgan Distinguished Professor in Educational Innovations, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Ph.D., University of Chicago

Scott Schaffter
Founder and Managing Director, Bivee
M.S., American University

Ann E. Schulte
Global Leader of Learning and Leadership Development, Procter and Gamble
Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania

Euan Semple
Author, speaker, business strategist, and facilitator
University of St. Andrews

Gregory Shea
Adjunct Professor of Management, The Wharton School, Aresty Institute of Executive Education
Ph.D., Yale University

Nicolaj Siggelkow
David M. Knott Professor, The Wharton School
Ph.D., Harvard University

Harbir Singh
William and Phyllis Mack Professor of Management, The Wharton School
Ph.D., University of Michigan

Martha Soehren
Chief Talent Development Officer and Senior Vice President, Comcast University and Comcast Cable
Ph.D., Wayne State University

Ramesh Srinivasan
Professor, Department of Information Studies and Design/Media Arts, UCLA
Doctorate, Design Studies, Harvard University

Julian Stodd
Founder, Sea Salt Learning
M.A., Bournemouth University  

Greg Urban
Arthur Hobson Quinn Professor of Anthropology, Penn Arts & Sciences
Ph.D., University of Chicago

Kevin Werbach
Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics, The Wharton School
 J.D., Harvard Law School

Jeanette K. Winters
Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resource Officer, Igloo Product Corporation
Doctorate of Public Administration, University of Southern California

Program Leadership & Staff

Raghu Krishnamoorthy
Director & Senior Fellow

Nyssa Levy
Associate Director

Jessica Hall
Administrative Coordinator

April Coleman
Administrative Assistant

Candice Reimers

"I wanted to challenge myself intellectually … but I also had a great job that I wasn’t going to walk away from. Penn GSE’s Chief Learning Officer Executive Doctorate was the only program that offered me the flexibility and support to do both."

Candice Reimers

Chief Learning Officer Executive Doctorate Ed.D., 2015

Our Graduates

Our graduates serve as chief learning officers, vice presidents of human resources, and training directors in a wide range of industries—as well as other senior-level executives who realize the magnitude of impact created by a well-developed work force.

Alumni Careers

  • Chief Legal Talent Officer, Sullivan & Cromwell, LLP
  • Director of Leadership Development, Honeywell
  • Enterprise Sales Manager, Learning Solutions, LinkedIn
  • Founder, Diversity Woman Magazine
  • Head of U.S. Learning and Talent Development, Bayer Healthcare
  • President & CEO, Women Unlimited, Inc.
  • Senior Learning Manager, IBM
  • Talent and Organizational Executive Business Lead, Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Vice President - Head of Talent Development, Lincoln Financial Group
  • Chief Administrative Officer, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Admissions & Financial Aid

Please visit our Admissions and Financial Aid pages for specific information on the application requirements, as well as information on tuition, fees, financial aid, scholarships, and fellowships.

Contact Information

Contact us if you have any questions about the program.

Office of Admissions and
Financial Aid

Graduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania
3700 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-6415

Program Contact

Nyssa Levy
Associate Director
(215) 573-0591



Please view information from our Admissions and Financial Aid Office for specific information on the cost of this program.

Most students in this program fund their degree through a combination of personal resources, employer benefits, and student loans.