Distinguished Leaders Institute Survey

Harvard University started their Advanced Leadership Program in 2009; Stanford University then initiated their Distinguished Career Institute. These programs have since been adopted and adapted by a number of other institutions including Notre Dame and University of Texas most recently.  These programs have received exceptionally positive feedback from fellows, but also the undergrad and grad populations within the Universities have reported significant and meaningful shifts due to the mentoring and networking opportunities through engagement with these fellows. The application rates are high, demonstrating a national and even international demand. And, those who have been instrumental in researching and executing these programs believe that they are crucial eventualities in the future landscape of higher education.  

The programs typically include a cohort of 25 “fellows”, as they are referred to, who have been selected from an application pool.  The applicants are leaders who have 20-30 years career experience in a given field in both the for-profit and non-profit sector.

The programs are pitched as 9-12 month programs and costs vary between $50k and $75k (around the price of one year’s tuition), with an additional fee of half that price if a spouse/partner chooses to join too (a common election).

While each University has tailored their program to the unique strengths and character of the respective institution, they espouse similar pillars:

    1. Self-Reflection, purpose finding, and training for the next phase of life

    2. Health, Wellness, and Longevity

    3. Community

    4. Intellectual, Emotional, and Spiritual Exploration and Learning

    5. Intergenerational Mentoring and Learning Opportunities

To support the tenets of the program, the participants enjoy a number of learning opportunities and planned activities. Programming includes attending classes, formal bi-weekly meetings, a dedicated program curriculum, exposure to professors, and intergenerational mentoring opportunities with students and professors alike.  Fellows find housing within the city – with the aid of the program staff – but do enjoy flexibility to schedule outings with fellow cohorts and/or return to occasional responsibilities elsewhere.


Given the scope of the program and its area of concentration, we’d like to ask you a few brief questions which will help guide our decisions as we explore its potential inception and development.