External Training and Development Programs

The NIH Training Center offers a wide variety of award-winning leadership development programs and services, including Executive and Team Coaching, the NIH Senior Leadership Program (SLP), Mid-level Leadership Program (MLP), NIH Executive Leadership Program (ExLP) and numerous open-enrollment courses. In 2017 and 2018, these programs garnered two government-wide awards for their excellence.

However, should you be searching for something additional or further afield, below is a guide to external leadership development programs that are also reputable within the leadership development community – many of which have been rated positively by NIH leaders.

This list is by no means all-inclusive.


Recommended for Executives (Top 5)

Harvard Kennedy School

Provides a platform of thinkers and doers from around the globe devoted to advancing the public interest.

Programs include:

  • Driving Government Performance: Leadership Strategies that Produce Results
    • Designed for public officials with explicit responsibility for improving organizational performance. Focus is on how to achieve improvements given limited resources and flexibility.
  • Mastering Negotiation:  Building Sustainable Agreements
    • Designed for senior executives in business, government and nonprofit sectors from around the world.  Focus is on negotiating across cultures, organizations and sectors.
  • Leadership for the 21st Century: Chaos, Conflict and Courage
    • Designed for senior executives in business, government and non-profit organizations
  • Senior Managers in Government Program
    • Designed for senior government executives (SES) and includes established Harvard case study methods

The Aspen Institute

Provides seminars, policy programs, conferences and leadership development initiatives to promote nonpartisan inquiry and explore professional/personal values.

The Aspen Seminar seeks to:

  • Examine classical and contemporary texts to enhance ability to enlist others in a shared mission
  • Engage in a collaborative exploration of self and our world
  • Reflect on values, explore personal visions, and apply newly gained insights

Center for Creative Leadership

Provides leadership development research and practical experience to transform individuals, teams, and society to achieve enduring results.

Programs include:

  • Leadership at the Peak
    • Designed exclusively for senior executives and leaders with more than 15 years of management experience, in the top 3 tiers of the organization, with leadership responsibility for 500 or more people and/or executive staff functions. Limited to 12 participants
  • Leading for Organizational Impact
    • Designed for executives to strengthen their ability to balance tactical concerns with strategic priorities to improve decision making.

Recommended for Supervisors & Managers

Harvard Kennedy School

Senior Executive Fellows 
Designed to help promising senior officials prepare for promotion to Senior Executive Service. Focuses on OPM’s Executive Core Qualifications.

The Senior Executive Fellows program provides you with practical, effective tools that can help you:

  • Identify and analyze the challenges and opportunities facing your organization, and master them politically, as well as technically
  • Develop strategic plans of action using communication, negotiation and coalition-building skills
  • Manage the tensions between long-term policy goals and short-term political pressures
  • Create an organizational environment that is responsive to change, but also true to its purpose and tradition

Federal Executive Institute (FEI)

Designed to help senior government leaders improve the performance of their organizations. 

Leadership for a Democratic Society (GS 15 or SES only)

  • Gain a broader understanding of the Constitution and how it continues to inform modern-day Government 
  • Obtain a better grasp of the policy framework in which executives must lead, and the interplay among major stakeholders at national and global levels
  • Develop insights into your leadership strengths and areas for development
  • Devise a plan to improve your organization’s performance
  • Increase your networks for enhanced problem-solving support
  • Appreciate more fully the importance of Federal service and the diverse talents of Federal executives
  • Improve personal wellness by maintaining a better balance between career and health

SES Candidate Development Program

Health and Human Services (HHS) Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program (SESCDP) is a competitive program designed to create pools of qualified candidates for SES positions within the Department.

Program includes:

  • Mentoring from an SES member
  • Leadership assessments and feedback
  • Creation and execution of an Executive Development Plan
  • Online and classroom instruction in executive level competencies
  • Rotational assignments within and outside of the Department
  • Group project on high level Department issues

The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Public Leadership

Senior Leader Program - (GS13 through SES level)

Designed for GS 14-15s to learn more about common and emerging leadership and management issues while developing strategies for effective change.  Shaped by the Office of Personnel’s latest Executive Core Qualifications for SES candidates, including:

  • Leading Change
  • Leading People
  • Results Driven
  • Business Acumen
  • Building Coalitions/Communication

American University School of Public Affairs

Designed to increase leadership capacity, confidence, and ability to lead and help individuals move from being technicians and managers to leaders. 360-degree evaluations from colleagues, supervisors, and customers at the beginning and end of the program to measure progress and development. The Program consists of eight courses and the curriculum is directly linked to the Executive Core Qualifications developed by the Office of Personnel Management

University of Maryland University College

Leadership Development Program (LDP)

This 5-day program is designed to help executives, middle and upper level managers be more effective and successful leaders. Focus is on self-awareness, impact, intention, integration, and development planning. Optional follow-up coaching available.

Areas of focus:

  • Learning behavioral strengths and areas for development
  • Learning the unintended consequences of behaviors
  • Learning how to best practice purposeful leadership behaviors
  • Learning how to best analyze and synthesize feedback

Brookings Executive Education

Certificate in Public Leadership

Designed to offer an extensive profile of executive education courses covering critical global issues, U.S. policy-making, and public leadership.

Areas of focus:

  • Inside Government—experience of how policy is made firsthand through an immersion into the inner-workings of Capitol Hill and the executive branch  
  • Critical Issues—interaction with global decision-makers to gain analysis and information to shape strategy and operations
  • Leadership Development—curriculum specifically designed to sharpen the competencies needed to excel in government