The Program

The Presidential Leadership Scholars (PLS) program is designed for leaders from diverse backgrounds who share a commitment to facing society’s greatest challenges. The program seeks participants who have the desire and capacity to take their leadership strengths to a higher level in order to help their communities and emboldens them with the practical skills needed to drive solution-oriented action. 

The program draws on the strengths and leadership initiatives of the four affiliated presidential centers. By including a bipartisan roster of presidential centers – two Republican and two Democratic – and by enjoying the engagement of former presidents from both parties, the program creates a rare opportunity to instill in our Scholars a brand of principled leadership that transcends diverse backgrounds. This executive-style education series creates a life-long network for Scholars from the business, public service, nonprofit, and military sectors and fosters opportunities for leaders to emerge ready to offer solutions to pressing national problems. 

The curriculum draws from the resources of each presidential center that relate to key leadership moments from each administration, and provides insights into how each president addressed pressing challenges. Scholars benefit directly from the engagement of President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton, senior officials from each of the four administrations, and distinguished faculty sharing cutting-edge research and skills. 

The Scholar Experience

The program requires a six-month commitment. During that time, the class meets for an opening week session and one extended weekend per month during the following five months.

The program selects applicants who have a diversity of perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences and who will most benefit from a dynamic learning experience that stresses the importance of cooperation and collaboration. 

During the program, Scholars work on a Personal Leadership Project (PLP), intended to provide Scholars with the opportunity to both apply the skills and competencies learned throughout the program and help achieve the program’s ultimate desired outcome of increasing social good.    

2017 Program Schedule

  • Session 1: Opening Week: Tuesday, February 7th – Saturday, February 11th
    Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Session 2: Thursday, March 9th – Saturday, March 11th
    Location: George H.W. Bush Presidential Center, College Station, TX

  • Session 3: Thursday, April 6th – Saturday, April 8th
    Location: William J. Clinton Presidential Center, Little Rock, AR

  • Session 4: Thursday, May 11th – Saturday, May 13th
    Location: George W. Bush Presidential Center, Dallas, TX

  • Session 5: Thursday, June 15th – Saturday, June 17th​
    Location: Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Center, Austin, TX

  • Session 6: Closing and Graduation: Tuesday, July 11th – Friday, July 14th​
    Location: George W. Bush Presidential Center, Dallas, TX


  • Presidential History: Access to Presidential Libraries, as well as discussions with prominent presidential scholars, former administration officials, and other relevant commentators provide historical context and background regarding each president and the times in which he led.
  • Leadership Models & Method: Scholars are introduced to evidence-based models and methods on different aspects of leadership, which are explored throughout the session.
  • Presidential Leadership: Building on the models and methods as a reference point, scholars drill down on the topic of each session with an in-depth example from each president.
  • Distinguished Speakers: Each session features distinguished speakers, including former presidential administration officials and leaders from across the country, to discuss different aspects of leadership.
  • Leadership Skill-Building: Scholars apply the methods and lessons learned from Presidential leadership with the opportunity to receive feedback and guidance from the expert faculty, program staff, and fellow Scholars.
  • Presidential Leadership Project: Scholars work on a 6-month project that focuses on a new or existing civically relevant initiative in which the Scholar is involved.


The curriculum focuses on leadership skills including Vision and Communication, Decision Making, Persuasion and Influence, and Strategic Partnerships. Spread over six months, the sessions involve approximately 120 hours of on-location instruction. In addition, Scholars are encouraged to form meaningful relationships with one another and to learn from each other’s divergent views and backgrounds. By connecting a new class of Scholars each year, the Presidential Leadership Scholars program also aims to build a strong and diverse alumni network that can put the lessons of cooperation and collaborative problem-solving to use in a variety of sectors and inspire a new kind of leadership. 


Course sessions are led by distinguished professors and practitioners representing a variety of perspectives on leadership.  Renowned presidential scholars focus on critical moments within our Nation’s history, using them to illustrate examples of effective leadership.



View the Program Schedule

The Scholars initially gather for an opening week session. In the following months, they attend four weekend sessions at each of the presidential centers. The program concludes with a final session and a closing ceremony.

The locations of the centers are:

  • George W. Bush Presidential Center: Dallas, TX
  • William J. Clinton Presidential Center: Little Rock, AR
  • George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum: College Station, TX
  • Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Center: Austin, TX


The four presidential centers are committed to ensuring that leaders across the country can participate in this program at no cost to the Scholars. Tuition, housing, meals, and travel during the sessions in the host center’s city are fully funded by contributions from foundations, corporations, and generous donations.

More questions? View FAQs.