3 new executive leadership certificate programs from Wharton to check out

BY Sydney LakeJanuary 26, 2023, 2:12 PM
The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, as seen in September 2022. (Photographer: Hannah Beier—Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Members of the C-suite and other business leaders aren’t too busy to head back to school—rather, they have quite an appetite for continued executive education. In fact, the executive education program market surpassed an estimated $37.8 billion in 2021, and is expected to reach $109.6 billion by 2031, Future Market Insights data shows

Top business schools have been at the forefront of developing and launching executive education programs on a variety of topics like advanced management, data science, and business analytics. Now another topic is being added to the mix: environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG). This month, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, which Fortune ranks as having the No. 4 full-time MBA program in the U.S., announced three new ESG-focused executive education certificate programs for financial professionals, senior leaders, and strategists.

“This field is moving at such a rapid rate that current executives have found themselves along for the ride, whether they want to be or not,” Vit Henisz, vice dean and faculty director of the ESG Initiative at Wharton, tells Fortune. “We know from the inquiries there is pent-up demand for this type of executive training—for a powerful, actionable toolkit that can be used now, as opposed to down the road.”

How Wharton’s executive education programs work

In addition to the executive education certificate programs, Wharton is also offering a four-week foundational class, Wharton ESG Essentials, for students who need to develop fluency in ESG topics. They can continue studying an additional four weeks in one of the three Wharton ESG executive certificate programs.

“If you are serious about stepping into a leadership role related to ESG—be it in the financial sector, leading your firm, or crafting your firm’s strategy—I highly recommend you go beyond the four-week foundational program and engage further in an advanced certificate track,” Henisz says. “All participants who enroll in an advanced certificate have ESG Foundations built into their program as a requirement before moving forward into specialized track content.”

All of the programs require students to meet online for two hours once a week and to complete self-paced online sessions. All sessions are led by Wharton faculty who research ESG topics. Prospective students can submit their information to receive a brochure that includes the program schedule.

How much the programs cost and how to get in

The first cohort of the Wharton ESG Essentials runs from April 6 through April 27 and costs $4,000 to enroll. Prospective students must submit an application for the program, which takes about 15 minutes to complete, according to Wharton.

Mid-to-senior level professionals including board members, executives, strategists, entrepreneurs, financial advisers and analysts, investors, creditors, regulators, and consultants are the target audience for these programs, explains Patti Williams, vice dean of Wharton Executive Education.

“They may already be working in the ESG space or might be preparing for their next role and/or level,” Williams tells Fortune. “We do anticipate high demand, and there will be a limited number of seats available in each cohort.”

The Wharton ESG Executive Certificate for Financial Professionals, Wharton ESG Executive Certificate for Senior Leaders, and Wharton ESG Executive Certificate for Strategists each cost $6,500 to complete. Applicants must submit a short application that asks for personal information and professional background.

Wharton’s focus on ESG

The new executive education certificate programs are part of a broader focus on ESG at Wharton.

As part of its debut of the ESG Initiative in July 2022, the school committed to launching new business curriculum, centers, and labs focused on ESG. The Wharton Climate Center, the Impact Investing Research Lab, the Political Risk & Identity Lab, and the Zicklin Center for Governance & Business Ethics are also part of the initiative.

This fall, Wharton will welcome its first class of MBA students who can major in Environmental, Social and Governance Factors for Business or Social and Governance Factors for Business. Undergrads also have the opportunity to concentrate in ESG Factors for Business.

“Beyond the major and concentration, we have dozens of faculty actively conducting research, hundreds of students engaged in co-curricular activities, and thousands of alumni with ESG interests,” Henisz says. “Each of these distinguishes us from our peers.”

Check out all of Fortune’rankings of degree programs, and learn more about specific career paths.