Leadership and Communication

BAAS Concentration in Leadership and Communication
Leadership and Communication

When it comes to leadership, you're in our league!

About the concentration in Leadership and Communication

The Leadership and Communication concentration is an exciting skills-building and career-enhancing program designed by distinguished, award-winning Ivy League academic experts and researchers in consultation with top executives and leaders from the real worlds of business, government, and the nonprofit sector.

An Ivy League degree path to effective, ethical and career-boosting leadership

Drawing expertly on the social sciences, humanities, and data sciences, each of the twelve Leadership and Communication courses is scheduled especially for working adults and taught by dedicated and experienced Penn-affiliated scholars.

Each Leadership and Communication course brings you one step closer to having the intellectual understanding and professional skills needed for effective, ethical, career-boosting leadership and communication. Each course meets for eight weeks in an accelerated semester format. The curriculum is divided into four parts: Leadership Foundations; Leading Across Sectors; Leading Positively; and Global Leadership.

Leadership Foundations: 5 Courses

LEAD 101, Leadership Theory and Practice: This course introduces you to competing concepts and theories of leadership. You learn what the best empirical studies in the behavioral and social sciences say about how to identify, develop, and apply your own distinctive leadership traits, skills, and signature strengths, The course's learning and self-development assignments include a biographical analysis paper in which you compare and contrast your own leadership background and profile with that of a leader you admire. You conclude the course by crafting a five-year leadership career plan.

This course counts toward the Certificate in Leadership and Communication and degree concentration.

LEAD 202, Leadership Lessons from the Social Sciences: Whether in business firms, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, or other settings, how do leaders get other people to believe and behave in accordance with their preferences? What explains why some individuals are more likely than other individuals to emerge to get elevated as leaders? Why do some leaders prove more effective than other leaders in achieving goals and accomplishing purposes? The vast and varied non-academic or popular literature on leadership offers anecdotal answers that are often pithy and persuasive but almost always empty or wrong. By contrast, the relevant empirical social science literature offers evidence-based ideas that are invariably tentative but generally trustworthy. Through lectures, readings, focus questions, cases, and weekly discussions facilitated by the instructor, this applied arts and sciences course equips students to sample both classic and contemporary social science research that is directly relevant to leadership theory and practice. The assigned "academic" readings include bestselling books by Nobel Prize-winning economists, psychologists, and other leading thinkers in diverse fields: organizational sociology; behavioral political sciences; behavioral economics; principal-agent models; game theory; and positive psychology.

This course counts toward the Certificate in Leadership and Communication and degree concentration. Effective fall semester 2019, the prerequisite for this course is either LEAD 101 or LEAD 304.

LEAD 203, Leadership Lessons from the Humanities: This course explores multiple and competing moral frameworks and ethical perspectives on leadership derived from a diverse range of readings in philosophy and literature, including works by Plato, Shakespeare, John Stuart Mill, Machiavelli, and others. The course includes videos, readings, case studies, and writing exercises that conclude with a capstone essay. In this course, students will learn not only about particular works of philosophy and literature, but about how to "learn to look" at works of philosophy and literature in a way that identifies and magnifies their enduring leadership-relevant ideas, insights, and lessons.

This course counts toward the Certificate in Leadership and Communication and degree concentration. Effective fall semester 2019, the prerequisite for this course is either LEAD 101 or LEAD 304.

LEAD 304, Professional Communication and Self-Development: This course provides an intensive introduction to several components of professional communication in the workplace and other settings. It also provides an introduction to empirically proven, personal and professional benefits of positive psychology. LEAD 304 is a writing-intensive course; students receive individual feedback on multiple writing assignments each week. In this course, students learn how to: organize their professional writing and speaking persuasively, based on rhetorical understanding of audience; edit their writing in accordance with professional best practices; communicate effectively in conflicts or crises; and apply the evidence-based lessons of positive psychology to achieve personal development and professional success.

This course counts toward the Certificate in Leadership and Communication and degree concentration.

In LEAD 305, Introduction to Data Analytics, without needing to know statistical analysis or be a math whiz (no prerequisites), students learn key concepts in data analytics using the programming language R, and discover how to use quantitative data in real-world real-time problem identification, decision-making, and problem-solving.

Leading Across Sectors: 3 Courses

In LEAD 310, Leadership and Public Administration, students are introduced to both classic and contemporary studies of how public laws and policies are translated into effective action, how and why government reform efforts succeed or fail, and complete an original case study on the ongoing revolution in public management theory and practice favoring public-private partnerships and “collaborative governance.”

In LEAD 320, Leadership and Business Organization, students interactively and critically study five of the most influential books ever published regarding why for-profit enterprises succeed or fail; do an original “management consulting” report on an actual business firm; and write a final paper on what, if any, particular individual styles or institutional structures predictably and reliably enable one to “succeed in business.”

In LEAD 330, Leadership and Nonprofit Management, students are immersed in research that profiles America’s vast and varied, large and growing “independent sector,” exploring what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to leadership and innovation in the non-governmental, not-for-profit organizations (charities, churches, private colleges, hospitals, and others) that, even if only counting the about 1.4 million registered with the IRS, now have more $2 trillion a year in annual revenues, more than $5 trillion in total assets, and more than 14 million full-time employees.

Leading Positively: 3 Courses

In LEAD 340, Introduction to Applied Positive Psychology, students focus on the science of thriving—what does it mean to be “happy,” and how can one cultivate well-being at the individual and community level.

In LEAD 350, Human Flourishing: Strengths and Resilience, students delve deeply into the study of character strengths as a framework for building positive character and well-being and explore the concept of resilience, or the ability to overcome challenging situations.

In LEAD 360, Positive Psychology at Work, students are exposed to an array of research-informed strategies that have been applied in a variety of disciplines and workplaces, including business, education, health care, and nonprofit organizations. Students gain an understanding of the variables that contribute to our ability to flourish at work and understand how we both experience and shape our work environments through our individual contributions.

Many of the leadership-relevant lessons imparted by LEAD 101, LEAD 202, and LEAD 304 are derived or adapted from concepts, theories, and findings from the behavioral and social sciences, most notably positive psychology.

Founded by the internationally renowned and path-breaking Penn scholar, Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman, positive psychology is a discipline that examines the intersections of body, brain, culture, and science to develop tools and practices that enhance human flourishing and well-being, investigate applications of positive psychology in different professional settings, including business, education, healthcare, and the nonprofit sector, and practice leadership-relevant tools and strategies that support personal growth, professional development, organizational health, and community well-being.

The Applied Positive Psychology courses teach you the theoretical and empirical foundations of human flourishing, how well-being is measured, and what activities increase human flourishing in various contexts and settings.

Leadership and Communication students who meet all other requirements for the BAAS degree and successfully complete a fourth Applied Positive Psychology course—Analytical Methods in Positive Psychology—are eligible to receive a Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology upon completion of the BAAS degree.

Global Leadership: 1 Course

LEAD 400, Global Leadership and Problem-Solving: Over the last two hundred years, most nations in all parts of the world have made real, often remarkable progress in improving human well-being as measured by such indices as life expectancy, education, nutrition, per capita annual income, personal security, and many others including a sense of individual well-being and personal happiness.

That global progress, however, did not “just happen.” Globally, major strides in human well-being have been due at least in part to leadership by individuals and groups in government, business, and non-governmental organizations; public-private partnerships among and between these leaders and their respective institutions; and cross-national and cross-cultural learning regarding “what works” with respect to ameliorating major public problems, improving human well-being, and enhancing individual happiness.

Applying lessons learned from six other Leadership and Communication courses, and examining case studies in “global leadership” from Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Sweden, Tanzania, and the United States, each LEAD 400 student will complete two projects:

  • A biographical analysis of a past leader who contributed significantly to human well-being, to be presented in the form of a video lecture by the student, and shared with other members of the class
  • A substantial research paper that prescribes a particular approach to a problem that presently threatens human well-being in multiple nations or regions of the globe (global warming, extreme poverty, infectious diseases, inadequate health care, or others)

Prerequisites: LEAD 101, 304, 305, 310, 340, and 350


Students in the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree will choose a concentration to tailor their undergraduate education to specific personal and professional goals. Some courses in the Leadership and Communication concentration require prerequisites.

Students must complete foundational courses for the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree. In addition, students in this concentration complete 12 courses (12 c.u.*) from the list below.

Please note: To be admitted to the Leadership and Communication concentration, you must have:

  • Completed five Leadership and Communication courses (any five, except LEAD 400)
  • Maintained an average of B or better, and received a grade of B+ or better in at least one of those five courses

Transfer credits cannot be used toward any of the 12 Leadership and Communication concentration courses. 

Courses are subject to change.

*Academic credit is defined by the University of Pennsylvania as a course unit (c.u.). A course unit (c.u.) is a general measure of academic work over a period of time, typically a term (semester or summer). A c.u. (or a fraction of a c.u.) represents different types of academic work across different types of academic programs and is the basic unit of progress toward a degree. One c.u. is usually converted to a four-semester-hour course.

Careers related to Leadership and Communication

It’s hard to imagine any career where leadership and communication skills are not vital. The Leadership and Communication concentration is designed to help you gain knowledge relevant to developing valuable leadership and communication skills. Career options include:

  • Management consultant
  • Higher education administrator
  • Entrepreneur
  • Nonprofit director
  • Military officer
  • Government official

Team effort: Penn LPS, Robert A. Fox Leadership Program, and Civic Enterprises

The concentration in Leadership and Communication is designed, developed, and delivered through a working partnership between the leaders and staff of Penn’s College of Liberal and Professional Studies (LPS), the Robert A. Fox Leadership Program, and those of Civic Enterprises, headquartered in Washington, DC.

The College of Liberal and Professional Studies is the home of lifelong learning at the University of Pennsylvania. Housed within Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences, LPS offers high school, undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, graduate, summer and online studies as well as customized professional training with courses that span across academic fields.

Now celebrating its 20th anniversary year, The Robert A. Fox Leadership Program is Penn's premiere leadership and service-learning fellowship program, dedicated to helping equip and empower Penn students and alumni to identify, develop and apply their leadership traits, skills and signature strengths.

Civic Enterprises works with universities, nonprofits, corporations, foundations, businesses, and governments to develop innovative programs in the fields of education, national service, civic engagement, conservation, public health, and more.

John Bridgeland

John Bridgeland

Founder, CEO of Civic Enterprises

Vice Chair, Service Year Alliance at the Aspen Institute

Vice Chairman, Malaria No More

John J. DiIulio, Jr.

Dr. John J. DiIulio, Jr.

Frederic Fox Leadership Professor of Politics, Religion, and Civil Society, University of Pennsylvania

Nonresident Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution, Center for Effective Public Management

Faculty Director of Penn’s Fox Leadership International Program, Program for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society, and Partnership for Effective Public Administration and Leadership

John Lapinski

Dr. John Lapinski

Robert A. Fox Leadership Professor, Faculty Director of the Robert A. Fox Leadership Program, University of Pennsylvania

Faculty Director of Penn’s Program for Opinion Research and Election Studies

Director of the Elections Unit, NBC News

Elizabeth Matthew

Dr. Elizabeth Matthew

Associate Director, Curriculum Development and Instruction, Penn LPS Online

James Pawelski, PhD

James Pawelski, PhD

Faculty Director, Penn LPS Online Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology

Professor of Practice and Director of Education, Positive Psychology Center

Bruce Reed

Bruce Reed

President, Civic Enterprises

Co-chair, Aspen Institute’s Future of Work Initiative

Senior Fellow, Results for America

Course Registration

Fall 2019 registration is now open

Explore courses >