Embracing the tension between equipping students for success in today’s world and creating the disruption necessary to bring about positive change is The Presidian Way. So while students learn current leadership best practices – these are merely a starting point. By tackling the big, bold challenges of our time, PGS classes become incubators for transformative ideas, unexplored possibilities, and effective action plans.

Theory and practice are not separated in the classrooms at PGS – they are combined. Pragmatism and idealism together form sustainable solutions to build a better world. That’s why all curricula at Presidio Graduate School are outcomes-focused and organized around:

  • Systems Thinking
  • Responsible Leadership for All Stakeholders
  • Business Fundamentals

We believe that truly transformative ideas can be found by following the path of pragmatic inquiry – experience disciplined by reflection. All Presidians learn how to cultivate pragmatic inquiry through the continuous testing of on-the-ground experience against the high-level theory.

Field Work

At PGS students work on real-world problems with real-world organizations through the Experiential Learning (EL) program. In the EL program, students lead their partner organization (a company, nonprofit, or government agency) in identifying and implementing ways to manage their operations more sustainably.

Systems Thinking

The specialization drive created by the reductionist theory of the last century breaks problems down to their smallest, most discrete parts to mechanize solutions for mass production. And we have all seen how this can lead to over-simplified solutions and overconsumption that, in turn, create new problems.

In contrast, systems thinking is an approach to problem-solving that embraces complexity. Focusing on wholes, not parts, and viewing each situation as a set of elements that interact to produce predictable outcomes. Systems thinking is extremely effective in approaching complex issues that reoccur, that have been made worse by past “solutions”, or that are influenced by outside forces such as the natural, social, or competitive environment.

Systems thinking allows leaders and managers to both see and solve the problems that those trained in reductionist theory tend not to see – much less solve.


The defining signature of the PGS curricula is not to merely have “sustainability” built into every course. Sustainability is the foundation upon which everything rests. It is woven throughout every aspect of the curriculum, classes, fieldwork, and research.

This total commitment to sustainability means that a PGS education will be as relevant a decade from now as it is today. Because today’s Presidians are learning how to build the world as it will be decades from now!

That same commitment to sustainability demands that all of our programs function as continuous learning environments that evolve constantly. The only way to manage change is to become change itself.

Our curricula are also distinctive in that MBA and MPA students learn side by side in the classes that are common to both programs.  Many students enroll for a single degree and go on to complete the Dual MBA/MPA program. Others choose to pursue a Certificate program.

This integration reflects the PGS perspective that society’s sustainability challenges cannot be solved at scale—without the strategic cooperation of both public and private sectors, and that managers and social entrepreneurs must be specifically equipped to make this relationship prosper.