A growing number of business schools now offer executive education programs that run from five days to three weeks. Here's a look at three top programs.

SCHOOL: Harvard Business School
CLASS: Owner/President Management Program
COST: $18,750 per year for three years; $56,250 total
DATES: May 11 - 29
FACULTY: Six Harvard Business School professors
AVERAGE CLASS: 140 CEOs and COOs of companies with annual sales of $5 million to several hundred million dollars, with more than 60 industries represented
CONTACT: 617-495-6555; www.exed.hbs.edu
THE PAYOFF: Students learn to be big-picture thinkers, according to Dexter Jenkins, president of S.D.D. Enterprises Inc., which specializes in manufactured housing communities and is based in Long Beach, Calif. "I realized I was trying to run everything, and now, after two years, I removed myself from daily operations," he says.

SCHOOL: Stanford Graduate School of Business
CLASS: Executive Program for Growing Companies
COST: $14,500 DATES: July 20 - August 1
ENROLLMENT: Applications are due June 10
FACULTY: Includes Jerry Porras, co-author of Built to Last
AVERAGE CLASS: 60 leaders of new or rapidly growing companies with fewer than 1,000 employees
CONTACT: 650-723-3341; www.gsb.stanford.edu/exed
THE PAYOFF: "The networking was wonderful," says Susan Tan Luo, president and CEO of San Francisco-based GateTrade, Inc., a business-to-business commodities-trading website. A classmate is now helping her raise capital and a professor serves on her advisory board.

SCHOOL: The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
CLASS: Business Building: Conceiving, Planning and Executing Corporate Ventures
COST: $7,450
DATES: April 13 - 18
FACULTY: Includes Ian MacMillan, the director of Wharton's Entrepreneurial Research Center
AVERAGE CLASS: 30 - 35 participants who are required to bring an idea for a new product or market -- or an entirely new business plan -- to class
CONTACT: 800-255-3932; www.wharton.upenn.edu
THE PAYOFF: Participants work with faculty as well as "reverse-mentor" teams of M.B.A. students. The class covers topics such as how to enter new markets and how to research competition. Just be forewarned: The class isn't geared toward start-ups, but rather to relatively large companies, says Robert Mittelstaedt, vice dean and director of the executive education programs. "This isn't a course about survival," he explains. "The question is, 'What can we do to accelerate growth?' "

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