Texas Christian University, Neeley School of Business

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BNSF Neeley Leadership

This three-year undergraduate program empowers students and transforms them into leaders in business and beyond through focused coursework, self-reflection, leadership coaching, experiential learning, and team collaboration.

Call to Action

Traditionally, leadership in business schools is taught in a single course. Recognizing that becoming an effective leader does not occur in a day, a week, a month, or a year, the TCU Neeley School of Business, in partnership with and supported by a generous gift from BNSF Railway, established a unique, three-year, 15-credit-hour business leadership program specifically for undergraduate students from all majors.

BNSF Neeley Leadership accelerates students’ pathways to leadership by utilizing an integrated classroom curriculum along with co-curricular activities to provide students with exceptional opportunities to learn about and practice their leadership competencies, not just once or twice, but throughout their college experience, benefitting both the students and the companies they will one day lead.

Innovation Description

Chosen by application, select undergraduate students participate in a three-year leadership development cohort experience with innovative academic curriculum and activities designed to enhance their ability to lead themselves, lead others, and lead change in business and life.

The BNSF Neeley Leadership competency model—leading self, leading interpersonally, leading organizations, and leading groups and teams—combines cutting-edge research with best practices in leadership development to ensure students receive the skills they need to get ahead.

The curriculum, taught by top professors renowned for leadership research and expertise, includes the following courses: Foundations in Leadership, Interpersonal Leadership Skills, Team Leadership Skills, The Leadership Challenge, and Leadership in a Complex World.

Co-curricular activities include Crucial Conversations, Crucial Confrontations, high-performance team-building exercises, one-on-one coaching, and presentation skills. Students experience community leadership working on yearlong projects that identify and address a need in the community. They tour companies in Fort Worth, Dallas, and Chicago, Illinois, and receive guidance from successful executives and community leaders who serve as mentors, advisory board members, and classroom speakers, including the executive chair of BNSF Railway.

Integral to the program is a retreat in Scotland at the acclaimed leadership institute, Columbia 1400, studying core values including: knowing and understanding yourself, other people, and your environment; recognizing and concentrating on critical and essential information; being reliable and trustworthy; and remaining whole and true to your potential.

By the time they graduate, BNSF Neeley leaders are skilled communicators; effective team players; and agile, critical-thinkers prepared to make a positive difference in the world.


The BNSF Neeley Leadership program shapes students for success, developing skills that employers want most when hiring and building high-performing teams that can collaborate across business lines. In particular, the following impacts have so far been achieved:

  • The class of 2016 had a 100 percent placement rate at graduation, with a starting salary averaging 62,354 USD, compared to the National Association of Colleges and Employers national average for business majors, at 52,047 USD.
  • A survey of alumni shows that the program prepared them exceptionally well for coworker relations, management skills, and professional expertise.
  • Alumni report impressive starting salaries in a wide variety of industries: 45 percent with a starting salary ranging from 50,000 to 59,000 USD, and 22 percent with a starting salary of 70,000 USD and above.
  • A survey of employers shows that graduates of the program are recognized for self-initiation in the workplace, being go-to members of the company, having high emotional intelligence, and for having the ability to motivate without leaving other team members behind.

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