Graduate Programs for Social Entrepreneurs, Nonprofit Staff or Social Change-makers

Are you searching for an impact-focused graduate program for social entrepreneurs, change-makers or social sector leaders? Join us in exploring these purpose-driven degree programs. 

April 20, 2018

Are you pursuing a career in social change, but not sure where to go for the skills, credibility, and mentorship you seek to make it happen?

Unlike recent years, there are now several flexible graduate programs designed for purpose-driven innovators like you to gain specialized knowledge to navigate and excel in a career of entrepreneurial social change. 

With themes of impact, social entrepreneurship, social innovation, and sustainability baked into core curriculum, these programs are equipping students to tackle our world’s most pressing challenges with smart, sustainable solutions. 

If adding more letters to your credentials isn’t a top priority, you can also browse our list of immersive experiential learning programs for social entrepreneurs and social innovators as an alternative to take your impact skills to the next level.

Note that tuition and program information may have changed since this post was originally published in March 2018. Be sure to review the most-up-to-date and detailed program information directly with each University.

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GRADUATE DEGREE PROGRAMS

In-Person Degree Programs

 

UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT, GROSSMAN SCHOOL OF BUSINESS

University of Vermonts Website

 

Sustainable Innovation MBA

CREDENTIAL:
MBA

TIME COMMITMENT:
1 year full-time (4 x 8-week modules plus a practicum)

FIELD EXPERIENCE:
3-month practicum in existing or new ventures around the world

LOCATION:
Burlington, Vermont, USA

TUITION:
$$$ see tuition ledgend

CURRICULUM:

This 1-year MBA degree aims to address core challenges around environment, ethics, poverty and inequality.

FORMAT:

This MBA is cohort based, with the first nine months consisting of module coursework. In the final three months, students in teams of 2-3 complete a hands-on practicum where they work in companies around the world who practice sustainable entrepreneurship.

NOTABLE:

There is a sustainable finance and impact investment track for those students with expertise in finance who wish to gain expertise in ESG-impact investing while earning this MBA.

 


 

STANDFORD SCHOOL OF BUSINESS

School for Social Entrepreneurs

MBA with option of Certificate in Public Management and Social Innovation

CREDENTIAL:
Certificate within MBA or MSx

TIME COMMITMENT:
2 years full-time

FIELD EXPERIENCE:
Opportunity to take part in Impact Labs or Impact Fund

LOCATION:
Stanford, CA, USA

TUITION:
$$$$$ see tuition ledgend

CURRICULUM:

The certificate offers the flexibility to focus on a specific industry within the social sector such as environmental sustainability, health, economic opportunity, or education. Students can also choose a nonprofit leadership or social enterprise/business lens from which to focus on specific approaches such to creating change (such as social impact, responsible business, social entrepreneurship, nonprofit leadership, social impact funding, or public policy). 

FORMAT:

In addition to the core Stanford Graduate School of Business curriculum, there are both project-based courses and co-curricular activities required as part of the Certificate.

NOTABLE:

This certificate is offered in partnership with the Center for Social Innovation. Students are supported with the tools and frameworks needed to transition into mission-driven work, for both students exploring ideas for the first-time, or for students coming from the field of social impact.

QUICK NOTE:

Stanford Business School provides the option for students enrolled in MBA or MSx programs to complete a Certificate in Public Management and Social Innovation as an academic option.

 


 

OXFORD UNIVERSITY SAID BUSINESS SCHOOL

Skoll Said School in Oxford

Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the Said Business School Oxford MBA

CREDENTIAL:
MBA

TIME COMMITMENT:
1 year full-time

FIELD EXPERIENCE:
6-week consultancy project (Skoll Centre helps identify organizations)

LOCATION:
Oxford, UK

TUITION:
$$$$ see tuition ledgend

CURRICULUM:

The Oxford MBA does not have a specialized track for social entrepreneurship, but with Saïd Business School housing the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, the Oxford MBA can be shaped for a focus on social entrepreneurship. This is accomplished with tailored MBA projects on social innovation, co-curricular activities, and the option to tailor a student’s Entrepreneurship Project or Strategic Consulting Project to address social issues.

FORMAT:

The mission of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship is to accelerate the impact of ‘entrepreneuring’ activity that aims to transform unjust or unsatisfactory systems and practices. Students are supported to pursue their socially-minded goals through the Centre as it aims to develop talent and emerging leadership, support actionable insight through research, and connect social entrepreneurs with thought leaders in business, government, and philanthropy.

NOTABLE:

In 2017, the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship hosted 33 speaker talks for 900 attendees. See more interesting facts from their 2017 Highlights infographic.

 


 

USC MARSHALL SCHOOL OF BUSINESS

USC Marshell School of Business

Master of Science in Social Entrepreneurship

CREDENTIAL:
Masters

TIME COMMITMENT:
1 year full-time with option to complete part-time in 1.5, 2 or 3 years (9 required courses + 2 electives)

FIELD EXPERIENCE:
Option to work with existing organization for capstone project

LOCATION:
Los Angeles, CA, USA

TUITION:
$$$$ see tuition ledgend

CURRICULUM:

The Masters of Science in Social Entrepreneurship from the Marshall School of Business includes an exploration of the field of social enterprise and practice in feasibility analysis, impact investing, cause-related marketing, environmental sustainability, and global social impact.

FORMAT:

Courses are offered in the evenings and on weekends to provide greater flexibility for students with other commitments. It’s possible to complete the program in one year by taking evening and weekend courses.

NOTABLE:

The degree culminates in a for-credit practical capstone project where students will either develop a detailed business plan for a new or improved social enterprise or work with an existing organization in an advisory role for the semester.

 

 

BLENDED DEGREE PROGRAMS

Blended programs offer students the opportunity to complete their studies with a combination of in-person and online learning.

 

AMERICAN UNIVERSITY

American University Program for Change Makers

MA in Social Enterprise

CREDENTIAL:
Masters

TIME COMMITMENT:
2 years, classes begin year-round with 3 program start dates

FIELD EXPERIENCE:
Capstone practicum

LOCATION:
Washington, DC, USA

TUITION:
$$$$ see tuition ledgend

CURRICULUM:

The curriculum blends management skills and social change, and is heavily focused on practical, hands-on learning where curriculum is built around students' interests and passions.

FORMAT:

The program offers a small cohort of ~10 students who go through the incubator-style program over 4 semesters.  Hands-on experience starts with a 12-week orientation project helping a DC-based social enterprise, and concludes with a practicum-based capstone course.

NOTABLE:

Students have the option to participate either on campus or online. When taking the program online, students are still required to participate in one immersion experience in Washington, DC, and as an option, a second international immersion experience.

QUICK NOTE:

The goal of this Masters in Social Enterprise is to provide the knowledge, skills, and mindset necessary for graduates to launch a new venture or play a key leadership role in an existing organization.

 


 

PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY

Pepperdine University Impact Focused Program for Social Change Makers

Master of Arts in Social Entrepreneurship and Change

CREDENTIAL:
Masters

TIME COMMITMENT:
1.6 years (40 units)

FIELD EXPERIENCE:
Degree completes with 2 social enterprise capstone courses

LOCATION:
Los Angeles, CA, USA

TUITION:
$$$ see tuition ledgend

CURRICULUM:

This Masters program equips individuals with the knowledge, skills, and resources to effect change in their local communities and across the globe. In less than two years, students create an approach for impactful leadership while learning management practices such as formulating strategies, implementing programs, and creating marketing campaigns.

FORMAT:

This hybrid program is 60% face-to-face, and 40% online with both weekly real-time sessions and asynchronous online interactions. In addition to the New Student Orientation, the cohort meets face-to-face twice a semester for three days at the West Los Angeles Graduate Campus. The program is completed with a capstone social enterprise course.

NOTABLE:

A cohort of international students provides a well-rounded global perspective of social, economic, and community issues.

 


 

PRESIDIO GRADUATE SCHOOL

Presidio Graduate School

MBA

CREDENTIAL:
MBA degree

TIME COMMITMENT:
2 years, full-time (40 units over 4 semesters)

FIELD EXPERIENCE:
Work on tailored-project with an organization over one semester

LOCATION:
Bainbridge, or San Francisco hybrid locations

TUITION:
$$$$ see tuition ledgend

CURRICULUM:

Each course in the Presidio Graduate School MBA is taught with a sustainability lens to provide students with skills needed to improve our economies, our environment and our society. This program was one of the first sustainable MBAs to be offered, alongside the only sustainable Masters of Public Administration (MPA) in the country. Students have the option to take both as a dual degree.

FORMAT:

Each semester, depending on whether they are full or part-time, students gather for two to four days a month in San Francisco or Seattle for in-person classroom time. When not attending class in-person, students meet and work together virtually.

NOTABLE:

Through Presidio’s Experiential Learning approach, students are paired with an external organization to work on a specific project over the course of a semester. The program will also soon be offered for students to participate 100% online.

 


 

AFRICAN LEADERSHIP UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF BUSINESS

African Leadership University School of Business Website

ALUSB MBA

CREDENTIAL:
Masters

TIME COMMITMENT:
20-months

FIELD EXPERIENCE:
Capstone project is focused on solving a problem at the student’s place of employment

LOCATION:
Bainbridge, or San Francisco hybrid locations

TUITION:
$$$ see tuition ledgend

CURRICULUM:

This pan-African business school offers a program focused on research, case studies, and learning from an ‘all-star’ cast of African executives for insight into the unique challenges and opportunities of doing business in Africa.

FORMAT:

The in-person component of the program consists of 6 week-long intensive sessions in Kigali, Rwanda, shared with peers and supported by senior African business leaders. In between in-person sessions, students take self-paced online courses from top business schools and management consulting firms.

NOTABLE:

The final capstone project consists of solving a real business problem at the student’s organization, or a project of similar scope if self-employed.

 


 

BARD UNIVERSITY

Bard University Sustainability

MBA in Sustainability

CREDENTIAL:
Masters

TIME COMMITMENT:
Full-time: 2 years | Part-time: 3 years

FIELD EXPERIENCE:
Consultancy project with an external organization

LOCATION:
New York City, USA

TUITION:
$$$$ see tuition ledgend

CURRICULUM:

The Bard MBA in Sustainability integrates sustainability into every class. Students work in collaborative teams to learn how to combine economic, environmental, and social objectives into an integrated bottom line that creates not only healthier businesses, but also a more sustainable world.

FORMAT:

Bard describes their MBA format as 20 four-day retreats spread out over two years, and tied together by weekly online, live interaction between students and professors. The in-person residencies that are held once a month, are four-day weekends for full-time students and three-day weekends for part-time students. The online curriculum builds off the same courses covered at the in-person residencies.

NOTABLE:

Students participate in Bard’s NYCLab course, where they complete a yearlong consultancy as small teams to work with corporate, governmental, and nonprofit organizations to solve sustainability-related challenges. Teams develop and negotiate project agreements with clients that define the scope of work, project deliverables, deadlines, and expectations for communication and information sharing.

 

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