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.

Tuition legend
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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 legend

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 legend

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 legend

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 legend

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.

 


 

MEMORIAL UNIVERSITY

Memorial University MBA in Social Enterprise and Entrepreneurship

 

MBA in Social Enterprise and Entrepreneurship

CREDENTIAL:
MBA

TIME COMMITMENT:
1 year full-time (2 semesters of 17 courses + 4-month internship)

FIELD EXPERIENCE:
4-month internship

LOCATION:
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada

TUITION:
$$$ see tuition legend

CURRICULUM:

Memorial’s MBA in social enterprise and entrepreneurship is a cohort-based MBA program with a focus on preparing business leaders who are committed to sustainable and social business practices.

FORMAT:

With the practical experience of a four-month internship, this program allows students to gain business skills through the lens of sustainability and social enterprise and develop the necessary skills to present sustainable thinking to business leaders and funders.

NOTABLE:

Memorial University's Faculty of Business Administration supports a student-run chapter of Enactus. In student competition, Enactus Memorial has won the Enactus national championship nine times and the world championship twice (in 2008 and 2016).

 


 

SCHOOL OF VISUAL ARTS

MFA in Design for Social Innovation

MFA Design for Social Innovation

CREDENTIAL:
MFA degree

TIME COMMITMENT:
2 years (30 units)

FIELD EXPERIENCE:
Work with real clients throughout the program

LOCATION:
New York City, USA

TUITION:
$$$$ see tuition legend

CURRICULUM:

This Design for Social Innovation MFA program provides a methodology for designing for new models for products and services that address the complex social and environmental challenges facing businesses, governments, society and humanity. The curriculum integrates several social and environmental issues including conservation, health, food and agriculture, poverty, women’s rights, social justice, fair trade, education and community revitalization.

FORMAT:

This program is a combination of immersive study within existing organizations from all sectors where design is taught as a tool for social and environmental impact, not as an end in itself. Students will experience theoretical and practical learning to frame problems, develop and incubate ideas, research, test and scale new businesses, and the opportunity to work on real-world local and global challenges.

NOTABLE:

Throughout the program students work on real projects with multinational corporations, non-profits, and social entrepreneurs around the world.

 


INDIANA UNIVERSITY KELLEY SCHOOL OF BUSINESS

Indiana University Kelley School of Business

MBA with Certificate Program in Social Entrepreneurship

CREDENTIAL:
MBA, with Certificate in Social Entrepreneurship

TIME COMMITMENT:
2-years full time

FIELD EXPERIENCE:
Optional leadership experience project working directly with organizations in emerging economies (through GLOBASE)

LOCATION:
Bloomington, IN, USA

TUITION:
$$$$ see tuition legend

CURRICULUM:

The Kelley School of Business Certificate Program in Social Entrepreneurship is available to full-time MBA students who have an interest in using business skills to address global social and environmental challenges. Courses available within the certificate cover a range of themes, including sustainability, new venture planning, and nonprofit management.

FORMAT:

Students pursuing the certificate need to complete 18 credit hours of coursework, 6 of which are for required courses that are offered between both the Kelley School of Business and the School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

NOTABLE:

One of the Certificate requirements is participation in Kelley’s Global Business and Social Enterprise Program (GLOBASE) or an internship working within a related organization in the for profit, nonprofit or public sector.

 


 

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Columbia University Tamer Center for Social Enterprise

MBA Specialization with The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise

CREDENTIAL:
MBA

TIME COMMITMENT:
2 years (60 credits)

FIELD EXPERIENCE:
Several options available including events, internships and extracurricular projects

LOCATION:
New York City, USA

TUITION:
$$$$$ see tuition legend

CURRICULUM:

The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise MBA specialization is built off the core MBA curriculum which consists of two full-term courses and eight half-term courses. For those pursuing the specialization, there is a suggested elective pathway that is focused on growing skills and understanding of the nonprofit sector, philanthropy, social venture development, impact investing, and more.

FORMAT:

This MBA is typically completed over two years at the Columbia Business School. The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise offers several ways for students to gain experience and get connected with a wider network of people working in social enterprise. This includes the International Development Consulting Project Travel Fund, Nonprofit Board Leadership Program, and other events and internship opportunities.

NOTABLE:

Some courses in the program incorporate the Individual, Business, and Society (IBS) curriculum, which was developed by the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Center for Leadership and Ethics. The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise also has a fund that provides seed grants to early-stage social ventures affiliated with Columbia University.

 


 

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 legend

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 ledend

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 legend

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 legend

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 legend

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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