master of science in social entrepreneurship

Last Updated on August 12, 2023 by Oluwajuwon Alvina

Social Entrepreneurship Programs: 23 Universities Paving the Way

Posted Inleadership, management, & culturenews, research, & trends

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Today’s social problems demand the attention of the world’s brightest minds and entrepreneurs. To prepare future innovators, the institutions that nurture tomorrow’s leaders—our universities—are equipping students with the skills they need to effect meaningful change. Whether you’re ready to apply for a Masters in Social Innovation or simply want to learn more about a career in social impact, these universities have some of the top social entrepreneurship programs available today.

In no particular order, below are 23 universities that are committed to providing an educational path for social entrepreneurs. Select the social entrepreneurship program that’s right for you and receive a business education that will empower you to join the next generation of thought-leaders who change the world.

Free Report: World-Changing Work, The Modern Nonprofit Professional’s Experience

1. University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania social entrepreneurship programs

Founded: 1740
Located: Philadelphia, PA
Student-Faculty Ratio: 6:1
Fun Fact: Famously founded by Benjamin Franklin.

Social Entrepreneurship Programs:

The Wharton School offers an undergraduate concentration in Social Impact & Responsibility, as well as an MBA/MSW in partnership with the Penn School of Social Policy and Practice.

At the Penn School of Social Policy & Practice you can earn a Master of Social Work, an MS in Social Policy or Nonprofit Leadership, or a PhD in Social Welfare. They also offer several dual degree programs and certificates.

The Center for Social Impact Strategy is also a part of the School of Social Policy & Practice. Completely focused on providing students with the resources they need to bring their innovative ideas for social good to fruition, the Center offers executive and doctoral programs and free Coursera courses. It’s also home to the Schwartz Family Penn Impact Lab, a one-week program in Costa Rica followed by five-months at the university for social entrepreneurs looking to jumpstart projects.

2. The University of Oxford

Image of University of Oxford where they offer social entrepreneurship programs.

Founded: Unclear, but Oxford has held classes in some facet since 1096.
Located: Oxford, United Kingdom
Student-Faculty Ratio: 10:6
Fun Fact: The stairs at Christ Church College were the inspiration for the entrance to Hogwarts’ Great Hall in the Harry Potter books and were used to shoot scenes in the films.

Social Entrepreneurship Programs:

Oxford’s MBA programme at the Said Business School offers three social entrepreneurship electives that cover international social entrepreneurship, innovation and social entrepreneurship, and design and development. The Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the Said Business School also offers five fully funded MBA scholarships to individuals invested in social innovation.

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3. Duke University

Founded: 1838
Located: Durham, NC
Student-Faculty Ratio: 8:1
Fun Fact: Famous alumni include Melinda French Gates ’86 (MBA’87).

Social Entrepreneurship Programs:

Duke University offers an undergraduate certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Notable classes within this concentration include:

  • Social Innovation
  • Performance and Social Change
  • Video for Social Change
  • The Short Audio Documentary
  • Music and Social Entrepreneurship
  • Leading as a Social Entrepreneur
  • Social Entrepreneurship in Action

The Fuqua School of Business offers an MBA program with a concentration in Social Entrepreneurship through the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE). Available classes include Impact Investing and Advanced Social Entrepreneurship.

4. Yale University

Yale University, where they offer social entrepreneurship programs.

Founded: 1701
Located: New Haven, CT
Student-Faculty Ratio: 6:1
Fun Fact: Yale is home to the longest running collegiate daily newspaper. It has been printed five days a week since 1878.

Social Entrepreneurship Programs:

At the Yale School of Management, the Program on Social Enterprise (PSE) holistically discusses nonprofits, social enterprises, and public sector social entrepreneurship. The program’s goal is to provide students with an understanding of how to use their business skills and market knowledge to create social solutions.

The courses offered cover a wide range of topics. Whether you want to focus on Global Social Entrepreneurship, or Managing Social Enterprises, or Urban Poverty and Economic Development, you’re sure to find something suited to your interests.

5. Stanford University

Stanford University, where they offer social entrepreneurship programs

Founded: 1891
Located: Stanford, CA
Student-Faculty Ratio: 4:1
Fun Fact: Since 1908, a Stanford student has won a medal in every Olympic Games.

Social Entrepreneurship Programs:

At the Stanford Graduate School of Business, you can complete a Certificate in Public Management and Social Innovation within your MBA or MS program. The certificate offers the flexibility to focus on a specific industry within the social sector. For example, students may dedicate their studies to environmental sustainability, health, economic opportunity, or education. The program also allows students to approach their area of interest as they see fit through either a nonprofit leadership or social enterprise/business approach.

6. University of California-Berkeley

Founded: 1868
Located: Berkeley, CA
Student-Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Fun Fact: UC Berkeley boasts three graduates famous for their various roles in Star Trek productions: Chris Pine, John Cho, and George Takei.

Social Entrepreneurship Programs:

At the Berkeley Haas School of Business, students enrolled in the full-time MBA program can pursue areas of emphasis such as Corporate Social Responsibility, Energy and Clean Technology, and Social Sector Leadership.

Undergraduates at UC-Berkeley may also access business courses through the Haas School, including Philanthropy: A Cross-Cultural Perspective, Topics in Nonprofit Management, Topics in Corporate Responsibility, and Entrepreneurship to Address Global Poverty.

7. Northwestern University

northwestern university

Founded: 1851
Located: Evanston, IL
Student-Faculty Ratio: 7:1
Fun Fact: The nation’s largest student-run charity event takes place at the school every year in the form of a 30-hour dance-a-thon.

Social Entrepreneurship Programs:

For undergraduates, Northwestern University offers a major in Social Policy. This area of study examines how policy and institutions have the power to impact society, and it incorporates hands-on experience through a quarter-long internship.

The Kellogg School of Management offers “pathways” for their students to work in industries that are currently emerging. Kellogg’s Social Impact Pathway features classes such as:

  • Public Economics for Business Leaders
  • Federal Policy
  • Leading Mission-Driven Enterprises
  • Sustainability Reporting and Analysis
  • Microfinance and the Role of Financial Institutions in Development
  • Medical Technologies in Developing Countries

8. Harvard University

Founded: 1636
Located: Cambridge and Boston, MA
Student-Faculty Ratio: 7:1
Fun Fact: Famous alumni include eight signees of the Declaration of Independence and eight U.S. Presidents.

Social Entrepreneurship Programs:

The Social Enterprise Program at the Harvard Business School provides students with an opportunity to take electives and receive field-training that prepare them to apply social enterprise skills to any area in the sector. Their MBA program offers courses such as Leading Social Enterprise and a Field Course: Social Innovation Lab.

Boston is also home to the Collaborative, a top conference for nonprofit leaders. Learn more about the conference here:

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9. University of Michigan

Located: Detroit, MI
Student-Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Fun Fact: The University of Michigan introduced their now rivals, Notre Dame, to football in 1879 during a pit stop on their way to a game against the University of Chicago.

Social Entrepreneurship Programs:

At the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, their MBA program offers an impressive number of classes through the Center for Social Impact for both their graduate and undergraduate students. In fact, part of the school’s overall mission is to develop leaders focused on social impact.

Graduate courses include topics like:

  • Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  • Nonprofit and Public Management
  • Advocacy and Social Change
  • Public Policy and Social Impact Law
  • Corporate Responsibility and Ethics
  • Nonprofit Finance, Fundraising, and Development

Undergraduates may complete courses such as Fundraising and the Arts, Introduction to Nonprofits, and Change by Design.

10. Cornell University

Image of Cornell University, where they offer social entrepreneurship programs.

Founded: 1865
Located: Ithaca, NY
Student-Faculty Ratio: 9:1
Fun Fact: Apart from the 745-acre main campus, Cornell also owns thousands of acres of nearby gardens and forests.

Social Entrepreneurship Programs:

Between their Center for Transformative Action nonprofit incubator and their Societal Solutions Scholars Program, Cornell is ripe with life-changing experiences for socially minded entrepreneurs who are eager to learn.

The Cornell Institute for Public Affairs also offers MPA students the opportunity to concentrate in Public and Nonprofit Management. Courses include Nonprofit Finance and Management, and International Public and NGO Management.

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11. Babson College

Founded: 1919
Located: Babson Park, MA
Student-Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Fun Fact: Babson’s serious business. So serious, in fact, that business is all you can major in as an undergraduate.

Social Entrepreneurship Programs:

Babson’s undergraduate program offers an entrepreneurship concentration. Within this focus, students may participate in classes such as:

  • Crowdfunding
  • Culture, Society, and Entrepreneurship in Developing Economies
  • Social Responsibility through Eco-Enterprise in Turkey
  • Social Entrepreneurship by Design

Similarly, the university’s MBA program also offers a concentration in Entrepreneurship with classes such as 21st Century Entrepreneurship: Business and Social Entrepreneurship.

Babson is also home to The Lewis Institute, a program dedicated to fostering collaboration to drive social impact. Their Social Innovation Lab works to accelerate progress toward long-term social solutions by providing participants with a space to create and test ideas.

12. University of Colorado at Boulder

University of Colorado at Boulder, which has social entrepreneurship programs.

Founded: 1876
Located: Boulder, CO
Student-Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Fun Fact: Famous Alumni include the co-creators and executive producers of hit TV show South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

Social Entrepreneurship Programs:

Undergraduates studying business at UC-Boulder may complete a Certificate in Socially Responsible Enterprise. Available classes include Business Solutions for the Developing World: Learning through Service, Integrated Reporting for Socially Responsible Strategies, and Geographies of Global Change.

The Leeds School of Business at UC-Boulder also offers socially-minded entrepreneurship classes to their MBA students such as Social Entrepreneurship in Emerging Markets.

13. Boston College

Founded: 1863
Located: Chestnut Hill, MA
Student-Faculty Ratio: 12:1
Fun Fact: When mile 21 of the Boston Marathon passes through the college campus, classes are cancelled so students can watch and support the runners.

Social Entrepreneurship Programs:

Undergraduates at Boston College can pursue a Co-Concentration in Entrepreneurship, and within this concentration they can complete a class in Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Famous for its Center for Social Innovation (CSI), Boston College also offers a Masters in Social Work: Social Innovation and Leadership Program. This comprehensive education includes not only courses, but hands-on learning opportunities such as field work, prototyping exercises, and a social innovation lab.

14. New York University

Founded: 1831
Located: New York City, NY
Student-Faculty Ratio: 10:1
Fun Fact: NYU’s Celebrity alumni list is one for the record books and includes Martin Scorsese, Judy Blume, Adam Sandler, and Alec Baldwin.

Social Entrepreneurship Programs:

New York University (NYU) undergraduates who complete the social impact curriculum participate in a four-course series over the course of their degree. Through the Leonard N. Stern School of Business, students cover:

  • Business and Its Publics
  • Organizational Communications and Its Social Context
  • Law, Business, and Society
  • Professional Responsibility

NYU also has the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Program in Social Entrepreneurship, which offers graduate fellowships, undergraduate scholarships, workshops, and other resources for individuals pursuing a career in this field.

Graduate students may pursue an MPA in Public Nonprofit Management and Policy at Wagner, or an MBA in Social Innovation and Impact at Stern.

15. Carnegie Mellon University

Founded: 1900
Located: Pittsburgh, PA
Student-Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Fun Fact: The prison break scene in The Dark Knight Rises takes place on the steps outside of one of their research buildings, The Mellon Institute.

Social Entrepreneurship Programs:

Carnegie Mellon’s Institute for Social Innovation offers several courses for students through the Heinz College.

Relevant coursework includes classes such as:

  • Innovating for Underserved Communities: Field Research Basics
  • Design and Policy for Humanitarian Impact
  • Social Innovation Incubator
  • Economics of Development
  • Foundations of Social Innovation and Enterprise

16. American University

Founded: 1893
Located: Washington, D.C.
Student-Faculty Ratio: 12:1
Fun Fact: The central heroine in FOX drama Bones is based on real-life AU alum Kathy Reichs.

Social Entrepreneurship Programs:

The Kogod School of Business offers several notable classes for undergraduate students looking to minor or earn a certificate in entrepreneurship.

  • Social Entrepreneurship
  • Nonprofit and Social Entrepreneurship
  • Nonprofit and Social Entrepreneurship and Strategy

At American University’s School of International Service, students may receive their Master of Arts in Social Enterprise. This two-year program uses a multidisciplinary approach to give students the tools they need to launch their own enterprise or achieve success at an existing organization.

17. Georgetown University

Georgetown University, which offers several social entrepreneurship programs.

Founded: 1789
Located: Washington, D.C.
Student-Faculty Ratio: 11:1
Fun Fact: Home to The Corp, the largest student-run nonprofit organization in the world.

Social Entrepreneurship Programs:

The Beeck Center of Social Impact + Innovation offers students many different resources for getting involved in the social sector. From part-time jobs to research opportunities, to seminars and internships, students at Georgetown have a famous hub of social innovation at their fingertips.

Graduate students at the McDonough School of Business can cater their MBA coursework as they see fit and complete classes such as:

  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Leadership and Management of Nonprofit Organizations
  • Understanding Entrepreneurship

Graduate students at the McCourt School of Public Policy can also pursue a Master of International Development Policy.

18. Indiana University Bloomington

indiana bloomington social entrepreneurship program

Founded: 1820
Located: Bloomington, IN
Student-Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Fun Fact: Host of the Little 500, the largest collegiate level bicycle race in the U.S.

Social Entrepreneurship Programs:

Undergraduates at Indiana University Bloomington can complete certificates in Nonprofit Management and Entrepreneurship, as well as major in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Within this major, students can take individual interest courses such as Art and Social Change, and Cultural Planning and Urban Development.

Full-time MBA students at the Kelley School of Business can complete a certificate program in Social Entrepreneurship. Classes such as Social Entrepreneurship, Sustainability, GLOBASE: Business Leadership/Social Outreach, The Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector, and Fund Development for Nonprofits all prepare students to use their business degree to solve social problems.

19. American Jewish University

Founded: 1947
Located: Los Angeles, CA
Student-Faculty Ratio: 7:1
Fun Fact: American Jewish University was born from the 2007 merger of Brandeis-Bardin Institute and the University of Judaism.

Social Entrepreneurship Programs:

American Jewish University offers an MBA in Nonprofit Management. Within this degree program, students can specialize in Social Entrepreneurship in a Diverse World, Fund Development, or Jewish Community Leadership.

Their course offering includes classes such as:

  • Social Entrepreneurship: Vision, Design, Evaluation
  • Managerial Finance in Nonprofit Organizations
  • Public Policy, Law, and Taxation
  • Cause Marketing and Communications
  • The Art and Science of Planned Giving

20. Pepperdine University

Founded: 1937
Located: Los Angeles, CA
Student-Faculty Ratio: 12.5:1
Fun Fact: Pepperdine is included on The Princeton Review’s list of Green Colleges and 99 percent of on-campus irrigation is recycled water.

Social Entrepreneurship Programs:

Pepperdine University offers a Masters of Arts in Social Entrepreneurship and Change. This online hybrid program consists of a combination of online and in-person instruction and is designed for people who are employed or already enrolled in school full-time. This master’s program is built around the belief that real change must begin from within—both on an individual and a community level. Students prove their individual dedication during the one-year capstone project where they each build a nonprofit organization and pitch it to a panel of existing social entrepreneurs.

Read Next: Is a Social Impact Incubator Right for You?

21. University of Southern California

Founded: 1880
Located: Los Angeles, California
Student-Faculty Ratio8:1
Fun Fact: USC has had more gold medal Olympians than any other U.S. university.

Social Entrepreneurship Programs:

Students can receive a Master of Science in Social Entrepreneurship at The Marshall School of Business. The skill-based curriculum is made up of nine required courses and two electives that take place on the University Park Campus. Students also study current events to gain familiarity with local and global challenges across cause sectors.

Required courses include:

  • Accounting Concepts and Financial Reporting
  • Marketing Management
  • Strategic Formulation for Competitive Advantage
  • Corporate Finance
  • Investing in Impact Ventures
  • Cases in Feasibility Analysis
  • Social Entrepreneurship: Design, Develop, and Deliver
  • Social Innovation Design
  • Social Entrepreneurship

22. University of Oregon

Founded: 1876
Located: Eugene, Oregon
Student-Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Fun Fact: The University of Oregon mascot may look familiar—because it’s Donald Duck! University of Oregon is the only U.S. university with a Disney character as a mascot.

Master of Nonprofit Management degree at the University of Oregon prepares students for the unique skills required for leadership roles within philanthropic work. Their program emphasizes real-life training and all students are required to serve on the board of a nonprofit organization during the program. This degree is made up of four components:

  • Core courses
  • Elective field of interest
  • Internship and professional development training
  • Management sequence and consultancy project

23. University of San Diego

Founded: 1949
Located: San Diego, California
Student-Faculty Ratio: 14:
Fun Fact: The Princeton Review ranked USD second for “Best Campus Environment.”

Social Entrepreneurship Programs:

USD’s Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies offers a Master of Arts in Social Innovation. Students learn how to look at the root cause of social issues and think critically about how they can create sustainable, scalable business solutions to the social and justice challenges of our world.

The program places an emphasis on six learning areas:

  • Systems perspective
  • Analytical capabilities
  • Experimentation in design
  • Implementation and impact assessment
  • Problem-solving

Have you attended a social entrepreneurship program or earned a social innovation degree? Tell us about your experience in the comments—we’re always interested to hear about the best opportunities for social impact learning.

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