Social Enterprise Master’s
The Social Enterprise Master’s program from American University’s top-ranked School of International Service teaches the principles of social entrepreneurship, innovation, and socially responsible business practices. The online Social Enterprise Master’s program combines courses in management and social change to give students the skills and knowledge to successfully launch or thrive within enterprises that advance a social mission.
Career Paths in Social Enterprise
This online master’s in social enterprise is designed for passionate, globally conscious professionals in a variety of fields, all of whom share a common goal of using private sector techniques to solve social problems across the world. Students gain the skills to prepare for leadership roles within businesses that are rethinking traditional capitalism or within nonprofits and NGOs that want to become more dynamic and self-sufficient. By exchanging ideas with other professionals who share these priorities, students can bring new ideas to this field while developing valuable professional relationships.
Through the Social Enterprise Master’s program, students can take their careers in a number of directions:
- Advance within their current sector. By learning how to create and use business models to advance a social mission, students can equip themselves for leadership roles that enable them to solve international challenges.
- Begin a career in social enterprise. Students at the start of their career gain the multidisciplinary knowledge to pursue a role that aligns with their passion.
- Transition to the social impact sphere. By learning innovative approaches to advocacy and development, students can move from a public- or private-sector career to NGOs or nonprofit organizations.
- Start a socially responsible business. Aspiring entrepreneurs can acquire the skills in social innovation, project design, and global policy to start a socially responsible business anywhere in the world.
The Social Enterprise Master’s program consists of 39 or 42 credits, depending on the student’s prior economics background. Students will begin the program with a comprehensive self-assessment to help them narrow down their personal and career objectives. With 15 credits of concentration and elective courses offered by both the School of International Service (SIS) and American University’s Kogod School of Business, students can customize a large portion of the program to their specific career goals.
Throughout their core courses, students will have opportunities for hands-on experiential learning. Two in-person immersions offer real-world experience with social enterprises that straddle traditional sectors. Students are required to attend one immersion in Washington, D.C.—a city known for its social enterprise opportunities—and have the option of attending another in an international location that varies by class cohort. Although the international immersion is optional, students are highly encouraged to attend.
Students will also be invited to join their peers at conferences such as the annual Harvard Social Enterprise Conference. They will be encouraged to find opportunities to apply their learning immediately, either through work, internship, or volunteer opportunities.
Core Courses: 12 Credits
Global Social Entrepreneurship (includes required Washington, D.C., immersion) (3)
Social Innovation: Context and Best Practices (3)
Leading Social Innovation (3)
Skills Institutes (example: Persuasive Communication) (3)
Economics: 3–6 Credits
Introduction to Economic Theory (3)
Foundations of Economic Development (3)
Methods and Analysis: 6 Credits
Quantitative Methods (3)
Project Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation (3)
Concentration: 12 Credits
Private Sector Engagement with Social Issues (3)
International Negotiation (3)
Intercultural Communication (3)
Management of Organizations and Human Capital (3)
Sustainable Development and Global Environmental Politics (3)
Global Governance (3)
Conflict Assessment and Prevention (3)
Global Health Politics and Policy (3)
International Economics (3)
Marketing Management (3)
Politics of Global Development (3)
Post-War Transitions (3)
Electives: 3 Credits
International Immersion (optional but highly recommended) and Study Abroad (Learn more about the SIS Study Abroad options.)
Capstone: 3 Credits
Foreign Language Proficiency Requirement
As required of all students in our master’s programs, you will demonstrate proficiency in a modern language in addition to English before your graduation. This will sharpen your ability to work across cultures and see the world through more than one set of linguistic eyes. Learn more about the language proficiency requirement.
Applicants for the Social Enterprise Master’s program are required to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Applicants must submit the following to be considered for admission:
- Completed online application form
- Statement of purpose
- Supplemental essay about a specific social issue or problem the student feels passionate about solving
- $55 application fee
- Current résumé/CV
- Official transcripts from all academic institutions from which credit was earned
- GRE/GMAT scores (Applicants who have a master’s degree or at least five years of professional work experience are eligible to be considered for a GRE/GMAT waiver.)
- TOEFL or IELTS score, if applicable
- Two letters of recommendation
The School of International Service also offers an on-campus Social Enterprise Program in Washington, D.C.