Why Choose a Social Entrepreneurship MBA

Turn the clock back by 10 years and someone who wanted to find anything relating to “social entrepreneurship” would have a hard time coming up with any results. Today, however, social entrepreneurship is all around us. It is believed that this is due to the fact that people want to make a difference and feel like what they do matters. They want to improve the environment, or they want to help deprived communities build themselves up.

It is also known that the MBA degree, which is traditionally a degree that helped to design the next generation of capitalists – everything that a social entrepreneur is not in other words – has started to become more versatile. Indeed, there are now many social enterprises, such as the Acumen Fund, Habitat for Humanity International, the Children’s Cancer Research Fund, the Alzheimer’s Association, World Vision and the Center for Applied Philanthropy, who are all championed and guided by MBA holders.

What We Do

Someone with an MBA in Social Entrepreneurship has been able to break through the barriers between entrepreneurship and social responsibility. They have been able to bring these two once polar opposite elements together and have become truly successful business leaders. Essentially, this degree is designed to help people put their ideas into actions, allowing them to drive a business not to generate a profit, but to generate a social and meaningful difference to communities and the world as a whole.

There is a big difference to be aware of between social entrepreneurs and regular entrepreneurs. Essentially, social entrepreneurs do not want to design a new industry. Rather, they want to find solutions to various social problems and ensure these can be implemented across the world. Essentially, they are change agents who can spot an opportunity anywhere. They do not care about profit, but only about social value.

Why It’s Hot

There has been a huge shift in the way MBAs work and focus, which has allowed social entrepreneurship to become a part of that. One catalyst for this was the financial crisis. People became aware that capitalism has some problems. Indeed, they became and are continuing to become, more interested in being philanthropic rather than profitable.

Furthermore, there has been a shift in perception. No longer is social entrepreneurship seen as something hippie dippy without any real benefit. Instead, it has been proven that social entrepreneurship helps not only communities to become more prosperous, but that this snowballs into more profitable organizations as well.

Unsurprisingly, given this background, those who hold an MBA in Social Entrepreneurship are not the best paid MBA holders in the industry. However, they do not work for peanuts either. According to Payscale.com, all entrepreneurs earn between $60,923 and $119,032, although it is reasonable to assume that social entrepreneurs will be nearer to the bottom of that scale.

Work Environment

Social entrepreneurs can work anywhere. This ranges from single garage offices for someone who wants to go at it alone, to a huge penthouse office in a Fortune 500 company that takes its social responsibility seriously. Social entrepreneurs can be employed all over the world, from impoverished villages in Africa to wealthy neighborhoods in Beverly Hills. They work with computers and with people, with paper and with tools. As such, they can quite literally be found anywhere, making this one of the most versatile MBA degree programs out there.

How to Do It

In order to obtain an MBA in Social Entrepreneurship, you must first complete a four year bachelor’s degree. While there is no set requirement for the major you should have focused on, you will certainly set yourself apart if your major was in a liberal art. One of the reasons for this is that acceptance to these programs is incredibly competitive and schools will always look for the best of the best applicants. It is also likely that you will have to pass the GMAT exam before being accepted, so you must do well on this. Do also apply for a number of different schools if you can, as this will increase your chances of being accepted to at least one of them.

There are both on campus and online options to choose from. One on campus option that is highly respected is the MBA Social Entrepreneurship Concentration offered by Duke University – The Fuqua School of Business. This program is designed for those who want to make a positive social impact in the world. It is a flexible program that allows students to choose a specific area of social entrepreneurship that they may be interested in, such as environmental sustainability, power and politics, effective advocacy and more.

MBA in Social Entrepreneurship Online

On the other hand, many people prefer to study online. One of the reasons for this is that most prospective MBA students are already employed and do not want to give up their employment in order to go back to school. Secondly, studying online usually increases opportunities for international interaction, either by working together with international students or by actually enrolling in a school abroad.

  1. Master of Business Administration Social Ventures ConcentrationSalve Regina University – This degree prepares graduates who understand that social problems can be solved through business units and how businesses are able to provide benefits and solutions to these problems. The program focuses on being sustainable and having a positive social impact, be that in for profit or not for profit organizations.
  2. MBA in Sustainable ManagementPresidio Graduate School – While much of the curriculum of this program is delivered online, some residency requirements are in place as well. Sustainable management, for Presidio, means much more than environmental sustainability and focuses very strongly on the aspects of social entrepreneurship as well.
  3. Online MBA with a specialty stream in Social Enterprise LeadershipUniversity of Fredericton Canada Sandermoen School of Business – This is a 14 course degree program designed for current entry level managers who want to advance their career and make a positive social impact.
  4. Online MBA Degree: Social Entrepreneurship TrackCumberland University – This degree program is highly acclaimed, not in the least because students can choose between taking electives or completing a research project. Additionally, it is one of the most affordable MBA degrees of its kind.
  5. SE Education: MBA ProgramINSEAD The Business School of the World – This degree program shows the commitment the school has towards social responsibility. They have this year launched their Social Entrepreneurship Catalyst to further support this commitment.
  6. MBA in Corporate Social ResponsibilitySouthern New Hampshire University – This program delivers managers who are at the forefront driving socially responsible business practices.
  7. MBA Leadership and SustainabilityUniversity of Cumbria – Cumbria University, in the United Kingdom, is known for its overall commitment to sustainability and green practices. They have combined their excellent MBA programs with this vision, to create an MBA in Leadership and Sustainability that is unique around the world.
  8. Online MBA in Sustainable BusinessMarylhurst University – This program is also known as a green MBA, and it offers four different concentrations, being food systems management, renewable energy, green IT and green development.

Pros & Cons

Every education and career choice has pros and cons and it is important to be aware of these before committing to these choices.


  • You will have an opportunity to develop your education and use this to make a positive impact to communities and the world as a whole.
  • Demand for professionals who want to make a social impact is very high, so you should not have any difficulties in finding a job.
  • Personal job satisfaction can be very high, and you will also earn the respect of your peers and the communities you serve.
  • You can get to work anywhere in the world, for any type of organization, as well as developing your own.


  • The cost of achieving an MBA, both in terms of time and money, can be high.
  • There are not many online programs available yet that focus specifically on social entrepreneurship. Hence, you may have to put your career on hold in order to attend an on campus school.
  • While the potential for job satisfaction is high, you may also feel as if you are unable to make the changes you propose due to budget and regulatory constraints.

Financial Aid

Career Paths

The main career for someone with an MBA in Social Entrepreneurship is to work as a social entrepreneur. However, this is a very broad term. As such, some more specific example of what others have done before will give a greater understanding of the variety of jobs that are available:

  • Selling ready-made reading glasses to poorer countries, as done by Jordan Kassalow.
  • Developing cheap lights for countries with unreliable electricity, as done by D. Light Design.
  • Creating fertilizers using waste streams, as done by Tom Skazy.
  • Developing products for premature babies in countries with unreliable electricity, such as the Thermpod.
  • Performing research into poverty action, as Dean Karlan does.
  • Founding new social enterprises such as Social Venture Movement.

Further Reading

Suggested Websites

Six websites with helpful resources for those working in a field relevant to an MBA in Social Entrepreneurship, some being for profit and others being not for profit businesses and organizations.