The best MBAs for social business specialists

Photo via Wisewords

Photo via Wisewords

Recently I described three reasons that social entrepreneurs, or anyone else interested in social business, should ignore MBA rankings. Standard rankings are designed in a way which inadvertently penalizes universities with any claim to focus in social enterprise. This leaves aspiring MBAs with a problem- if the rankings don’t work, how to decide the best place to study?

Fret no longer. I’ve narrowed down the top five MBA programs for social business specialists based on course offerings and, just as crucially, on the network of professors and students actually working in the field.

Want to add in your two cents? Comment below or tweet to @Social_MBA.

#1: Oxford University Said Business School

Course offerings:

  • Design for innovation and change
  • Designing better futures
  • Rethinking business
  • Social finance
  • 3 specialized social entrepreneurship electives by the Skoll Centre

Social enterprise network:

For a university located in the middle of the British countryside, it would hard to get closer to the center of the social enterprise world. Oxford SBS hosts the annual Skoll World Forum for Social Enterprise as well as the PowerShift Conference on Women in the World Economy. Students are encouraged to do independent projects in social enterprise. SBS really makes the top of the list, though, for the way social impact is integrated throughout the MBA program.

#2: Stanford Graduate School of Business

Course offerings:

  • Social entrepreneurship and social innovation
  • Social ventures
  • Strategic management of non-profit organizations and social ventures
  • Funding social impact: Methods and measurement
  • Scaling change

Social enterprise network:

Stanford host the Centers for Entrepreneurial Studies and for Social Innovation. It also promotes its strong links with the venture capitalists and impact investment communities of California. Stanford is only exceeded by Oxford in terms of social business offerings. In addition, students can take up to 12 class units from outside the business school.

#3: MIT Sloan School

Course offerings:

  •  Strategies in sustainable business
  •  Social innovation and entrepreneurship
  •  System dynamics
  •  Business model innovation: global health
  •  Lab: international development
  •  Lab: ICT for development
  •  Development ventures
  •  Environmental and social change
  •  Ethical practice
  •  Sustainability products and ventures
  •  Innovation, entrepreneurship and development
  • …many more environmental courses

Social enterprise network:

Sloane students have the option of completing a sustainability certificate, which has a dual social and environmental focus. MIT is probably your best bet if you want to do as much work in environmental issues as social ones. MIT students can also enroll in courses at Harvard

#4:  Yale School of Management

Course offerings:

  • Global social entrepreneurship
  • Leading mission driven organizations
  • Managing social enterprises
  • Micro-finance and economic development
  • Impact investment
  • Non-profit management in a dynamic environment

Social enterprise network:

Yale is known for its specialty in non-profit management, and in recent years has extended into social business.  Non-profit courses still outweigh those focused on social enterprise, but it’s a good start.  Yale SOM students can also register across other university electives.

#5: Harvard Business School

Course offerings:

  • Business at the base of the pyramid
  • Managing social enterprise
  • Entrepreneurship and technology innovations in education
  • Social innovation lab: field course
  • Reimagining capitalism

Social enterprise network:

The HBS offering is respectable, but bear in mind that the HBS class is huge: 900 students per year. This means social enterprise is a focus, but it’s easy to get lost. HBS students can also enroll in courses at the highly ranked MIT Sloane Business School

#6: Duke University Fuqua Business School

Course offerings:

  • Advanced seminar in social entrepreneurship
  • Impact investing
  • Poverty reduction and the international financial institutions
  • Innovation and policy entrepreneurship

Social enterprise network:

The Fuqua school offers social enterprise as one of eight possible concentrations. The business school courses are limited but students can take courses from the other schools.  The downside here is that in North Carolina football, not social enterprise, is the focus, so don’t count on the type of network as the other schools on this list.

Alexa Roscoe is the Founder of The Social MBA and a Forte Fellow in the Oxford Said Business School class of 2015. Follow her on Twitter @AlexaRoscoe and @Social_MBA.




3 thoughts on “The best MBAs for social business specialists

  1. I think Yale SOM is one of the school that should be mentioned. A lot of courses offering in this area, and it is currently seen as #1 Non-Profit school in the US.

  2. Pingback: The top MBAs for social business specialists | Alexa Roscoe

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