The Best MBA Programs for Social Impact

Over the last few years, we at mbaMission have seen growing interest in social impact careers among aspiring MBAs. Amid this increasing desire to make significant, positive change that solves critical social issues, business schools have responded by introducing new coursework and resources in social impact; environmental, social, and governance (ESG); and related topics. If you are seeking a purpose-driven career in sustainability, impact investing, or nonprofit management, which MBA programs are best? 

At mbaMission, I have helped countless business school candidates thoughtfully choose their target MBA programs. In this post, I share some “must consider” programs if you are interested in social impact as well as other programs that should be on your radar if you want to pursue a social impact career. 

Berkeley Haas, the Yale School of Management (SOM), Duke Fuqua, and Oxford Saïd offer robust resources that have consistently attracted socially minded applicants.  

Berkeley Haas 

Berkeley Haas has four defining principles, including “Beyond Yourself. The school strives to not only teach management skills but also achieve societal progress through innovation, inclusion, and sustainability. Haas has some of the most robust social impact resources, all within a wider university and city known for its progressive values. 

Perusing the course catalog, you will find such courses as “Social Investing” and “Strategy and Leadership for Social Impact.” The Institute for Business & Social Impact is a leading research center offering hands-on activities including the Berkeley Board Fellows, as well as fellowships for students focused on social impact. In addition, you can build practical social impact career experience at Haas through such clubs as Net Impact and competitions including the Patagonia Case Competition, while connecting with a network of students, alumni, and faculty who are equally passionate about social impact. 

Yale School of Management

With a long-standing mission “to educate leaders for business and society,” Yale SOM is a top choice for those interested in social impact. The school’s past admits tell us it is a place where students genuinely want to make a difference. Even the first-year MBA core curriculum at Yale SOM includes content related to social and environmental issues. The school’s website presents an impressive list of elective courses related to social impact: “Financing Green Technologies,” “Inequality and Social Mobility,” and “Global Social Entrepreneurship,” to name a few. Yale SOM’s Program on Social Enterprise is the hub for social impact activities at the school. Outside the classroom, Social Impact Week is full of mission-driven programming, all led by students, and the Social Impact Consulting Club offers pro-bono consulting services to the nonprofit and public sectors. 

Duke Fuqua

The tight-knit community at or “Team Fuqua,” as Fuquans call itprofoundly cares about using business to serve society. The school offers four concentrations related to social impact: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Energy & Environment; Leadership & Ethics; and Social Entrepreneurship. Beyond these focus areas, one of the top reasons to consider Fuqua for social impact is the school’s Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE). Through CASE, students can engage with social sector leaders at such events as the Executive Speaker Series and the Sustainable Business and Social Impact Conference. Students can also gain hands-on opportunities via such clubs as Fuqua on Board and the CASE Initiative on Impact Investing. Fuqua’s Career Management Center even has team members dedicated to social impact career development.

Oxford Saïd

Oxford Saïd is the only European school on this list. The hub of social impact at Oxford Saïd is the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, which hosts the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship and a fully funded scholarship for selected Skoll Scholars who are pursuing social entrepreneurship. A popular program within the Skoll Centre is the Impact Lab, a co-curricular opportunity that includes workshops and mentoring from alumni in impact careers.

Other MBA Programs to Consider

As mentioned earlier, many MBA programs have expanded their offerings related to social impact. So, this list would not be complete without mentioning a few more business schools to consider:

  •  GSB has a Center for Social Innovation, offers personalized learning that can encompass social impact, and conducts leading research on social and environmental problems.
  • HBS hosts a Social Enterprise Initiative and the Social Impact Fellowship Fund.
  • Kellogg offers a Social Impact pathway for its socially minded students and fosters a community-centered mindset.
  • Booth features the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation as well as one of the country’s first social venture competitions, the Social New Venture Challenge.
  • MIT Sloan’s well-regarded Sustainability Initiative manages the Sloan Social Impact Fund.
  •  Michigan Ross offers a concentration in Business and Sustainability in addition to a student-run Social Venture Fund.
  • Boston University’s full-time Social Impact MBA program aims to develop responsible leaders who will address social challenges.

If you would like help identifying which schools would be the best fit for you, or if you have questions about your competitiveness at any of these programs, we invite you to sign up for a free 30-minute consultation with one of our mbaMission admissions experts.

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