Business was once viewed as separate and distinct from the social sector—now, the two are firmly linked, creating new domains of partnership and possibility.
With Questrom’s Social Impact Full-Time MBA program (formerly the Public & Nonprofit MBA), you’ll study at the vital juncture where business fundamentals meet opportunities to create social value.
Whether you aspire to work at a nonprofit organization, a for-profit company, or in government, Questrom’s Social Impact MBA program gives you the chance to learn and apply rigorous business skills in the service of positive social change.
While you’re here, you’ll explore subjects such as leadership, strategy, marketing, corporate social responsibility, financial management, and public policy—the drivers of organizational success and solutions to social problems. You’ll develop bonds with your classmates and learn from their diverse backgrounds, ranging from the Peace Corps to banking, mentoring to marketing, and grassroots nonprofits to global corporations. You’ll be fully integrated in Questrom’s dynamic MBA curriculum and community.
The Social Impact MBA program will connect you with best-in-class nonprofits and social-purpose businesses through consulting projects, board service, case competitions, guest speakers, and classroom activities. Studying in Boston puts you at the center of the action, enabling you to engage directly with experts and leaders in the social sector—both in and out of the classroom.
Full-Time Social Impact MBA Program Requirements
The full-time Social Impact MBA program and our Full-Time MBA program share the same core curriculum. However, with the Social Impact MBA you’ll be able to specialize your MBA degree with our Social Impact targeted electives. Students must take one required course and choose three additional Social Impact electives in order to earn the Social Impact specialization.
The required Social Impact course:
Fundamentals of Nonprofit Management (QSTOB841)
The purpose of this course is to teach students about the distinctive challenges of managing high-performing organizations in the nonprofit sector. The course will cover a broad range of topics and it is intended to be a gateway course to the sector and to potential electives and pathways of future learning. The two major projects in the semester (one is individual, one in a team) offer students the chance to choose an area of interest to explore in depth. Other assignments challenge students to identify and analyze key indicators of nonprofit performance and to communicate effectively about those issues to selected stakeholders. A strong grounding in nonprofit accounting and financial management is extremely valuable and so we devote considerable attention to those topics. The course also addresses nonprofit marketing, evaluation, fundraising and revenue generation, growth strategy, impact investing, and the confluence of charity and commerce. The course is oriented to practice and will engage experts in the field.
Full-Time MBA students at Questrom have choices—10 electives within the program to be exact. Social Impact MBA students are only required to take 4 social impact electives and may use the additional 6 electives as they wish. You can either take additional social impact electives, pursue another concentration altogether, or explore any elective we offer that fits your interests.
Here’s a sample of some of the Social Impact electives you’ll be able to choose from.
Latin American Field Seminar (QSTIM852)
This intensive ten day seminar provides students with a broad understanding of the ways in which business strategies can create value at the base of the economic pyramid. Students will gain first-hand experience of how businesses, NGOs (non-governmental organizations), and governments are using models of social enterprise to address social and economic issues in the fields of health, education, and the environment in the context of emerging markets in Latin America. This study program includes extensive site visits to social enterprises, multi-national firms, NGO ventures, and government organizations. Students also hear from a wide variety of Latin American specialists in topic areas. A broad range of topics will be covered including: renewable energy, sustainable development, eco-tourism, new models for providing health and education services to underserved populations, social enterprise, micro-enterprise, corporate social responsibility, and public/private partnerships. The course will consist of three pre-departure sessions focused on social enterprise, corporate social responsibility, and emerging markets. Students are also expected to select an individual research track of interest for the duration of the seminar. This seminar is open to all full-time and part-time MBA and MSDi students. Full-time students may register for it as a spring elective, part-time students can register for it as they see fit, students graduating in May can register for this class in the Spring and still participate in commencement ceremonies, and MSDi students may take it in year two.
Corporate Social Responsibility Marketing (QSTMK867)
Globalization, increasing transparency in business operations and the prevalence of social media have forever changed the way stakeholders view and interact with organizations. Societal and business imperatives are not only often considered compatible; they can be increasingly viewed as one and the same. People today often communicate, organize and engage based on mutual interests, and, generally, place greater trust in organizations and individuals that work for a better world. Marketing has often been referred to as the "science of sales." Whether you are selling a product, an intervention or an idea, it can be a powerful tool for advancing social change in today's dynamic environment. The strategic integration of a relevant social purpose into a product, business or nonprofit organization through brand-building citizenship activities can drive consumer and donor recall, consideration, acquisition, retention and propensity to recommend. However, these efforts do not usually constitute a "silver bullet" and may not be the best solution to a business problem or societal need at all. In the worst cases, ill-conceived citizenship marketing strategies can result in damaging consequences. Practitioners must be pragmatic when engaging in marketing social change. Understanding how to apply best practice, identify opportunities, address challenges, engage stakeholders and innovate strategically are essential skills in this rapidly evolving sector. The purpose of this course is to provide students with an in-depth understanding of how marketing principles can be applied to create both short-term and lasting social change. Students will explore dimensions of the modern landscapes of brand, corporate and nonprofit "citizenship" and how they relate to marketing. Areas of study include: cause-related marketing and cause branding; nonprofit branding and social movements, as well as corporate social responsibility and shared value creation.
Leading the Mission-Driven Organization (QSTOB830)
Mission-driven organizations are created in order to accomplish goals that extend beyond profits for stakeholders and owners. Missions vary, ranging from, among many others, improving health care, providing meaningful work opportunities, educating or protecting youth, safeguarding the planet, eradicating poverty, building sustainable organizations, and enabling spirituality. Such missions occur in the context of various organizations, including non-profit and for-profit, philanthropic and religious, public and private, governmental and non-governmental. This course focuses on leadership theories, frameworks, and practices that take seriously the nature of workers, including both professional staff and volunteers, and their reasons for choosing to work in such organizations. This course is designed to build the capacities of students to use specific tools related to leadership, conflict, and change that are particularly useful in leading mission- driven organizations, and enable them to develop particular insights about specific mission-driven organizations of interest, related to their effectiveness and capacities for change.
Leading Sustainable Enterprises (QSTOB835)
Leading and managing a sustainable and successful 21st Century Enterprise requires updated context, skills, frameworks, and vernacular. Pressures resultant from population growth and increasing consumerism have upended past assumptions related to limits. While the 19th century was characterized by limits of human capital and the 20th century was limited by financial capital, the 21st century will be limited by natural capital. Shared and improperly priced renewable resources (such as the air, the oceans and clean water) are being threatened by climate change and a host of other challenges. Other renewable resources (such as forests and fish stocks) are being consumed faster than they can be replenished and non-renewable resources (such as oil and metals) are being depleted faster than any time in human history. At the same time, transparency (enabled by technology), new modes of communication, and an ever increasing number of NGOs, are elevating consumer expectations of corporations. Finally, regulation is expanding in response to market inefficiencies and as a means of addressing externalities. While all of these changes are happening outside the walls of the corporation, they are so profound that they require a reexamination of the past modes of leadership and management inside the Enterprise. For starters, leaders must reconsider the mission of their enterprise and identify and prioritize the stakeholders that the corporation is committed to serve. In addition, leaders will be challenged to reimagine the appropriate framework for the corporation, understanding newly extended boundaries of responsibility. Thoughtful leaders will also look around corners to try to understand the inter-relationships of heretofore not considered interactions and feedback loops.
Management Consulting Field Project (QSTOB840)
The purpose of this course is to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the management consulting process and its practical application. Students will explore dimensions of the consulting framework, engagements, work methodology, client relationship management, value creation, developing and delivering presentations and client follow-up. This course requires a series of interim deliverables contributing toward the final deliverable. This course is primarily a field-based course supported by lectures, readings, guest speakers and case discussions. The course simulates a small consulting firm where you are the consultant. By working on a consulting assignment with team members as well as using your classmates as resources for your project you are gaining the "real world" experience of working in a small consulting firm. This class is designed and best suited for second year students who have 3-5 years work experience in the public, private or nonprofit sectors. Management consulting experience is not required though it is helpful.
Clean Technologies and Supply Chains (QSTOM845)
The clean technology industry is one of the largest sectors of the economy and yet still undergoing significant growth and attracting a plethora of new entrants. It has been characterized by a great deal of experimentation around new technologies and around business models in the face of regulatory and market place disruptions. The course uses a combination of cases, simulation and analytical exercises to review trends and their co-evolution within the clean technology/energy eco-system. It aims to build a skill set around risk and opportunity assessment, and allied implementation challenges. This course is aligned with the requirements of the Entrepreneurship, PNP and Strategy concentrations.
Strategic Fundraising and Corporate Philanthropy (QSTPL837)
This course is designed to help students develop a sophisticated understanding of the field of philanthropy and its role in building successful nonprofit organizations. The course is designed for students who want to become effective nonprofit managers and development professionals, securing financial resources for charitable organizations from foundations, corporations, and individuals. It is also designed to help students become thoughtful stewards of philanthropic funds as a foundation trustee or program officer, corporate giving officer, or individual philanthropist. Accordingly, the course will alternately adopt the perspective of the grant-seeker and the grant-maker. This approach will help prepare future leaders in the field, whether providers of funding or applicants for it, to understand the current and historical context of their work and to ask the right questions of prospective funders, prospective grantees, and their own organizations. The course will consider diverse viewpoints on philanthropy and explore some alternatives to traditional grant-making.
Social Entrepreneurship (QSTPL850)
The Social Entrepreneurship course is designed to: (1) explore the concepts, practices, opportunities, and challenges of social entrepreneurship; (2) provide frameworks and tools that will help students be more effective in this sector; and (3) provide an opportunity for students to create a business plan for a new social enterprise or an income-generating initiative of a nonprofit organization. In the business plan project, student teams will partner with external organizations. Students will identify and analyze opportunities, resources, and risks and apply skills from marketing, accounting, organizational behavior, strategy and other disciplines. Special emphasis will be placed on aspects of business planning and organizational strategy that are particularly challenging or distinctive in the social sector, including mission definition, leadership, organizational structure, raising capital, and measuring results.
Public Policy Analysis (QSTPL882)
This course explores the economics of the public sector and the impact government policy and programs have on society and business. The course provides students with tools to systematically examine the financing and measure the impact of government policies and regulations. It explores the rationale for government intervention, appropriate levels of intervention and how to measure the effectiveness of policies and regulations. This course is helpful to those who desire a deeper understanding of the central role government plays in the economy and how government impacts the business and nonprofit sectors.
Foundations of Environmental Sustainability (QSTSI836)
The changing relationship between business and the natural environment offers both challenges and opportunities for firms. In this course we will discuss many facets of business, including financing, risk management, measurement, competitive positioning, innovation, and strategy in the context of increasing pressures for improved environmental sustainability. The course will be interactive and discussion-oriented, with a case discussion in most class sessions, supplemented by debates, simulation exercises, visitors, student presentations, discussions of recent news articles, and mini-lectures. The course is appropriate for all students interested in how demands for sustainability will continue to change the business environment.
Strategic Analysis of Energy & Environmental Sustainability Projects (QSTSI847)
This course is a field-based team project course focused on real world issues related to energy and environmental sustainability. Course projects are provided by external "client" organizations and provide students with an integrative, hands-on experience in the development, deployment, and/or implementation of sustainable energy/environmental technologies/systems/initiatives. Examples of client organizations are public/private/non-governmental organizations that operate in the: a) energy generation, distribution or storage sector, b) energy/energy services (ESCO)/environmental services sector, c) energy/environmental project development services or financing sector, or d) public/private sector, such as a large energy-user evaluating sustainable energy/environmental strategy/implementation alternatives. The course is of hybrid design, blending in-class lectures, panel discussions and cases with on-line elements and field site visits. Prior course work in areas such as finance, marketing, policy and strategy will be augmented with specific/relevant industry/application/technical content through online sources, webinars and expert speakers.
Corporate Sustainability Strategy (QSTSI849)
Focuses on embedding sustainability (ESG/CSR) into corporate strategy as an approach for creating long-term shareholder/stakeholder value, where value covers the broad spectrum of economic, environmental and social outcomes. Through readings, lectures, case discussions, in-class exercises, lab session and a team project, this course will: 1) Introduce students to problem framing and environmental scanning techniques as methods for understanding macro-level social, economic and environmental systems and their implications; 2) Apply a variety of long-range strategic forecasting and analysis methods, techniques and tools through a scenario planning lab simulation; 3) Develop decision frameworks for corporate strategy development focused on creating/capturing value and managing risk through a sequence of strategic actions over time; 4) Explore newly emerging paradigms for sustainability-driven innovations in product/service, value chain and business model development and stakeholder-based, non-market actions.
Strategies for Sustainable Development (QSTSI870)
SI870: Strategies for Sustainable Development is an advanced strategy course that explores the analysis, conceptualization and development of innovative, market-based solutions for sustainable development challenges for a future defined by natural resource, environmental and biological constraints. Specifically, the course the explores 1) the complex global context for sustainable development, 2) key stakeholders, 3) the emergent strategy (entrepreneurial) development process, method and practice, and 4) the structure, governance, and financing/microeconomics of new, emergent organizational forms and business models for sustainable development, such as cross-sector cooperative alliances, public-private partnerships with a particular focus multi-stakeholder platforms. Note: Market-based solutions for sustainable development are economically self-sustaining alternatives to traditional governmentally-funded or aid-based programs for addressing systemic social, economic and environmental problems. These solutions engage public, private, NGO and civil society actors and employ a variety in emerging organizational forms (both for profit and non-profit), innovative business models and strategies to deliver effective solutions at scale. The course takes a stakeholder-oriented, system-of-systems approach to the issues of sustainable development with a specific focus on the network of interrelated actors and interdependent issues within the class of "wicked problems"; .i.e. social, economic or environmental problems that are difficult to frame, scope and seemingly insoluble because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements. Cases, readings, video and lectures will establish global context and sustainable development worldview across nine countries; Brazil, China, India, Israel, Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and South Africa, and explore solutions to a range of issues from energy, food, water and climate change to health, education, economic inclusion, gender equity, security, organized crime and the informal. Students will work in teams to initially identify, frame and scope a complex, global sustainable development challenge and then work throughout the semester to research, conceptualized, evaluate and propose a global initiative for a market-based solution to that challenge.
Not only will you get the chance to specialize your focus with our intensive electives, all Social Impact students get the opportunity to add an internship to their MBA. Full-time students are required to take this opportunity to break out of the classroom and experience hands-on learning to bring their education straight into the field. Part-time students may waive the internship requirement with applicable work experience, pending permission of the Social Impact MBA faculty director.
You won’t just develop bonds with your diverse classmates while you’re here, the benefits of being a student in the program will continue even after you complete it. We’ll connect you with alumni and professionals who share your public and nonprofit sector interests and goals. Even after graduation, you’ll be reaping all the benefits that our Social Impact alumni network has to offer.
Don’t worry about being pigeonholed. Many of our students secure jobs with blue-chip for-profit companies such as Nike, IBM, and AT&T—and Social Impact MBA is an asset on their resume. In addition, you can tailor your Social Impact MBA with a concentration OR simply take electives that fall within a concentration you’re interested in. The program provides breadth and depth, and sets you up for success across sectors.
- Energy & Environmental Sustainability
- Leadership & Organizational Transformation
- Operations & Technology Management
- Strategy & Innovation
Related Degree Programs
You can take on the Social Impact MBA at a full-time or part-time pace. We also give you the opportunity to customize your degree with a concentration. Or, tackle two areas at once with our joint degree options. It’s your vision. We’ll help you make it real.
Take the Next Step
See for yourself how the Questrom experience can transform your world. Attend an admissions event in-person or online, grab coffee with a student, sit in on a class, and more. Ready to apply? Once you’ve submitted your materials, we’ll start the review process. We’re happy to answer your questions along the way.