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6 MBA Programs to Launch Your Career in Social Impact (2022)

Written by Olivia Wolf 

Interested in using your MBA to reduce the achievement gap in education or increase access to clean energy? If so, read on to discover the top business schools for social impact. 

Millennials and Gen Zs place more importance on a company’s environmental and social impact than any before. In fact, studies show that 80% of consumers worldwide believe that it’s important for businesses to be sustainable, and half of MBA students would forgo a higher paycheck to work for an environmentally responsible company.

However, according to environmental policy expert Bina Venkataraman, it is entirely possible to “reap profits today by doing what’s good for tomorrow.” Gone are the days when environmental policy and business practices were placed in direct opposition. “Triple bottom line” – profit, people, and planet – is the new measure for success that many companies have adopted. The advantages can be numerous, such as greater job satisfaction, brand loyalty and lower production costs. 

Though companies are still catching on to this new standard, Ben & Jerry’s has been funding community initiatives and rejecting controversial farming practices since the 1980s. More recently, Warber Parker has distributed over 10 million eyeglasses in developing countries through its Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program. Even powerhouses like Lego are beginning to prioritize consumers’ environmental concerns. In 2014, the company ended a 50-year partnership with Shell and is currently phasing out single-use plastic packaging. 

To help prospective social impact MBA students, Corporate Knights and the Positive Impact Rating (PIR) highlight business schools across the world that prioritize social entrepreneurship. The Financial Times has an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) ranking for MBA programs which measures required classroom hours devoted to ESG topics, US News & World Report surveys business school deans and directors for its Best Non-Profit Management ranking, and Bloomberg Businessweek tracks the employment statistics of top MBA programs in the nonprofit sector. 

We’ve filtered through the plethora of information and identified six excellent programs that incorporate social responsibility inside and outside the classroom. Whichever route you choose, we look forward to seeing the ways in which your business venture helps to shape a better future. 

The Best Full-Time MBA Programs for a Career in Social Impact

Berkeley Haas

The University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business (Berkeley Haas)

Berkeley, California, United States

Famed for being the first public business school in the United States, Berkeley Haas is the only b-school that ranks on every measurement system we looked at. Besides its rigorous academics, Berkeley is also known for its progressive politics, which may explain why the school has woven social impact into its core curriculum. From getting involved in the Sustainable Investment Fund – the first of its kind – to participating in the Global Social Venture Competition, there’s no shortage of student activities. Longing to explore off campus? Internships and networking opportunities abound in the heart of the Bay Area. 

Social Impact in the Classroom

Every MBA student at Berkeley enrolls in Ethics and Responsibility in Business as part of the required coursework. For those who want a deeper dive into the world of sustainable business, consider following the b-school’s social impact career path, which suggests adding electives such as The Business Case for Investing in Women and Human Rights and Business. Students are also required to complete an applied learning component, which can be fulfilled by the course Strategic & Sustainable Business Solutions in which students work on real consulting projects for companies like Airbnb and Nike. 

Social Impact Outside the Classroom

Through the Social Sector Solutions program, students have the opportunity to collaborate with McKinsey & Company consultants to develop a business plan for a social impact organization. Students can also serve on a non-profit board as a Berkeley Board Fellow. Berkeley also has four research centers devoted to social impact that students can get involved in; at the Institute for Business & Social Impact, students can participate in digital financial technology research to help improve the lives of people around the world. The Center for Responsible Business also offers a scholarship for students committed to sustainability. Interested in working on social issues at a global scale? Consider joining the International Development & Enterprise Club, which connects students to international fellowships and travel opportunities. 

Where Do Grads End Up?

3.3% of the class of 2021 landed jobs in the nonprofit or public sector.  

Social Impact in Practice: A Berkeley Haas MBA’s Success Story

After working for seven years in finance, Pin Chin Kwok ‘09 decided to pursue an MBA to transition to the social impact sector. At the time, Berkeley Haas was one of the few b-schools that offered a strong focus on ESG issues. Kwok applied only to Berkeley, where she was accepted and eventually co-chaired the Global Social Venture Competition. Today, Kwok lives in Singapore, where she is CEO of Savonix Inc., which allows users to screen their cognitive health through mobile devices. Check out our interview with Pin to hear more about her story.

University of Vermont Grossman School of Business - Sustainable Innovation MBA

The University of Vermont, Grossman School of Business 

Burlington, Vermont, United States

The Sustainable Innovation MBA (SI-MBA) offered by the University of Vermont is the only program on our list that focuses entirely on social impact. The one-year accelerated MBA promotes itself as a program for “emerging changemakers who believe business can—and must—become a force for good.” Located in the first American city to run entirely on renewable energy, which also happens to be the home of Ben & Jerry’s, it’s no wonder that Grossman was ranked the number one “Best Green MBA” by Princeton Review three years in a row and and a top ten “Better World MBA” by Corporate Knights four years straight. Committed to both social impact and financial accessibility, the school offers four scholarships for students who demonstrate the most promise in sustainable business. 

Social Impact in the Classroom

The academic year is split into four modules: Foundations of Management, Building a Sustainable Enterprise, Growing a Sustainable Enterprise, and Focusing on Sustainability and Innovation. Each module consists of a short series of courses that incorporates social impact and ethics. Examples of classes include From CSR to Creating Sustainable Shared Value and Financing a Sustainable Venture. Additionally, leaders from B corporations and social enterprises like 1% for the Planet visit the classroom through the Innovator in Residence speaker series. 

Social Impact Outside the Classroom

Students are encouraged to launch their own initiatives like Gowns4Good, a company started by Nathaniel Moore ‘20 that upcycles graduation gowns into PPE for healthcare workers. SIMPACT, the school’s consulting group, also offers students opportunities to lead hands-on projects. 

Where Do Grads End Up?

N/A. See a full list of alumni and their LinkedIn profiles here.

Social Impact in Practice: A University of Vermont Grossman MBA’s Success Story

Andrew Plumley’s ‘16 interest in nonprofits began before his MBA experience. He formerly worked in management and recruiting at AmeriCorps and Let’s Get Ready, a college preparatory nonprofit that serves low-income students. Plumley credits Grossman with helping him to think creatively and voice his opinions with confidence. Today, Plumley is the Director of Inclusion at the American Alliance of Museums. 

Harvard Business School

Harvard Business School

Boston, Massachusetts, United States 

America’s oldest university is also a leading training ground for socially conscious business professionals. Those who have held previous leadership roles at nonprofits are eligible for the Goldsmith Fellowship, which awards $10,000 to 7-10 first year MBAs who have exhibited an extraordinary commitment to working in the nonprofit sector. In groups of 90, first year students follow the required curriculum, which consists of case discussion courses and a hands-on component called FIELD. The Social Enterprise Initiative provides further opportunities to understand ESG issues through electives, clubs, independent projects, and competitions. After graduating, students can take advantage of Harvard’s extensive network by joining one of its 100+ alumni clubs or the Alumni Impact Investing Group. 

Social Impact in the Classroom

The basics of social impact are covered in first-year required courses like Leadership and Corporate Accountability. During their second year, students can take electives that focus specifically on social enterprise, including Power and Influence for Positive Impact and Business at the Base of the Pyramid. Other electives include components of ESG, like Entrepreneurial Solutions to the World’s Problems and Managing the Future of Work

Social Impact Outside the Classroom

Through the social enterprise initiative, students can pursue independent projects like Sarah Nam and Sisi Pan who evaluated the effects of a steel company’s leadership during the Ebola outbreak. Consider joining the Investing for Impact Club, which hosts career treks and competitions, or the Impact Investment Fund, which supports Black, Brown, and immigrant entrepreneurs. For those who are already committed to a social impact career, register for the Rising Leaders for Social Impact Forum, where you can network with other dedicated students and alumni. 

Where Do Grads End Up?

3% of the class of 2021 entered the nonprofit or government sector. 

Social Impact in Practice: A Harvard MBA’s Success Story

Growing up between Japan and the Ivory Coast, Mizuho Kanai ‘18 gained English language and cross-cultural knowledge by watching educational television. After interning at NPR during her time at Harvard, Kanai affirmed her desire to transition from finance to educational media. Kanai applied to Harvard’s Leadership Fellows program, which awards students going into the social impact sector a one-year grant of $55,000 USD (in addition to their salary), and landed a position as the Director of Strategy for International Media and Education at Sesame Workshop. Today, Kanai continues to follow her commitment to social impact as the Senior Implementation Delivery Manager at Guild Education. 

Oxford Said MBA

University of Oxford, Said Business School (Said) – Touch MBA Interview

Oxford, United Kingdom

Not only is Oxford the English-speaking world’s oldest university, it’s also the number one b-school for sending graduates to nonprofits. The school even offers full funding plus a living stipend to four social entrepreneurs a year through the Skoll Scholarship.  Ever wanted to experience Oxford’s famous teaching method, the tutorial? You’ll have the opportunity to do so during the Global Opportunities and Threats (GOTO) program, where teams compete to solve the world’s most pressing issues like climate change. Besides sustainability, thinking global is an integral part of this one-year program, which boasts a 96% international student body. Consider taking a class like Growth Prospects and Opportunities for Business in Africa for an opportunity to take your studies overseas. 

Social Impact in the Classroom

Besides GOTO, students are also required to take Capitalism in Debate, which covers sustainability, NGOs, and social entrepreneurship. For electives, continue to expand your social impact knowledge by choosing courses like Global Sustainable Business and Impact Investing.

Social Impact Outside the Classroom

Apply to the Impact Lab, a cross-departmental leadership program that hosts modules and networking opportunities for students interested in social entrepreneurship. The Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship hosts the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship and engages in research related to systematic change and diversity. The entrepreneurship project and internship option also provide opportunities for hands-on engagement.  

Where Do Grads End Up?

Oxford sent 21 students, 11.4% of its class and the most of any business school, to work at nonprofits in 2021.

Social Impact in Practice: A Said MBA’s Success Story

After attending a career session at Oxford, Stephanie Mambo ‘17 decided that she wanted to pursue an ESG career in her hometown Nairobi, Kenya. During her year at Oxford, Mambo co-chaired the Africa Business Network, where she led treks to Rwanda and Kenya. She also hosted the Africa Forum conference and participated in the Responsible Business Forum. During the summer, Mambo found an internship at Dalberg, a sustainable consulting firm in Nairobi. Today, she works there as a Senior Consultant, addressing a range of issues from education to humanitarian assistance.  


IESE Business School – Touch MBA Interview

Barcelona, Spain

IESE’s MBA  program (either 15 or 19 months long) stresses internationalism with 85% of its students coming from overseas and the option for students to spend a couple weeks in Nairobi, New York, Brazil, or Shanghai. Scholarships for the program are available with those interested in shaping the world through the public sector preferred. IESE also hosts the International MBA Case Competition, which invites top business schools from around the world to present innovative solutions to pressing issues. The only catch? Each team must have three nationalities represented, and every participant must speak at least one other language in addition to English. 

Social Impact in the Classroom

IESE ranks number one when it comes to its proportion of required classroom hours devoted to ESG topics. In Business Ethics, students learn how corporations can pave a better future for society. During their second year, students can choose to concentrate in Sustainability and Responsible Business Practice, taking classes such as ESG and Impact Investment and Leading the Energy Transition

Social Impact Outside the Classroom

Aspiring entrepreneurs can join the Social Entrepreneurship Network and volunteer at partnering social enterprises. Consider hosting career treks and the Do Good Do Well Conference by joining the Responsible Business Club. During the summer, students completing the 19-month program can gain real-world experience by interning at a nonprofit. 

Where Do Grads End Up?


Social Impact in Practice: An IESE MBA’s Success Story

Amna Alyamani’s ‘19 grandfather helped to cultivate her love for baking as a young child in Saudi Arabia. After living in Switzerland for ten years, Alyamani returned to Saudi Arabia where she witnessed the difficulties that women faced securing jobs in hospitality. Women there are not allowed to work in restaurants that serve male customers, and 30% of women are unemployed. After attending the Do Good Do Well Conference at IESE and receiving encouragement from her peers, Alyamani built up the courage to launch a female-only bakery with a mission to train women lacking employment skills. 

Yale SOM

Yale University, School of Management (Yale SOM) – Touch MBA Interview

New Haven, Connecticut, United States

Interconnection is a key concept at Yale School of Management. Students are encouraged to think across boundaries of industry and function; an international perspective is also fostered by the global studies requirement, which can be fulfilled by taking a virtual international class, traveling for Global Network Week, or spending a term abroad at one of 30 international schools in the Global Network for Advanced Management, which Yale co-founded in 2012. 

Students also have the unique opportunity to take as many cross-departmental classes as they’d like. About 75% choose to do so, and 14% pursue a double degree. In fact, Yale was the first university to offer a joint MBA and Master of Environmental Management and Master of Forestry degrees. Amongst Yale’s many scholarships are six that are currently devoted to those interested in nonprofit, environmental, and social enterprise work. With a motto like “Educating leaders for business and society,” it should be evident that social impact is a core component of Yale’s pedagogy.

Social Impact in the Classroom

In every core class, about a quarter of the material relates to the environment and society. Two required classes, State and Society and The Executive, focus specifically on ESG issues. A range of electives offered in the second year are recommended for those wishing to enter the social sector. Some of these include Aligning Profit and Purpose, Public Health Entrepreneurship, and Inequality and Social Mobility

Social Impact Outside the Classroom

Net Impact is one of the most popular clubs at Yale SOM. Members host Social Impact Week and support the Philanthropy Conference. In the Global Social Enterprise course, students serve as consultants at partnering organizations and travel abroad to their headquarters. Those looking for a weekly commitment might consider joining the Social Impact Lab, which hosts discussions on ESG topics between students, alumni, and professionals.

Where Do Grads End Up?

2.1% of Yale graduates find jobs in government and 1.3% find work at nonprofits. Examples of employers include the National Park Service, the Robinhood Foundation, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development

Social Impact in Practice: A Yale MBA’s Success Story

Boris Sibal ‘14 implores businesses to think about economic development in terms of how they’re growing and who is benefitting. Sibal arrived at Yale after working on Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and the community nonprofit Groundswell. At Yale, he convinced the university to end its partnership with a national food distributor and instead work with small food suppliers in New Haven. After graduating, Sibal became the co-executive director of the Community Purchasing Alliance, where he redirects purchasing contracts to local businesses. 


Read below for a head-to-head comparison of top social impact MBA programs. You can also contact our team to get free b-school selection help.

Yale MBA vs. Harvard MBA vs. UC Berkeley MBA

Table best viewed on desktop/laptop or phone turned horizontally

Yale MBAHarvard MBAUC Berkeley MBA
US News & World Report - Non-Profit Management Ranking#1#2#4
Positive Impact Rating not rankednot rankednot ranked
Corporate Knights Rankingnot rankednot ranked#31
Financial Times - ESG Ranking#19#91#55
Related Core Courses- State & Society
- The Executive
Field Course: HBS Impact Investment FundEthics & Responsibility in Business
Concentration (yes/no)NoNoNo
Specialized MBA or Related Master DegreesMBA / Master of Environmental ManagementMBA / MPP Harvard Kennedy SchoolNone
Number of Related Electives181810
Related Student Clubs- Business & The Environment
- Net Impact
- Responsible Investing Group
- Social Enterprise Club
- Consulting for Impact Club
- Education Club
- Energy & Environment Club
- Impact Investing Club
- Sustainability Club
- The MBA Response
- Harbus Foundation
- Education Club
- Net Impact Club
- International Development & Enterprise Club
- Haas Education Club
Related Co-Curriculars- Responsible Investing Conference
- Low-Carbon Case Competition
- Yale Environmental Sustainability Summit
- Rising Leaders for Social Impact Forum
- Social Enterprise Conference
Berkeley Board Fellows
Related Programs & Centers of Research- Yale Center for Business & Environment
- Program on Social Enterprise
- Social Enterprise Initiative- Center for Social Sector Leadership
- Center for Gender, Equity, and Leadership
- Center for Responsible Business
- Institute for Business & Social Impact
School Specific Related Scholarships533
Scholarships of NoteLoan Forgiveness program to 3 students- Horace W. Goldsmith Fellows
- Leadership Fellows
- Social Enterprise Loan Repayment Assistance Program (SELRAP)
Center for Responsible Business Fellowship
Social Impact Pathway URL(s)Sustainability

Social Impact
Social Enterprise

Business & Environment
Social Impact
PLACEMENTAverage for Class of 2020 + 2021Average for Class of 2020 + 2021Class of 2021
Percentage of Grads Entering Industry1.9% Non Profit
1.7% Government
3.5% Non Profit & Government3.3% Non Profit & Government
Absolute Number of Grads Entering Industrynot availablenot availablenot available
Median Salary of Grads Entering Industry$90,600 (Non Profit, Class of 2021)
$95,000 (Gov't, Class of 2021)
$110,000 (Non Profit, Class of 2021)$119,849

Vermont MBA vs. IESE MBA vs. Oxford MBA

Table best viewed on desktop/laptop or phone turned horizontally

US News & World Report - Non-Profit Management Rankingnot rankednot included in ranking; based in Spainnot included in ranking; based in UK
Positive Impact Rating #4not rankednot ranked
Corporate Knights Ranking#8not ranked#31
Financial Times - ESG Rankingnot ranked#1#8
Related Core CoursesEvery class has social impact componentBusiness Ethics- Capitalism in Debate
- Global Rules of the Game
Concentration (yes/no)MBA in Sustainable ImpactSustainability & Responsible BusinessNone
Specialized MBA or Related Master DegreesMBA in Sustainable ImpactNoneNone
Number of Related Electives12114
Related Student ClubsSI MBA Consulting GroupResponsible Business Club- Climate & Energy Network
- Social Impact Network
Related Co-CurricularsSocial Impact Lab
Related Programs & Centers of Research- Center for Business in Society
- Center for Corporate Governance
- Center for Public Leadership & Government
- Public-Private Sector Research Center
Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford Saïd
School Specific Related Scholarships522
Scholarships of Note- IESE Leaders in Sustainability
- IESE Leaders in Non-Profit & Public Sector
- The Skoll Scholarship
- The Laidlaw Scholarships
Social Impact Pathway URL(s)Sustainable Innovation MBASocial Impact Lab
PLACEMENTClass of 2021Class of 2021Average for Class of 2020 + 2021
Percentage of Grads Entering Industrynot availablenot available7.3% Impact
Absolute Number of Grads Entering Industrynot availablenot available18
Median Salary of Grads Entering Industrynot availablenot available$73,906

Honorable Mentions

Fordham University, Gabelli School of Business

New York City, New York, United States

A whopping 12% of graduates find jobs in the nonprofit sector at this designated Ashoka U Changemaker Campus, a four-time Corporate Knights and three-time PIR pick. Students can pursue a secondary concentration in Global Sustainability and join the Social Innovation Collaboratory, where they participate in community engagement and extracurricular initiatives. 

Maastricht University

Maastricht, Netherlands

Ranked second by Corporate Knights and Level 4 by PIR, this part-time executive MBA program offers online (with three face-to-face weeks in various locations) and on-campus (four weeks minimum) options for busy professionals. Choose the Responsibility and Sustainable Leadership focus and complete a social innovation project abroad. 

EDHEC Business School

Nice, France

EDHEC’s core curriculum devotes the third highest percentage of hours to ESG topics, and its program has been recognized by PIR three years in a row. Groups of students generate solutions to real-world issues over the course of six months for the Sustainable Impact Challenge. They can also choose to focus their two-month final project on addressing the UN’s sustainability goals. 

York University, Schulich School of Business 

Toronto, Canada

Recognized for its commitment to social impact by both Corporate Knights and PIR, York allows students to specialize in sustainability. To receive the graduate diploma in sustainability, students must take classes like Management Practices for Sustainable Business and Business Strategies for Sustainable Business and complete a 12-week internship. 

IE Business School

Madrid, Spain

IE’s one-year International MBA is recognized by Corporate Knights and was ranked #4 for ESG by the Financial Times. During the 5-week lab period, students can select the social impact option and act as consultants for international NGOs. For exchange week, they can travel on the Social Innovation Trek to learn about international social entrepreneurship. Those who would like to make their dedication to ESG official can complete the Certificate on Foundations of Sustainability. 

What Do You Think?

While we’ve highlighted our favorite social impact MBA programs, we know there are many great programs. Is there another business school that you think deserves to be featured? If so, let us know why in the comments below.

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