Social Entrepreneurship: The Best Schools & Programs

1) Yale University’s School of Management

Yale SOM’s relatively new ultra-modern home has played a role in the boom

From its start in 1976, when SOM became Yale University’s youngest professional school, this institution has defined its mission differently. It was to educate not only business leaders but also leaders for society. To emphasize its dual public-private mission, SOM grads for years received a Master’s in Public and Private Management, not the MBA. In the mid-to-late 1980s, roughly half of the students came from public or non-profit jobs, with little or no business training or experience.

Much of this outward emphasis has changed. SOM has granted an MBA for some time now, and incoming students are more likely to hail from Goldman Sachs and the Boston Consulting Group than from government or social enterprise. Yet, the school remains deeply committed to social entrepreneurship. Ever since U.S. News began ranking specialty programs in 1993, Yale’s business school has come out on top in non-profit management, second to none. Yale’s success in this specialty ranking owes no small part to its early start. First impressions die hard. Still, this is a standout program for MBAs who as John Gardner once put it, “strive to alleviate misery and redress grievances, or give rein to the mind’s curiosity and the soul’s longing.” A partnership on non-profit ventures at the school brings together three strands of SOM teaching–entrepreneurship, business skills, and social responsibility.

The school currently lists 13 electives in its course catalog for non-profit types, ranging from “Financial Statements of Non-Profit Organizations” to the “Business of Not-for-Profit Management.” The latter course seeks to answer the following questions, some of them quite amusing: “How do not-for-profit organizations actually function? How do they attract ‘customers?’ How do these companies grow when there are no owners with financial incentives to grow the business? What are the core elements of a ‘good’ not-for-profit company? What are the metrics for determining the health of a company without profit? And, why would anybody work for such a crazy place?” Gotta love that last one.

Clearly, though, some of these 13 courses are stretched to cover the non-profit sector. Consider “Doing Business in the Developing World.” The course is a deep dive into economic strategies in both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Even so, it’s a remarkably innovative take at a highly innovative business school for would-be social capitalists. One thing to consider: Yale is a relatively small school so once you get into a specialty area, it’s faculty is sliced and diced to tiny bits. While 13 courses represent a nice portfolio of options for the non-profit student, Stanford dishes up 29 different options for social entrepreneurs.

For a complete listing of Yale’s 13 courses in this area, go here: