Social Entrepreneurship: The Best Schools & Programs

3) Stanford Graduate School of Business

Stanford’s Graduate School of Business

Thanks to Arjay Miller, the former president of Ford Motor Co. and one of the first prominent business executives to become dean of a business school, Stanford became the first MBA program to actually offer a certificate in public management. That occurred in 1971 when the school cobbled together its Public Management Program, PMP for short. It’s not an especially sexy name for the concentration, but it does represent one of the absolute best business school offerings in social entrepreneurship in the world.

In Stanford’s Class of 2010, 86 grads walked off with PMP certificates, off from the peak year of 2004 when 134 were awarded PMPs but the highest number since 2006. Stanford says the certificate requires a minimum of 16 PMP elective units, out of the 20 to 30 courses offerred, including an approved Economics course. Students may specialize in one of three areas — government, nonprofit management or socially responsible business. There’s also an annual public management initiative in which students explore a topic of social or environmental interest. Teams of students compete each spring to lead the following year’s initiative, with the winning team selecting a topic to explore in detail throughout the academic year. In 2009-10, students engaged in the question: “Debating Tomorrow: How will business change after the crisis?” The PMI topic for 2010-11 will be “Demystifying D.C.: Is America Ungovernable?”

Stanford was a pioneer in creating a way for MBAs who landed more lucrative summer internships to pledge to donate some of their earnings to help subsidize classmates who did their internships with non-profits. Stanford also was among the first schools to create a loan forgiveness program for students who took jobs in the public sector after graduation.

Most of the social enterprise activity at the school is part of a Center for Social Innovation. Each year, the PMP offers up to 30 electives in public policy, non-profit management, social and environmental entrepreneurship, corporate social responsibility, and philanthropy. Stanford’s special sauce for would-be social entrepreneurs is its ability to extend your learning outside the classroom through participation in a variety of domestic and global service learning trips, internships, clubs, conferences and speaker events.

Stanford currently lists 29 elective courses in social entrepreneurship. They range from “Strategic Management of Non-Profits,” a course that delves into strategy, governance and leadership issues in social ventures, to “Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability,” a highly creative course done in cooperation with Stanford’s D-School. This latter course is done in a D-School lab and is a one-of-a-kind opportunity in which students apply engineering and business skills to create product prototypes and business plans for ventures in developing countries that address challenges faced by the disadvantaged and the poor.

For a complete listing of Stanford’s 29 courses in social entrepreneurship, go here:

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