Eight Business Schools Around The World That Have A Social Enterprise Focus

Today's business students are taking less traditional routes- and, increasingly, their goal is to make an impact.

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Ten years ago, business schools were full of students with dollar signs in their eyes. Curriculums were rigid and largely static. Students learned primarily through case studies, and "profit margin" and "share value" were the buzzwords heard in the halls.

MBA programs, however, are in a period of major transition. "Students have seen the Enron scandal," says Daniela Papi-Thornton, deputy director of the Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurship at University of Oxford. "They've also seen non-profits that they don't believe in or that they think are wasting money, so they're frustrated and see problems they want to change."

Today's business students are taking less traditional routes- and, increasingly, their goal is to make an impact. Here are some world-class business schools that are shaping students into financially savvy, socially conscious business leaders.

1. Harvard University

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Program Duration: 2 years

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Harvard Business School's Social Enterprise Initiative is one of the most established programs in the social sector. Courses that focus on social enterprise are embedded into the MBA curriculum and HBS faculty have researched and written more than 800 social enterprise books, cases and teaching notes.

2. University of Oxford

Location: Oxford, England
Program Duration: 1 year

The Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University's SaÏd Business School features classes, events, and research that promote a different business mindset. Students in Oxford's renowned MBA program have access to the center's many social enterprise opportunities, including a scholarship program. "If you look at a decade ago, everyone wanted to do finance and consulting," Papi-Thornton says. "Now everyone wants to have a social impact. What they're looking for is something they believe in."

3. Columbia University

Location: New York
Program Duration: 2 years

The newly endowed Tamer Center for Social Enterprise is changing the way Columbia University looks at social change. MBA students have access to events, speakers and courses. They also have an opportunity to compete for venture funding. "New York City is an incredible incubator of social enterprise and innovation, and we have a high concentration of social organizations," says Sandra Navalli, senior director of the Tamer Center. "Students have a lot of opportunities to connect with these corporations."

4. Instituto de Empresa Business School (IE)

Location: Madrid, Spain
Program Duration: 11 to 13 months

Diversity, entrepreneurship, humanities and social responsibility are the four main principles of IE's program. Beyond providing elective courses and extracurricular activities, the values of sustainability and conscientious business practices are embedded in IE's curriculum. The school is committed to making its graduates not only leaders in business, but also responsible global citizens.

5. National University of Singapore

Location: Singapore
Program Duration: 2 years

The Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy at NUS Business School was officially formed in 2011. Social enterprise is a rapidly growing sector in Asia. The program believes that the new generation of business people "are increasingly seeking opportunities to leverage their wealth, contacts, insights, and passion to address pressing social concerns throughout the region." ACSEP offers courses within the traditional business curriculum.

6. Hautes Etudes Commerciales de Paris (HEC Paris)

Location: Paris, France
Program Duration: 12 to 16 months (MBA), Certificate is separate

Students at HEC Paris can work toward the Social Business/Enterprise and Poverty certificate, a non-degree supplement that consists of two months of in-class learning and a hands-on component. Focused on poverty reduction, the certificate serves as a training ground for managers who want to impact social change.

7. Scuola Di Direzione Aziendale Bocconi School of Management (SDA Bocconi)

Location: Milan, Italy
Program Duration: 1 year

While not an MBA, this top business school does offer a degree in management of social enterprises, not-for-profit organizations and cooperatives. This specialized program is focused on the idea that the social enterprise sector requires its leaders to have specific skills that aren't covered in basic business.

8. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST)

Location: Hong Kong, China
Program Duration: 12 to 16 months

HKUST's business school offers a course called "Social Entrepreneurship and Venture Philanthropy" that has an accompanying venture fund for students who present the best business model.

The Venture is a new global social enterprise initiative searching for extraordinary startups and new ideas that use business to create positive change. If you have a GCC-based social enterprise or an idea for a social enterprise, enter The Venture #WinTheRightWay to potentially win your share of US$1 million.

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