Photo by Damion Hamilton

Do you want to be a social entrepreneur? As an agent of change, there are some additional skills you may want to master at either the undergraduate or graduate level of your education. Whether you’re heading to college for the first time or going back for more, here are 5 colleges for social entrepreneurial careers:

Social entrepreneurship doesn’t necessarily have to be your major to get beneficial results. Students at the University of Pennsylvania have an amazing program option that works in conjunction with their coursework. In 2001, the university launched its Wharton Social Entrepreneurship program, which works collaboratively with the Wharton Program for Social Impact Initiative. Described as a “a global field research program,” students focus on solving problems in ways that create self-sufficiency for those affected by social issues. Students can also win the Wharton Social Impact Prize—a 10 thousand-dollar award for the semifinalist student team who has the strongest business plan in the Wharton Business Plan Competition.

New York University also offers a program that coincides with students fields of study. Its Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Program in Social Entrepreneurship provides graduate fellowships and undergraduate scholarships for students with social entrepreneurial passions. Changemakers are accepted into the program if they are implementing an innovative idea, if they will work in a social organization in their intended professions after school, or if they will be bringing awareness to an issue through the arts or media.

The program focuses greatly on global change and teaches students to create solutions that are both sustainable and scalable. The curriculum is designed to be applicable in the policy, public service, for profit, and not-for-profit sectors and ensures that students are knowledgeable of how those areas work together.

For those seeking an advanced degree, the master of science program in social entrepreneurship (or MSSE) from the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business may be ideal. It prides itself on being the first program of its kind in the United States and is focused on creating leaders that can generate new but long-lasting solutions.

In addition to creating an environment in which huge ideas are welcomed, USC’s MSSE program is also unique in its approach to welcoming students of all ages and experience levels. Neither the GRE or GMAT are required for admission and the program can be completed in one to three years with weekend and evening classes available for working students.

Another great advanced degree option is a master of arts in social enterprise at American University’s School of International Service. The two-year program allows students from all fields to learn without the restraint of specific silos and explores both the hard and soft skills needed in a social enterprise.

To gain real life experience, students are paired immediately and have 12 weeks to help a local non-profit or social enterprise. Aside from the resume-building benefits, students create amazing connections with CEOs and other executive leaders that can benefit them in their later careers.

For those desiring a top tier program that they can take from anywhere, the University of Florida has the perfect offering. At UF, students can receive a master of science degree with a concentration in social entrepreneurship as a part of its Online Entrepreneurship Master’s Program, which is equivalent to the on-campus MSE degree that the school offers. The entire online program is created for students who are looking toward entrepreneurship in a multitude of sectors—start-up, corporate, non-profit, or public—so there is no limit to the number of after-graduation opportunities that will be available.

Upon graduation, students will have an extensive amount of experience. Each must complete a business plan for an original idea and keep an ‘entrepreneurial portfolio’ describing their work. Understanding that much of students’ learning will be outside of the classroom, the program also offers a number of opportunities including the UF Big Idea Gator Business Plan Competition, a virtual incubator, outreach programs of the UF Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, the Entrepreneurship Empowerment in South Africa Program (EESA), and many more.

*If you know of any other opportunities for students interested in social entrepreneurship, please leave them in the comments below!

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