Student Learning is at the Core of Our Mission

We immerse students in theories grounded in experience through courses taught by leading social impact practitioners. Classes in organizational strategy, financial management, and social impact and the value of networks prepare students to lead social enterprises.

Areas of Emphasis

Berkeley MBA students can focus their studies on one or more in-depth academic areas. Students can customize their learning by selecting among nearly a dozen Areas of Emphasis, including Nonprofit and Public Leadership. Areas of emphasis provide students direction in achieving their career goals.

Graduate Courses in Social Impact

The Center offers a menu of courses taught by a distinguished faculty of established leaders in the field. All graduate courses are cross-listed between the full-time and part-time MBA programs. In addition, space permitting, Cal graduate students in other schools can enroll in these courses during the add/drop period of each semester.

Brief course descriptions:

Social Sector Solutions (S3)

Social Sector Solutions (EW/MBA 292S-1) is a 15 week strategy consultation offered to 10 select social sector (nonprofit, social enterprise, public) organizations by the Center for Social Sector Leadership at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley. Social Sector Solutions helps social sector clients succeed with strategic and entrepreneurial ventures that leverage the background and skillset of Haas MBA students and our consulting partner, McKinsey. The projects are modeled on management consulting frameworks, deliverables, and team composition.

Instructors: Nora Silver and Paul Jansen

Social Impact Metrics

This course provides an overview of the challenges in measuring impact in social programs, and highlights ways to use metrics to improve organizational performance in real-world settings. It exposes students interested in social impact to a set of frameworks that can help social sector organizations track and improve their performance.

Instructor: Colin Boyle

Large Scale Social Change

In this course, we will move beyond the walls of traditional institutions and society, building an understanding of the key levers available to those seeking to create major social change. It will us to think big, to look beyond traditional institutional growth and change, and to challenge ourselves as we apply multiple levers to myriad issues and constituencies.

Instructor: Nora Silver

Social Lean Launchpad

This course utilizes the Lean Launchpad and the Social Blueprint Business Design methodologies to frame the integral insights, strategies and practices that distinguish social ventures. It strives to create the conditions where students become Social Venture designers, founders and leaders. In ten weeks, students work in interdisciplinary teams at an accelerated pace to practice the steps integral to starting a social venture. Personal and organizational leadership is emphasized through every stage of the process.

Instructors: Jorge Calderon and Ben Mangan

Strategic Management of Nonprofit Organizations

This course introduces students to strategic leadership issues in the nonprofit sector. The course covers key issues in founding, leading, managing, and governing nonprofit organizations and new nonprofit ventures. Major topics include: mission and theory of change, governance and accountability, strategy and strategic planning, nonprofit financial management, resource development, alliances and networks, capacity building, impact and leadership.

Instructor: Colin Boyle

Nonprofit Boards: Governance and Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations

This course examines the roles and responsibilities of members of nonprofit boards of directors. Generally, they establish strategic direction, raise money, and exercise financial oversight. Students will identify and develop the leadership and management skills necessary to be an effective board member. Using board assessment instruments and self-assessment activities, the class will seek to determine “fit” between different types of boards and class participants.

Instructors: Lynne LaMarca Heinrich (Fall), Paul Jansen (Spring)

Financial Management of Nonprofit Organizations

In order to be an effective leader in the nonprofit field, one must have a solid grounding in financial management. This course is designed to develop the core financial management skills needed by board members and seniors managers in large and small organizations. Students will learn the tools and techniques for effective planning and budgeting as well as how to control, evaluate and revise plans. The course will address current regulations and issues that impact nonprofit financial management. The use and development of internal and external financial reports will be studied with an emphasis on using financial information in decision-making. Tools and techniques of financial statement analysis, interpretation and presentation will be discussed and practiced.

Instructor: Brent Copen

Applied Impact Evaluation

Business strategies and public policies are intended to change outcomes such as raising incomes, increasing productivity, improving learning, or reducing illness. Whether or not these changes in outcomes are actually achieved are crucial public policy and business questions, yet are not often examined. This course covers the methods and applications of impact evaluations, which is the science of measuring the causal impact of a strategy, program or policy. Applications are drawn from wide range developing and developed country settings.

Instructor: Paul Gertler (Spring)

Impact Investing Practicum

Impact Investing Practicum is an eight week externship during which MBA teams complete a project with one of five impact investing firms arranged by Haas. Impact Investing Practicum helps firms develop solutions, creating value for the firm by leveraging the financial and social impact backgrounds and skills of Haas MBA students. For Haas students, Impact Investing offers un-matched experiential learning and exposure that we are able to arrange because of our unique thought leadership and history of student engagement and placement in this field. For this inaugural year, 8-12 FTMBA students will be selected.

Click here for Student Application Info and Dates. Applications are due October 16th.

Click here for Investment Firm Info and Application. Applications are due September 29th

Instructor: Run in conjunction with Adair Morse’s New Venture Finance course, and co-lead by Professor Adair Morse and the Center for Social Sector Leadership’s Nora Silver.

Social Impact Metrics

The social sector of the economy exists primarily to produce positive change in individuals and society. Yet, measuring what impact social sector organizations and programs (including those supported by nonprofits, government and the private sector) actually have is extremely difficult. How can leaders and the social sector know “what works” and is worthy of continued investment to sustain and scale-up — and what doesn’t work and therefore needs to stop? This course provides an overview of the challenges in measuring impact in social programs, and highlights ways to use metrics to improve organizational performance in real-world settings. It exposes students interested in social impact to a set of frameworks that can help social sector organizations track and improve their performance. Through a unique partnership with Amgen/Onyx, several nonprofit organizations working in the cancer field will receive grants of $25,000 to work with student groups to implement improvements in their metrics systems recommended by project teams formed in the class.

Instructor: Colin Boyle (Fall)


Undergraduate Courses in Social Impact

Undergraduate Berkeley Haas majors can focus on social sector leadership by taking Center for Social Sector Leadership classes. Cal students in other majors can also enroll in these classes, space permitting.

Brief course descriptions:

Leading Nonprofits and Social Enterprises

The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with the basic business workings of nonprofit organizations—the economic, social and political environment in which they operate, strengths, opportunities, and challenges within the nonprofit sector, and major functional areas, jobs, and volunteer opportunities in nonprofit organizations. This course introduces students to the major functional areas of non‐profit organizations and emerging research about strategies and practices of high‐performing non‐profit organizations.

Instructor: Ben Mangan (Spring)

Cal Strategic Philanthropy: Real Money, Real Impact

Based on an award-winning curriculum developed by UC Berkeley undergraduates (Bears Breaking Boundaries Innovation Award 2009), the course teaches participants how to be effective philanthropists. The class contributes $10,000 to nonprofit(s) selected by the class. To prepare for the contribution, students engage in interactive exercises and discussions to determine how to best expend the funds for maximum impact, guided by the instructors and renowned guests offering a variety of perspectives and frameworks. Students form teams to research and indentify, perform due diligence, and recommend nonprofit organizations. The $10,000 contribution is a generous gift of the Learning by Giving Foundation. A second component of the course is the class’s creation of a symposium on effective philanthropy for the broader UC Berkeley undergraduate community.

Instructors: Colin Lacon and Kim Wright-Violich

Social Enterprise & Entrepreneurship

This course explores the idea and practice of social entrepreneurship, an emerging field where business models are increasingly being used to address important unmet social and environmental needs. The course exposes students to the growing breadth and depth of activity in the global social enterprise movement, where innovators are developing a new frontier of hybrid organizations that combine nonprofit motives and business methods. Course content examines the context and foundation for social entrepreneurship and explores the opportunity for social enterprise solutions in a number of areas, including healthcare, finance, education, technology, international development, and workforce development. Course design integrates instructor lecture, articles/cases/other reading materials, class discussion, guest speakers, and group projects where students develop a social enterprise business plan.

Instructor: Cleveland Justis (Fall)

Applied Impact Evaluation

Business strategies and public policies are intended to change outcomes such as raising incomes, increasing productivity, improving learning, or reducing illness. Whether or not these changes in outcomes are actually achieved are crucial public policy and business questions, yet are not often examined. This course covers the methods and applications of impact evaluations, which is the science of measuring the causal impact of a strategy, program or policy. Applications are drawn from wide range developing and developed country settings.

Instructor: Paul Gertler (Spring)

Cross-Cultural Philanthropy

This class will anchor students in the structures and practice of American Philanthropy, and compare and contrast the variety of gift giving and sharing traditions that make up American philanthropy. Both the cultural antecedents and their expression in this country will be explored from five ethnic and racial groups: Native American, European American, African American, Hispanic American, and Asian American, The role of religion and gender will also be explored. The goal is to gain a greater understanding of the many dimensions of philanthropy as it is practiced in the United States today. Our goal is to have students understand that at its core, philanthropy is about having a perspective and being able to bring the rich understanding and experience of values to the practice of giving. The course is designed for students to be exposed to differing traditions of giving and the ways in which cultural experiences and perspectives drive values and action.

Instructor: Colin Lacon and Karina Moreno

Strategic Approaches for Global Social Impact

The role of strategic thinking in order to achieve social impact is becoming increasingly critical: how to design effective solutions to the world’s most pressing problems; how to ensure demand-driven sustainability; and how to measure the social return on investment? Entrepreneurs, venture capital funds, NGOs, foundations and corporations are all increasingly turning to business-driven approaches to achieve their social impact objectives. In that context, this course aims to:

  1. help students understand the analytical and strategic questions underlying important issues in global health, economic development, education and post-conflict recovery, and
  2. develop and examine effective (and whenever appropriate, market-based) solutions to these issues, with an eye towards replicability, scalability, sustainability, and catalytic effect.

The course will be project-focused, with teams selecting an issue of interest, developing a rigorous business case for their approach, and working with field experts to stress-test their ideas.

Instructor: Shashi Buluswar (Fall)

Microfinance Decal

Students gain a broad, objective overview of the field, including the history and context, successes and failures, and key domestic and international players. The course is a mixture of guest speakers, lectures, and media.

Instructor: Cal Student Leaders