Social Entrepreneurship: An Introduction

Course Available
3 Units
Online Fixed-Date

Course Description

Begin Your Journey in Making a Transformational, Positive Impact in Today's World

Globalization and rapid increasing communications make us painfully aware of the intractable problems facing humanity and our planet today.  Thankfully, we find that there is a growing number of talented, ambitious, and courageous individuals known as social entrepreneurs, and organizations known as social enterprises, that are creating initiatives that attempt to mitigate some of these problems on a scale--and with far more ambition--than ever seen before.  These individuals and organizations are creating models of urgent, systemic change rather than more traditional incremental improvement, which are being advanced globally in what has come to be known as Social Entrepreneurship.  In this course, participants will get to know who these people are and what their organizations do, how they think and work, and why they represent more than just a ray of hope for our world today.

Social entrepreneurship is a rapidly developing and evolving field in which nonprofit and business leaders design, grow, and lead mission-driven enterprises.  As the traditional lines blur between nonprofit enterprises, government, and business, it is critical that students understand the opportunities and challenges in this new landscape.  This course considers the full spectrum of social business models, including strictly nonprofit organizations, enterprises developing revenue-generating products or services for a social goal, and socially responsible for-profit companies.  This course will expose you to theory regarding entrepreneurship, models of social change, definitions of social entrepreneur and social entrepreneurship, management skills and the leadership required for social entrepreneurial organizations, scaling of social impact, the various possible legal structures, forms of financing and impact measurement for social mission organizations. The course will also take an in-depth look at the history and evolution of a classic example of social entrepreneurship--microfinance.

The course takes a global perspective, including organizations from San Diego, around the U.S., and abroad.  It is designed to be highly participatory and engage students through readings, discussions, videos, case studies, and speakers from leading social enterprises.

This course is designed for students who want to explore social enterprise start-ups, as well as those students who are just curious about the field and want to learn more about entrepreneurship and explore career opportunities.

Course Details

Number of Units: 3.0 graduate level extension credit(s) in semester hours

Who Should Attend: This course provides continuing education for those that are interested in entrepreneurship careers that can benefit society.  This includes:

  • Early and mid-career professionals, especially those wanting to be intrapreneurs
  • Professionals and leaders in any sector desiring to learn about innovative and effective models for social change
  • Corporate employees seeking to develop dual-value ventures and innovative Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives
  • Social business leaders striving to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce
  • Foundation/grant making personnel
  • Nonprofit/NGO practitioners
  • Educators
  • Current or prospective board members
  • Policymakers with an interest in promoting social entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems
  • Funders seeking to become more effective in grant-making and investing

PLEASE NOTE: Due to regulations from the U.S. Department of Education, the University of San Diego is unable to enroll students in its online programs who reside in Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Georgia, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Wisconsin. This restriction does not apply to applicants interested in a campus-based program.

Course Format:  This course is offered in Online Fixed-Date (fully online) and spans a 7-week schedule.  It is asynchronous, meaning that lessons and assignments are presented weekly, with assignments due within each course week.  Asynchronous learning allows for greater flexibility around your personal schedule.

Course Materials: Two text books and two case studies,

Technical Requirements


Recommended Bachelor's Degree

Course Options

Course Date Units Price
BUS-X822 – 004 16 May 202303 Jul 2023 3 $679

Social Entrepreneurship: An Introduction

16 May 202303 Jul 2023
Online Fixed-Date
Megan Pontes

Once you have enrolled in your course, log in to your account to access the course Welcome Letter, which includes directions on how to access the Online Orientation and your online course.

What You Will Learn

  • Define social entrepreneurship and distinguish the elements of it from across a continuum of organizational structures from traditional nonprofits to social enterprises to traditional for-profits
  • Describe the key concepts, frameworks, theories and models of social entrepreneurship
  • Develop basic knowledge of the analytical tools needed to address the diverse forces, opportunities and effective ways to design, lead and/or engage meaningfully with social enterprises and the social innovation needs they address
  • Analyze and evaluate microfinance, a systems-changing example of social entrepreneurship
  • Compare the most appropriate funding options for social change ventures within particular contexts


Professional development courses offered by the University of San Diego’s Division of Professional & Continuing Education are taught by faculty that possess a depth and breadth of academic and real-world professional experience.

Why USD?

PCE nurtures key partnerships on the local, national and international level to better serve working professionals who seek to enhance or build their careers, as well as with their employers to help achieve their highest value and potential. Contact us today to learn more.

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Learning Method Information

Courses offer a convenient, yet rigorous style of learning that allows you to structure your education to suit your schedule while keeping you on pace toward achieving your educational.

Online Fixed-Date

Online Fixed-Date: Online fixed-date courses offer a convenient, yet rigorous style of learning that enables you to collaborate with your instructor and other students in a shared, online learning environment. These courses have fixed start and finish dates, but as an online student you will have 24/7 online access to your classroom assignments, syllabus and course resources. Our online fixed-date courses allow you to work on your assignments anytime, although you are required to complete the assignments by specific dates.

How is the learning structured? In an online fixed-date course, you and your classmates will proceed through the curriculum together, collaborating in a shared learning experience. Each online fixed-date course is asynchronous, meaning that you can work on your assignments anytime, although required to complete the assignments by specific dates. The course is designed with learning modules where all of the content is grouped into weekly assignments. Each module covers one or more topics. Within each of the learning modules, you can expect the following components:

  • Module introduction that outlines what you can expect to learn in the module.
  • Required readings (textbook, articles, journals, etc.) and presentations (audio and/or video).
  • Assignments with due dates (which may include: written assignments, journal entries, research, blogs, etc.) based on the readings and presentations.
  • Discussion forum where you answer prompts from the instructor and interact with your classmates.
  • Module conclusion to review the topics and what you should have learned.
  • Typically, there is a final project, paper, or exam due in the last module that culminates all of the topics covered in each of the learning modules. You’ll find that the design of the learning modules has a rhythm to help you manage your time in the course.