Make a Difference in the World with Social Entrepreneurship

Keyboard button with the word change and the image of the globe representing the Social Entrepreneurship in Action Certificate focus

Social entrepreneurship is a rapidly developing and evolving field in which nonprofit and business leaders design, grow and lead mission-driven enterprises. To meet demand, we are offering a completely online social entrepreneurship certificate featuring a global perspective with input from organizations and speakers from San Diego, around the U.S. and internationally.

This certificate considers the full spectrum of social business models, including nonprofit organizations, enterprises developing revenue-generating products or services for a social goal, and socially responsible for-profit companies. Participants will have an opportunity to dive deeper into the tools and models that drive successful social enterprises and, finally, to explore and test how these might apply to their organizations and careers. This program will expose participants to: theories of entrepreneurship, models of social change, management skills and the leadership required for successful socially entrepreneurial organizations.

Social Entrepreneurship Certificate Learner Outcomes

Students who complete the Social Entrepreneurship in Action Certificate can expect the following outcomes:

  • Define social entrepreneurship and distinguish its elements 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
  • Describe the key management skills and leadership concepts needed to develop a sustainable and scalable social enterprise
  • Identify problems/opportunities in the context of a system and gain skills and knowledge to define and design solutions that drive measurable social impact
  • Analyze and evaluate microfinance, a systems-changing example of social entrepreneurship
  • Compare the most appropriate funding options for social change ventures within particular contexts
  • Apply the various tools typically used in creating and operationalizing a new social enterprise
  • Gain awareness of your purpose--your personal passions, motivations, and aspirations as a changemaker

What is Social Entrepreneurship?

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, social entrepreneurship is “the process by which individuals, startups and entrepreneurs develop and fund solutions that directly address social issues. A social entrepreneur, therefore, is a person who explores business opportunities that have a positive impact on their community, in society or the world.”

Benefits of Having a Certificate in Social Entrepreneurship

Participants in our social entrepreneurship certificate program can expect the following benefits:

  • Gain demonstrable knowledge of social entrepreneurship that can be used on a resume
  • Learn how to apply knowledge and skills to your current or future work in global health and social entrepreneurship.
  • Gain deeper knowledge about the different approaches – legal structures (for-profit, nonprofit, benefit organizations), partnerships, alliances – that support social entrepreneurship
  • Learn new strategies for problem solving
  • Gain new in-demand skills that many organizations are seeking in today’s business climate
  • Learn from USD’s expert faculty

*Also, participants in this program earn graduate-level extension credits that are accepted toward the Masters in Social Innovation, the Masters in Peace and Justice, and the MS in Conflict Management and Resolution at the University of San Diego, pending acceptance into one of the programs.

Schedule and Fees - Enroll Today and Save 25% at Checkout on One or More Courses

Course Schedule and Enrollment Links
All Courses Required for Certificate
(9 units)
Duration SU 2022
FA 2022
SP 2023
Fee* Fee*
w/ 25% off!
BUS-X822, Social Entrepreneurship: An Introduction
(3 units)

7 weeks

OFD (asynchronous)


OFD (asynchronous)

Aug 30 - Oct 17

OFD (asynchronous)

Jan 17 - Mar 6, 2023



BUS-X823, Social Impact Strategy: Tools for Social Entrepreneurship
(3 units)

7 weeks

OFD (asynchronous)

Jul 5 - Aug 22

OFD (asynchronous)

Oct 18 - Dec 5

OFD (asynchronous)

Mar 7 - Apr 24, 2023



BUS-X824, The Practice of Social Entrepreneurship
(3 units)

14 weeks

OFD (asynchronous)

Aug 30 - Dec 5

OFD (asynchronous)

Jan 17 - Mar 27, 2023

OFD (asynchronous)

May 16 - Aug 21, 2023



One Time Certificate Fee is required, payable at first course enrollment $45 $45
Total Certificate Cost (3 courses) $3,030 $2,283.75
C = Classroom; OFD = Online Fixed-Date; OSP = Online Self-Paced; IS = Independent Study Self-Paced  *Schedule and fees subject to change

Who Should Attend?

The Social Entrepreneurship in Action Certificate is offered completely online. The certificate is designed for professional practice with the goal of either creating a new social entrepreneurship venture or adding social entrepreneurship practices to your existing organization.

This certificate program is for those who are interested in entrepreneurship careers that 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.

Social Entrepreneurship Certificate Requirements & Information

Complete the requirements below to earn a professional certificate in Social Entrepreneurship in Action.

  1. Courses are offered in a cohort-based schedule. To earn the University of San Diego’s Social Entrepreneurship in Action Certificate, students must successfully complete each of the program’s three courses with a C or better grade*. In addition to the tuition for each course, there is a one-time $45 certificate fee. Read USD's Certificate Benefits and Policy.
  2. Your Social Entrepreneurship in Action Certificate can be completed in as few as six months (The first two courses are 7 weeks each, and last course is 14 weeks, and they have to be taken in order in cohort).
  3. USD certificate programs provide a rigorous program of study that demonstrates a progression of learning and the mastery of a specific body of knowledge.

*To earn transferable graduate level extension credit to one of USD's Kroc School of Peace Studies' Master’s degree programs, students must earn a B or better in each certificate course.

Experienced Instructors

Paula A. Cordeiro: Paula A. Cordeiro is the Dammeyer Distinguished Professor of Global Leadership and Education in the Kroc School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego (USD). From 1998-2015 she served as dean of USD’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences and then spent four years working internationally conducting trainings and research for two micro-lending INGOs. She previously served as coordinator of master’s and doctoral programs in educational leadership at the University of Connecticut. In addition to teaching at USD, Paula is the VP of Education for Edify, an international NGO, and serves on the boards of the Burnham Center for Community Advancement, Building Engineering Science and Talent (Washington) and Davis College (Rwanda).

Dr. Juan F. Roche: Dr. Juan F. Roche is a professor of practice at the USD Kroc School of Peace Studies, where he is passionate about developing young leaders with a global and ethical mindset that can transform and contribute to society as a whole. Outside of the classroom he has had a 35-year career as a global C-Level executive, consultant, and board member. He recently was with Nabisco, first as President of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and later as President of Latin America. Dr. Roche has also had P&L responsibility in the United States , Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Megan Pontes: Megan Pontes brings experience from both the private and nonprofit sectors, and also teaches undergraduate courses for the Leadership Studies Minor at the School of Leadership & Education Sciences (SOLES) at USD. Megan is pursuing her doctorate in Leadership Studies at USD and holds a MBA from the University of Florida. Prior to being at USD, Megan was an Operations Executive in the personal financial sector. Her research interests include nonprofit advocacy for social change, activism, philanthropy, and social innovation.


Q: What is social entrepreneurship?

A: According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, social entrepreneurship is “the process by which individuals, startups and entrepreneurs develop and fund solutions that directly address social issues. A social entrepreneur, therefore, is a person who explores business opportunities that have a positive impact on their community, in society or the world.”

Q: What will this certificate prepare me for?

A: Learners who complete our social entrepreneurship certificate will be prepared to succeed and lead in a number of roles and career paths, such as aspiring entrepreneurs, those seeking to drive social change in their organization, corporate employees seeking to develop dual-value ventures and innovative Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, and those working in nonprofits or those who are NGO practitioners.

Q: What are the benefits of earning a certificate in social entrepreneurship?

A: Earning a social entrepreneurship certificate demonstrates a commitment and in-depth knowledge of this field. Participants also will also learn how to apply their knowledge and skills to their current or future work in global health and social entrepreneurship. And when earning a social entrepreneurship certificate at USD, 6 credits can be transferred toward their master’s program in the same discipline pending acceptance into one of the programs (mentioned above).

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If you have any questions about certificate enrollment or curriculum, please complete the inquiry form below and you will be contacted.

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