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Learning Beyond the Classroom

Social Enterprise students study open innovationthe art of seeking good ideas wherever they may be found. We also believe in open learning, and encourage all of our students to seek opportunities to learn outside the classroom.  This can happen before, during, or after their graduate study.

Resources for this abound. Some of these are useful before starting graduate study, others are more appropriate during breaks and in the summer. Because many of these are offered outside of American University, they may involve additional expenses beyond graduate school tuition, and they will not earn credits toward your degree unless they are part of an independent study course you design with your advisor.



The School of International Service offers a comprehensive program of study abroad opportunities with partner universities around the world. Social Enterprise students have made use of these to study at the University of Cape Town and at Sciences Po in Paris. Credit for these can be used toward your degree requirements. Details are here.

Many Social Enterprise students design their own abroad experiences, usually combining work and learning. Sometimes these are part of their academic program, sometimes they are done just for the experience. Countries where these have happened include Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, DR Congo, El Salvador, Honduras, Kenya, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Peru, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Vietnam. Ask our students and alumni how they have done this – they’re good at coloring outside the lines.

There are also a number of for- and non-profit organizations offering social entrepreneurship-related experiences abroad. Some of these are oriented to undergraduate students, but may provide employment opportunities for graduate students. They include:



+Acumen is a social enterprise that offers a number of excellent, free online multi-week courses covering subjects of interest to social entrepreneurs.These include Social Entrepreneurship 101, Adaptive Leadership, Human Centered Design, Storytelling for Change, Lean Start-up, Financial Modeling, Scaling Smart, and Impact Analysis. Taught by skilled practitioners, they are best taken together with a small group of other students.

Coursera and other MOOCs offer a wide variety of free university-based courses in management and social entrepreneurship-related subjects.

Kauffman Founders School offers a comprehensive curriculum in a range of subjects including: the art of startup finance, the lean approach, venture capital, startup boards, leadership and motivation, angel investment, entrepreneurial marketing, intellectual property, and powerful presentations.

Philanthropy University, created in collaboration with UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, offers free courses in leadership, scaling impact, nonprofit strategy, financial modeling, fundraising, and social entrepreneurship. Completing a series of these will earn you a certificate in social sector leadership from Berkeley-Haas.

The World Bank's e-institute has a free, self-paced online course on how to create innovative business models for social impact.



Harvard Business School offers a set of online courses that cover the basic “hard” skills of business analytics, managerial economics, and financial accounting.

The Management Center in Washington DC offers multi-day workshops on the “soft” (actually the “harder”) skills: managing work, managing people, and managing yourself.



These include: