The Social Enterprise M.A. curriculum is built around the needs of practitioners. It blends traditional graduate courses with elements borrowed from executive education and leadership development.
There are four pillars to the curriculum.
- Social Enterprise Core Courses. You will take our sequence of courses introducing the field of social enterprise, the dynamics of leadership in it, and a review of its emerging best practices. Depending on your previous background in economics you will also take one or two graduate courses in this subject, as well as an introduction to basic accounting and financial analysis.
- Your Specialization Concentration. These are your electives, to be chosen in consultation with a faculty advisor. You will have five of these 3-credit courses total, including one that will be methods-related (such as information technology, social media, systems analysis, or business plan development). The purpose of this concentration is to allow you to develop substantive knowledge of the specific problem you want to address through social entrepreneurship. Depending on your management background, you may want to use some of these electives to further develop specific organizational and analytical skills.
- Action Learning. Learning-by-doing is a critical component of any program intended to produce doers. You will have several opportunities in be involved in intense experiential learning. These range from team-based consulting projects for start-up social enterprises to summer and semester-internships, and your final semester capstone project. For some of you, these may involve taking the initial steps to create your own new venture, either alone or in partnership with your student-colleagues. In effect, some participants will use the program to incubate a social enterprise and create their own job.
- Professional Development Coaching. This is the glue that binds you with the rest of the program, your classmates, and your post-graduation plans. It begins on your first day and continues until you leave. The first year emphasis is on self-assessment and peer learning – you’ll study the professional competencies that don’t always make it into graduate curriculums, but can be make or break factors for real-world success. These include presentation and selling skills, goal setting, burnout prevention, and network-building.
Later the focus of the coaching component will shift to what you plan to do after graduation – idea incubation. Advisors, from inside and outside of American University, will be assembled to help you master the practicalities of how to turn your vision into reality.
A structured approach to self-assessment and career planning will be used throughout. You will analyze yourself, inventorying the skills and knowledge you bring to the program, examining your passions and motivations, and then develop a plan to get the most from your two years by personalizing the program around this self-assessment. Ongoing faculty mentoring will help ensure that you stay on track with your plans.
The Hidden Curriculum
Like many graduate programs intended to have a strong impact on their students, there is a “hidden curriculum” involved throughout our program. It is intended to help you acquire:
- Clarity about what you are passionate about – and why.
- Skill in winning the hearts and minds (and wallets) of supporters for your efforts.
- Fluency in ethical reasoning.
- Ways to use feedback and reflection to self-correct and guide your future actions.
- An ability to act in situations involving ambiguities or conflicts.
The Language Requirement
As required of all students in our masters programs, you will demonstrate proficiency in a modern language in addition to English before your graduation. This will sharpen your ability to work across cultures and see the world through more than one set of linguistic eyes.
Putting It All Together
To see how all this fits together over your two-years of study, download this roadmap (PDF).