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    American University
  Jan 18, 2018
American University Catalog 2017-2018

Social Enterprise (MA)

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Offered by the School of International Service , the MA in Social Enterprise builds on and expands teaching and researching social entrepreneurship. The program supports students who want to create and work in social ventures that drive societal change by providing innovative, economically sustainable solutions to public problems. This program's curriculum blends learning about both hard and soft management practices with an examination of the dynamics of social innovation.

Admission to the Program

Applicants are encouraged to have at least two years work experience in or relevant to international development in less developed countries or with disadvantaged communities in the United States or other developed countries. Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor's degree with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.30 or higher on a 4.00 scale and should have at least 24 credit hours of social science coursework relevant to international studies.

Admitted students may defer matriculation for no longer than two semesters provided that a written request for deferment is submitted to and approved by the SIS Graduate Admissions Office.

All applicants whose native language is English or whose degrees are from an accredited institution where the language of instruction is English are required to submit results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT). Applicants with five or more years of relevant professional experience may apply to waive the GRE or GMAT requirement. Non-native English speakers are required to submit results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) unless they hold a degree from a U.S.-accredited institution before enrollment at SIS. The minimum TOEFL score for full admissions consideration is 100 on the Internet-based test (iBT) or 600 on the paper-based test (PBT). The minimum IELTS score is 7.0.

All applicants must submit two letters of reference evaluating undergraduate academic performance and suitability for graduate study in international affairs, at least one of which should be from a current or former employer. A resume should be included in the application. Applicants must submit transcripts from all institutions attended. Cultural factors are considered in evaluating transcripts and examination results. Work experience must be clearly explained in the applicant's letter of application.

Requests for the transfer of a maximum of 6 graduate credit hours from other accredited institutions to be applied to a master's degree must be completed in the student's first semester in the graduate program at American University. A minimum grade of B in each course is required for transfer. Transfer courses must have been completed within five years of admission and must fulfill stated requirements of the degree.

The MA in Social Enterprise is offered in either an on-campus or an online format. Applicants select their degree program format at the time of application.

Degree Requirements

  • 39-42 credit hours of approved graduate coursework with a cumulative grade point average of 3.00, including a minimum of 12 hours in the core, 3-6 hours in economics, 12 credit hours in a concentration, 6 credit hours in methods, 3 elective credit hours, and 3 credit hours in capstone experience
  • Capstone experience: demonstration of ability to conceptualize and create a new social enterprise, or make analytic-based recommendations for significant improvement in an existing organization through completion of a 3 credit hour practicum and capstone project supervised by program faculty advisors
  • Evidence of professional experience in the field: Relevant internship or work experience must be certified
  • Proficiency in a modern foreign language: Research competence in English and another language relevant to the student's career objectives must be certified

Course Requirements

Core (12 credit hours)


  • 3 credit hours in Global-Social Entrepreneurship
  • 3 credit hours in Leading Social Innovation
  • 3 credit hours in Social Innovation

Professional Competencies

Complete 3 credit hours from the following:

Economics (3-6 credit hours)

Economic Theory

Note: Students who pass an economics placement exam may have this course requirement waived without substitution.

Additional Economics

Complete 3 credit hours from the following or other approved economics coursework appropriate to the student's concentration:

Methods (6 credit hours)

Concentration (12 credit hours)

  • 12 credit hours of faculty-approved coursework constituting an academically-sound professional specialization, including courses in entrepreneurship and management, international development, and impact assessment and evaluation

Capstone Experience (3 credit hours)

Elective (3 credit hours)

  • 3 credit hours selected from skills institutes, internship for credit, or other elective courses

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