An Alternative to the MBA? LSE Launches Executive Master’s in Social Business |

An Alternative to the MBA? LSE Launches Executive Master’s in Social Business

By Seb Murray

Updated November 12, 2019 Updated November 12, 2019

The London School of Economics is launching an executive master’s degree in social business to tap into growing student demand for courses that focus on ‘social impact’.

Business students increasingly are looking for careers that not only provide financial returns but also positively impact the planet and the environment. While many leading business schools are offering impact-focused courses within their flagship MBA programs, LSE thinks it has carved itself out a niche by placing social values and goals at the heart of its new program. 

“MBA degrees have run the world for 70 years and have done a brilliant job of creating a cadre of professional, organizational engineers who know how to run multinationals with complex balance sheets,” said Stephan Chambers, program director. “But social purpose and public return on private capital have been on the periphery of these courses. We are putting it at the heart of what we do. We are a challenger to the MBA.”

The 12-month program, designed for full-time working professionals, will open applications in autumn 2017 and will accept its first students in 2018/19. Students will study four modules lasting one/two weeks each on the LSE campus in London, as well as a year-long capstone project focused on creating a social business. LSE is targeting between 30-50 students for the initial cohort, Chambers said. 

Program targets entrepreneurs and ‘intrapreneurs’

LSE, whose mission is, “For the betterment of society”, is targeting leaders who aspire to contribute not only to global economic growth, but to the delivery of effective and sustainable solutions to social challenges around the world. It will cater to those who want to launch their own social businesses, but also those who aspire to drive positive change through entrepreneurship within established corporations. Many of today’s most successful organizations are introducing triple bottom lines: profit, people and planet. 

“There is a crisis in confidence in the purpose of corporations. We have lost faith in the state, with markets, and we need to restore the ability for organizations and capital not to screw up the planet and humankind,” Chambers said. 

The EMSB program will be delivered in collaboration with LSE’s Department for Management and Marshall Institute for Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship. Chambers said that the program will benefit from the other departments within the LSE, which is highly regarded around the world. “The program is central to the LSE’s identity – making the world a better place. It’s about harnessing deep social science understanding to use private means for public betterment.” 

LSE “not a business school” says program director

The EMSB is the latest push into business education by LSE, which does not brand itself as a business school. Last year, the university launched an MSc in Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The Department of Management also offers a two-year Global Master's in Management, a 12-month Master's in Management, and a three-year-long Executive Global Master's in Management, designed for experienced working professionals. In addition, LSE runs a suite of specialist MSc programs in marketing, digital innovation, human resources and more.

However, Chambers said that LSE does not plan to create a business school, adding “and we don’t want to get into the commodity MBA market”.

Brexit not a problem

He acknowledged that the UK education climate is now less stable because of Brexit, but said that it was “too early to tell” what the impact would be on LSE and its new program.

UK universities fear that it will be harder for them to recruit and retain talented students and star faculty once the UK quits the bloc. But Chambers noted that the fall in the value of sterling has made master’s degrees priced in pounds more attractive to international applicants.  

This article was originally published in July 2017 . It was last updated in November 2019

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Seb is a journalist and consulting editor who has developed a successful track record writing about business, education and technology for the international press.