MBA in Corporate Social Responsibility


Learn how Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become an important part of MBA programs worldwide and how an MBA in CSR could change your career.
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An MBA in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the perfect specialization for those interested in working in sustainability roles, including in CSR departments and strategic functions of companies dedicated to improving stakeholder engagement and social/environmental footprint.  

By choosing a specialized MBA program in sustainability, you’ll be able to explore business ideas from a different perspective. For example, the ‘triple bottom line,’ which deems a business successful not only by profit, but how it effects humanity and the planet.

Students who enrol on social entrepreneurship programs will learn to manage businesses to create social change.

By choosing a CSR career, six core competencies are often listed for managers focussing on CSR in organizations, including:

  • Understanding society
  • Building capacity
  • Questioning business as usual
  • Stakeholder relations
  • Strategic view
  • Harnessing diversity

Rise of the specialization

Corporate Social Responsibility MBA programs are increasingly sought after, as students learn about new business approaches that contribute towards sustainable development for all stakeholders by delivering economic, environmental and sustainability benefits. 

Of course, students will learn about conventional general management subjects, while also taking classes that emphasise the concepts or responsible business practices, environment, ethics, sustainability, social inclusions, social entrepreneurship, governance, inclusive growth, creating shared value, and the like.

Overview (Subject): 

MBA students over recent years have become more and more interested in learning about business approaches that can contribute towards sustainable development by delivering economic, sustainability and environmental benefits for all stakeholders- and this is where an MBA in Corporate Social Responsibility comes in.

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There are lots of business schools offering their own take on an MBA in corporate social responsibility.

Harvard Business School offers a Social Enterprise Initiative and was one of the first business schools to build research capacity in the CSR space. Many of the MBA program’s core curriculum classes incorporate CSR case studies to ponder over.

Similarly, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University offers students the opportunity to take a multitude of classes from the core curriculum which place a strong focus on sustainability and CSR, like ‘Business, Society, and Sustainable Development’. Another factor demonstrating Rotterdam’s focus on sustainability is the school’s integration of the UN Global Compact’s Principles for Responsible Management Education into the MBA curriculum.

If studying in the innovative hub of Barcelona is for you, look no further than IE Business School. The institution offers relevant courses in the field, and holds an annual ‘Social Responsibility Forum’ that explores CSR-related issues.

Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University allows MBA students to take a concentration in ‘Sustainable Global Enterprise’, as well as a company project that focuses on CSR topics. Another sting to the business school’s bow is Johnson’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise which was launched in 2003 and publishes relevant research in CSR and sustainability fields.

The University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business is also home to a center focussing on sustainable development – the Center for Responsible Business – which organizes a vast as=rray of sustainability-oriented events while also providing CSR-minded MBAs with scholarships, fellowships, and other resources. But if you wanted to ensure your MBA was tailored towards CSR, students could pick elective courses like ‘Social Finance’ which examines core business topics through a sustainability viewpoint.  

Oxford University’s Saïd Business School offers electives on the MBA program, including ‘Social Enterprise Design’ and ‘Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation’. The business school also boasts the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, which provides the students looking to create social change through innovation with necessary resources.

Michigan Ross School of Business also has an institute dedicated to sustainability. Ross’ Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise – founded in 1996 – is highly regarded among peers for its work. Students who wish to learn more about sustainability can take a dual-degree MBA/Master of Science, made possible thanks to the partnership with the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment.

Australian Graduate School of Management offers students the MBA (Social Impact) offered as part of the MBAX program. On the program, you’ll learn to understand the dynamics of the social economy, and how business, social enterprise, government, foundations and community organisations can work together. Students will also build skills and knowledge in social entrepreneurship, innovation, investment and governance.

In 2014, ESADE Ramon Llull University launched an MBA elective that focuses on social entrepreneurship. The business school is also regarded for its push towards sustainability and innovation through the Institute for Social Innovation.

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Top Business Schools

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Career Options
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Corporate Social Responsibility jobs

Companies are increasingly making sustainability a part of their mission, ensuring processes, products, practices and procedures are ethical, environmentally friendly, and sustainable. Meaning, the company sees that it has a corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Some companies may be fuelled to commit to corporate social responsibility partly for philanthropic reasons, but, adopting an impressive CSR company strategy also boosts a company’s reputation, and thereby maximises profitability.

As a corporate social manager, you’ll be responsible for determining and developing strategies that align with a company’s CSR objectives. You’ll undergo research, pitch ideas, create detailed plans,

Corporate social responsibility managers are responsible for defining and developing the strategies which underpin a company’s CSR objectives. They conduct research, come up with ideas, develop policies, create detailed plans, build relationships with partner organisations, and then implement and coordinate a range of activities and initiatives which are designed to have a positive impact on the environment and local communities.

A corporate social responsibility manager’s job also tends to involve aspects of marketing and publicity. Indeed, if you enter this line of work, you will act as an internal and external representative for your company’s CSR policies and projects. You’ll be responsible for raising awareness of your company’s commitment to CSR and generating publicity around your organisation’s altruistic endeavours.

Finally, corporate social responsibility managers are also responsible for recruiting, managing and training junior staff members.

CSR as a sector is diverse when compared to others due to the distinct nature of activities within a chosen organization. Meaning, someone with an MBA in CSR could make the most of opportunities in the private, public, and voluntary sectors.

Larger companies in the private sector may have CSR departments or have CSR functions within specific areas, including investor relations, communications, finance, marketing, environmental management, public affairs, human resources, and operations.

And if you’re hoping to land a position in large consulting and accounting firms – you’re in luck. Opportunities are on the rise due to firms trying to compete with dedicated CSR consulting firms by offering their own CSR client services.

But if you’re looking to work in the public sector, CSR career opportunities can be found in the likes of international organizations, public sector undertakings, and national government agencies.

Otherwise, you may be interested in the following roles:

  • Executive roles in not-for-profit and community organisations
  • Public sector managers and leaders
  • Social policy managers, foundation and social responsibility mangers in corporate sector
  • Social entrepreneurs

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Key skills: MBA in CSR

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