The graduate certificate in social innovation trains students to be social innovation catalysts and maximize their social impact in a world that rewards professionals comfortable with change, experimentation and working across disciplines. Its two required classes are taught by faculty in business and the social sciences and with a focus on designing, implementing, evaluating and sustaining solutions to society's most pressing problems.

This certificate may be of special interest to graduate students who do not plan to pursue a career in academia but are interested in working in nonprofits, public service, and other fields whose primary mission is to advance human welfare. All students enrolled in a degree-granting graduate program at CU Boulder are eligible to petition for admission to this certificate program.


The certificate requires successful completion of two graduate methods courses (6 credit hours) and one elective graduate course in a substantive area (3 credit hours) with a grade of B or higher. The required methods classes are MBAX 6130 and a 5000-level version of SOCY 4160

Participants can apply one of the following electives to the certificate:

ANTH 5700Practicing Anthropology3
ANTH 7000Seminar: Current Research Topics in Cultural Anthropology (Anthropology of Policy)3
ATLS 5519Advanced Special Topics in Creative Technology and Design (Venture Capital and Private Equity; limited to 5 students.)3
BMEN 5117Anatomy and Physiology for Biomedical Engineering3
EDUC 5301Queer(ing) Topics in Education3
EDUC 5010 Race and Equity in Higher Education3
EDUC 5075Sociology of Education3
EDUC 6245Latinx Education Across the Americas3
EDUC 6211Education Law and Litigation Workshop3
EDUC 6220Gender Issues in Education3
EDUC 6240African American Education in the United States3
EDUC 6260Transnational Migration, Education, and Citizenship3
EDUC 7446Policy Issues in Education3
EMEN 5020Finance for Engineering Managers3
EMEN 5030Fundamentals of Project Management3
EMEN 5052Leading Others3
EMEN 5215Applied Sustainability for Engineering Managers3
EMEN 5220Product Design for the Circular Economy3
EMEN 5225Sustainable and Resilient Operations and Supply Chains3
EMEN 5230Resilience Engineering and Leadership in Crisis3
ENVM 5050Social Innovation and Sustainable Cities3
ENVS 5340Conservation Biology and Practice in Brazil's Atlantic Forest4
ENVS 5750Climate Politics and Science-Policy3
ENVS 5820Energy Policy in the 21st Century3
ENVS 6301Environmental and Energy Economics3
ENVS 6305Reducing the Environmental Impact of Food Systems: Evidence-Based Solutions3
JRNL 5812Science Writing3
JRNL 5822Reporting on the Environment3
JRNL 7021Environmental Journalism and Science Communication3
JRNL 7030Media Sociology3
JRNL 7034Media and Health Communication3
PHIL 5120Philosophy and Animals3
PHIL 5150Topics in Applied Ethics3
PHIL 5210
PHIL 5230Bioethics and Public Policy3
PHIL 5240Seminar in Environmental Philosophy3
PHIL 5290Topics in Values and Social Policy3
SLHS 7550Prevention of Hearing Loss from a Public Health Perspective (subject to availability)3
SOCY 7171Special Topics (Work and Organizations)3

Plan(s) of Study

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
Fall SemesterCredit Hours
SOCY 4160 Designing Social Innovations 3
 Credit Hours3
Spring Semester
MBAX 6130 Sustainable Venturing 3
 Credit Hours3
Year Two
Fall Semester
LAWS 7271 Venture Capital and Private Equity 3
 Credit Hours3
 Total Credit Hours9

Learning Outcomes

Upon earning the certificate, students will be able to:

  • Understand the different forms of social innovation.
  • Cultivate the mindset and values of a problem solver.
  • Illuminate the various contexts within which social innovation occurs.
  • Appreciate the role of empathy in innovation.
  • Grasp the different approaches to problem solving.
  • Develop and critically assess a novel design for social change.
  • Master a set of skills for operationalizing and implementing social solutions.
  • Learn tools for critically evaluating the success and sustainability of solutions.