Executive Education

Executive Program in Social Impact Strategy

An intensive program designed to support people with big ideas. The Executive Program in Social Impact Strategy is an 8-month online certification from the University of Pennsylvania for leaders and innovators working to make an impact.

Students in our Executive Program come from all sectors, including non-profits, for-profits, government agencies, and community organizations. Our students are working to grow their social enterprise, bring tested approaches to their initiatives, learn more about the social impact landscape, and expand their network. Plus, for students who want to continue their studies, their Certificate in Social Impact Strategy makes them eligible to complete the Master of Science (MS) in Nonprofit Leadership (NPL) in an accelerated format

Request Program Viewbook

Applications for the 2023 cohort will open soon. Once you request a program viewbook, you will be automatically signed up to receive email alerts about the 2023 Executive Program in Social Impact Strategy. 

Apply Now

Download a viewbook, attend information sessions, and read more below. When your ready, apply at Penn’s Online Learning Initiative by clicking the Apply Now button. 

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Key Details

Program Duration
January 22, 2023 – September 20, 2023
Convening at the University of Pennsylvania
March 22-24, 2023
Early Decision Tuition
Early Decision Application Deadline
October 21, 2022
Regular Decision Tuition
Regular Decision Application Deadline
November 18, 2022

Get Tools You Can Use Immediately

Our 8-month curriculum is designed to help you put your learning into practice right away, educating students in more than 50 strategic tools, frameworks & resources that you can use to build and scale your ideas. Each assignment is designed to advance your own social impact ideas and initiatives — apply what you learn to your work right away.

Earn Ivy League Credentials

Upon completing this program, you’ll receive a certificate from the University of Pennsylvania. While this is a non-credit program, the curriculum was developed by and alongside the rest of our curriculum at the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania. If you successfully complete your certificate, you’ll also have the opportunity to continue your studies as a master’s student with advanced standing in Nonprofit Leadership at Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice.

Join a Supportive Global Community

Launching and scaling solutions can feel lonely sometimes. You’re not going it alone — the Penn community is made up of global thought leaders and world changers who are ready to support your impact idea. Connect with your teaching team and classmates from across the globe for optional weekly interactive group discussions.

Learn from Wherever You Are

Complete the Executive Program from wherever you are in the world. Most of this program is taught asynchronously, online. All you need is a good internet connection and the ability to stream video in order to access our educational materials, teaching team, and an incredible group or world-changing classmates.

Visit a vibrant campus

Join us on campus at the University of Pennsylvania in March for three full days of immersive learning and community-building with your cohort. We will delve into human-centered techniques for advancing an organizational mission and cultivating an intervention. Please follow Penn’s Coronavirus site for the most updated information on safely gathering on campus.

Keep your Day Job and Learn at Your Pace

Whether your impact idea is directly related to your job or you’re building it on the side, you can complete this program at the same time. New course material is released weekly. You’ll attend class on your own schedule, fitting 4-6 hours of coursework into your weekly calendar as you see fit. The core curriculum is recorded and remains available, once released, throughout the program, so you can learn when it’s right for you, and return to it at your convenience. Weekly submission deadlines keep you on track to earning your certificate.

How 8 Months of Learning Unfold


Set intentions, meet classmates and the teaching team, and get comfortable with the learning platform.

Social Impact Strategy

In this core class, you’ll gain access to the tools and training you need to articulate your mission, understand and convene stakeholders, and develop a strategy to build a successful social enterprise or initiative.

Convening at the University of Pennsylvania

Cultivate empathetic and human-centered practices to develop new ideas.  Make connections with fellow classmates.

Community & Collaboration

In this core class, you’ll learn techniques for understanding communities, mapping the abundant resources we have around us and cultivating partnerships.

Marketing for Social Impact

In this core class, you’ll understand how to identify what clients and customers need– and build a marketing platform to share your idea successfully.

Business Models for Social Enterprise

In this core class, you’ll gain the knowledge to build something that lasts via an innovative funding model.

Program Electives

To complete your certificate requirements, choose and complete two electives. Upon completing all certificate requirements, students will then have the opportunity to access any additional elective content that you choose. In past years, electives options have included: Impact Management, Research Design, Digital Media for Social Movements, Data Science for Social Innovation, Ethical Decision-Making in Social Organizations, Volunteer Management, and Unleashing Large Scale Social Movements


Once you complete your coursework, and it is certified by the teaching team, you will have earned a Certificate of Completion. Although the CSIS Executive Program in Social Impact Strategy is a non-credit program, students who enter the Nonprofit Leadership Master’s  (NPL) program after completing the executive program are eligible to complete the NPL program in an accelerated format.

Program Instructors

Program Team

Photo of Rosemary Clark-Parsons
Rosemary Clark-Parsons
Program Manager
Ariel Schwartz
Managing Director
Liz Royer Johnson
Program Coordinator
Mandisa Thomas
Program Coordinator

Alumni Case Studies

Learn more about the Social Impact Strategy Teaching Team below

Upcoming Webinars

August 10, 2022 at 4pm: Register here!

September 6th, 2022 at 4pm: Register here!

Information Session & Master Class, October 18th, 2022 at 4pm: Register here!

All sessions will be recorded. 

Recorded Webinars

2022 Executive Program: Information Session #1

2022 Executive Program: Information Session #2

2022 Executive Program: Alumni Panel

2022 Executive Program: Master Class

Download a Program Viewbook

See the program in action and read about the Executive Program’s faculty, curriculum, and how alumni have put their learnings to use. Once you submit your download request, you will be automatically signed up to receive email alerts about the 2023 Executive Program in Social Impact Strategy. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How will my application be evaluated?

We want to hear your story, your goals for society, and what you want to accomplish in your career. We are looking to learn about you, what you’re passionate about, what you want to learn and why. We hope that the application process might serve as a reflective practice for you to step back and articulate what you’re hoping to accomplish.

The essays are short but extremely important. This is where we learn your goals for the world and the program, and the best way we can assess whether you are at a stage in your venture or career to benefit from participating. We encourage concise, detailed responses.

In the first essay, tell us about the social impact issue area or initiative that you are most passionate about contributing to, and why. Each week of the Executive Program is designed for students to articulate some aspect of this issue, even if they are still ideating. We need to see that you can try ideas out, on paper, concisely and with specifics. You don’t have to pretend that everything is already figured out — actually, we hope you won’t. Instead, share your assumptions about this issue and the things you need to learn in order to take the next step in this work. 

In the second essay, help us understand why you think this program is right for you. What aspects do you most look forward to? What do you hope to accomplish professionally or organizationally in the 8 months of the Executive Program? Why is 2022 the right time for you to undertake our program? 

In the third essay, describe your prior actions to support a social mission. Volunteer work, sitting on a board, acting as an engaged funder, working in an organization that did good work either as its main business or on the side…there are many ways to help make the world a better place. 

 If you have questions about admissions, please don’t hesitate to reach out at admissions@csis.upenn.edu so we can discuss.

Are financial aid or scholarships available?

No. Our program is designed to have the lowest tuition possible without losing the integrity of the educational experience. We’re proud to say it is the most affordable comparable executive program that we are aware of. Since the program tuition is already being offered at a discounted rate relative to similar programs, we’re unfortunately unable to offer scholarships. We can, however, offer students who would like additional time to complete their payment the option of an interest-free payment plan over the course of 3 months. Some students have received partial or full tuition from their employers or a donor. Feel free to use this template to calculate the program cost for you and to share with your employer if it is useful in your funding applications.  

If you have questions about finances, please don’t hesitate to reach out at admissions@csis.upenn.edu so we can discuss.

What is the refund policy for the Executive Program?

A $950 tuition deposit is not refundable. 

Refund requests for the remainder of tuition must occur within 14 days of the start of the program, January 19, 2022.


Are there any prerequisites to apply?

There are no educational prerequisites to apply for this program — we are looking for leaders across all industries with a variety of perspectives. Applicants should be comfortable learning in the English language, and have the capacity to stream video weekly.  

If you have questions, or if you think you might need a learning accommodation, please don’t hesitate to reach out at admissions@csis.upenn.edu so we can discuss your questions.

What courses will I take during the program?

You will complete a total of six online courses and attend an in-person convening at the University of Pennsylvania. Required courses include: Social Impact Strategy, Business Models for Social Enterprise, Community and Collaboration, and Marketing for Social Impact. Students select two additional electives from among that year’s choices. In the past, we have offered: Impact Management, Research Design, Digital Media for Social Movements, Data Science for Social Innovation, Ethical Decision-Making in Social Organizations, Volunteer Management, and Unleashing Large Scale Social Movements. Download the viewbook for course descriptions.

What opportunities do you provide alumni?

Alumni are a critical part of the CSIS family, and they receive lifelong access to the CSIS community. We have a private Facebook group dedicated to conversations online for anyone in our network to share resources and support one another. Most years, we also host a free alumni summit in Philadelphia to bring our diverse community together and offer one another a deep sense of community and connection. In 2020 and 2021, these summits have been virtual, and while we like welcoming alumni on campus each year, they have been wonderful opportunities to reconnect with curriculum and classmates. We expect to be back on campus in 2022! 

How will we handle COVID safety during the March convening at the University of Pennsylvania?

We will be following all guidelines in place for visitors on campus at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as guidelines set forth by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health

I understand that the March convening is a required component of the certificate program. What happens if I’m unable to travel to Philadelphia due to health or visa concerns?

For anyone who can’t join us in person, we will offer a virtual alternative that will allow you to fully participate in both learning and cohort-building activities. It will take place synchronously with the on-campus convening. You will be able to watch all instruction via live-stream, and will interact with your other classmates learning online. There will be an online alternative for all social activities. 


The online option will be fully staffed and will feature a separate instructional team that will ensure that you are able to hear the instruction, and facilitate your active participation in all interactive activities. Please set aside the same time and attention as you would if you were learning in person. This will not be an online session during which time you can sit on your couch, do other professional work, take side calls, or fold laundry. 


When you enroll in the program October-December, we will ask you to indicate whether you intend to participate in March in person or online. 


Depending on your time zone, it might be challenging for you to attend our live sessions synchronously. Online participants will have an opportunity to view recorded sessions and submit their work by the end of the week. Depending on the location of our incoming class, and their ability to attend the convening in person, we may organize social activities at a different time when online participants are more able to attend. 


To facilitate this opportunity, we will also ask you when you enroll the time zone from which you will learn.  Learning sessions will remain synchronous with the in-person event.

If I intend to join the convening online, will I receive a fee reduction?

No. The online option will feature the same curriculum and activities as the on-campus option. You will have instructors focused specifically on ensuring that you are learning, engaged, and interacting with your classmates.  

See the Program in Action
Download Program Viewbook
Have any questions?
Email Us
Ready to get started?
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via the Penn Online Learning Platform