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 industries, including non-profits, for-profits, government agencies, and community organizations. Our students are working to grow their social enterprise, bring tested approaches to their companies, learn more about the social impact landscape, and expand their network. Plus, when students successfully graduate from the Executive Program, they will have completed the equivalent 40% of the master’s degree in Nonprofit Leadership (NPL) from the University of Pennsylvania. We offer a rigorous, master’s-level executive program, and if you continue your studies at NPL, you will have accelerated standing .

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via the Penn Online Learning Platform

Key Details

Program Duration
January 20, 2021 – August 22, 2021
Virtual Convening
March 16-18, 2021
Early Decision Tuition
Early Decision Application Deadline
October 16, 2020
Regular Decision Tuition
Regular Decision Application Deadline
November 18, 2020

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.

Get Tools You Can Use Immediately

Our 8-month curriculum is designed to help you put your learning into practice right away, giving you access to tools, frameworks & resources that you can use in building and scaling your ideas.

Earn Ivy League Credentials

Upon completing this program, you’ll receive a certificate from the University of Pennsylvania. You’ll also have the opportunity to continue your studies after graduation, as you’ll be 40% of the way towards completing a master’s degree 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 every time zone across the globe each week for optional interactive group discussions.Connect with your teaching team and classmates from every time zone across the globe each week for optional interactive group discussions.

Learn from Wherever You Are

Complete the Executive Program from wherever you are in the world. We will even convene virtually in March for an intensive three days of connection, learning, and community-building, which will take place online among your community of colleagues.

Keep Your Day Job and Get New Perspectives

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. You’ll attend class on your own schedule, fitting 4-8 hours of coursework into your weekly calendar as you see fit.

Complete Your Work at Your Pace

New material is released weekly, the core curriculum recorded, and remains available, once released, throughout the program. So you can learn when it’s right for you, and return to material later in the program. Submission deadlines keep you on track to earning your certificate.

Program Instructors

Program Team

Ariel Schwartz
Managing Director
Allison Russell
Postdoctoral Fellow
Kaveh Sadeghian
Creative Director
Amber Dietrich
Coordinator, Executive Program

How 8 months of learning unfold


Walk through 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, build a team, and develop a strategy to build a successful social enterprise or initiative.

Virtual Convening

Hear from Penn faculty, develop your idea, and make connections with fellow classmates.

Community & Collaboration

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

Marketing for Social Impact

In this short class, you’ll understand how to identify what beneficiaries 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

Take as many electives as you want to learn tactics and tools relevant to your needs. Electives include: Impact Management, Nonprofit Governance; Nonprofit Fundraising; Ethics and Social Impact; Data Science for Social Innovation; Social Media Strategies; Unleashing Large-Scale Social Movements; and Digital Media for Social Movements.


Once you complete your coursework, you’ll gain a Certificate of Completion. Your certification will be accredited and count towards 40% of a Masters in Nonprofit Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania.

Executive Program Webinars

Is the Executive Program right for you? Let’s talk about it! Spend 30 minutes with our team to find out how the Executive Program works, who’s participated in years past, and wheather it’s right for you.

Information Session: August 12, 2020, 04:00pm EST
Information Session: September 14, 2020, 01:00pm EST
Information Session: November 2, 2020, 12:00pm EST
Alumni Panel: October 1, 2020, 11:00am EST
Master Class: Evaluating Alliances: October 15, 04:00pm EST

Frequently Asked Questions

How will my application be evaluated?

We want to hear your story, your hopes and dreams 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. Whether you’re looking to grow your current organization, want to transition into more social impact work, or you’re trying to have the time and space to reboot and consider what’s next, be honest about where you’re at in your journey. 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. 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?

Our program is designed to have the lowest tuition possible without losing the integrity of the educational experience. We’re proud to say it’s one of the most affordable executive programs available today. Since the program tuition is already being offered at a discounted rate relative to other similar programs, we’re unfortunately unable to offer any 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 3.5 months. Previous students have gotten partial or full tuition covered from their employers as well, and we also encourage students to crowdfund if possible. 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?

The $950 tuition deposit is not refundable. Refunds on balances paid will be made according to the policy of the School of Social Policy and Practice OpenSP2 refund policy.

OpenSP2 supports requests for refunds to non-credit programs in writing only to the appropriate program leadership, please see the specific program page for contact information. On-demand programs require that refunds requests occur within 14 days of the start of the program, and only if less than 25% of course materials have been engaged with (based on course data analytics). Programs which run on a calendar basis with live class sessions require cancellation and refund requests to be made at least 14 days in advance of the course start date. OpenSP2 may provide a transfer option to individuals who cancel beyond the limits of this policy, that decision is at the discretion of the program leader. Individual programs and programs from affiliated PennSP2 centers each set final program cancellation and refund policies; participants should check program policies before registration and payment. OpenSP2 is a division of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice which receives the right to change, alter, adjust this policy. OpenSP2 reserves the right to cancel any program for low enrollment or other extenuating circumstances at any time, before the start of the program. If SP2 cancels a program, all participants will receive a full refund. Please also note programs offered on 3rd party platforms (edX or Coursera) are subject to the policies of that platform.

Official communications may be sent to admissions@csis.upenn.edu

Are there any prerequisites to apply?

No, there are no educational prerequisites to apply for this program — we are looking for leaders across all industries with a variety of perspectives.

If you have questions, 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: Ethical Decision Making in Organizations, Data Science for Social Innovation, Nonprofit Governance, Nonprofit Fundraising, Introduction to Social Media Strategies and Impact Management. 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, as well as an online Global Network connecting our entire alumni community. Most years, we also host a free summit in Philadelphia to bring our diverse community together and offer one another a deep sense of community and connection.

See the Program in Action
Download Program Viewbook
Have any questions?
Email Us
Ready to get started?
Apply Now

via the Penn Online Learning Platform