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Graduate Certificate in Social Impact

Become a change agent in corporate, government and not-for-profit sectors. Explore real-world case studies, frameworks and best practice to lead sustainable and systemic change.

  • Overview
  • Structure
  • Entry requirements
  • How to apply
  • Student experience
  • FAQs

Why choose this graduate certificate?

  • Highly regarded program for not-for-profit managers and social entrepreneurs
  • Understand the dynamics of the social economy, and how business, social enterprise, government, foundations and community organisations can work together
  • Build skills and knowledge in social entrepreneurship, innovation, investment and governance, as well as global trends
  • Opportunity to network with peers across the corporate, government and not-for-profit sectors
  • Acquire the essential knowledge, frameworks and best practice to lead sustainable and systemic change
  • Flexible study mode: Ability to study online or face-to-face, offering a high level of flexibility for professionals and accessibility for those living in regional areas
  • Additional information: Face-to-face courses are delivered over 6 fortnightly intensive full day classes

Who is this degree for?

  • You’re a professional working in the not-for-profit sector, or in social enterprise roles in the corporate sector
  • You’re a senior public administrator, public service executive or policy manager seeking to develop and broaden social impact skills
  • You would like to make a social or environmental impact
  • You’re interested in expanding your knowledge and applying social impact skills to the workplace to accelerate your chosen career

Job and career prospects 

The graduate certificate is ideal for those seeking careers such as:

  • Executive roles in not-for-profit and community organisations
  • Public sector managers and leaders
  • Social policy managers in corporate sector
  • Social entrepreneurs
  • Foundation executives and managers
  • Social business executives and administrators
  • Corporate community engagement executives and professionals
  • Social and Ethical Investment professionals

The Graduate Certificate in Social Impact consists of four courses (24 UOC): 1 core course, plus 3 elective courses.

Core course

COMM5708 Social Impact: Entrepreneurs and Social Innovation (Online)

Social Impact: Entrepreneurs and Social Innovation examines the accelerating economic relationship between government, business and the third sector to deliver social (including environmental) value in communities and the way in which this drives social innovation. The course first examines the social economy through the emerging spectrum of organisational forms that generate both social and economic value: from traditional charities, to social enterprises, through to socially responsible business and traditional corporations. It looks at why the traditional boundaries between government, business and the third sector have become blurred and fluid and what that means for the capacity to deliver new forms of social impact.

Second, the course examines trends and drivers re-shaping the dynamics of social impact. It reviews the key changes that have occurred within each of the sectors: the changing role of government from direct provider to enabler; the emergence of corporate responsibility within the business sector; the emergence of social enterprises and socially responsible businesses within the third sector and the consequent implications for leadership; and the emergence of new forms of philanthropy and social investment.

The course examines the ways in which these changes drive social innovation and it concludes with a review of global trends and organisations that effect social change and impact.

Choose three courses from the following

COMM5706 Design for Social Innovation (Online)

Social innovation, the outcome of the work of social entrepreneurs and others can be developed in almost any context. It is often a response to an identified problem, issue or opportunity. Design thinking and methods take a whole systems, rather than a silo, approach to offer different perspectives to the traditional business tools.

Design for Social Innovation offers participants the opportunity to learn and apply design tools and methods to real projects with a focus on social outcomes.

This course is an elective subject for the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact, and an elective available for all postgraduate students. It provides an overview and introduction to the role and application of design concepts in social innovation and social enterprise.

The course will provide the knowledge and tools necessary to understand and apply design principles at a project or organisational level.

COMM5707 Social Impact Field Project

This course is an individual student driven project bringing together learning from the core COMM5708 along with 2 Elective courses. It applies the cumulative learning of students' three previous courses so it cannot be studied until the student has completed three GCSI courses.

This course places students, through negotiation, with an agreed suitable host, in a practical working environment with a social impact focus. Students may choose to work individually, or in a team of two.

Students will work at least one day a fortnight at a host organisation’s premises on a project with a social impact focus agreed between the organisation, the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact Program Director and the student(s).

Suitable projects should come from any of the areas studied in the other Graduate Certificate courses: social enterprises, the measurement of social value creation, social finance, leadership for social impact, corporate responsibility and accountability. The course has no formal classes; all sessions are arranged between the supervisor and the student. The course requires a written interim and final report.

COMM5710 Creating Shared Value

Creating Shared Value (CSV) is a business strategy aimed at enhancing a company’s competitiveness through finding business opportunities through addressing social problems. As an organisation and business ethos, CSV seeks greater integration of organisational economic imperatives with the identification of social needs that can be addressed via the expansion of economic markets and business innovation. Complementing existing strategies of corporate philanthropy, corporate social responsibility and sustainability, CSV is aimed at creating shared value by reconceiving products and markets, increasing productivity in the value chain, and enabling development of clusters of stakeholders. This course will examine the fundamentals of CSV and how businesses might co-create sustainable financial and social value.

Course outline

There are 2 categories of entry.

Category A

To be eligible for the program, you need to have: 

  • A recognised bachelor degree (or equivalent qualification) with a credit average (65% or higher) as determined by the UNSW Postgraduate Coursework Entry Calculator; and 
  • At least 2 years  full-time relevant work experience


Category B

Professionals without a bachelor degree can apply to the program if they have:

  • At least 5 years full-time relevant work experience in government, corporate or not-for-profit

The UNSW English Language requirements also apply to this program.

Supporting documentation

Applicants need to provide a detailed resume (outlining relevant competencies and achievements) and evidence of other academic and professional qualifications.

How to apply

You can apply for this program online:

There are three intakes per year. Applications are assessed on a session by session basis.

MG SessionIntakeOnline Application OpenOnline Application CloseSession StartSession End
Session 1 / MG1
February 2018
19 August 2017
26 January 2018
19 February 2018
20 May 2018
Session 2 / MG2 May 2018
27 January 2018
11 May 2018
4 June 2018
2 September 2018
Session 3 / MG3 September 2018
12 May 2018
24 August 2018
17 September 2018
7 December 2018

NB: Turnaround time is estimated at 2-3 weeks. Any applications or supporting documentation received after the close date will be rolled over to the next session intake.


We know you're busy balancing postgraduate study with your personal and other work commitments. So UNSW Business School's dynamic learning spaces, facilities and student support helps you make the most of every day on campus.

Expand your professional network

Your postgraduate cohort is more than a valuable future business network – you'll make lifelong friends in class and at a range of social events. Join a student club – there are more than 180 social, cultural, sports and professional clubs to choose from. The Graduate Student Association is a great place to start.  Find out more

All the support you need to achieve

If it has been a while since you last studied, you may need to brush up on your skills. We'll help with study skills workshops and Career Mentoring programs. Our Meet the Executive series offers unique behind the scenes business insights and the Business School's LEAD Business Leadership program, as well as many other orientation, leadership and mentor programs, can open the door to new opportunities. Find out more

Stay active on campus

Exercise boosts your mental wellbeing and can help you deal with exam or assignment pressures. It's easy to stay fit with state of the art sporting facilities on campus, including a 50m indoor pool, fitness centre, squash courts and a range of competitive sports teams.

Everything you need in one place

The UNSW Kensington campus is like a village hub, with cafes, bars, banks, a post office, medical and dental centres as well as retail outlets. It's a short bus trip to Sydney's CBD, many beautiful beaches, the SCG and Centennial Park, and movie theatres at Fox Studios.

Make the most of every opportunity

Your postgraduate degree is a unique chance to get a new perspective on life. So get involved – as well as student clubs and social activities there are internships, volunteer projects, competitions and international exchanges on offer. It's a great way to further develop your leadership, project management or specialist skills.

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Quick facts for students

Program code
Graduate Certificate
Total Units of Credit (UOC)
Study Mode
Face to face
1-2 years part-time
Commencing semesters
Session 1 - February
Session 2 - May
Session 3 - September
Course fee*
Program fee (total)*
* Fees are indicative only

​​​​​​​​​Area of Study

Browse the list of study areas available for postgraduate study


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Search Degrees​​

Find a degree, course or interest