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
  • Program 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

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.

Course outline

Choose three courses from the following

COMM5703 Social Impact Investment, MG2 2016

Major changes are reshaping the role of social investment both internationally and in the Australian context:

  • Global economic realignments, the privatisation of community services
  • New patterns of wealth distribution and of inter-generational wealth transfer
  • Greater expectations of the role of corporate citizenship and of corporate philanthropy

These forces are also extending the meaning of philanthropy by encouraging the growth of new forms of social investment, in which commercial enterprise is being shaped by social as well as financial goals, to create innovative, and increasingly hybrid, models of sustainable community services, environmental protection and social development, as well as new business opportunities and markets.

This course will introduce the history, core concepts and current issues in the fields of social investment and the new and innovative forms of fundraising, philanthropy and social bonds that are emerging. It will also examine patterns of financial investment, philanthropic giving, ethical and philosophical perspectives and the management and legal aspects of social investment programs.

Course outline
COMM5704 Demonstrating Social Impact, MG2 2016

Demonstrating Social Impact provides an overview and introduction to evaluation and social impact assessment, the underpinning principles of evaluation and social impact assessment and examines some of the key social impact measurement approaches increasingly used by leading Third sector organisations in Australia and internationally, including Logic Models such as LogFrame; Social Return on Investment (SROI); and Social Accounting and Audit (SAA). Other frameworks used to measure the impact of corporate social initiatives will also be discussed.

The course will provide the knowledge and tools necessary to understand and apply social impact frameworks and methodologies at a project and organisational level.

Course outline
COMM5706 Design for Social Innovation

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.

Find the course outline PDF for this course in the archives

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.

Find the course outline PDF for this course in the archives

COMM5709 Corporate Responsibility and Accountability

Corporate Responsibility and Accountability examines how business manages its social, environmental and economic impact on society.

The course first reviews the historical evolution and development of the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Citizenship and why it is now a key part of managing the business enterprise.

Second, the course examines what acting responsibly means for corporations in terms of the market, community, environment, workplace and government. Issues covered include business and human rights, business-community partnerships, corporate philanthropy, the human resource management implications of CSR, business and the environment and businesses’ relationship with government.

Third, the course examines how business accounts for its behaviour and impact in society through sustainability reporting and the role of external assurance and outlines debates on the appropriate role of government policy in either regulating and/or enabling responsible corporate behaviour.

Course outline
COMM5713 Collaboration for Social Impact

This course examines key concepts and frameworks of sector collaboration and develops your capacities to undertake highly effective collaboration with existing and emerging partners. Primary topic areas include: cross-sectoral leadership, building and sustaining strategic partnerships, creative collaborative management, collaboration dilemmas and tensions and effective collaboration design and implementation. In completing this course, you will gain a deeper understanding of the knowledge and frameworks required to develop and sustain cross sectoral collaborations to achieve social impact and outcomes. You will also have the opportunity to develop a range of skills and competencies that can be applied to build collaborative partnerships with government, business and the third sector within your workplace.

Course outline
COMM5902 Leadership for Social Impact

Leadership for Social Impact is designed for a new generation of leaders

  • Those who seek a leadership career in social enterprises, and those already in the sector who wish to enhance their professional capacity to create social and environmental value through leadership of third sector/not-for-profit organisations
  • Those who aspire to hold executive positions in companies which are committed to maximising social benefit and meeting corporate responsibilities through their products and practices
  • Those who wish to become senior public administrators working with community groups, or public service executives with a responsibility for developing the public policy framework
  • Those individuals and foundations that seek to ensure that their social investment is applied to greatest social impact

The course provides students with an introduction to the challenges and opportunities of leading organisations with the purpose of improving social outcomes.

The course will examine the following areas:

  • Current challenges in achieving social benefit
  • Leadership in the social economy
  • Challenges and opportunities of leadership during a time of inflexion
  • A model of leadership centred on identifying adaptive challenges for leaders
  • Intervention of leaders and practices for more effective and positive social outcomes
  • New forms of organising designed to address breakdowns in the social economy
  • Governance systems and demands
  • Diagnosis of leadership challenges

Find the course outline PDF for this course in the archives

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

OR 

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.

SemesterApplication openApplication deadlineClasses startClasses end
Semester 17 September 20154 December 20158 February 20166 May 2016
Semester 28 February 2016TBA23 May 201619 August 2016
Semester 323 May 2016TBA5 September 20162 December 2016

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.

Find out more about applying for a postgraduate degree at UNSW.

We know you're busy balancing postgraduate study with your personal and other work commitments. So UNSW Australia 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
7357
Award
Graduate Certificate
Total Units of Credit (UOC)
24
Study Mode
Face to face
Online
Duration
1-2 years part-time
Commencing semesters
Session 1 - February
Session 2 - May
Session 3 - September
Course fee*
$3,900
Program fee (total)*
$15,600
* Fees are indicative only