Master of Arts in Social Innovation

The Master of Arts in Social Innovation is a multi-disciplinary program breaking down the silo mindset. This Master's degree brings together the unique skills and expertise gained at a peace school in collaboration with leadership, humanities, science and business. Students will take classes at several schools, including the School of Business, School of Leadership and Education Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences and the Kroc School. Our approach complements the cross-sectoral nature of social innovation with a pedagogical model centered on experiential learning in course settings, field-based practicums (domestic and international) and co-curricular opportunities (such as the Social Innovation Challenge, V2 Competition and numerous opportunities through the Changemaker Hub).

Students pursuing a Master of Arts in Social Innovation look critically at the roots of social challenges and injustice, then seek to create real change through bold new responses to poverty, inequality, human rights abuses and humanitarian crises. Students in the program will acquire the knowledge, personal skills and experience needed for careers involving the creation of social change in a wide range of organizational settings. The program offers a deep understanding of trends and opportunities in social innovation, as well as capabilities in key aspects of innovation, such as business model design, leadership, communication, creativity, community engagement, human-centered design and problem solving. The Master of Arts in Social Innovation offers full-time and part-time program options.


Patricia Márquez, PhD, DEAN

Jessica López, MA, Academic Programs Manager

Louis Cappella, ASSISTANT DEAN, for Administration and Operations

Andrew Blum, PhD, DIRECTOR, Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice

Everard Meade, PhD, DIRECTOR, Trans-Border Institute

Diana Kutlow, MA, DIRECTOR, Development and Alumni Relations

Miranda Williamson, MA, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, Graduate Student Services


Ami Carpenter, PhD

Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick, PhD

William R. Headley, CSSp, PhD

Cynthia Irmer, PhD

Christopher McDougal, PhD

Dustin Sharp, JD

Necla Tshirgi, PhD

Admission Requirements

The following elements are the standard admissions expectations for the Kroc School Graduate programs:

  1. Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor’s degree with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.00 or higher on a 4.00 scale. 

  2. A completed online application is required, including two short essays, a professional résumé, and two letters of recommendation (one letter from a professor or individual who can attest to your academic capabilities and one letter from a work supervisor or similar). 

The MASI is a 30-unit degree program that can be completed in one-year (full-time). The program is structured to fulfill six learning goals, with a portfolio of courses that provide a systems perspective, analytical capabilities to understand the complexities of social issues, design thinking and problem solving skills, and experimentation in design, implementation and impact assessment.

Core Courses
SOIN 500Global Challenges 3
SOIN 505Social Innovation 3
SOIN 510Social Entrepreneurship3
SOIN 515Social Innovation Practicum3
SOIN 520Innovation Evaluation2
SOIN 525Social Innovation Capstone4
SOIN 550Fundamentals of Finance & Accounting1
SOIN 555Design Thinking1
SOIN 560Pitching for Success1
Electives (9 units - sample electives listed below)9
Kroc School
Sustainable Development
Leadership & Organizations
Peace, Development & Conflict
Measurement & Evaluation
Technology and Social Change
War, Gender & Peace
School of Business
Business & Social Innovation
Sustainable Business Model - Design
Global Social Entrepreneurship
Impact Investing
Financial Management and Analysis
Statistics for Managers
College of Arts and Sciences
Politics in India
Nuclear Power and Proliferation
America and the Middle East
Law of the Sea
Politics of Immigration
School of Leadership and Education Science
International Nonprofits
Human Development and Social Entrepreneurship
Community Organization and Change
Culture, Leadership & Organizations

MASI Full-Time Program 

First Year
Semester IHours
SOIN 500Global Challenges 3
SOIN 505Social Innovation 3
SOIN 550Fundamentals of Finance & Accounting1
Semester II
SOIN 515Social Innovation Practicum3
SOIN 555Design Thinking1
SOIN 520Innovation Evaluation2
SOIN 525Social Innovation Capstone4
SOIN 560Pitching for Success1

In order to graduate, students must complete all courses and the capstone with an average grade of B or better.

Partners for field-based courses: The MASI has a recognized group of field partners for experiential learning, field based courses and practicums. Some examples are:

  • CleanTech

  • Equinox

  • Project Concern International

  • International Rescue Community

  • San Diego Foundation

  • Catholic Relief Services

  • La Maestra Community Health

  • Bayside Community Center



Units: 3 Repeatability: No

This course follows a systems perspective to explain major challenges of the 21st century, which are included in the Sustainable Development Millennium goals: poverty, hunger, environmental degradation, environment and violent conflict, among others. A systems perspective of current challenges and their causes expand student capabilities for framing problems and designing solutions. In examining major challenges, students also learn about emerging models of leadership, organization and collaboration seeking to address those issues.


Units: 3 Repeatability: No

In this introductory field-based course to social innovation students are introduced to the strategies and processes for creating social change through innovation. Students gain knowledge of strategies of change through innovation by interacting with social and political entrepreneurs, activists, organizations, and social movements in San Diego/Tijuana. Students analyze cases of individuals and groups who have catalyzed important positive social change through different organizational platforms – in the market, in government, within the nonprofit sector, and increasingly in the space between these three sectors. Throughout the course, students examine social innovation connecting field experiences with readings and in-class discussions. They are introduced in action to the tools and methodologies of participatory innovation, design thinking and measurement and evaluation.


Units: 3 Repeatability: No

How can we translate ideas into sustainable initiatives with social impact? In this course students develop the mindset and capabilities of entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs for social change. Through the design of real world projects, students learn key elements for designing sustainable initiatives that create a new social equilibrium better than what existed before: value proposition, financial modeling, measurement and evaluation, among others.


Units: 3 Repeatability: No

This is a course where students integrate theory and practice to address real-world problems faced by organizations and communities seeking to create social change. Acting as consultants, students acquire knowledge of real-world constraints and opportunities faced by organizations leading social change. Students learn ways to work in teams with organization or community partners for effective co-design of solutions, as they practice resourcefulness and creativity in problem solving.


Units: 3 Repeatability: No

This course has been designed to address how teams collaborate through a project-based approach designed to cultivate empathy across disciplinary boundaries. This will help position students to be discipline-bridging changemakers. Drones present technical and ethical challenges that cannot be addressed in isolation. The course involves designing and building the device (a clear engineering challenge) with the more conceptual work of planning for its integration into pro-social organizational processes (a clear peace and justice challenge).


Units: 2 Repeatability: No

Social innovation must be translated into actionable initiatives to achieve their intended goals. This course is designed to prepare students to design, monitor and evaluate social innovation initiatives. It provides essential knowledge for program design and management, including needs and impact assessment, as well as logical frameworks for monitoring and evaluation. A log frame is a tool to systematize the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of projects throughout the project cycle. Through this course students learn the skills and tools necessary to effectively carry out social innovation.


Units: 4 Repeatability: No

The capstone is the culminating experience of the MASI, where students develop a social innovation proposal that reinforces the knowledge and skills acquired throughout coursework. The capstone is about the integration of theory and practice, design thinking and creativity. Students begin by identifying a specific challenge and articulating hypotheses for addressing the problem. Projects include a plan of action for translating the proposed solution into a sustainable endeavor, as well as mechanisms of impact assessment. Beyond the faculty teaching the Capstone course, the Center for Peace and Commerce’s Social Innovation Challenge will support students in the process. Beyond presenting the Capstone proposal to the class for grading purposes, students pitch their proposal to a panel of judges.


Units: 1 Repeatability: No

Financial and accounting skills as essential components of management. This workshop provides the fundamental concepts, tools, and techniques for effective decision making. It teaches students to interpret financial reports, to make informed decisions, create budgets, and justify decisions based on costs and ROI.


Units: 1 Repeatability: No

Design thinking can be central to innovation and problem solving in a wide array of fields and organizational setting. Experiential learning and team exercises focus on the people-centered approach, and lead students to hone skills for listening, user empathy, collaboration, and experimentation.


Units: 1 Repeatability: No

Pitching a social innovation idea to investors and funders is an art. In this workshop students learn how to engage in the art of collaborative conversations that sells. In this workshop, students work on creating a dialogue that can convey their goals clearly.