Master of Arts in Social Innovation

Students entering the University of San Diego and/or declaring a major during 2019-2020, should follow information contained in the printed course catalog (also known as the "catalog of record") published on April 1, 2019. Access the catalog of record at

SOIN 500 , SOIN 505 , SOIN 510 , SOIN 515 , SOIN 517 , SOIN 520 , SOIN 525 , SOIN 550 , SOIN 555 , SOIN 560 , SOIN 590


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: 3 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.


Units: 1 Repeatability: No