To solve today’s most complex and urgent societal problems requires innovative thinking. This is especially true in the public/non-profit/social sectors where workers are increasingly expected to do more for their clients with fewer resources. 

The certificate program in Social Innovation prepares students for working in fields that seek to improve the lives of society's most vulnerable and disadvantaged people. The program will teach students how to design and execute evidence-based strategies for advancing human welfare, and it advances one of the campus' three strategic imperatives, which is to "Be the Top University for Innovation."

The program's curriculum will provide students with:

  • A substantive understanding of social problems;
  • A methodology for conceiving solutions to such complex problems;
  • A broad set of skills needed to implement solutions in new or existing organizations; and
  • The tools for critically evaluating the effectiveness and sustainability of solutions.

Career Possibilities

By training students to be social innovation catalysts, this program will enable graduates to maximize their social impact and be effective in a world that rewards professionals comfortable with change, experimentation, and working across disciplines. It will prepare students for a variety of careers that "make a difference" and promote the common good, ranging from policymakers, civil servants and social enterprise managers to community organizers, health and environmental scientists, and frontline helping professionals. 

Facilities, Programs & Opportunities

The program will give students numerous opportunities to work with and be mentored by successful social innovators from Boulder (recently voted the most creative city in America) and elsewhere. Students can develop plans for creating a new social enterprise or implementing solutions within existing organizations. They can also focus on societal problems they have identified or have been identified by mentors and other experts.


The Social Innovation Certificate requires 18 credit units through two main areas"

  1. Core Courses: Students must take two classes that survey social scientific research on social innovations and examine how such innovations can be designed and executed. These classes will also incorporate insights of design thinking and critically assess the appropriateness of financial tools to promote social innovations. Both will be taught by social science faculty along with local innovators and financial experts serving as guest speakers. 
  2. Electives: Students take four classes offered in the College of Arts & Sciences (only one of which can be from Sociology) that are important for understanding the social dynamics surrounding particular problems.   

Please visit the Certificate Requirements page on the Social Innovations Program website for more detailed information on requirements.

Four Year Plan

A typical four year plan will depend on the student’s undergraduate major requirements. The social innovations curriculum will often satisfy Arts & Sciences Core Curriculum as well major and elective requirements for undergraduate degrees.