Offered by the Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Certificate in Corporate Social Responsibility

Spring 2020 application deadline: December 18th, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. (Mountain Time)​

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More and more businesses are joining the movement of conscious capitalism. Companies are choosing to evaluate their success on the “triple bottom line” – their impact on people and the planet, as well as making a profit. In addition, corporations face ever-increasing expectations from consumers, shareholders and society to be more socially responsible. As a result, people leading corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts within their companies are looking for ways to learn practical, applicable skills that can help deliver maximum value to their companies and the communities they serve.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as your career path

The Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility has developed a Certificate in CSR (CCSR) program for people seeking to further themselves and their companies in the practice of socially responsible business. We are proud to partner with B:CIVIC, a Colorado-based nonprofit association of professionals, business leaders and for-profit companies focused on CSR and civic philanthropy.

The CCSR program addresses the evolving needs of CSR practitioners, regardless of role or title. Whether you are an experienced CSR professional, just starting out on your CSR career or wanting to make a career change, this program provides an opportunity to further your knowledge, ideas and network.

Is this class right for me?

The variety of students in the CCSR program is part of the value of the course. Whether you work for a nonprofit, are looking for more meaning in your career or are working to build a CSR department in your company, you’ll find a place in this course. Some examples of our past students include: senior leaders in CSR roles, employee engagement professionals, career switchers wanting to get into CSR, graduate students seeking to supplement their for-credit curriculum, marketing and finance consultants who want to help their clients incorporate CSR, nonprofit professionals wanting a better understanding of their corporate partners, and more.

CESR now offers an online version of the CCSR program! This option is intended for those who cannot attend the in-person classes and would otherwise not be able to participate in the program.

Learn how a CCSR alum is creating a CSR program for her organization!

CCSR program structure, learning environment and core topics

The CCSR course is collaborative, interpersonal and experiential, with dialogue-based learning involving cohort members and subject matter experts. Through knowledgeable instructors and guest speakers, you’ll get practical, applicable best practices that can help you deliver maximum value back to your company, organization and the communities you serve.

In the course you will:

  • Learn practical applications and create a “toolbox” of resources
  • Hear from local, regional and global experts that will spark ideas and insights
  • Expand your community of peers, making valuable professional connections
  • Study with CESR, the regional University leader in CSR education, programs and research  

The program’s core topics include:

  • The role of ethics in CSR
  • UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Global Compact
  • Community engagement, corporate philanthropy, and social impact
  • Employee engagement, volunteering, and donation matching
  • Equity, diversity, and inclusion
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Financial perspectives, including ESG ratings
  • The purpose of the corporation in society
  • CSR alignment with business purpose and strategy
  • CSR strategy models and frameworks
  • Reporting, including GRI, TCFD, SASB, and CDP
  • Certified B Corps, Public Benefit Corporations, and the B Impact Assessment
  • The role of marketing and storytelling in stakeholder relations
  • Regulation & compliance, the role of government in CSR, and policy advocacy

Check out this summary of a few courses from the Spring 2019 session.


Program Overview

Certificate – Upon completion of the program, students receive a non-credit, professional Certificate in Corporate Social Responsibility from the Center for Ethics on Social Responsibility (CESR) of the University of Colorado, Leeds School of Business.

Instructors – The course is led by Pete Dignan, a 3-time CEO of Certified B Corps, and features guest speakers with deep expertise and practical experience in CSR. The curriculum was developed by seasoned CSR professional Geri Mitchell-Brown.

Format – The course will be collaborative and experiential, with dialogue-based learning involving the instructors, cohort members and CSR experts.

Tuition – Tuition is $2,250. Since this is a non-credit course, no financial aid is available from the University of Colorado.

Apply – Please fill out the interest form below to set up a telephone interview with the instructor. This interview will serve to answer your questions and determine whether or not the course is a good fit for your background and needs.

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Winter 2019 Program Details

CESR now offers an online version of the CCSR program! This option is intended for those who cannot attend the in-person classes and would otherwise not be able to participate in the program.

Schedule – The course will comprise approximately 28 hours of interactive class time, and will require up to 4 hours of outside reading and preparation each week.

Classes will be held via Zoom video conference on Tuesdays, 6:00-8:00 p.m. (Mountain Time) , from October 15th to February 4th. There will be 3 weeks off, the week of Thanksgiving and the two weeks of December. All sessions are recorded.

Location – Zoom video conference

Students – We will accept a cohort of up to 15 professionals. We received more than 15 applications for the in-person Spring 2019 cohort.

Application deadline Registration is now closed. Online CCSR Fall 2020 details coming soon.


Spring 2020 Program Details

Schedule – The course will comprise approximately 40 hours of in-person, interactive class time, and will require up to 3 hours of outside reading and preparation each week. 

Classes will be held on Wednesdays, 5:30-8:30 p.m., from January 8th to April 22nd. There will be 2 weeks off during the session, whic have not yet been determined. In-person attendance at 10 out of 14 sessions is required. All sessions are broadcast via video conference and recorded.

Location – CU Denver

Students – We will accept a cohort of up to 25 professionals. We received more than 25 applications for the Fall 2019 cohort.

Application deadline  – December 18th, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. (Mountain Time)

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Student Testimonials

"I love the supportive-nature of both my classmates and Pete. I also felt like it was a thorough overview of CSR, and really provided me with the confidence to talk about it in a professional manner."

- Spring 2019, Anonymous

"This class was all that I had hoped for and WAY more. It has helped me figure out a much clearer plan about what is next for me and I've met so many wonderful people (speakers, classmates, and Pete) along the way."

- Spring 2019, Rachel Bernstein, Sage Corps

"I liked having such a diverse cohort of classmates and the variety of work experiences they brought to the class from a CSR perspective. It was also exciting to learn about all the different areas of CSR work and how it takes all the elements in order to have a strong CSR strategy."

- Spring 2019, Anonymous

“(I valued) the community we created, which fostered incredible discussions and relationships. I couldn't have asked for a more interesting, committed, and intelligent group of people to work with.” 

– Fall 2018, Grace Randazzo, Conservation Colorado

“If you are genuinely interested in learning more about CSR, whether it’s because you currently work in the field, would like to work in that field, or are just simply interested in learning more, don’t hesitate to take this class! You will look forward to attending every week - hearing from guest speakers, learning and working with your classmates, and discussing the readings… you’ll learn to apply concepts you learn to both your professional life and personal life!”

– Fall 2018, Melanie Gerrits, Oracle

“Learning about CSR has given me a point on the horizon to aim for in my career path at a time when I was lost and didn't know how to combine the various experiences and passions I have.

– Fall 2018, Brian Kell

“CSR continues to evolve and with that evolution, comes new challenges to the way business leaders think about their responsibility to the community. As a communications professional, these are exciting times to support CSR programs that directly engage consumers in the development of a brand or brand experience. The CCSR program provided not only relevant and timely content, but also a fabulous cohort to share ideas, discuss challenges and celebrate successes in the nonprofit and corporate environment! I highly recommend this course to anyone interested in gaining more insight into CSR.”

- Spring 2018, Amy Moynihan, Senior Director of Communications, GroundFloor Media

“At first glance, CSR is a simple concept to grasp, especially when one reads phrases such as "using business as a force for good" or "good corporate citizen." However, upon digging deeper, the process to systematize and action CSR at your organization can quickly become nebulous and daunting. The CSR course instructors cultivate an energetic, dynamic, and vibrant environment where we not only wrestle with the CSR concepts, but practice them in real-time. This hands-on approach is the bridge unifying key concepts with practical and effective CSR programs. No doubt, this course will empower and strengthen you on your journey to developing your professional CSR knowledge and your organizations' framework.”

- Spring 2018, Matt Lindsey, Director of Social Responsibility, CW Hemp

“The CCSR course provided an immense amount of meaningful, insightful and practical application of information across the key areas of Corporate Social Responsibility to directly apply to my professional role. Each weekly topic was hugely beneficial and extremely relevant in furthering my understanding of implementing a successful CSR program. The course exceeded my expectations on the expertise of guest presenters, faculty support and knowledge, and resources that were provided. The cohort of student participants was a wonderful range of backgrounds and experiences that always made for extremely enlightening and engaging conversations.”

- Fall 2017, Angie Vermillion, Curator of Community Engagement, Unself

"I truly loved participating in the CCSR course. My CSR role at Justin's is a newly developed one, so this course was dually beneficial on a personal and company level. Geri was a great facilitator, not only providing engaging speakers and content, but linking me to other classmates whose companies and careers overlap with my own. We received a well-rounded idea of what CSR was, and were provided tools and a developed network with which to achieve our respective goals. Before the class was halfway through, I was using the tools from it to develop innovative CSR initiatives for my company. So all in all, it was a great success!”

- Fall 2017, Alyssa Harding, External Relations Manager, Justin’s Nut Butter

“The CSR Certification course instruction, content and speakers were superb. The framework of the class addressed the various components of this rapidly developing field and coupled this with relevant speakers from major industry players. This approach provided for an immersive look at the practical challenges of CSR and how it is applied in real world scenarios.”

- Fall 2017, Corey Hollister, Co-founder American Cannabis Company

“I’ve come away with priceless insights into how I can enact CSR initiatives into my own professional development and to further engage the mission-driven business I work for. I’m coming out of the CCSR course with connections to industry professionals, my classmates, and a host of tools that will continue to empower and inform my future efforts. I highly recommend the program!”  

- Fall 2017, Cat Zummer, Training and Development Specialist, Organic India

“The CCSR course was incredibly valuable. In my role, it's important to have a strong historical view of CSR and stay educated on the current viewpoints and innovation on these topics. The CCSR course instructors (David Payne and Geri Mitchell-Brown) do a great job of providing content that achieves both of these elements. They teach the historical and theoretical concepts of CSR while also discussing the practical applications in today's society. The course is presented through multiple types of activities as well as external speakers that are highly regarded professionals in the CSR field. It's because of this multi-faceted approach and the engaging way the content is delivered that I would recommend this course to anyone interested in expanding their knowledge and skills related to CSR.” 

- Fall 2016,Jessica Sibila, Sr. Manager, Community Engagement and Corporate Giving, DanoneWave

The Certificate in Corporate Social Responsibility program was an exceptional experience - the instructors were top notch, the material was informative and relevant, and I had the opportunity to form meaningful relationships with my fellow students. I would highly recommend the program to anyone passionate about CSR and mission-driven business.”

Fall 2016, Brian Lichtenheld, Director of Accountability/Giving at Help2heal

“We learned how CSR embodies employee engagement, ethics and compliance, as well as how sustainability goals are implemented. I'm interested in CSR as an economic development tool and it’s been great for me to combine my class knowledge with the real-life experiences of my classmates working in the field.”

- Fall 2016, Robin Fleischmann, Redevelopment Specialist, City of Golden Downtown Development Authority

"If you've been trying to find the perfect professional development course on Corporate Social Responsibility, look no further. CU Boulder’s CCSR class gives you relevant readings, tools, benchmark studies, and worksheets to use in your current (or future) position. And with smart, experienced instructors who keep you on task but still allow for collaboration and sharing, you'll get the best of the professional-meets-academia worlds."

- Fall 2016, Lora Ledermann, Founder of Scream Agency

“The CSR Certification course is perfect for professionals already in the field of CSR and for anyone that may be making a career shift.  The course outline and material are relevant and thoughtfully selected, the professors and guest speakers are exceptional, and the network that we are developing will be invaluable.”  

- Fall 2016, Karen Spencer, Senior Channel & Field Marketing Manager, Ciena

“Geri and David have helped me to expand my vision for what CSR entails and realize the importance in this global climate to nurture the internal and external cultures associated with our teams. They have helped me to rethink relationship challenges and see differences as opportunities. My fellow students have added a new layer of optimism to my outlook with their passion and commitment to implementing positive change. I feel a renewed sense of purpose in the work that I have been doing for Odell Brewing Company for the past 10 years.” 

- Karla Baise, Community Outreach Coordinator, Odell Brewing Company

“I highly recommend this engaging program to CSR professionals and those interested in the field. The content is of a high caliber and encompasses a breadth of CSR-related topics. The instructors are very knowledgeable, approachable, and excel at facilitating. The program  includes excellent professional tools, resources, and guest speakers."

- Spring 2017, Sarae Kurth, Community Relations Coordinator, Denver Community Credit Union

"Business IS personal, and this class proved why from every level – from an individual's connectivity to the work they do, to the bottom line profit for the entire company. We have seen the demand for more holistic companies rising, and this class help set the stage."  

- Spring 2017, Laura Isanuk, Investment Advisor Representative, First Affirmative Financial Network

"CCSR was a very beneficial program and dedicated cohort of professionals. I learned concrete ways to continue to elevate the practice of CSR by customizing nonprofit and corporate partnerships for the mutual benefit of the company, nonprofit and greater community." 

- Spring 2017, Ashly Ligouri, Director of Corporate Partnerships, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado 

"The CCSR program was highly engaging – no two sessions were alike as we were exposed to a steady stream of guest speakers, each knowledgeable on specific aspects of corporate social responsibility. The broad range of topics, and the strong connections, made for an impactful introduction to the field."

- Spring 2017, Jennifer Forman, eTown, Vice President of Resource Development & Marketing