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Students at the GVSU Robert C. Pew Grand Rapids Campus.

Social Innovation, M.A.

The Professional Master of Arts in Social Innovation (PMASI) is designed to prepare individuals to foster and lead innovation throughout their organizations, businesses, and communities in ways that impact daily operations and strategic goals.

The program trains students to critically examine and address complex social problems such as childhood hunger, illiteracy, domestic violence, air pollution, food deserts, contaminated drinking water, poverty, and homelessness.

Visit the program website for more information.

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Program Overview

The PMASI program consists of 36 credit hours of coursework. There are no prerequisites and students with any bachelor's degree may be accepted. Courses will be offered as hybrid, meeting both in class and online. In-person courses will meet at the Robert C. Pew Campus in downtown Grand Rapids. The program features courses in social innovation, public administration, social work, and management.

  • Six core courses in social innovation and public administration: 18 credits
  • Three application courses for project: 9 credits
  • Three courses of synthesis coursework: 9 credits

Why Study Social Innovation at Grand Valley?

  • In-demand. Sustainability consultants make a median salary of $60,926 in the United States according to
  • Desired skills. Nationally, employers post jobs for masters level social innovation skills such as leadership, teamwork, communication (written and verbal), problem solving, and analytical/qualitative skills. Local and regional organizations include social innovation as desired skills in job descriptions.
  • Flexible. Courses are hybrid, offered in a combination of face to face and online.
  • Unique. This program is the only professional social innovation program in Michigan offering a focus on critical, humanistic, integrative, and interdisciplinary approaches to social issues.

Location & Format

Classes for the program are a combination of online and in-seat at Grand Valleys Allendale Campus and the Robert C. Pew Grand Rapids Campus.



Topics covered:

  • Cross-sector innovation
  • Corporate Social Responsibilities
  • Civic action
  • Community engagement strategies
  • Environmental justice
  • Policy development skills

Students also have the option to combine internships, global learning experiences, study abroad, collaborative assignments and projects, problem-based learning, and blending of traditional disciplines, resulting in a unique degree experience.

Career Options

Graduates can expect to be employed in the following industries:

  • Education
  • Government
  • Health and human services
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Sustainable energy
  • Urban planning

Skills Employers Want

Graduates strive to become "Change Agents" and usually work in areas, such as education, government, health and human services, non-profit organizations, sustainable energy, and urban planning. Here are a few of the job titles they can expect to hold:

  • Sustainability consultant
  • Executive director, nonprofit
  • Project leader/manager
  • Sustainability program director
  • Business development associate or manager

The Social Innovation degree at GVSU will develop the skills you need to land the job you want. The following skills correlate with those pulled from actual job postings.

  • Strategic Problem Solving Across Sectors
  • Stake Holder Collaboration
  • Resiliency and Systems Thinking
  • Strategic Planning
  • Participatory Action Research
  • Flexible/Creative Thinking
  • Human Centered Design

Source: EMSI, 2020

Application Deadline

Deadline for fall semester is June 1; winter is November 1; and spring/summer is April 1. The $30 nonrefundable application fee is waived if the applicant has previously applied to Grand Valley State University. Please visit

Admission Requirements

In addition to Grand Valley's admission requirements, all students seeking a M.A. in Social Innovation must also meet the following:

  • A Grade point average of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale for the last 60 hours of undergraduate coursework.
  • Submitting a GRE score is not required. However, applicants who have neither a 3.0 GPA for the last 60 hours of undergraduate coursework or five years of professional experience may consider submitting a GRE score to strengthen their application.
  • A personal statement of career goals and background experiences, including an explanation of how this program will help achieve educational and professional objectives.
  • Recommendations from at least two individuals who are in positions to attest to the applicant’s successful completion of the program.
  • An official transcript from each undergraduate and graduate institution.
  • TOEFL test scores (Test of English as a Foreign Language), or IELTS (International English Language Testing System), or MELAB (Michigan English Language Assessment Battery) for applicants whose native language is not English. The following minimum scores are expected: TOEFL is 80, IELTS is 6.5, and MELAB is 77.

Admissions may request additional information or request a personal interview. The Admission committee is looking for evidence that a candidate will be successful if admitted into the program and considers each applicant as a whole student. 

For More Information

Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies Department
324 Lake Ontario Hall, (616) 331-8020

Graduate Admissions Office

Program Director

Wendy Burns-Ardolino, Ph.D.
(616) 331-8191



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