Professional Master of Arts in Social Innovation

The Professional Master of Arts in Social Innovation is designed to prepare graduate students to be change agents who will foster and lead cross-sector innovation throughout their organizations, businesses, and communities.

Social innovation is an emerging professional field focused on impact-driven, cross-sector careers (e.g. governmental and non-profit work, socially-focused entrepreneurship, B Corps). Social innovation is engaged in addressing complex social problems such as: childhood hunger, illiteracy, domestic violence, air pollution, food deserts, contaminated drinking water, poverty, and homelessness. 

The social innovation degree is housed in the IRIS: Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies Department in the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies.

Listen to the social innovation podcast to learn more about the program.

Listen to the Podcast

Attend an Information Session!

Join us on Tuesday, September 24 at 5 p.m. in DEV 303C (Pew Campus) for a Social Innovation Program Information Session! All are welcome. For more information, click here. 




$45,888 to $118,771


ZipRecruiter reports seeing social innovator salaries as high as $175,998. The majority of Social Innovation salaries currently range between $45,888 to $118,771. Sustainability consultants make a median salary of $60,926 in the United States according to (Nov 2017). 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. Possible job titles include:

  • Sustainability consultant
  • Vice president of sustainability
  • City planner

Kim Dabbs, Global Director of Corporate Social Innovation at Steelcase, talks about the unique demands of today's workplace and how social concepts like design thinking can help.


  • In-Demand. Sustainability consultants make a median salary of $60,926 in the United States according to
  • Desired Skills. Nationally, employers in major metropolitan areas post jobs for master’s level skills such as leadership, teamwork, communication (written and verbal), problem solving, and analytical/qualitative skills, which are taught in this program.
  • Local Demand. Local and regional organizations are including cross-sector social innovation skills in their position descriptions.
  • Flexible. Courses will be offered in a combination of hybrid and face-to-face formats. The latter will be held in the evening at our downtown Grand Rapids Pew Campus.
  • Unique. Our program is the only Social Innovation program in Michigan that offers a focus on critical humanistic, integrative, and interdisciplinary approaches to social issues.


The Professional Master of Arts in Social Innovation (PMASI) is a 36-credit hour program. There are no prerequisites to this program. Students with any Bachelor’s degree program may be accepted into this program.

The program features courses in Social Innovation, Public Administration, Social Work, and Management:

  • Six core courses in Social Innovation: 18 credits
  • Three application courses in preparation for applied student projects: 9 credits
  • Three synthesis courses, including a required internship: 9 credits

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

Visit the online catalog for course offerings and degree requirements for this program.

Course Offerings


Graduates can expect to be employed in the following industries:

  • Government
  • Non-profit
  • Health
  • Human services
  • Urban planning
  • Education
  • Sustainable energy

Here are a few of the job titles graduates can expect:

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


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. Visit the online catalog to view admission requirements for this program.

Admission Requirements

The deadlines for applications are:

  • June 1 for the Fall semester
  • November 1 for the Winter semester
  • April 1 for the Spring/Summer semester

These are soft deadlines. The $30 application fee is waived if you’ve already applied to Grand Valley.


The current cost per credit may be found at the tuition website. For more information on tuition and fees, please visit the costs portion of the GVSU Financial Aid website. For financial support, scholarship search, and filing for FAFSA, please visit the GVSU Financial Support website.

Contact Us

For more information about the M.A. in Social Innovation, you can request information or contact the Program Director.



Wendy Burns-Ardolino, Ph.D.

IRIS: The Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies Department
DEV 281.2C
(616) 331-8191


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