New Master’s Degree in Social Responsibility & Impact in Business Seeks Students Interested in Making a Difference in the World

'It is no longer enough to have a few well-intentioned companies or individuals to focus on corporate social responsibility'

Two UConn students work on their laptops in a classroom.

Katelyn Pfau '24 (BUS) and Desiray Green '25 (BUS) hard at work in class. (Nathan Oldham / UConn School of Business Photo)

The School of Business’ Marketing Department has created a 30-credit Master of Science in Social Responsibility & Impact in Business, addressing an escalating demand for professionals in the field and significant student interest in pursuing careers that impact economic, environmental, and social sustainability.

The new degree program was approved by the University’s Board of Trustees on Wednesday, April 17, and launches this fall. The degree will prepare graduates to drive innovative and impactful business decisions for positive social change.

“It is no longer enough to have a few well-intentioned companies or individuals to focus on corporate social responsibility. The problems the world is facing are so complex, expansive, and urgent that they require systemic transformation and broad global impact,’’ says Gerlinde Berger-Walliser, a business law professor and the academic director of the program.

“Many individuals are passionate about these issues,’’ she says. “This master’s degree program will convert their ideas and beliefs to impact in their professional roles, and ultimately contribute to companies, organizations, and government working for the greater good.’’

Program welcomes students from varied backgrounds

Robin Coulter, professor and head of the Marketing Department, developed and currently offers an undergraduate concentration and minor in Social Responsibility & Impact in Business that attracts students with varied majors, including business, human rights, communication sciences, economics, and environmental sciences.

Coulter has high regard for the students pursuing this career path.

“They take social responsibility very seriously and they are at the forefront of making a difference at the intersection of multiple disciplines. Their energy, intellect, curiosity, and sense of purpose were critical factors in our development of the Master of Science degree program,” she says.

“Based on our background work, we believe our master’s degree program will be both popular and competitive,’’ she reports. “For more than 10 years, the marketing faculty has had a close working relationship with UConn’s Human Rights Institute and had longstanding relationships with other initiatives, including the President’s Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility, the Office of Sustainability, and the Business and Human Rights Initiative. Our faculty bring significant expertise and enormous energy around this specialty to address the student appetite for knowledge.”

Current UConn undergraduates, regardless of major, can enroll in the Accelerated Master of Science program, allowing them to accrue up to 12 credits that count toward both their undergraduate and master’s degree. The accelerated degree program can reduce the cost of the master’s degree by as much as 40 percent. Courses will be offered in-person in Storrs beginning in the fall of 2024. Students in the Accelerated Master’s degree program will be able to complete the master’s in as little as one year after earning their bachelor’s degree.

Students who have already completed their undergraduate degree at UConn or elsewhere and are interested in pursuing a master’s degree in social responsibility and impact in business can apply to the traditional master’s degree graduate program. This option has flexible online and in-person courses in Hartford and was designed to accommodate students’ work and personal schedules. Applications will open in May and classes begin in the fall.

Career opportunities in social responsibility and impact

After earning their master’s degree, graduates will be equipped to drive innovative and impactful actions for positive social change. The program includes courses that collectively are designed to provide students with business models and strategies to promote economic, environmental, and social sustainability, navigate CSR regulations, gain experience in ESG reporting, respect and facilitate human rights as part of business operations, and drive global innovation for positive social change.

New graduates could pursue careers as corporate social responsibility (CSR) manager, marketing strategist, environmental, social and governance (ESG) analyst, sustainability consultant, and policy advocate. Berger-Walliser says that a career in social responsibility requires a strong community of like-minded professionals and that the new degree program, alongside flexible course delivery options, will include opportunities for students to collaborate, meet in person, and build a vibrant professional network. The program includes an optional travel-abroad course, as well.

Business law professor Robert Bird, the Eversource Energy Chair in Business Ethics and an instructor in the program, believes the legal component of the program will be essential, especially as the world becomes more connected.

“What is unethical today often becomes illegal tomorrow,’’ he says. “Some principles and practices become hardened into legal requirements in the EU and global operating companies need to respect them. Also, the U.S. might follow and adopt some, or all, of those measures.’’

“We’re seeing a trend of employees expecting companies to behave a certain way and that companies are expected to take stands on social responsibility and impact,’’ he says. “Our students will be ready for these issues and employ what they’ve learned to advance economic, environmental, and social sustainability.’’

Coulter is particularly excited about the sweeping opportunities that the Accelerated Master’s degree program will offer to UConn undergraduate students from various disciplines.

“This a unique opportunity to serve students from all backgrounds and give them additional credentials to enhance their careers,’’ Coulter remarks. “Our new degree program is not just for people in business or on a business trajectory. It opens the door for students from other majors to supplement what they have learned, to gain professional advantage in the marketplace, and to make a difference in our global society.’’


To request more information about the program, please visit: