ANALYSIS: Business Schools Focusing on Corporate Social Responsibility

Dispatch from SSC intern Matt Logan 

The global downturn has meant relatively hard times for business school graduates.  According to the MBA Career Services Council, half of the top 94 MBA programs in the United States, Canada, and Europe experienced a recruiting decrease of greater than 10 percent in the 2008-2009 school year. 

Because of this shaky job market, MBA students are increasingly looking to add experience in the realm of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in order to differentiate  their resumes.  Businesses are interested in these students in large part because the speed of modern communication has made consumers more aware of the impacts of their consumption habits.  As a result, many consumers are demanding a greater degree of transparency regarding the social and environmental impacts of the products and services that they consume than ever before. 

Several companies, such as Ben and Jerry’s and Seventh Generation, have put CSR concerns at the center of their business missions.  They have proven that it is possible to be intentional about having a positive impact on the world, while also pursuing a healthy bottom line. Additionally, Dow Jones and FTSE both have created CSR indexes in order to provide information about the social and environmental responsibility of publicly traded companies. 

In response to the growing CSR emphasis of consumers, students, and businesses, the Aspen Institute Center for Business Education recently released the latest iteration of its ranking system, which focuses on CSR concerns using four criteria:

  • The Availability of Relevant Courses tallies courses that incorporate environmental, social, and ethical concerns
  • Student Exposure measures the extent to which students are actually engaged with these concerns, measured by hours and enrollment in the above courses
  • Relevant Courses on For-Profit Impact takes note of the intersection of mainstream business and CSR concerns, focusing on for-profit businesses as a driver of positive change
  • Faculty Research records the number of CSR related articles published in peer-reviewed business journals written by professors at a particular school

The top 5 MBA programs in the United States according to these criteria, as judged by the Aspen Institute, are the University of Michigan (Ross), the Yale School of Management, the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Notre Dame (Mendoza), and UC Berkeley (Haas).  The top ranked school overall is the York University Schulich School of Business in Toronto. 

Visit for more information and for the complete rankings.