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Annual Net Impact Survey Highlights Impact MBA Program Trends and Rankings

Despite new innovations in graduate programs, key findings show students want more!

Annual Net Impact Survey Highlights Impact MBA Program Trends and Rankings

Despite new innovations in graduate programs, key findings show students want more!

Published 09-17-14

Submitted by Net Impact

Net Impact, a leading nonprofit that inspires a new generation to work for a sustainable future, released its 2014 edition of Business as UNusual: The Social and Environmental Impact Guide to Graduate Programs – For Students by Students. Key findings suggest that social and environmental issues are a growing priority for students who pursue a graduate education, and that student expectations have increased as a result.

First published in 2006, Business as UNusual is the only publication for students, by students that ranks and highlights graduate schools at the forefront of social and environmental innovation, featuring over 3,300 student perspectives on nearly 100 graduate programs. The guide provides student ratings of their graduate program’s integration of social and environmental themes into curricula, career services, and student activities.

This year, more than half the schools surveyed reported new innovations in impact-oriented curriculum or experiential learning to meet increasing demand. And yet, students want more! For the third year in a row, student satisfaction with their programs’ integration of these issues has declined.

“Over the years, students have become increasingly committed to making an impact, and expect more from their education as a result,” says Liz Maw, CEO of Net Impact. “Graduates want to leave their programs fully equipped to create social and environmental change in the workplace and the world.”

Major conclusions from Business as Unusual 2014 include:

  • Next-generation leaders expect companies to integrate social and environmental issues into business practices to succeed. Of the student respondents, 93% think focusing on social and environmental issues is very important or essential to a business’ long-term success and over 80% feel that business is doing better on this issue than 5 years ago. Looking forward, students identified climate/energy and sustainable product development/marketing as the two priority areas for business to get right in the next decade.
  • Students report over half the schools have new curricular or co-curricular innovations in how they integrate social or environmental impact themes. Trends include increasing peer-to-peer mentoring programs; cross-club, cross-school, and cross-discipline approaches; infusion of design thinking to drive social innovation; and impressive innovations in experiential learning offerings. One example includes University of Chicago Booth School of Business School’s introduction of the new D4 Foundations course, which teaches design thinking by focusing experiential projects on education and health topics.
  • Students want programs to do even more to incorporate social and environmental issues. While 88% of respondents feel that learning about these issues is a priority, an increasing number of students felt their schools could do a better job of integrating social and environmental themes into core curriculum. This year’s findings showed a nearly 15% decrease in student satisfaction in regard to curriculum integration of these issues.
  • Students are willing to make sacrifices for a job that makes a difference. According to    the survey, 83% are willing to take a 15% salary cut for a job that makes a social or environmental difference in the world, a notable increase over last year. In a highly competitive job market, though, not all students can be picky. Over a third of students surveyed feel pressured to take any role, a 30% increase over last year’s data.
  • Programs must prioritize concrete job and internship opportunities. Students cited impact career and experiential learning support as the top areas where graduate programs could improve. Respondents expressed interest in complementing social and environmental education with concrete skill building opportunities, such as the Berkeley Haas Impact Investing Network or Loyola University Chicago’s Microenterprise Consulting course.

“It’s an exciting time in higher education, as we see more inventive opportunities to combine real world impact and learning” says Maw. “In order to compete, graduate programs must respond to this profound student demand for building a sustainable future.”

The 2014 Business as UNusual guide is available for download here. For the first time, Net Impact is also publishing the guide online, enabling search for programs by name and key features.

About Net Impact

Net Impact is a leading nonprofit that supports a new generation to work within and beyond business for a sustainable future. With more than 50,000 student and professional members and over 300 chapters worldwide, we make a net impact that transforms our lives, our organizations, and the world. Visit

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Net Impact

Net Impact

Net Impact is a global nonprofit inspiring a new generation to use their careers to tackle the world’s toughest social and environmental problems. We empower student and professional leaders to act locally through our vibrant chapter network and connect globally online and through our flagship conference. By 2020, we will mobilize a million new leaders to drive positive change in the workplace and the world. For more information, please visit

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