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Graduate Degrees that Support Your Social-Impact Career Goals

Graduates throwing their caps in the air with a sunset behind them.

Are you committed to a social movement and wishing your career was more aligned with your passions? If you are looking for like-minded individuals to expand your community, there’s a degree for that!

Idealist Grad Fairs were created to connect people like you with graduate programs that support your social impact career goals. Whether you’re passionate about the environment or the justice system, there are unique graduate degrees for your social movement! Below, you’ll find examples of programs that can boost your career while following your passion.


Earth and Environmental Engineering (The Earth Institute, Columbia University)

What it is: Master’s program focusing on environmentally-sound mining and processing of primary materials, recycling and disposal of materials, and technologies for assessing/remedying past environmental damage. Students choose from three concentrations - water resources and climate risks, sustainable energy, or sustainable waste management - or create their own and seek faculty approval.

What you can do with it: work for engineering, financial, and operating companies involved in processing minerals, the environmental industry, and for government agencies responsible for environment and resource conservation. MBA or PhD joint degree programs offer further specialization.

Flexible course schedule allows students to complete the program while employed. A variety of funding is possible including teaching assistantships, the Presidential Distinguished Fellowship, pairing with faculty who’ve received research grants, and the school provides information about external fellowships. Speak with program representatives at the Idealist Grad Fairs in Seattle, Houston, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington DC.


Interfaith Action (Claremont Lincoln University) 

What it is: Master’s program for those working in areas (faith-based organizations, government agencies, etc) where a diversity of religious beliefs can be both a source of conflict and an abundant resource for positive, social change. Courses are designed to help students develop skills necessary to be effective in post-secular contexts, as well as form a foundation in life-long practices for self-discovery and compassion.

What you can do with it: leadership roles in sectors such as NGOs, faith-based organizations, international relations, public relations, human resources, and more.

Various scholarships, including an option for CityYear alumni, are available for up to 50% of the $15,000 tuition and the program can be completed in one year. Learn more from program representatives at the Idealist Grad Fairs in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Children and Families

Social Work and Nonprofit Leadership (Wheelock College)

What it is: a dual degree Master’s program (MSW/MS) to develop skills for justice-based social work, as well as the skills and knowledge for successful human services administration in the nonprofit, mission-based sector. Courses support those who are committed to changing the social conditions of disadvantaged children and families and students are able to begin working as a licensed social worker while completing the MS requirements part-time.

What you can do with it: practice as a licensed social worker and/or assume leadership roles such as chief executive officer or clinical director.

Merit-based scholarships and assistantships are available, with priority given to those who apply early. They also offer benefits to veterans through the Yellow Ribbon Graduate Program and provide unique opportunities for those involved in Americorps, City Year, and Peace Corps programs. Meet with a representative from the school at the Idealist Grad Fairs in Washington DC, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Justice System

Justice Management (University of Nevada, Reno)

What it is: a customizable master’s program focused on the administration of justice. Three concentrations are offered: Juvenile Justice Management, Adult Justice Management, & Executive Court and Agency Administration. It is the only degree program of its kind and students are able to create a study plan unique to their interests and professional development. Program participants may choose a thesis or non-thesis option for their professional projects and some courses are available online.

What you can do with it: majority of students work full-time in justice-related careers such as juvenile detention, alternatives to incarceration programs, court administration, child protection services, and more.

There are a variety of funding options, including those provided by the Graduate Student Association, scholarships, and assistantships. Speak with program representatives at the Idealist Grad Fair in San Francisco.


Urban Planning and Public Health (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health)

What it is: a joint MUP/MPH program to prepare students for leadership roles at the intersection of urban planning and public health. Students will develop an understanding of domestic and international issues in designing healthier communities, as well as the environmental, social, and health issues that result from building and city designs.

What you can do with it: careers in areas such as policy, environmental exposures, sustainability, and social determinants of health. Alumni are hired for roles such as project manager, deputy chief executive officer, branch chief of medical training and geriatrics, commissioner for a department of public health, and more.

Scholarships and work opportunities are available. The school provides a free resource on financial literacy for students, as well as a frequently updated interactive database of outside funding sources.

By Jhia Jackson

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