M.S. Social Business and Microfinance

Using business as an instrument for global change demands cross-sectoral collaboration by individuals committed to the idea that profitability and sustainability can go hand in hand. Knowledge of the most critical academic research in the field combines with a global network of like-minded and highly motivated individuals to provide a radical career boost in this diverse and challenging area.

Glasgow Caledonian launched the Master’s in Social Business and Microfinance as the first of its kind in the world. Now, Glasgow Caledonian New York College (GCNYC) is bringing this unique program to New York City, a global capital of business, finance and social enterprise.

Originally designed by GCU’s Glasgow School for Business and Society and our internationally recognized Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health, the program was developed for individuals who are driven by the idea that entrepreneurship and financial tools can be used to further the common good.

Entrepreneurs have always been attracted to the opportunities that, to other people, might look like problems. New ‘social’ businesses (often a special tax or regulatory designation) are being launched with the aim of tackling the big challenges of today, whether social or environmental, while earning a healthy profit. Students in this program will learn how to apply concepts for social business to corporations of all shapes and sizes – and learn what is required to launch a successful enterprise.

Microfinance – or small loans given primarily to help individuals further business enterprises of all types – can fundamentally transform the lives of the poorest people all over the world. The microfinance model has already proved successful in developing economies and is now expanding to countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom.

Develop the knowledge and skills you need to take full advantage of global opportunities in this exciting area by:

  • Exploring social entrepreneurship – businesses that earn a profit while contributing to the common good – and the social economy
  • Studying microfinance and management strategy
  • Practicing creative and critical thinking about social problems and solutions
  • Gaining exposure to international and intercultural viewpoints

The program can be done on a full or part-time basis, and you can explore options to spend one week of your studies abroad, adding international perspectives at GCU’s campus in the heart of London.

Graduate Prospects

The Master’s in Social Business and Microfinance is ideal for anyone working or planning to work in social business or microfinance, and for government and NGO employees who want to encourage the development of these areas or understand the changing landscape of international aid.

Courses may be studied on a full-time or part-time basis - you may select to do all modules in one year, simply complete one module, and anything in between - whatever best suits your needs and schedule.

Select your entry date and apply online today - you will then be given the choice of mode of study;

  • 2018/19


Mode of study


Start date



Full Time
1 Year
Sep 2018
New York
Full Time
1 Year
Jan 2019
New York
Award Mode of study Duration Start date Location  
M.S. Full Time 1 Year Sep 2018 New York Enquire Apply
M.S. Full Time 1 Year Jan 2019 New York Enquire Apply

All entry requirements listed here should be used as a guide and represent the minimum required to be considered for entry. In rare circumstances, applicants may be asked to provide information in addition to the outlined requirements.


The Master's in Social Business and Microfinance is particularly suitable for students who have previously studied business at the undergraduate level and wish to develop a deeper understanding of the tools and techniques available to those managing social businesses today.

The program may also appeal to students who come from a non-business background (particularly economics and social or public policy) but are committed to developing a management or academic career in the fields of social business and microfinance.

All entry requirements listed here should be used as a guide and represent the minimum required to be considered for entry. In rare circumstances, applicants may be asked to provide information in addition to the outlined requirements.
  • Four-year bachelor’s degree in any subject with a minimum GPA of 2.7 on a 4.0 point scale or a minimum UK 2.2 honors degree or equivalent international qualification from a recognized university
  • If English is not your first language: IELTS 6 (with 5.5 in each sub score) or equivalent


  • Business Strategy as an Instrument for Economic, Social and Environmental Sustainability
  • Navigating Global Change: Business Practices for the Common Good
  • Value-Based Leadership Skills for an Interconnected World
  • Global Social Entrepreneurship
  • Social Business and Microfinance
  • Global Political Economy
  • Research Methods
  • Dissertation
Business Strategy as an Instrument for Economic, Social and Environmental Sustainability

(Formerly titled Global Strategy – Challenges and Choices)

What does a corporate statesman look like today? Corporate social responsibility is no longer a ‘nice-to-have,’ managed by a small and disconnected team. Instead, it is increasingly a mandate for business leaders trying to please customers, employees and shareholders alike. The world of finance is driving increased transparency. Free-floating data on supply chains, geopolitical risks and other areas that managers once tackled internally are now immediately visible on Bloomberg terminals, in the press and on social media. And more and more, people care about the impact a business has on the local and global community.

This module aims to provide students with the academic knowledge and analytical tools necessary to practice strategic management in a world characterized by rapid change and increasing concerns for economic, social and environmental sustainability. You will develop the knowledge and skills required to undertake research and analysis critical for strategic planning and action. You will learn to constantly seek operating efficiencies that reduce environmental and social impacts while increasing profits. You will address the what, why, where and how of strategic decisions, emphasizing sustainable growth across national boundaries – so your voice will be heard and welcomed within your organization as you help it to achieve sustainable and ethical growth.

On successful completion of this module, the student should be able to:


  1. Critically assess the implications for businesses of recent and future changes in the global business environment.
  2. Understand the ethical dilemmas facing organizations operating across national boundaries.
  3. Apply a range of analytical tools and frameworks for assessment and development of a firm's strategic capability, competences and competitive position in a variety of global settings.
  4. Use analytical methods and techniques to evaluate the financial performance and sustainability of a firm's strategy.
  5. Evaluate the challenges and choices that firms face when formulating and implementing innovative strategies to create sustainable business value.
  6. Plan, implement, report and present findings of a group-based international business strategy project.


Navigating Global Change: Business Practices for the Common Good

(Formerly titled Contemporary Issues)

Do you know how what’s happening outside of your business will impact your professional future? Organizations do not operate in a vacuum. They are shaped by, and themselves also shape, the geopolitical, economic, social and technological environments in which they operate. Companies increasingly need curious and responsible leaders across functions who can look at these global trends – and help their employers navigate both the risks and opportunities.

Increasing transparency about business practices, coupled with a growing sense that we can and should do better, is providing new impetus for managers to create enabling spaces within their organizations for innovation around global challenges. By finding ways to rebalance equity across the value chain, looking for new technologies and processes to promote a circular economy, and taking a cross-sector approach to global challenges, we can have profitable businesses and industries that create positive social and environmental impact.

This multidisciplinary module is designed to equip students with the information and analytical skills required to successfully face some of the most significant global issues for business managers in the modern world. GCU is a signatory of the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), an initiative of the United Nations Global Compact designed to promote responsible corporate citizenship, ensure that business is part of the solution to the challenges of globalization, and help realize a more sustainable and inclusive global economy. This initiative challenges students to reflect upon conventional management and develop a new philosophy of business practice, one which considers the wider social and environmental consequences of management decisions alongside traditional measures of business success. 

On successful completion of this module, the student should be able to:


  1. Critically appraise the causes and consequences of, and implications for, organizational leadership and responsible management of the shifting contours of global, politics, economics and social developments;
  2. Apply research and analysis techniques from social science and related disciplines to gather evidence on and evaluate the challenges faced by organizations and business leaders;
  3. Critically reflect upon the concepts of 'organizational responsibility' and 'responsible leadership' and their implications for private, public and third sector institutions;
  4. Examine and debate some of the contested issues and complex problems which business leaders and organizational managers encounter;
  5. Evaluate alternative responses to contemporary challenges facing business and society;
  6. Apply critical analysis to political, social, economic and environmental challenges that arise in specialist Masters programs, particular business sectors, and professional contexts.


Value-Based Leadership Skills for an Interconnected World

(Formerly titled Personal and Professional Development)

What would your professional future look like if it reflected your unique values – and the pursuit of the common good? An exceptional career in today’s complex and fast-moving business environment requires specific skills and the ability to successfully predict and adapt to changing realities.

Managing your career in a way that is truly aligned with your personal values is exponentially more satisfying and successful. We have demonstrated that profitable sustainability requires zero compromise between great business results and practices that benefit our local and global communities.

This module is designed to help students get to the next level of their careers by mastering certain professional practices – including identifying, understanding, developing and articulating their own key abilities. Learn tactics to build teams and manage relationships across a remote and diverse organization with vendors, customers and partners scattered across the globe. Crystalize your own personal and professional values and change the trajectory of your career by practicing responsible leadership in line with these values. Take real ownership of your personal and professional development so that you can transition to the next phase of your career.

On successful completion of the module, the student should be able to:


  1. Identify, critically discuss, and appraise their personal & cognitive skills and employment needs;
  2. Demonstrate increased self-awareness and reflective thinking, leading to identification of strategies for continued development;
  3. Demonstrate increased confidence and efficacy in presentations;
  4. Work collaboratively with others, demonstrating effective interaction skills and responsible leadership;
  5. Evaluate levels of culture on national, business and corporate horizons, which influence and operate in organizations;
  6. Develop an understanding and application of key precepts in effective cross -cultural competency.


Global Social Entrepreneurship

Increasing attention is being paid to social entrepreneurship as a means to tackle entrenched social problems such as unemployment, social exclusion and poverty. Foundations including AshokaU and Skoll have paved the way in introducing the concept to the world. Policy-makers have responded accordingly; in the US, under the Obama administration, the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation was created within the White House, and at the European level, the EU has created a Social Business Initiative to help create a favorable environment for social entrepreneurship. Some commentators suggest that we have now entered a social innovation paradigm whereby social entrepreneurs are tackling the problems that have proved beyond government and traditional charity.

This module introduces students to the concept of social entrepreneurship and the related concepts of social enterprise and social innovation. The notion of social entrepreneurship as a contested concept, with competing definitions pushed by different actors with different political agendas, is developed. Students are taught to critically assess these different agendas and to gain a broader understanding of social entrepreneurship by placing it within the wider social, economic and political contexts in which it occurs. The course aims to equip students with the knowledge and skills to make up their own minds as to whether – and how – business can change the world, and to prepare them to enter a world where business and society are intertwined.

On successful completion of this module, the student should be able to:

  1.  Appraise and critically assess the contested concept of social entrepreneurship
  2.  Identify the range of contexts in which social entrepreneurship can take place
  3.  Analyze what is meant by social change
  4.  Evaluate the circumstances in which business can play a role in driving positive social change
  5.  Develop critical thinking skills
  6.  Reflect on how the skills they have learnt during their degree program might be applied to creating social change
Social Business and Microfinance

Social business and microfinance are rapidly emerging concepts which have been put forward as a possible means of transforming the lives of the poorest people in both developing and developed countries. Governments and foundations are paying increasing attention to social business, which is understood as non-dividend, non-loss business with a social purpose.

Microfinance is a model to provide small loans that people, especially poor women, can use to bring themselves out of poverty. The global microfinance sector continues to grow rapidly. The Microcredit Summit Campaign estimates that microfinance currently reaches over 200 million clients worldwide and has assets over US$ 30 billion. Popular in developing economies, the microfinance model has now expanded to countries such as the US and UK, where pioneer microfinance institution Grameen Bank is operating in the cities of New York and Glasgow.

The module aims to equip students with both a general overview of how global and local circumstances shape social business and microfinance, and the knowledge and skills to determine what factors they should take into account when developing their own social ventures or creating an enabling environment for social business and microfinance.

The first semester is broadly devoted to the concept of social business. Particular attention is paid to how different political, cultural and economic institutional environments favor the evolution of different forms of social business. Attention is also paid to how different forms of social business negotiate tensions between social and commercial objectives. Students are then introduced to examples of new and existing legal forms for social business, using examples in Italy, South Korea, the US and the UK.

During the second semester, the module aims to develop critical awareness of microfinance in both developing and advanced economies. This includes the origins of microcredit, different types of microcredit methodologies, and the organization and operation of microfinance institutions (MFIs). The financial and nonfinancial product range will be introduced, as well as regional case studies of successful MFIs. The role of commercial funding sources for MFIs will be discussed, focusing on microfinance investment vehicles and international financial institutions. Attention will be paid to the drivers of microfinance crises in different countries and the subsequent recent developments of the microfinance market.

In addition, this module aims to engage students with internationally informed social business and microfinance research, to purposefully develop understanding of different international institutional environments, and to move beyond traditional dominant paradigms in teaching students to think creatively and critically.

On successful completion of this module, the student should be able to:

  1. Appraise and critically assess the concepts of social business and microfinance
  2. Identify how different political, economic and cultural circumstances produce different flavors of social business and microfinance
  3. Understand and critically comment on evolution of social business and microfinance in various cultural, political and religious contexts
  4. Move beyond a "one size fits all" model of developing social business and microfinance initiatives. Consider the kind of world they would like to create and equip the with the tools to proceed
  5. Develop critical thinking skills
Global Political Economy

This module is designed to provide students with new tools to understand the contemporary world economy within a historical context, and teach them to analyze different trends, issues and dynamics of the social, cultural, religious, political and economic environment that shapes our day-to-day lives and international business. The module takes an interdisciplinary approach to applying theory to the economic realities of our world today. In this way, the module offers a comprehensive and critical understanding of the global political economy and its structures, agencies and processes. This course will be taught via a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials. It provides and consolidates the intellectual and technical skills that will be most valuable in creating critical and informed citizenship for common social good and an inclusive society.

On successful completion of this module, students will have:

  1. Develop an integrated advanced and critical interdisciplinary knowledge of theories and issues involved in the debates on global political economy.
  2. Develop critical faculty about different trends in global political economy.
  3. Provide students with appropriate tools of analysis that will allow them to undertake applied research for their personal and public life in the areas of social, economic and political development which will make them vocationally relevant to employment in government, commerce and industry or in any other sectors of their work.
  4. Provide students with the analytical skills and knowledge required to evaluate current and future issues in global political economy in contemporary world. This course provides and consolidates both intellectual and technical skills that will be of most valuable to create critical and informed citizenship for common social good and an inclusive society.
Research Methods

The Master’s is designed to help students who do not have prior research experience develop the advanced skills they need to analyze and propose solutions to real-life problems. This module exposes students to the most important quantitative and qualitative methods needed for academic and applied research. Students will learn to critically evaluate new concepts, ideas and evidence from a range of sources and transfer their findings into practice. By gaining new skills in delivering written and oral presentations at the advanced management level, students can ensure that their voices are heard across company divisions and functions. One primary aim of this module is to prepare students for their dissertation by providing them with a framework to successfully conduct the type of research that is critical to management, as well as to internal and external consulting projects. The proposal for the dissertation will be developed as part of this course.

On successful completion of this module, the student should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate advanced working knowledge of a range of key concepts, qualitative and quantitative research methods available to researchers.
  2. Identify and clearly formulate a research topic in the context of particular research area of study.
  3. Critically evaluate literature, select and utilize appropriate methodologies in the formulation of an individual research proposal for a Masters dissertation.
  4. Control, organize, communicate and analyze qualitative and quantitative research findings in an efficient and effective manner.
  5. Apply the forgoing skill to the research proposal for the MSc dissertation.

Building on the proposal developed in Research Methods, this module offers students an opportunity to focus in-depth on an investigation of a substantial business issue or problem. Students are required to demonstrate critical awareness of business practices, relevant theories, and research techniques and approaches. In conducting and presenting their research, students will have a unique opportunity to apply concepts, theories and techniques, drawing on internationally published literature and good practice, to develop and interpret knowledge about management practice in their area of inquiry. The project’s subject matter will involve the theoretical and empirical investigation of topics covered in the coursework, requiring students to demonstrate their ability to work independently with these new concepts. Each project will be supervised and supported by an appropriate academic staff member.

The research project can assume one of three forms:

  • Applied research, which develops an idea, system or process that can be put into work within a broad ecosystem.  As an example, you would explore a new practice and approach to be applied to an industry.
  • Management inquiry, an exploration of an aspect of global trends to understand how to create local solutions to a shared global problem. 
  • Consulting project, which focuses on a practical project directly linked to work with your current employer*

* Students intending to choose this option are required to secure an agreement from the client organization prior to starting research and developing the dissertation.

Regardless of the form selected, the project must be theoretically robust and methodologically sound to meet the academic requirements of the module.

On successful completion of the module, the student should be able to:

  1. Building upon previous developed proposal, conduct empirical research, present an intellectually robust and evidence-based analysis, and develop appropriate recommendations.
  2. Demonstrate a systematic and critical understanding of the relevant theory pertaining to the chosen topic.
  3. Demonstrate the use of an appropriate methodological framework (incorporating consultancy based requirement where relevant) to meet the aim and objectives of the project.


Located in the heart of SoHo, the luxury and ready-to-wear fashion hub of New York City, GCNYC's campus is nestled in the cobble-stoned streets of art and design on every corner. You will attend lectures and seminars in a picturesque, loft-like studio space that transforms itself for every occasion. With high ceilings, crisp white walls and an open floor plan - it will be hard to tell if you're headed to class or the latest gallery opening. Minutes from most major subway lines, GCNYC is easily accessible from any of New York's unique neighborhoods. GCYNYC will provide you with a degree, but New York City will serve as an unlimited resource to your education.

Total tuition cost: $34,650 ($962.50 per credit).


Students applying and accepted for studies will be eligible for a scholarship. Terms and conditions can apply and scholarship is only available to students who do not require a Visa to study in the US.

Additional costs

All applications for admission to GCNYC require a $50 non-refundable application fee that must be paid prior to the processing of the application.

The Master’s in Social Business and Microfinance takes advantage of GCNYC’s global ties and New York location. Our close-knit academic community is made up of a diverse group of highly motivated, creative change-makers from all over the world. GCNYC builds on the long-standing reputation of GCU while opening up new possibilities for international collaboration and innovation.

Your experience at GCNYC will be both challenging and exciting. We will work together, learning from and challenging each other. You’ll take core courses with students from all of our fashion and finance programs, giving you the chance to learn from vastly different perspectives and make connections across industries.

Small class sizes ensure meaningful interactions with professors and guest speakers. You’ll be making real connections while you learn from people who can straddle academic theory and real-world experience – and who refuse to compromise between career success and the common good.

Glasgow Caledonian has over a century of close ties to industry, and excellence in applied research is one of the university’s most important guiding principles. 

GCNYC takes this tradition to NYC, helping you connect your actual (and future!) work challenges to new knowledge and insights from the global academic community. But you won't just learn about research through lectures – you’ll have the autonomy, time and support to ask important questions with your own independent research.

Completing a dissertation will demonstrate to your employers that you have what it takes to tackle the issues most important in social business and microfinance with real academic rigor – and to propose solutions that emphasize sustainability as well as profitability.