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Course content

Master in Sustainability and Social Innovation

This program is aimed at high-level applicants who strive to become changemakers. Whatever the size of the company, the function or the sector they will work in, graduates will acquire the skills to do business in a world that is increasingly hot, crowded, polarized, angry, and unstable and to shape tomorrow’s sustainable businesses and inclusive economies. 

Education is one of the key levers in the fight against climate change. I'm very happy to see the rapid transformation of HEC Paris, and even happier to be able to contribute to it. This is one of the things that keeps me optimistic for the future.

François Gemenne

Academic Director

The curriculum is structured around core courses which provide participants with the toolbox they need to become change-makers, and electives, which allows them to deepen their knowledge on key issues related to sustainability, social innovation and the broader business environment. All classes are designed to help participants hone their analytical skills, develop their ability to mobilize and communicate on meaningful topics and enhance their ability to transform organizations. They are all meant to support the participants’ quest for purposeful change and impact.

Participants also apply the knowledge acquired to work on company cases and define solutions to real life problems. Conferences and seminars also provide participants with the opportunity to discuss and exchange with experts. During the year, students can also customize their learning by following a specialization track either in intrapreneurship, entrepreneurship or research. 

As part of their final academic requirements, all participants must complete a thesis.

In addition to their specialization, participants can also apply to follow one of the certificates offered by HEC and running between end of April and early June.

Course portfolio

At the end of this program you will develop your skills in : 

  • Capitalize on digital technology to improve the organization and practices  
  • Mobilize and produce highly specialized knowledge  
  • Carry out a strategic analysis of the organization  
  • Communicate a strategic action plan and promote it in a multicultural and international context  
  • Deploy a consulting approach  
  • Develop a sustainable and responsible strategic action plan for the organization  
  • Drive change and measuring environmental and social performance  
  • Mobilize all stakeholders and co-action responsibility
  • Quizzes, exercices
  • Case studies
  • Business games and role-playing games
  • Action projects
  • Professional immersions
  • A master's thesis (research paper)

Semester 1

  • Cracking the Case: A Researcher’s Guide to Investigating with Purpose
  • Sustainable Operations Management
  • Strategy for Sustainability
  • Sustainable Corporate Finance

Semester 2

Building Resilience: Navigating Crises and Unlocking Potential

Semester 1

  • The Changing Business Environment
  • Climate, Resources and Governance
  • Climate Change Economics
  • Decarbonization and Climate Strategies for Organizations
  • Social Assessment Tools for Managing and Growing Impact-driven organizations
  • Design Thinking for Innovation
  • Critical Thinking & Persuasive Communication
  • Test your Start-up: Turn your Idea into a Start-up
  • Socially Responsible Investing (ESG)
  • Data Science and AI for Sustainability Managers
  • Mandatory Compliance and ESG Roadmaps: Paving or Hindering Sustainable Progress?
  • Business & Human Rights
  • ESG Reporting by KPMG
  • Innovation and Negotiation on Sustainable Food and Agriculture

Semester 2

  • Geopolitics of Climate change: Human Impacts and International Relations in a Warming World
  • Economic growth and capitalism in the era of climate change
  • Circular Economy: The Challenging Transformation from Linear to Circular Value Chains
  • Environmental Accounting and Performance
  • Transforming the Food Supply Chain
  • Diversity and Inclusiveness
  • Sustainable Urban Development
  • Sustainable Development & Systemic Shocks
  • The Challenging Transformation from Linear to Circular Value Chains
  • Innovation, IA, and Impact
  • Companionship – Starting up a Purposeful Career

Please note that courses can be subject to change from year to year. This list is indicative.

Intrapreneurship Track

Students choosing this track have the opportunity to conduct a Business Project in an organization taking their first steps towards sustainability or willing to expand their sustainable practices. A 2-day seminar designed to help students hone their consulting methodology skills is included.

Research Track

Students in this track devote a large portion of their time to their master’s thesis. The expectation is that their research methodology is conducted particularly rigorously and that their research is popularized at the end of the program, therefore having significant impact. Research track students are mentored by members of the faculty.

Entrepreneurship Track

Students working on a solid impact entrepreneurial project will have the opportunity to work on the development of their idea during the second semester through the HEC Paris Launchpad. The Launchpad, in partnership with other HEC masters and Ecole 42, is an intense and condensed 9-week program to support the creation of your start-up, supervised by experienced mentors and teachers under the concept of learning by doing and throughout a series of specific workshops.

Electives Track

Dig deeper into sustainability and related fields by taking electives only. This will give you the opportunity to academically explore a wider range of topics in sustainability.

AgroParisTech Exchange

Programme Forêt Nature et Société - Management international

Master's program at AgroParisTech (exchange in French for up to 3 students during Semester 2).

SASI Opening Seminar - The Fundamentals of Sustainability and Social Innovation: How the Climate-Biodiversity-Inequality Triple Crisis Shapes the Firm’s Business Environment.

This seminar will define key concepts, provides participants with an overview of the stakes of the ecological and social transition with conferences, guest speakers and workshops and simulation games.

3-day Introspection Seminar: Self-awareness for Collective Transformation

This seminar will invite the students to look inwards to better understand their biases, emotions and needs before they get ready to impact the outer world.

HEC Paris provides students with online courses in the following fields:

Finance / Accounting

These courses are mandatory for non-business profiles and are designed to bring them up to date with what they need to know to successfully complete the program.

Optional double-degree programs (year +1)

Students can apply for one of the following double programs:


Participants must write a master's thesis to graduate from this program. It represents a real opportunity to have impact on the public debate: through cutting-edge research and careful consideration of how it can be implemented in practice, participants are expected to shed light on a stake that we know little about and/or that we do not fully understand. The thesis is an important component of the program as a result.

The objective of this learning expedition is to discover how local public and private organizations concretely respond to current societal and environmental challenges in a given geopolitical climate. To find some answers, students visit large organizations, start-ups and small businesses who have found innovative local or regional solutions.

The study trip will take place in France or in a neighboring country.

The professional experience requirement is satisfied when the participant completes a professional experience of at least 4 months in fields related to their coursework at HEC Paris. It is, however, important to stress that this professional experience may not be an internship per se.

Our policy at HEC Paris is that the best type of internship is a full-time job! We strongly encourage our participants to look for permanent hiring as soon as the academic year starts.

As an international business school, HEC Paris welcomes participants from all over the world. Almost one hundred nationalities live on the campus. It's a fantastic opportunity to discover other cultures and to share exceptional moments, and it's important that participants can communicate as much as they wish.

HEC Paris Learning Center of Languages aims at helping participants to learn or strengthen any language they would like, providing a wide range of I.T. and print resources.

Participants do not need to speak French to enroll in the program as all core courses and most electives are offered in English. However, some knowledge of French can be useful to enjoy the full HEC experience, become professionally bicultural and optimize networking with French participants and alumni. This is why HEC Paris offers optional French language classes.

Prior to their studies, participants may also register for a two week French language course (TEF certificate – all levels) in August. This is an exceptional opportunity to learn French before joining the Campus (extra fees are applicable).


Sponsored by a company, Certificates are a set of interdisciplinary courses corresponding to approximately 100 contact hours as well as business projects and other types of field work related to a given sector. Each student selected (in the 1st semester) for a certificate will be awarded an additional HEC certificate if he/she validates all the requirements of the course.


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The grade of master, or master's degree, is acquired through various diplomas, officially establishes the level of training at bac + 5. It comes after the bachelor's degree (bac + 3) and precedes the doctorate (bac + 8). It is translated into a number of credits (ECTS): a student with a diploma conferring the grade of master has accumulated 300 ECTS (180 during their bachelor's degree and 120 for the master's degree) during his or her higher education studies, allowing him or her to continue on to a doctorate. Degrees were introduced in France to facilitate European mobility of students and the integration of diplomas between European countries

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Disability Program for Learners

This program is adapted and open to people with disabilities.

Click here to find out more about the HEC Paris Disability Mission

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