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Course content

MSc Sustainability and social innovation

The program offers you a perfect balance of theory and practice. Elective courses, Certificates and numerous academic opportunities throughout the program allow you to customize the curriculum to your needs and aspirations.

Be part of an empowering academic environment that will motivate you to drive change and redefine sustainable businesses and inclusive economies for a brighter future.

Jeremy Ghez

Academic Director

Program Structure


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 concentration 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

  • Business, Sustainable Development Goals and Human Rights
  • Globstart Challenge Triple Bottom Line
  • Have a Cause, Make an Impact
  • Strategy & sustainability
  • Data for sustainability
  • Geopolitics, Natural Resources and Global Governance
  • Foundations of Finance for Sustainability
  • Corporate Finance Core Concepts
  • Responsible Investing
  • Systemic Shocks & Sustainable Development
  • Research Methodologies
  • Changemaker Seminars

Courses can be subject to change from year to year.

  • Business plan Workshop
  • Learning Lab: Company case with Arval
  • Energy Management in the Company
  • Innovative Business Models
  • Climate Change Economics
  • Foundations of Management Research
  • Sustainable Operations & supply chains
  • Do we have to change the economic system?

Courses can be subject to change from year to year.

During the second semester, you have to apply to one of these four specialization tracks:

1.     Intrapreneurship Track

Students interested in working in consulting or in companies have the opportunity to do a consulting project in a company taking their first steps towards sustainability or to work with them to expand their sustainable practices.

In addition, students will have to choose some electives and some of them are mandatory during the first semester to apply to this track.

2. Impact Entrepreneurship Track

Students who have a solid impact entrepreneurial project can take the opportunity to work full-time on the development of their idea, mentored by experienced entrepreneurs and professionals throughout specific workshops.

Students have also the opportunity to apply to the HEC Launchpad, in partnership with Ecole 42. It is a very solid and condensed 9 weeks program to support the creation of your Start-up, supervised by experienced mentors and teachers under the concept of Learning by Doing.

In addition, students will have to choose some electives and some of them are mandatory during the first semester to apply to this track.

3. Research Track

Participants have the possibility of devoting a large portion of their time to their Master’s thesis when they are selected into the research track. They may also have the possibility of conducting fieldwork in France or abroad. The expectation is that research methodology is well thought out and that their research has a significant impact that they are asked to popularize at the end of the program.

4. Exchange – AgroParisTech

Programme Forêt Nature et Société (Exchange for students who already have a Masters degree prior to the MSc Sustainability and Social Innovation).

HEC provides students with online courses in the following fields:

  • Strategy
  • Finance / Accounting
  • Marketing.

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 this business school program.

Optional double-degree programs

Students have the opportunity to apply to the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) in order to get an MSc in Economics & Business Administration, with a Major in Energy, Natural Resources and the Environment, a Major in Economics or a Major in Finance.

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.

Every year, students go on a study trip to witness the sustainable development issues of other countries and to study the measures already implemented or those to be developed.

Previous study trips took place in:

  • Ethiopia
  • Philippines
  • Kenya
  • Indonesia
  • Burkina Faso
  • Morocco
  • Bangladesh
  • Brazil
  • Madagascar
  • Rwanda
  • India.


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.