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Executive Program in Digital Media for Social Impact

About the Program

Read about our curriculum, faculty, and opportunities to learn and connect with changemakers like you.

Who is this program for?

The Executive Program in Digital Media for Social Impact (DMSI) is a place for anyone seeking to better navigate the complex intersection of internet technologies and social justice. Plus, for students who want to continue their studies, their Certificate in Social Impact Strategy makes them eligible to complete the Master of Science (MS) in Nonprofit Leadership (NPL) in an accelerated format

  • It is for professionals working in mission-driven organizations who need tools and frameworks to achieve their digital outreach, membership, and fundraising goals.
  • It is for activists seeking to harness digital media for accelerating their movements and mobilizing their communities.
  • It is for tech and media professionals who want to use their skills and knowledge for positive change, but aren’t sure where to start.
  • It is for anyone who wants to harness the power of media to drive change.

The Executive Program in Digital Media for Social Impact is a non-credit, non-degree, master’s level certificate program. At program completion, students will receive a signed certificate from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice and the Annenberg School for Communication.

Program Goals and Highlights

The Executive Program in Digital Media for Social Impact combines emerging research on digital technologies and social change with practical applications, frameworks, and tools. 

You won’t just leave the program with an enhanced digital toolkit; you’ll also have a new understanding of the relationship between technology and social impact, developed in conversation with communication experts and fellow changemakers. Throughout the program, you will:

  • Learn research-driven approaches to designing, launching, and evaluating digital outreach campaigns
  • Develop a critical understanding of the affordances and limitations of digital technologies for social impact
  • Cultivate your unique digital voice and audience
  • Build a digital media approach capable of adapting with emerging technologies
  • Connect with and learn alongside a diverse cohort of activists, professionals, and changemakers

The digital tools we use every day have the potential to take our social change goals from idea to implementation to impact. DMSI will help you build the critical knowledge and skills you need to make it happen.


Over the course of five months — February to June of 2024 — you will take a minimum of five classes, join group discussions, and join virtual gatherings to develop, launch, and evaluate custom impact frameworks for your digital initiatives.

Here is a month-by-month breakdown of the program:


Program Launch
Get comfortable with our learning platform and meet your classmates during an orientation session. Then, hit the ground running with a workshop on developing custom impact frameworks for your digital media work.

The Social Impact of Digital Media
In this core course you will learn general frameworks for understanding the role digital media can play in social impact initiatives and build strategies for incorporating digital media into your impact model. In the second part of this core course, you will explore the affordances and challenges internet technologies present for change makers working in different spaces and sectors through case studies. And you will explore the affordances and challenges internet technologies present for change makers working in different spaces and sectors through case studies.


Convening Virtually, March 20-22 2024
Hear from Penn faculty, learn from Philadelphia-area leaders in media and social impact, develop your ideas, and make connections with fellow classmates virtually.


Digital Marketing for Social Impact
This second core course will give you a framework to confidently build a comprehensive marketing strategy from the ground up. We’ll outline how to best leverage digital tools to test, track, and iterate on your strategy and explore the ethics of marketing for social impact.

Principles of Inclusive Design
This third core course is a sustained analysis of how race, gender, class, and sexuality shape the development and use of ICT. Drawing on a range of theories for communication, information, media, race, gender, sexuality, and technology, this course helps students understand ethical critiques of science and technology.


Program Electives
You must take two electives but can audit up to three additional courses. Electives include: Influencer Marketing, Media & Climate Justice and Problems, Potentials in Race and Technology, Media Reform, Policy Activism, and Designing a People’s Newsroom.


Program Closing
We conclude with an online workshop focused on evaluating and iterating on the initiatives you built throughout the program, as well as a closing certificate ceremony.


Leading Scholars and Practitioners

Our instructors stand at the forefront of digital media research and practice. As platforms and technologies evolve and advance, there is no better time to learn from leading experts about the complex relationship between social media and social impact. 

Structured Learning

Fresh content is released every Sunday, so you can review it at any point during the week, on your own time. Weekly content includes video lectures, readings, applied assignments, and discussions that take 4-6 hours a week to complete.

Applied Assignments

Assignments invite you to integrate tools into your own work and discover new possibilities through case studies. Throughout the program, the teaching team will guide you through the process of developing a mission-driven digital media strategy for your existing organization or a new initiative.

Access to Community

Throughout the program, participate in group video calls for constructive feedback from a dedicated teaching team and your peers. Whether you’re feeling “stuck” or want to bounce around ideas, your colleagues are just a video call away.

Ivy League Education

Graduates receive an Ivy League education and a signed certificate from the University of Pennsylvania, a credential that’s known and respected around the world.

Stephanie Viggiano

Technology & Social Impact

“Executive programs at CSIS help catalyze change, providing students instruction on practicing inclusive design, analyzing our work for bias, and managing change using inclusive frameworks. I came away with a strong sense of community and actionable tools for growth, impact, and leadership.”—Stephanie Viggiano, Manager Digital Communications, Elsevier; DMSI Alum