Which is the best course for a management career in the social sector?

by Admin | 27 December, 2022

Students and professionals across streams and sectors are visualising and acting upon their desire to engage with causes, issues and challenges that are global and meaningful. Gen Y is now seeking opportunities in the development sector with a strong desire to work on the world’s most pressing problems, broaden their horizons and race ahead of their peers in terms of exposure and experience. Defining a successful career as being a catalyst for social change, coupled with a good salary package rather than only money being the primary consideration.

Over the last five to eight years, the Social Sector has evolved at a rapid pace. While SPOs (Social Purpose Organisations) still represent an overwhelming majority of the work, the sector is now much more diverse in terms of providing opportunities to people from different backgrounds, with different hopes, aspirations, skill sets and visions for change.

Why is Social Sector the next place to be?

Nitisha Pandey, ISDM Class of 2017, a B Tech in Computer Science works at Nomi Network as a Senior Programme Manager and a Menstrual Health Educator. Here’s what she has to say:

“At Nomi, I have designed and executed the 'Green Period Project' to create awareness and action for menstruators in North East to make the shift to an eco-friendly alternative for a cleaner, greener and healthier period. I was able to raise 75,000 INR for providing an eco-friendly period product of choice to 50 women in Kalimpong and Dimapur for 5 years.
I have also been invited as a speaker on 10+ forums like Girl Up, Project Kamakhya, Period Society, Dialogues, Orikalankini, Buland Udaan NGO, The Laali Project and The Red Cycle on conversations around Education, Health, Climate and their intersections with menstrual health.”

Study at ISDM


The Social Sector is exploding with exciting career opportunities that help create lasting social change. The Sector having grown considerably, is rife with bright minds who have shown us that the Social Sector is as diverse and skilled as any other sector. Consequently, Social Purpose Organisations are constantly searching for niche talent to build strong organisations and deliver sustainable social impact at scale. In short, hire promising and dedicated leaders who will create strategies to lead teams to create transformational impact at the grassroots level. So leadership and management skills are by far the most vital, indispensable part of Development Management. And, that is where ISDM plays a big role.

The Indian School of Development Management (ISDM) offers an 11-month full-time Post-Graduate Programme in Development Management exclusively designed to raise such leaders who will transform the Social Sector.

Shrikantha Raipurkar, a student of ISDM tells us more:

Why do social organisations need Development Management?

The set of skills required for the Social Sector play by a different set of principles due to the complexities involved. This certainly can’t be achieved by retrofitting a broad corporate philosophy that perhaps a course like MBA teaches us. Management for the Social Sector has to be tailored to master the complex issues exclusive and unique to this sector.

*Mr Ravi Sreedharan, Co-founder of ISDM explains:

*Ravi worked for 24 years in the corporate sector, most of which was at HSBC where he was the Regional Marketing Head for the Middle East and Africa, Head of Consumer Products for Asia Pacific, Consumer Banking Head of Indonesia, CEO and President Director of Bank Ekonomi (a local bank in Indonesia that was acquired by HSBC). He quit his corporate career and switched to the social sector in 2011, joining the Azim Premji Foundation where he was the Head of Education Leadership & Management. Ravi has an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and a B. Tech. from IIT-BHU.

Development Management for the Social Sector can be interpreted as :

  1. Management comprises strategy, planning and policy-making aspects of the development process.

  2. The management of specific issues and tasks needs skilled interventions to build a strong foundation for grassroots activities.

  3. The development of ideals needs clearly defined strategies and implementation.

  4. The creation of an autonomous capacity for future interventions based on establishing a knowledge-based model.

Indian School of Development Management (ISDM) is a pioneer institution built through synergistic wisdom and collective philanthropy.

It believes that the Development Sector needs to learn and adopt Business Management Practices that are painstakingly built on solving the issues of the Social Sector.

ISDM has built an identity that is synonymous with excellence. Designed to impart an education that will train individuals to become change-makers of the future. ISDM has developed a first-of-its-kind curriculum and pedagogy that is best suited for students wanting to excel in Development Management

ISDM was established to educate students in the art of leadership and make them future-ready with relevant leadership skills, strong ethics, and a social conscience, to lead and manage organisations with a social mission. ISDM’s vision is to create a vibrant and catalytic ecosystem that is enriched with the minds of a new breed of professionals.

Mr Ashish Dhawan, India's leading philanthropist and the co-founder of, Chrysalis Capital, also a key advisor of ISDM has to say about leadership in the Social Sector

*An alumnus of Harvard Business School, Mr Ashish Dhawan is an Indian private equity investor and philanthropist. His private equity firm, ChrysCapital is one of the leading funds in India. In 2012, Dhawan was recognised as the NextGen Leader in Philanthropy by Forbes India for his charitable work.

*Source: Wikipedia

Post-Graduate Programme in Development Management: the most-in-demand Management Course for the Social Sector

The Post-Graduate Programme in Development Management is a first-of-its-kind Programme in Development Management globally, that blends ideas of development with management theories. PGP DM is ISDM's flagship initiative and has been meticulously designed by leading academicians and practitioners and blends development values with management concepts along with in-class sessions.

This course aims to create impactful, committed management professionals who can deftly navigate non-linear complexities and processes, geographies and cultures.

The PGP DM creates high-calibre management professionals for Social Purpose Organisations (SPOs). This course prepares professionals to grapple with the complex context of social change, and design interventions, build, lead and manage organisations for sustainable social impact.

The mission of this Programme is to:

  1. Strengthen the foundation of the Social Sector and, every organisation that students decide to work at

  2. Develop an on-the-ground understanding of the complexities of managing social sector organisations, through immersive learning methodologies

  3. Provide opportunities to meet with CEOs, top industry executives, and global leaders with a distinctive Mentorship Programme.

The PGP DM curriculum



  1. Context-Based Collaborative Learning: This enables students to understand the contextual realities and complexities needed to develop sustainable solutions for impact in the Social Sector.

  2. Learn from Stalwarts of the Social Sector: Students are exposed to ‘Thought Leaders’ and influencers from the industry, and people with wide and varied profiles. This a great opportunity to interact and co-create with the very best in the development space in India.

  3. Blended Learning - Concepts + Experiential Learning: Comprises a method of teaching that integrates technology and digital media with traditional instructor-led classroom activities, giving students more flexibility to customize their learning experiences.

  4. ‘Realising India Immersion’: A two-week immersion programme where students spend 2 weeks in a district exploring the issues and challenges in the district, the work that is being done by various actors in the social sector, and, through a facilitated process, reflecting on their experience.

  5. Radical Transformation Leadership Course: Specially curated workshops which cover a range of topics from Group Dynamics, Radical Transformation Leadership (RTL) to future-forward workshops on Networks, Partnerships and Alliances for Scale, Fund Raising, Project Management, Volunteer Management and Instructional Design.

  6. Interaction with Eminent Leaders: Leaders from different walks of life are invited throughout the year to help students debate, discuss, reflect and learn through these interactions.

    As part of the ISDM Live Lecture Series - SANGAM, watch Dr R. Balasubramaniam, an award-winning activist, leadership trainer and prolific writer sharing his perspectives on the Samaj-Sarkar-Bazaar Convergence.

    Listen here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CmHkSu8DcCZ/

    Watch the full session here:

  7. Bricoleur- Continued Mentorship Programme: Helps steer young professionals in their journey towards becoming authentic development management professionals. ISDM sees the development space as requiring the application of management disciplines that are unique and tailored to the scale of the sector.

  8. Development Management Writing Centre: Helps students to excel in written and oral communication by providing personalised training for writing drafts, theses and research manuscripts. Students can then go on to write and publish their own ‘papers’.

    Dhristha Bhagawati of ISDM shares her experience:

  9. Personal Mastery for Development Leadership: To inculcate the spirit of curiosity, courage and compassion in students. It believes in creating a safe space for teams to flourish and thrive, encouraging generative conversations for collaboration, relating with diversities, acting with positive emotions, emotional resilience and building attentional focus.

Roopesh Kumar, an ex-student of ISDM shares his thoughts:

“I worked with a for-profit organisation before joining ISDM’s first PGP DM batch. I can say that the curriculum and people at ISDM facilitated my growth as a development leader and a champion of universal human values.”

This video tells you more:

What makes PGP DM a sought-after Course?

  1. 5 successful batches

  2. 75 global faculty members

  3. 100% placement assistance

  4. Exciting Scholarships and Financial Assistance options

  1. Career options: Students of the ISDM PGP DM Programme are prepared to take on various roles in development sector organisations, start their for-impact organisations and in time, take on senior leadership, and management responsibilities

  2. World-class Faculty: ISDM’s faculty are of great repute from diverse backgrounds and with vast interdisciplinary experience. ISDM students are exposed to thought leaders and influencers from the industry, and people with wide and varied profiles. This is truly an opportunity to interact and co-create with the very best in the development space in India

    To know more log on to: https://www.isdm.org.in/team

  3. Mentorship: ISDM students are mentored by a select group of experienced professionals holding senior leadership positions across industries and domains. These interactions are centred on making sound professional choices, providing sustained guidance, and enhancing the students’ experience throughout the course at ISDM and beyond

  4. 100% Placements: Our students are universally accepted and in demand by Social-Sector organisations, Development sector professionals have to uniquely navigate through non-linear complexities and processes, often across geographies and cultural contexts. Development management equips them with the skills to do this effectively.

What are the signature components of the PGP DM Programme?

  1. A curriculum that enables students to understand the realities and complexities needed to develop sustainable solutions for an inspiring impact on the Social Sector

  2. An 11-month 'Writing in the Discipline' Workshop, designed to help students to excel in written and oral communication

  3. Assigning mentors to each student to provide personal mentoring throughout their academic journey

The PGP DM curriculum comprises:




Swati Singh, Class of 2020, PGP DM explains:

“My engagement with ISDM’s PGP DM course and my unique understanding of environmental concerns and development leadership are helping me scale Harit Griha organically. My engagement at ISDM within the rubric of Organisation Building and my elective on Social Enterprise and the sustained mentorship I continue to receive from the founders and faculty have helped me understand myself and the onward journey for Harit Griha.”

What career opportunities do students of PGP DM have?

Students at ISDM have access to diverse career opportunities in the for-profit and not-for-profit space, with regional, national and international organisations. In areas ranging from health, and education, water, sanitation and gender, and in research and advocacy. ISDM's collaborations and partnerships with a wide range of such organisations ensure that students are placed in the most perfect roles, where they can display their skills.

ISDM has a robust Placement structure in place, along with the following advantages:

  • 150+ leading sector organisations participating in campus recruitment drives

  • 370+ job profiles to choose from

  • 200+ alumni working in top-tier companies

  • Access to 200+ placement partners

  • 2.5x more than the average salary in the social sector

  • the highest salary of 16 LPA

  • 17 students have founded successful social startups

"Besides the strong alumni base and a welcoming faculty, PGP DM gave me a global perspective and has equipped me with knowledge of Design & Systems Thinking, nurtured and enhanced my leadership skills.”

Shreya Verma, Class of 2021
Before ISDM: Graduate and Fresher
After ISDM: Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment,
Government of India, State Coordinator, J & K

What is the difference between PGP DM and other Social Sector Courses?


  1. While both an MSW (Master of Social Work) and the PGP DM Program are designed to prepare students to work in the Social Sector, they are different in many ways:

  2. An MSW is geared more towards familiarising students with how to do fieldwork and work at the grass-root level, while the PGP DM Programme teaches students management and leadership skills required to mentor teams who work at the grassroots level.

  3. MSW prepares you to work better on the ground, understand communities and issues, develop solutions and implement them. PGP DM on the other hand teaches you to create world-class social organisations with an appropriate strategy, structure, systems, and processes. To put in place relevant networks, evaluation and a structure for monitoring progress.

  4. Students of PGP DM master the ability to manage and lead a variety of Social Sector organisations and successfully take up multiple roles that are indispensable for a thriving organisation.

Public Policy vs PGP DM

  1. Public Policy Courses examine how government policies can impact the lives of the public at large, how policy can be implemented effectively, and the factors that impact the making of policies. The PGP DM on the other hand is designed to prepare students to work for the needs of the Social Sector.

  2. Public Policy is a theoretical discipline while PGP DM is more hands-on. Students of PGP DM get practical exposure through Rural Immersion, Professional Learning Communities, and various workshops, and go on to work in Think Tanks, Consultancies, the Government Sector or in International NGOs.

What type of organisations can PGP DM students work in?

The choices are many depending on the interest and inclination of the student:

  1. CSR Fund/Foundation: a company that engages in grants and the funding process to get financial assistance from the corporate sector.

  2. Social Welfare Organisations: promotes social welfare to further the common good of the people of the community

  3. Policy Consulting Firms: organisations that work with government agencies, and NGOs to develop and implement public policies in healthcare or environmental issues.

  4. For-Profit Social Organisations: has a social purpose but operate for profits.

  5. Social Advocacy: defending and upholding the rights of people in the community who have been deprived due to a disadvantage or discrimination.

  6. Not for Profit/NGOs: curate projects that include providing aid to the needy and underprivileged communities of underdeveloped and developed countries.

  7. Impact Investing Firm: focuses on investing in companies or organisations to address a social issue, such as poverty or education, or an environmental issue, such as clean water.

  8. Social Impact Consultancy: focuses on creating social improvements for several stakeholders involved in the organisation.

  9. Social Enterprise: seek to maximize profits to fund social programmes while maximising benefits to society and the environment

  10. Education/Think Tanks/ Research: Independent organisation dedicated to working to raise academic standards and graduation requirements, improve assessments, and strengthen accountability

  11. Bilateral Agencies: Agencies that finance projects that contribute to the economic and social development of the recipient countries

Which career roles are available for students of PGP DM?

PGP DM students have many options to build their careers in a multitude of roles and responsibilities:

Programme Operations and Management

  • Understand the overall strategy of the organisation and translate it into program design

  • Manage implementation, evaluation, monitoring and review of the programme

Communications and Engagement

  • Define and help build the overall organisational brand

  • Design, implement and manage the overall communications strategy

Fund Raising (Retail and Corporate)

  • Define and help build the overall organisational brand

  • Build a fundraising strategy and raise organisational and programmatic funds

  • Engage with Donors/ Funders to ensure regular

Strategy & Data-based Decision Making

  • Help chart out the overall strategy and positioning of the organisation

  • Map all data flows; analyse and present data for effective decision making

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

  • Work with the Board level CSR Committee to define the overall CSR strategy

  • Design, implement and review the interventions; ensuring good governance and compliance

Government Relations and Advocacy

  • Build collateral, submit proposals for specific areas of work with the government

  • Build and manage relationships with relevant wings of the government

Strategic Partnerships and Alliances

  • Identify potential partners based on the collaboration needs of the organisation

  • Bring partners on board after due diligence and manage the relationship

Monitoring & Evaluation

  • Translate the theory of change into a M&E Framework and bring on board technical partners

  • Ensure collection and analysis of relevant data sets to present the overall impact of the work


  • Help the CEO implement all the areas of work being done by the organisation

  • Map all data flows; Analyse and present data for effective decision making


  • Collaborate with individuals who have started organisations in the development sector

What kind of Financial Aid/ Scholarship does ISDM offer?

ISDM is a non-profit institution, committed to making world-class education affordable for students from all walks of life. With this in mind, we offer the option of deferred payments, to ensure that meritorious students with a genuine need for financial assistance can fund their Course independently.

To know more about the eligibility criteria, log on to: https://www.isdm.org.in/pgp-admissions

How to apply for the PGP DM Course?

ISDM has a fairly straightforward process for Admissions consisting of just 4 easy steps:

Step 1: Connect with us: share your interests at tinyurl.com/isdm-admission or chat with our counsellors at +91 9999788216, for one-on-one guidance
Step 2: Fill out an Online Application Form
Step 3: The selection Process includes Online Assessment and a Personal Interview
Step 4: Start your journey at ISDM with a smile on your lips and a dream in your heart

To know more log on to: https://www.isdm.org.in/pgp-dm-admissions

What is the Eligibility Criteria for PGP DM?

If you wish to make a deep, long-lasting impact in the world and build a mission-based career then ISDM is definitely for you.

Graduates of any stream, whether working professionals or freshers, who are interested in the social development sector can apply. Previous work experience is an added advantage but not mandatory. However, some amount of professional or volunteering experience is recommended (the average previous work experience of ISDM students is 1.5 years to 2 years).

How can I have other questions answered?

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions for prospective students to make a well-informed decision:

Applications to the PGP DM Batch of 2023-24 are Now Open | Start Your Application Today

Due to the limited number of seats, applicants in Phase 1 will have the early advantage of securing admission at ISDM with the option to defer payment of their tuition fees up to Rs. 3 lakhs.

ISDM is looking for passionate, committed, diverse and driven individuals from various parts of India to join the cohort. To this end, our admission process is designed in a way that allows us to gauge an individual's skills, competencies and passion for the development sector.

There is no fee for an Application Form.

Currently, ISDM does not have an on-campus accommodation facility. However, ISDM provides students with verified accommodation options within a 5 km radius of the campus.

The fee structure at ISDM is as follows:

  1. The caution deposit is INR 25,000 which is refundable after completion of the course.

  2. The tuition fee for the 11-month programme is INR 5 Lakhs (not including living costs). This amount is payable in two tranches of equal amounts during the program.

The minimum eligibility criteria is an undergraduate degree in any stream. This includes students in their final year completing their course on or before July 2023, recent graduates* and working professionals from any domain of work.

*Graduates awaiting their results can also apply and submit their transcripts when they receive them.

The ISDM admission process is divided into 4 stages:

Stage 1: Completion and submission of the online application form (non-evaluative process)

Stage 2: Completion of Online Assessment (evaluative process)

Stage 3: Appearing for the Personal Interview (evaluative process)

Stage 4: Rolling out and acceptance of offer letter

Visit the Admissions page on our website to learn more about the stages of the Admission Process.

The total duration of the online assessment is 1 hour and 25 minutes. It consists of two parts:

Part A – Cognitive Ability & Data Analysis

  1. Section I: Logical Ability - (20 minutes).

  2. Section II: Quantitative Aptitude - (25 minutes)

  3. Section III: Data Interpretation - (15 minutes)

Part B – Verbal Ability

  1. Section IV: Verbal Ability & Spoken English - (25 minutes)

Applicants can log in to the online assessment portal using the credentials provided to them via email.

In case an applicant faces a technical glitch during the test, they are advised to reach out to admissions@isdm.org.in or speak to their Assigned Counsellor within 24 hours.

The link for the online assessment will be active for a specific period of time which will be mentioned in a detailed email that will be sent to the applicant prior to the scheduled date of their assessment.

Kindly note that once the assessment is initiated, it must be completed in one attempt.

The Personal Interview will be conducted online. All the necessary information will be sent to the applicant on their registered e-mail ID, prior to their scheduled interview date.

While it isn't mandatory, applicants are encouraged to submit their valid GMAT, GRE, CAT or NMAT scores, in case they have undertaken these exams. The admission panel will take these scores into consideration when evaluating their fit for the program.

ISDM offers a few need-based financial assistance plans on a first-come-first-serve basis. Applicants who have cleared the online assessment (Step 2 of the admission process) will be provided a financial assistance form to be filled with all the necessary details. The final decision rests with the Financial Assistance Committee who will review the submitted forms and decide the provision of assistance accordingly.

ISDM ensures that at every stage of the Admission Process, the applicant receives detailed communication about the next stage on their registered e-mail ID. We encourage applicants to regularly check their email inbox, including the spam/promotion folder to make sure that they are not missing any important updates. In case applicants require further assistance, they can always reach out to us at admissions@isdm.org.in.

Freshers can provide references from the following:

  1. The organisations where they have recently interned or volunteered

  2. Academic references will also be accepted

Yes, applicants will receive communication with the latest information regarding the status of their application at all stages during the Admission Process.

No, given the rigour and offline nature of the programme, students are required to be present in the classroom at all times.

While it is not essential, prior experience in the social sector is preferred. ISDM welcomes all eligible* applicants to apply for the program.

* Check earlier question for eligibility criteria

Got more on your mind? Contact us at admissions@isdm.org.in and we will be happy to answer all your questions.

Want to know what a day in the life of a PGP DM student looks like? Watch this video:

If you think you have what it takes to be a change-maker of the future, then call us at +91 9999788216, write to us at contact@isdm.org.in or visit our website www.isdm.org.in

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