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Gain the experience you need to get hired and succeed in your social impact career by joining a UNC Charlotte Impact Academy program. Our certificate program gives you the knowledge, skills and experience required by employers in "for good" sectors.

The recommended program duration is 12 weeks, but options of 4-20 weeks are also available.

Over 80% of sustainable development employers say that experience is the main quality lacking in candidates. They know that contextual factors can make or break impact-driven projects. Without experience managing these, employees cannot dependably deliver results. By the time you complete the program, you'll have a portfolio of case studies from 11 different local scenarios. This proves to employers that you have exactly the kind of understanding required to dependably deliver results.

UNC Charlotte Impact Academy programs use a blended learning approach (a combination of online study and practical work) to facilitate an understanding of how local contextual factors affect the success of development projects. The program was designed to directly address the needs of employers in the sustainable development and conservation sectors. Everything that participants learn is geared towards making them better candidates for real positions. Participants select a specific subject area and their work is aligned to this specific field. Through online study, they gain subject-area specific expertise. They also learn about the latest sustainable development innovations and best practices. During the online portion of the program, they learn about a contextual analysis framework and are given specific toolkits to analyze real-world projects during the fieldwork portion of their trip. The analysis of real-world projects is what they will use to build the portfolio that they can use to prove their experience to prospective employers.

Those who complete an Impact Academy program have access to career services including a job portal that aggregates thousands of jobs in the development and conservation sectors.

They have the opportunity to pursue careers in the following types of roles:

  • Sustainability Research Analyst
  • Director of Sustainability
  • Climate Research Associate
  • Renewable Energy or Water Resources Engineer
  • Environmental Economist or Scientist
  • Marine or Wildlife Biologist
  • Public Health Analyst
  • Health Economist
  • Community Health Director
  • Education Analyst
  • Human Rights Analyst
  • Director of Inclusion and Diversity
  • Director of Education
  • Impact Investment Analyst
  • Career starters such as current undergraduate students, recent graduates or those who are part of a graduate program
  • Working professionals in any field including business management,engineering, healthcare, law or teaching
  • Those currently working in conservation or development sectors who are looking to accelerate their career progress

Impact Academy participants can choose to complete a program in one of eight different subject areas. They are listed below.

  • Climate Crisis and Clean Energy
  • Education for Development
  • Environmental and Corporate Sustainability
  • Global Public Health
  • Human Rights and Access to Justice
  • Marine Conservation
  • Social Economic Development
  • Wildlife Conservation

The program includes an online course and practical fieldwork component.

We recommend that participants complete the online portion in 8 weeks and the fieldwork portion in 4 weeks. However, participants have the option to complete the online course in either 2, 8, or 16 weeks. They can also complete the fieldwork in 2 weeks.

Online Curriculum

Through online study learn the sustainable development theory that will help participants to analyze the contextual factors that affect project delivery on the ground. Our online courses integrate video lectures and interviews as well as self-assessments and project assignments. There are also opportunities for collaborative learning through discussion forums and webinars.


You will learn about key issues and real projects focused on their subject area of choice. Visit local sustainable development organizations and learn from local experts. The contextual analysis framework learned during the online portion of the program will be used to analyze how different contextual factors affect the success of real projects.

  • Advice: Career counselors are available to participants from the start of the online course. They help participants to identify career interests, select subject areas aligned to their desired career path, provide feedback on resumes and assist participants in identifying job search strategies.
  • Resources: Career paths in conservation and development fields aren't always clear. Our research has allowed us to construct clear career progression plans aligned to specific fields. Our career counselors also assist participants with writing resumes and cover letters. They also introduce participants to interviewing techniques.
  • Opportunities: Participants gain access to a job portal that aggregates thousands of job vacancies across conservation and development. They can also attend recruiter webinars and gain field-specific insights.

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