Board Fellows Program

Applications open now

SDSU’s Fowler College of Business and School of Social Work Board Fellows Program places MBA and MSW students as non-voting board members for local nonprofit organizations.

The program last 9 months during which students attend monthly board and committee meetings and complete a board-level project. Nonprofit organizations working with SDSU graduate student Fellows receive short-term and long-term benefits, gaining new perspectives and ideas on key organizational issues, getting access to resources at both the Fowler College of Business and the School of Social Work, and creating a pipeline for attracting younger board members. Our nonprofit partners also help us to build the next generation business and civic leaders.

MBA and MSW Students – Apply to become a student fellow!

The SDSU School of Social Work and Fowler College of Business are launching a new professional development program. The Board Fellows program is an opportunity for graduate students to apply their skills as a non-voting member of a local nonprofit board.  Fellows will be matched with a local non-profit and work closely with a Board Member and the agency Director on a special project to help forward the mission of the organization. This is a great opportunity give back to the community, network with influential leaders, and gain practical real world experience. Students should expect to spend about 4-8 hours per month on this project.

Business students will not receive any academic credit for participation in this program. If you are interested in participating in this program, please contact your graduate advisor in the Graduate Business Programs office.

Fellows are paired with an agency board member
Fellows attend all agency board meetings as non-voting members
Fellows complete a strategic project based on board needs
Fellows prepare and present a final report to the agency of their project
Fellows attend kick-off and wrap up events each semester, held on campus

Board fellowship program is a two semester commitment between students and their assigned non-profit agency. Students are expected to spend approximately 4-8 hours per month on board-related activities. For Social Work students, this is above the required field internship hours and there is no academic credit for this work.

Fellows must be students enrolled in a Master’s program through the Fowler College of Business or School of Social Work. Students must have their core program am requirements completed before the start of the program (can be in progress at the time of application). All students must be in good academic standing with the University.

  • Board Fellows make a list of nonprofits in their order of preference. Given these preferences and the needs of the nonprofits, students are matched accordingly.
  • After identifying pairs, final approval will come from the non-profit agency and determine if interviews are necessary.
  • Verify the Board Fellow’s willingness to serve on the board of the organization assigned to them. Send written communication confirming the placement as well as outlining the roles and expectations for all parties involved.

Applications are accepted through March 12, 2024 for AY 2024-2025.

Fellows are selected each year through a competitive application process.

The program requires student to complete a written application along with submitting a resume. Fellows are notified of their acceptance by April 25th.

For more information, contact Steve Hornberger, [email protected] 

Nonprofit Organizations – Apply to become a partner organization!

This program places graduate students from the Fowler College of Business and the School of Social Work on nonprofit boards as non-voting member. In addition to their board service, students work with a board member and/ or the executive director to complete a strategic project that aligns with their graduate studies. Nonprofit boards will benefit from the fresh perspective of a graduate student. They also gain a valuable opportunity to mentor the next generation of board leaders.

The following are minimum requirements for and NPO to apply for a Board Fellow:

  • Budget of at least $250,000
  • At least 2 staff members
  • Has to have been in existence for at least 2 years
  • Have a tax exemption (or in the application process) from the Internal Revenue Service

The following areas must be considered prior to partnering with a local nonprofit organization:

  • Project
  • Mentorship
  • Feedback
  • Time Commitment

The partnering organization must understand that this is not an opportunity for a pro bona consulting project. The partnering organization must assign a project that will directly benefit the board while expose the student to a real world board project. Example project include:

  • Building financial models for planning purposes
  • Benchmarking a certain program
  • Participate in the development of a strategic plan

A critical asset for the success of a Board Fellow is a having a Board member mentor. Mentors are expected to work closely with the Fellow to onboard them to the NPO, answer questions and serve as the bridge between the Fellows and organization. Each NPO must commit to having a mentor who can meet the following exceptions

  • Work with the Fellow for at least 2 hours a month
  • Serve as an advisor on the student’s board project
  • Prepare the student for board meetings
  • Ensure the student feels welcome and supported during their service

Nonprofits should expect to spend about 2 additional hours a month mentoring the student.

Fellows are selected each year through a competitive, application process that will begin during the spring semester. The two-part application process includes a written section and is followed by a group case interview, by invitation only. 

Contact Us

SDSU Social Work

Hepner Hall room 119
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182-4119