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In a world that is dotted with the hustle & bustle of commerce and business, usually driven by profits, there is ample space for other sectors that are not necessarily profit-driven. MS in Nonprofit management is increasingly growing in popularity and consequently requires Nonprofit Managers to take up leadership and administrative roles in Nonprofit Organizations. Nonprofit Managers typically involve themselves in charitable donation and service. And a Master’s in Nonprofit Management online program will train students to develop new competencies, sharpen their abilities, and build and utilize a credible network of colleagues working across the nonprofit sector. Students of this program will also develop their creativity, critical skills, and communication skills and be able to devise strategies and plans to maintain and successfully address an organization’s objectives. A Master’s in Nonprofit Management will go on to shape up better individuals, who will, in turn, make the planet a better place to live in.
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Best Online Masters in Nonprofit Management Programs
With several types of degree programs and a vast majority of online colleges offering distinct flavors of an online Masters in Nonprofit Management program, qualifying for the best is not as easy as it seems. Every college and program has its strengths and weaknesses, all of which (and more) must be carefully considered to make it to the list.
Keeping in mind the various factors such as the experience and quality of faculty, the reputation of the institution, Accreditation, infrastructure, convenience, flexibility, the structure of the program, and affordability, here are some of the best Nonprofit Management programs in the United States:
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Understanding Masters in Nonprofit Management Programs
An unconfirmed yet arguably legitimate study shows that the nonprofit sector is the fifth-largest economy in the world. Considering the sheer magnitude of this sector and how it addresses the societal, moral, and environmental concerns of the planet, an online master’s in Nonprofit Management will teach students to develop and demonstrate a wide range of skills across various disciplines. Along with this skill set, students will also learn how to build a network of credible people, organizations, and resources necessary to succeed in the nonprofit or any other industry.
The online master’s in Nonprofit Management concentration builds up an understanding of finance, business, planning, and evaluation. Whatever the background of the student, the certified nonprofit professional has the critical skills needed to lead diverse and complex organizations by applying concepts and strategies that can be applied to a plethora of real-world scenarios.
Masters in Nonprofit Management Degree Types
Many students are likely to assume that an MBA (Master’s in Business Administration) in Nonprofit Management is the default Masters in Nonprofit Management. This assumption is far from the truth. Nonprofit management can be taught and learned in several other avatars, such as an MNM, MA, MS, or MPA.
The online master’s in Nonprofit Management or MNM degree program prepares students for a leadership position in the nonprofit sector and is best suited for those who wish to start their nonprofit organization. Areas of study include ethical leadership, advocacy, nonprofit development, project management and development and fundraising, non profit administration, community solutions and financial administration. At the end of the program, students might have to complete a professional project as well.
MS Nonprofit Management
The Master of Science or MS Nonprofit Management is an applied degree and an intersection of MBA and MPA degrees, which gets down to the technicalities of nonprofit management. MS programs rely heavily on statistical and factual data, interpretations and strategies, nonprofit developemnt, project management and research methodology to study the subject in greater detail. Areas of study include communication, stewardship, donor cultivation, and fund management (creating fundraising managers) nonprofit administration.
MA in Nonprofit Management
The Master of Arts or MA in Nonprofit Management is typically structured for individuals who are already working in the nonprofit sector with a bachelor’s degree and wish to move into a management position. The program dives deeper into nonprofit management with a multi-disciplinary approach. Areas of study include human resources, law and ethics, fundraising, revenue generation, grant writing, and program management.
MBA Nonprofit Management
The Master of Business Administration or MBA Nonprofit Management focuses on the business and commercial aspects of nonprofit management and is designed for those who already work in the nonprofit sector but lack management expertise. Areas of study include corporate financial management, business analytics, economic theory, and supply chain management.
The online master’s in Public Administration or MPA Nonprofit Management Is a theoretical degree program tailored for the community, government, public, and nonprofit leaders. MPA programs usually include elements of business management and public policy, preparing graduate students to be successful leaders in both the public and nonprofit sectors. Areas of study include public policy, sociology, and law.
Specializations in Masters in Nonprofit Management Programs
As with most Master’s programs, a Master’s in Nonprofit Management online program also offers specializations, either as subdivisions of a major or an interdisciplinary track. A specialization gives graduates in-depth knowledge within the field of study and critical skills necessary to work in a particular sub-field. Some of the options of concentrations, specializations, and majors available in Nonprofit Management degrees include but are not limited to:
Masters in Philanthropy
Humanities and Nonprofit Management
Process and Outcome Evaluation for Nonprofit Organizations
Nonprofit and Association Financial Management
Strategic Management in Nonprofits and Associations
Working With the Community: Boards to Volunteers
Stewardship and External Support
Organizational Cultures and Systems
Strategic Fundraising and Philanthropy
Nonprofit Organization, Governance, and Management
Public Program Evaluation
Organizational Resource Management and Nonprofit Leadership Management
Unique Option: Political Communication Specialization A specialty in digital political communication provides students with in-depth knowledge of cutting-edge digital advertising, interaction, and analytic techniques and strategies. Students make use of current campaigning methods to help increase awareness and affect change in the political environment. Learning how to employ cutting-edge political technology and paid communication to effect change and mobilize people, as well as the ability to optimize political engagement, is an integral part of the course’s curriculum.
Curriculum and Skills Gained in Masters in Nonprofit Management Online Programs
Irrespective of the type of Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management, the curriculum of most programs is based on interdisciplinary subjects such as sociology, law, history, economics, political science, business management, environmental management, ethics, and public affairs. Although the exact core courses offered to vary by program, in general, a Master’s in Nonprofit Management online program will consist of the following courses, from a list of many more:
Strategic Planning in the Nonprofit Organization
Project and Program Management
Theory and Future of Nonprofits
Using Technology to Build Community and Grow Your Organization
The Legal and Ethical Element of Nonprofits
Social Media and Information Technology for Nonprofits
Operation and Administration of Nonprofits
Proposal and Grant Writing
Psychology of Motivation
Assessing Leadership Skills
Fundraising and Planning
Nonprofit Governance and Law
Nonprofit Organization Startups and Policy
Marketing for Organizations
Legal and Critical Analysis
Research Methods for Organizations
Leading in a New Era
Legal and Ethical Issues for Nonprofits
Program Development and Accountability
Conflict Resolution for Managers
Best Practices in Organizations
Fundraising and Development
Theology of Leadership and Business
Ethical Issues in Management
Financial Practices for Managers
Nonprofit Human Services Fundraising and Resource Development
Business Analytics and Research Methods
Board Development and Human Resource Management in Nonprofits
Program Evaluation and Research Methods
Leadership and Organizational Development in Nonprofits
Nonprofit Law and Ethics
Fundraising and Grant Seeking for Nonprofit Agencies
Public Relations Campaign Methods
Studies in Critical Thinking in Philanthropic and Nonprofit Issues
Financial Decision Making for Youth/Human Services Agencies
Foundations of Nonprofit Management
Obtaining and Managing Resources for Organizations
Nonprofit Management Analysis
Governing and Leading Organizations
Public Budgeting and Financial Administration
Seminar in Public Administration and Its Environment
Research Methods for Public Administration
Seminar in Public Policy Process
Introduction to Public Administration and Public Service
The Policy Process and Democracy
Public Service Leadership
Foundations of Philanthropy
Financial Management in the Nonprofit Sector
Managing Diversity in Today’s Nonprofits
Development and Management of Faith-Based Organizations
Resource Development for Nonprofits
Personnel Development in Nonprofits
Theory and Practice of Nonprofit Management
Statistics for Managerial Decision Making
Organizational Theory and Behavior
Financial Decision Making for Managers
Strategic Human Resources Management: Public and Nonprofit
Public Ethics and the Common Good
Economics of Social Issues
Nonprofit Financial Management
Introduction to Organizations
Budgeting and Finance
Advocacy and Public Policy
Grant and Report Writing
Legal and Governance Issues in Organizations
Developing Your Leadership Capability
Some programs require students to opt for at least one elective course, examples of which include but are not limited to:
Women in Leadership
Public Relations Management
Data-Driven Business Decisions
Applied Nonprofit Management
Ministry and Cultural Diversity
Managing in a Multicultural Society
Nonprofit Boards and Executive Leadership
Dynamics of Change at the Community and Social Level
Ethics and Public Decision-Making
Urban Economic Development
Social Entrepreneurship: Concepts and Cases
Comparative Public Policy and Administration
Effective City Management
Managing Public Networks
Urban Politics and Government
Upon graduating with a Master’s in Nonprofit Management, graduate students would have developed skills in many areas critical to the success of organizations, such as fundraising, management, program development, advocacy, and volunteer management. Additionally, graduates of this degree will be prepared to:
analyze and appropriately use statistics, research methodology, and program assessment to conduct research related to nonprofit ventures;
devise, understand and apply concepts, principles, strategies, and processes related to organizations in both domestic and international environments;
develop and apply concepts and processes related to budget, finance, resource management, and strategic planning for nonprofit organizations;
strategically plan, manage, communicate and drive fundraising campaigns;
effectively apply relevant legal and ethical guidelines and practices in public and private nonprofit sectors;
effectively utilize oral, written, and presentation skills to easily and effectively communicate and collaborate with others in the nonprofit sector;
understand and apply theories, policies, and practices of governance in public, private, domestic, international, and nonprofit sectors;
apply cultural competency in public, private, and nonprofit organizations through the understanding and application of cultural diversity;
effectively deploy marketing, public relations, and communication strategies in nonprofit organizations;
effectively manage human resource, and acquire, train, manage and retain volunteers for nonprofit operations; and
bring about positive social change to domestic and international communities.
Accreditation for Online Masters in Nonprofit Management Programs
Timeline for graduation from Online Masters in Nonprofit Management Programs
In general terms, the duration of a Master’s in Nonprofit Management online program requires 12 to 18 months to complete, if taken up full-time. Working professionals who study part-time usually take an average of 2.5 to 3 years to graduate. Some online colleges allow students to take up to 7 years to complete their degree.
Online Masters in Nonprofit Management Programs Admission Requirements
To pursue a Master’s in Nonprofit Management online, applicants must have a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in any discipline from a regionally accredited institution. The coursework of these programs should have preferably covered topics in management, humanities, economics, and sociology. In addition to this requirement, applicants are expected to submit:
A Graduate Application and prescribed Application Fee
At least 3 Academic and/or Professional Reference Letters
Proof of English proficiency, if English is not a native language
In general, applicants are required to have a minimum of 3.00 cumulative Grade Point Average or GPA (scale is 4.00 = “A”) in the last 60 hours of their first Bachelor’s program. In most cases, a standardized test score of GRE or GMAT is not required.
Note: Some schools may ask applicants to submit a Statement of Educational and Career Goals indicating in sufficient detail compatibility between the school’s educational objectives and capabilities.
Free Online Nonprofit Management Courses
While some online portals offer free courses on a wide range of topics related to Nonprofit Management, a few of them may offer a free online Nonprofit Management certificate program to those who do not want to pursue a Master’s degree. However, such programs and free certificate courses are generally not accredited and should therefore be considered merely to enhance one’s knowledge on a specific area of Nonprofit Management. Some examples of sites that offer free course and certificate programs are:
Philanthropy University has courses on a wide range of topics spanning advocacy, developing an operating budget, fundraising strategies, setting up a nonprofit board, and more. Most of these courses are self-paced and award a digital certificate of completion.
Across beginner, mixed, and intermediate levels, Coursera offers nonprofit courses, many of which are free and some of which are created by the Stanford University, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Virginia, and the University of Pennsylvania.
Nonprofitready.org is home to a host of free courses on topics ranging from fundraising, grant writing, nonprofit finance, volunteer management, organizational management and nonprofit organizational leadership training to starting a nonprofit, board governance, nonprofit marketing, and nonprofit human resources.
How to Pay for Masters in Nonprofit Management Programs
Depending on the college and program, the cost of a Master’s in Nonprofit Management online program can be rather high. Paying for tuition and other associated educational costs can strain the wallet, but fortunately, students have a variety of options to fund these expenses. Here are a few examples of such funding options that are worth exploring:
Scholarships are usually merit-based and offer financial assistance that does not require repayment. Most Universities offer in-house scholarships, but there are private agencies, individuals, alumni, and foundations that offer them.
Grants are funds provided by the federal, state, or private sectors covering the tuition fee and/or other associated student expenses, such as study materials, transport, equipment, etc. They are generally based on financial need and not necessarily on merit.
Graduate Teaching Assistantships allow a graduate student to assist the college or program either with teaching or other non-teaching work while studying simultaneously. For the part-time work that they do, students are compensated monetarily.
Working on Campus
Some universities allow students to work part-time on their campus against a reasonable salary. Such work may or not be academically related, but the money earned from it can certainly meet some educational expenses.
Student Loans are funds that are borrowed on interest from the federal government, banks, or private organizations, to help pay for education. Students should note that irregular, delayed, defaulted payments can compound interest and add to student debt.
The Master’s in Nonprofit Management program gives students the theoretical knowledge and practical experience they need to take up leadership and administrative roles in private, public, governmental, domestic, and international nonprofit organizations and sectors.
What to do with Masters in Nonprofit Management?
Graduates of a Master’s in Nonprofit Management can take up jobs in Charitable Foundations, Art, Culture and Heritage Promotion, Human Rights, Environmental Preservation, Civic Agencies, and Social Service, among others.
Is a certificate in Nonprofit Management worth it?
To make things clear – a Certificate Program (Graduate Certificate) in Nonprofit Management, alone, may not be adequate to advance one’s career in the nonprofit sector. However, a certification, which is in addition to a Master’s in Nonprofit Management, will certainly help pursue lucrative and promising careers.
Which university offers Nonprofit Management?
Several Universities across the United States offer management in various degree types. A list of some of the best ones is provided in this write-up.
Masters in Nonprofit Management worth it?
Nonprofit Management jobs and their salaries largely depend on the sector and area of operation. In most cases, these jobs are well-paying and bring with them a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction – that one is doing something to make the world a better place. So, in short, yes – studying Nonprofit Management is worth it.
Careers and Salary Outlook for Masters in Nonprofit Management Graduates
Upon completing the Master’s in Nonprofit Management degree, graduates will be prepared to work in the following variety of nonprofit sectors, such as:
Art, Culture & Heritage
Health Care & Services
Media (Journalism, Publishing)
Environmental Conservation & Protection
Churches and Religious Bodies
Although some career positions may require additional experience, training, and certification, it is not uncommon for Nonprofit Management graduates to take on complex roles. These roles include community outreach, fundraising, or grant writing, and apply for titles such as Community Engagement Director, Conference Services Director, Program Director, and many others as well. Other career examples include but are not limited to:
While, in particular, working in the nonprofit sector does not require any licensure, some roles in governmental nonprofit organizations, especially those related to public policy, public affairs, anti-trafficking, and cross-border aid, may require additional qualifications and training.
Additional Resources for Nonprofit Management Professionals
Networking and connecting with others in the nonprofit world are crucial for career advancement and gaining additional knowledge. Graduates of Master’s in Nonprofit Management online programs should engage their peers, partner with them, and find strategic ways and means to deal with real-world challenges in the nonprofit sector. Understanding the nuances of Nonprofit Management from a non-academic perspective and building up contacts for fundraising can be achieved by tapping into resources that are widely and freely available. Here are a few to get started:
Nonprofitready.org Nonprofitready.org claims to have over 500 free learning resources that include hundreds of free online courses, videos, and downloadable guides.
Global Giving Apart from offering free courses in Nonprofit Management, Global Giving also offers videos, viewpoints, ‘Tups’ – a theory test lab, and a host of tools such as guides, templates, checklists, assessment cards, and more. There are also insights on crowdfunding and resources for companies, donors, and nonprofits.
Volunteer Management Group The Volunteer Management Group is packed with resources for Nonprofit Management students and working professionals. The site offers training programs, courses, free grant writing services, internships, and a whole lot more.
National Council of Nonprofits The National Council of Nonprofits offers tools and resources under several categories such as advocacy, leadership, financial management, ethics and accountability, diversity, equity, and inclusion, etc.
First Nonprofit Foundation The First Nonprofit Foundation makes white papers and articles available to individuals, along with sample documents for use with clients and volunteers, which include applications, surveys, contracts, referral forms, and assessments, among others. There is also a compilation of a long list of external resources that cater to varied personal and professional needs.
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