Milwaukee Masters Degree in Nonprofit Management

Nonprofit management masters programs cover the many administrative and financial components of helping nonprofits reach their goals. This includes how nonprofits are structured and provide services to an affected community. Courses are made to shape critical thinking and problem solving skills and knowledge by studying the challenges associated with managing and leading nonprofits. These may include defining the roles and responsibilities of a board of directors and making plans to reach fundraising goals.

Nonprofit Management Masters Programs

Did You Know? 72% of revenue for public charities comes from service revenues, which include government fees and contracts. 21% comes from contributions, gifts, and government grants.

What is Nonprofit Administration?

Nonprofit administration comprises of all the parts of leading a nonprofit to success. Some of these are creating long-term plans, restructuring common practices, managing staff and volunteers, and securing media exposure. While there are many similarities to business administration, nonprofits have to earn a large portion of revenue from fundraising and donations. Therefore, nonprofit administration typically involves additional steps to achieve this goal. These may include meeting face-to-face with major donors, creating fundraising plans and earning corporate sponsorships.

Nonprofit Management Masters Programs: Basics

Earning a masters in nonprofit management may help you understand how to create a clear vision and solid organizational structure for nonprofits. By examining case studies, courses teach how to measure processes, create efficient support systems, and have a capacity to change. Coursework typically then looks at how these parts rely on leadership skills and business acumen.

Most nonprofit management masters programs ask that applicants have earned a bachelors degree from an accredited university with a 2.3 GPA or higher. Other admissions rules may include an interview, professional experience, and letters of recommendation. However, each school has their own admissions rules. You should check out a few schools to find a perfect match.

Types of Nonprofit Administration Masters Degrees

While researching nonprofit administration masters degree programs, you’ll find a wide variety of names and degree types. The four most common types of masters degrees in nonprofit administration are listed below.

  • Master of Arts (MA) in Nonprofit Administration
  • Master of Science (MS) in Nonprofit Management and Leadership
  • Master of Public Administration (MPA) in Nonprofit Management
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Concentration in Nonprofit Management

These all have a similar goal: to help prepare you to run an efficient non-profit organization. However, each may have a unique focus area or approach.

Normally, MS programs are more technically focused, with an emphasis on research. These are also considered a stepping stone for those interested in earning a doctorate in nonprofit administration. MA programs in nonprofit administration, on the other hand, have a more theoretical basis. This could be a great choice for hoping for an overview of nonprofit management with the flexibility to specialize in a certain component.

The MBA and the MPA are both professional degrees. They may therefore approach the topic with an eye towards business and analysis. The MPA could be great for those particularly interested in the public sector.

Because of these differences in emphasis, some degrees may better prepare you for certain roles. Some might also have additional admissions requirements.  For instance, most MBA programs require that applicants have two to five years of professional experience. On the other hand, MA, MS, and MPA degrees typically do not. Carefully consider your educational experience and career goals to determine which type of degree might be great for you. Then follow up with individual programs to learn more.

What’s the Difference Between MPA and MBA?

An MPA is a professional degree in public affairs tailored to those who want to serve in executive positions in local government or nonprofits. An MBA provides theoretical and practical training on general business management functions and was created with an eye to the private sector.

Most coursework while pursuing an MPA is focused on research, data analysis, and program effectiveness. In fact, MPA degrees have been referred to as an MBA for the public sector. Therefore, MPA degrees may be better suited for those entering into the public sector or with companies with large government contracts.

Earning an MBA may cost more money, but may better prepare you for leadership roles in for-profit businesses. This type of degree could be great for those looking for more flexibility to move between the nonprofit and private sector.

Nonprofit Management: Common Courses

While pursuing your masters in nonprofit administration, courses look at fiscal responsibilities and managerial tasks. Some classes may examine how successful nonprofits are made up, grow, and evolve. This could help you develop critical analysis and leadership skills and knowledge to improve results.

Check out the following list to see some of the courses you may take.

  • Organizational Behavior and Leadership
  • Non-Profit Principles and Practices
  • Approaches to Human Capital
  • Leadership Theory, Application, and Reflection
  • Strategic Fund Development
  • Strategic Management and Planning
  • Non-Profit Organizational Performance and Program Evaluation
  • Non-Profit Social Entrepreneurship
  • Non-Profit Fundraising and Financial Management
  • Non-Profit Development and Advancement

Keep in mind that this is only a sample of courses. Each school has a unique make-up. To find a perfect match for your goals, research a number of schools. 

How Do Nonprofits Generate Revenue?

Nonprofits generate revenue from a variety of funding streams. Some of these include those listed here.

  • Government and Foundation Grants
  • Membership Revenue
  • Gifts from Major Donors
  • Small Donations
  • Special Events and Sponsorships
  • Endowments
  • Commercial Revenue
  • Many Others

As a result, while earning your masters degree in nonprofit management, courses look at how to meet fundraising and budget goals. In addition to money management, nonprofits rely on the services of volunteers. Some classes may therefore explore how to recruit, hire, train, and motivate volunteers.

Nonprofit Management Masters Programs: Different Learning Formats

One important part of choosing great nonprofit management masters programs is finding a format that works for you. Programs may offer a variety of options to accommodate students’ learning styles and scheduling needs. There are typically three different ways that you can earn your nonprofit management masters degree. These, and some of the potential benefits, are listed here.

  • On-Campus Nonprofit Management Masters Programs: Masters in nonprofit management schools offer more face-to-face interaction. You will attend classes at regular times and among peers. This may lead to more networking opportunities and stronger, more connected alumni groups.
  • Masters in Nonprofit Management Online: Earning a masters in nonprofit management online could provide the freedom and flexibility to perform coursework whenever and wherever. This may allow working professionals to balance a career with their nonprofit education. The online format might also improve knowledge retention through multimedia such as webinars and infographics.
  • Masters in Nonprofit Management Hybrid Programs: Hybrid masters in nonprofit management programs are part online and part on-campus. Therefore, they may be a perfect option for those looking for a bit of each. Some hybrid masters programs have classes that meet entirely online and others that only meet on-campus. Others mix the two formats during each course.

What is NASPAA?

The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) is an accrediting body that is the global standard in public service education. Established in 1970, NASPAA ensures quality in education for public service, which includes nonprofit organizations. This is through focusing on peer review, creating an innovative course of study, and building a data center. Accreditation may be one factor you wish to consider when choosing your nonprofit management masters program.

This doesn’t mean that you should only apply to masters degree programs that are accredited by NASPAA. It simply means that these programs have chosen not to participate in the peer-review process. Therefore, you may need to perform more research on your own about the quality of the program.

Potential Careers in Nonprofit Management

After earning your masters in nonprofit management, there are a number of careers that you might pursue. One of these is as a public relations and fundraising manager. This role typically includes creating fundraising plans and meeting face-to-face with vital donors.[i] The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the number of public relations and fundraising managers to increase 7% for the ten years 2014 to 2024.[ii] In 2015, the median annual salary for this role was $104,140.[iii]

Other careers nonprofit management masters programs may prepare you to pursue include the following.

  • Business Development Director
  • Account Manager
  • Communications Director
  • Community Relations Director
  • Director of Public Relations[iv]

Typically, you need a bachelors degree and a few years of experience for these roles. However, some organizations and jobs look for candidates with a masters degree.[v]

Take the Next Step!

Are you interested in helping nonprofit organizations create value and help communities? Then take the next step to earn your masters in nonprofit administration. Click on any of the sponsored listings on this page for program descriptions, specific courses, and graduation rules. When you find schools that you like, you can reach out to them directly to request more information. That way, you might find a perfect nonprofit management masters program for you.


Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/management/public-relations-managers.htm#tab-2 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/management/public-relations-managers.htm#tab-6 | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/management/public-relations-managers.htm#tab-5 | [iv] onetonline.org/link/summary/11-2031.00 | [v] bls.gov/ooh/management/public-relations-managers.htm#tab-4

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