San Francisco Nonprofit Management Graduate Schools

Nonprofit management graduate schools aim to help students develop the skills and knowledge to create long-term strategies and fundraising plans for nonprofit organizations. Courses also cover a number of managerial tasks so nonprofits may run efficiently and effectively. Some of these include managing resources and advocating for social change. Plus, choosing to earn your degree in a traditional, on-campus format may provide access to close-knit and active alumni groups. Spending more face-to-face time with classmates, professors, and groups may reinforce relationships and allow you to practice interpersonal skills developed during coursework. 

Did You Know?

Between September 2013 and September 2014, about 62.8 million people volunteered in America. That’s a volunteer rate of 25.3%.

Nonprofit Management Graduate Schools: Basics

While attending nonprofit management graduate school, you may study how to create solutions to solve the problems of an affected community. In order to do this, you may learn to recruit, hire, train, and manage staff. Because many nonprofits also rely on the services of volunteers, courses normally look at the unique laws and best practices of managing volunteers as well.

Another important piece of nonprofit management graduate school is learning to think critically and improve leadership. By studying how to analyze data and performance, you may learn how to manage resources effectively. You might also explore how to create budgets and manage finances. A key part of budgeting for nonprofits is fundraising. Therefore some courses may discuss how to meet fundraising goals and write proposals for government grants.

Earning you degree on-campus may provide you with a number of unique benefits. One of these may be more chances for networking with professors and classmates. As nonprofit administration schools teach how to facilitate relationships with stakeholders and donors, more face-to-face time with your peers may provide chances for experiential learning.[i] This may be through class discussions, group projects, or meetings with professors. You may also gain access to helpful resources, such as libraries, career services and student groups. Schools vary, so follow up directly for details.

Different Nonprofit Administration Graduate Degree Levels

Nonprofit management graduate schools typically offer three levels of graduate degrees. While all of the levels have a similar overall focus, there are differences in the requirements and depth of study. For instance, a PhD level course may require more independent research and critical analysis than a certificate course. Consider your personal goals and experience to find a perfect nonprofit administration graduate school for you. 

Earning a Certificate in Nonprofit Management On-Campus

Certificate programs in nonprofit management are non-degree programs that typically take one to two years for part-time students. These programs study the latest trends and practices in the field. Normally, certificates only require four to eight classes, but the actual length varies from school to school. Most schools ask that applicants have earned a bachelors degree from an accredited university with a 2.3 GPA or higher.

On Campus Masters Degree in Nonprofit Administration

Masters degrees in nonprofit administration seek to prepare students to pursue management or leadership positions. Typically, these programs offer one of four types of degrees. These are the MA, MS, MBA and MPA. While an MPA (Master of Public Administration) is one of the most common degree types, each of the masters degrees teach how to implement effective administrative policies. They are all academically equal and typically require two years of full-time study to earn your degree. In addition to coursework, some schools ask that you complete a thesis or capstone project to graduate.

Most masters programs ask that students have earned a bachelors degree from an approved university with a 2.3 GPA or higher for admission. However, many MBA programs also ask that you have two or more years of professional experience. Check with each school for specific rules.

Campus Nonprofit Management Doctorate Degrees

As the highest degree in the field, a PhD in nonprofit management typically requires more research, writing, and critical analysis than other degree levels. Therefore, most schools ask that you have earned a masters degree from an approved university with a 3.0 or higher.

To earn your PhD, normally you need to propose, write, present, and defend a dissertation to a board of faculty, in addition to coursework. This may show you have a complete grasp on strategic planning, staff development, and all regulatory issues. By developing your research and writing skills, PhD schools also could help you to contribute to theories and methods for better leadership of nonprofits in the future. With these requirements in mind, typically it takes students three to five years to earn their doctorate degree.

Common Courses at Nonprofit Management Graduate Schools

While earning your graduate degree in nonprofit administration, courses focus on advocating for social change and organizational planning. However, many courses also look at the sustainability of a nonprofit through fundraising, government grants, and proper budgeting.

Check out the list below for some courses you may take while earning your nonprofit management graduate degree.

  • Board Governance and Volunteer Management: The lifeblood of most nonprofits are volunteers and the board of directors. This course examines recruiting and hiring volunteers. Other topics focus on making sure that the board guides the organization toward their mission.
  • Resource Development: During this class, lessons cover the importance of obtaining philanthropic financial support. Students explore concepts such as how to identify donors and developing relationships.
  • Financial Management for Nonprofit Organizations: Students examine the analytical tools used in financial decision making for nonprofits. Other topics involve the understanding of financial language and key concepts.
  • Strategic Management of Public and Nonprofit Organizations: This course looks at the concepts involved with the process of strategic management of public organizations.
  • Human Resource Management in Nonprofit Organizations: During this class, students receive an overview of human resource issues specific to nonprofits. This may include recruiting and selecting of staff and volunteers. It may also involve board-staff relations.


Each school has their own program make-up. Therefore, courses may vary from school to school, and based on your degree level. To find a perfect program for you, research a few schools. 

What Might Nonprofit Managers Do?

Nonprofit managers make sure that an organization meets its responsibilities. Therefore, they are responsible for all of the parts that help achieve that goal, such as those listed here. 

  • Structuring board meetings
  • Creating fundraising strategies
  • Securing media exposure
  • Organizing public fundraising events
  • Training and developing staff


Nonprofit manager is only one career you might pursue after attending nonprofit administration graduate school. Other options, and their 2015 median annual salary, include those listed here.

  • General and Operations Managers: $97,730[ii]
  • Public Relations and Fundraising Managers: $104,140[iii]
  • Social and Community Service Managers: $63,530[iv]
  • Human Resources Managers: $104,440[v]


Typically, these roles ask that candidates have a bachelors degree and a number of years of experience. However, some jobs and organizations look for candidates with a graduate degree.[vi]

Take the Next Step!

Are you interested in helping communities through effective nonprofits? Then take the next step to earn your graduate degree in nonprofit management. Click on any of the sponsored listings on this page. There, you will find program descriptions and a list of courses. You can even reach out to schools you like directly to request more information. 

Source: [1] [ii]| [iii] | [iv] | [v] | [vi]

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