District of Columbia Nonprofit Management Graduate Programs

Earning a graduate non profit management degree could prepare you to lead a nonprofit organization. Programs aim to cover the many aspects of helping nonprofits achieve success. Therefore, courses may focus on both the creation of successful long-term plans and how to conduct day-to-day administrative duties. 

Graduate Degree in Nonprofit Management

Did You Know?

According the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nonprofits accounted for 11.4 million jobs in 2012. That represents 10.3% of all private sector jobs.[i]

What Might You Learn While Earning a Graduate Degree in Nonprofit Management?

Nonprofit management combines both business and managerial skills to positively impact a community. While similar to for-profit businesses in many ways, nonprofits face unique challenges. For instance, as opposed to having to generate a profit, nonprofits look to make an impact. To do that better, they need to retain donors and create a sustainable plan for the future.  Nonprofit administration graduate programs cover these unique facets and more so students might help these organizations run smoothly and effectively.

Nonprofit Management Graduate Degree Programs: Common Courses

Nonprofit management graduate programs look to shape the skills and knowledge for better leadership. As a result, courses cover a wide variety of topics. Coursework may focus on how to create budgets, manage staff, and ensure an organization is working towards mission. Other classes may look at how to show the board of directors and donors the ways services are succeeding. Typically, this is through data and statistics. [ii]

Additional course topics may include how to meet face-to-face with important donors, apply for government grants and organize fundraising events. Coursework and research may also involve best leadership approaches, such as analyzing the performance of staff and volunteers. Often, case studies are used to demonstrate theories and best practices.

Finally, while earning your nonprofit management graduate degree, you may study business principles tailored specifically to nonprofits. Some of these are accounting, finance, and business law.

Sample courses you might take while pursuing your nonprofit management degree are below.

  • Introduction to Managing Not-for-Profit Organizations
  • Grant Writing
  • Financial Analysis and Reporting for Nonprofit Leaders
  • Program Evaluation and Research Application in the Nonprofit Sector
  • Strategy and Performance in Nonprofit Organizations
  • Strategic Fund Development
  • Leadership and Organizational Change
  • Board Governance and Volunteer Management
  • Nonprofit Social Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership and Human Resources Management in Public Services

These are just a sample of courses that you may take. Each school has a unique set-up and course offerings, so contact schools directly for details.

Choosing a Nonprofit Administration Graduate Programs

To meet the need of a variety of students, nonprofit administration graduate programs are offered at a variety of levels. While each of the levels have similar objectives, the depth of study, admissions requirements, and length of study may vary from level to level. For instance, a Strategic Fund Development certificate level course will typically require less research and critical analysis than a doctorate level course of the same name. To find a perfect match for your goals, research a few schools.

Certificate Programs in Nonprofit Administration

Certificate programs in nonprofit administration are shorter, non-degree programs. Many focus on teaching the latest trends in nonprofit management. This is often done by analyzing specific organizations to learn how to apply those theories. Other programs may allow students to explore a specific topic in detail to enhance their knowledge or see if nonprofit management is a fit for them.

Many certificate programs are made for part-time students who work full-time. Therefore, this might be a perfect option for those looking to further their education around their busy schedule. In fact, most certificates only require four to six courses. At some schools, you may be able to earn your certificate in as little as a year.

Most certificate programs in nonprofit management require that you’ve earned a bachelors degree from an accredited university. Some also require that you maintained a minimum GPA. However, admissions rules vary from school to school.

Nonprofit Management Masters Degree Programs

Masters degree programs in nonprofit management seek to prepare students to step into leadership and management. Typically, degrees are offered in four different forms. They are MA, MS, MPA, and MBA. Each have similar goals and are academically equal. However, where they may differ is in their emphasis and areas of focus. For instance, an MPA may focus more on public policy while a MBA with a concentration in nonprofit management may cover more general business principles. Therefore, it may require that students have a few years of professional experience. Other programs may focus more narrowly on nonprofits. Most nonprofit management masters programs take approximately 2-3 years of full time study to complete. Check out a few schools to find a perfect fit for you.

PhD in Nonprofit Administration

A doctorate degree in nonprofit management is the terminal degree in the field. That means it is the highest degree that you can earn in nonprofit management. Courses on the doctorate level strive to provide a deep understanding of important principles and may be more research focused. Sample topics include tax and regulatory issues, financial reporting, and fund development. Typically, upon completing all required courses, students propose, write, present, and defend a dissertation to a board of faculty.

Given these requirements, most students earn their doctorates degree in four to five years. Some schools however offer a two-year program. To apply to PhD in nonprofit administration programs, schools typically ask that students have earned a masters degree from an accredited university, with a 3.0 GPA or higher. However, programs vary so follow up for details.

Learning Formats for Earning a Nonprofit Management Graduate Degree

Often, there are three ways for you to earn you graduate degree in nonprofit administration, each with their own potential benefits. The different formats appeal to different students for different reasons. Some like the different learning styles. Others enjoy the schedule and flexibility. Consider your needs and learning style to find a perfect match for you.

Nonprofit Administration Schools (Traditional): Earning a nonprofit graduate degree in a traditional, on-campus format may offer students discipline. That’s because classes meet at a certain time and place. This format also offers face-to-face interactions, which could lead to more networking opportunities and a more interactive classroom experience. Some on-campus programs may have more established and active alumni groups as well.

Online Nonprofit Management Programs: Pursuing an online nonprofit administration graduate degree may provide you the freedom to perform coursework at your convenience. That’s because online courses are often accessible anytime and anyplace with an internet connection. While programs vary, many schools also offer online students access to campus facilities and services, like online libraries, career services or tech support.

Hybrid Programs in Nonprofit Administration: Hybrid degrees combine the two formats to try to provide the best of both worlds. This way you may be able to access the flexibility of online learning without sacrificing in person interactions. Some nonprofit management hybrid programs offer a mix of completely online courses and on campus. Others may have courses which combine the two formats together. In these, students could have scheduled campus visits each semester. Programs vary, so contact preferred schools for format details.

Common Careers in Nonprofit Management

After earning your graduate degree in nonprofit management, there are a few careers you may be ready to pursue. Depending on the role and the size of the organization, specific duties may vary. For instance, at a larger nonprofit, a community service manager may be responsible for only one program. At a smaller organization you may have the same title, but may be in charge of a number programs.iii

Some example careers, and their 2015 median annual salary, are listed below.

  • General and Operations Managers: $97,730[iv]
  • Administrative Services Managers: $86,110[v]
  • Public Relations and Fundraising Managers: $104,140[vi]
  • Social and Community Service Managers: $63,530[vii]
  • Human Resources Managers: $104,440[viii]

Most of the management positions listed above only require a bachelors degree and a few years of experience. However, some organizations, especially larger ones, look for candidates with a masters degree. [ix]

Take the Next Step!

Are you interested in earning a graduate degree in nonprofit management? Then take the next step! Click on any of the sponsored listings on this page to learn more about individual programs. This includes program descriptions, courses, and admissions requirements. You can even reach out to the schools you like directly to request more information.

Sources: [i] bls.gov/opub/ted/2014/ted_20141021.htm |  [ii] bls.gov/ooh/management/social-and-community-service-managers.htm#tab-2 |  [iii] bls.gov/ooh/management/public-relations-managers.htm#tab-2 |  [iv] bls.gov/oes/current/oes111021.htm |  [v] bls.gov/ooh/management/administrative-services-managers.htm#tab-5 |  [vi] bls.gov/ooh/management/public-relations-managers.htm#tab-5 |  [vii] bls.gov/ooh/management/social-and-community-service-managers.htm#tab-5 |  [viii] bls.gov/ooh/management/human-resources-managers.htm#tab-5 |  [ix] bls.gov/ooh/management/social-and-community-service-managers.htm#tab-4 | 

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