How to Choose a Masters in Non Profit Management Degree + Online Option

This article describes the masters in non profit management degree program, some of the subjects and courses that make up the program,  why this degree could have a positive impact on your career. It will also present an example of an online masters in non profit management that you may want to consider.

What Is a Masters in Non Profit Management?

There is a need people who have completed a graduate degree to manage the complexities of nonprofit organizations. The masters in non profit management degree program has been designed for those who are already employed, providing them with opportunities to greatly advance their career, or to switch from private to nonprofit organizations.

The nonprofit sector is extensive, and masters degree holders can take on a wide variety of positions, often with a focus on certain operations. These include executive positions, finances, the board, fundraising, human resources, and so on. Once you complete a master’s degree, you will be more likely to be able to take on a position of leadership, often holding the ultimate responsibility to keep the organization running.

The degree is offered by many schools all over the country, and many offer concentration areas. Common concentrations are:

  • Project management
  • Human services
  • Organizational communication
  • Social media communication
  • Global studies

Graduates are equipped with the necessary business skills to run this type of organization. This means they have advanced interpersonal skills and knowledge about leadership, budgeting, and project management. Furthermore, there is generally an emphasis on the legal issues governing nonprofit organizations, as well as on fundraising and grant writing. You may also have to undergo a practical experience as part of the degree.

Common core courses included in masters in non profit management degrees focus on the organizational, entrepreneurial, and financial elements of nonprofit. They include:

  • Public Policy
  • Finance and Accounting
  • Community Building for Managers
  • Management Consulting
  • Business Planning
  • Fundraising and Development
  • Grant Writing and Advocacy
  • Project Management in Nonprofit Organizations

Most nonprofit management degrees place an emphasis on four specific areas:

  1. Fundraising, which is one of the most important aspects of managing nonprofit organizations. You will learn to build networks and relationships with donors, create planned giving programs, find and apply for government grants, organize fundraising events, run phone solicitations, and develop direct mail campaigns. Fundraising is also known as “the ask” and it is a key skill that nonprofit managers must possess. Schools will address this with courses in nonprofit marketing and promotions, grant writing and administration, donor management, and fundraising fundamentals.
  2. Financial management, which is highly concentrated due to the tax-exempt status of most nonprofit organizations. It means having an in-depth understanding of the various federal guidelines on distribution of revenue and executive compensation. You will also be involved in understanding government funding, focusing on Internal Revenue Service requirements, regulations, and laws. Programs cover this through courses in accounting principles for nonprofits, taxation and IRS reporting guidelines, and nonprofit law and regulatory compliance.
  3. Organizational management, which includes managing and recruiting teams of volunteers and employees. As a nonprofit manager, you must be able to properly communicate with board members as well, who serve as the leadership team. This includes establishing the mission of the organization, choosing managers, understanding governance, and setting structure. Hence, during the program, you will learn about organizational behavior, strategic management for nonprofit organizations, and human resources management and law.
  4. Program development, which ensures that you know how to determine the needs of your clients and create programs that address those. These include setting guidelines and creating strategic delivery plans, as well as measuring their success. You must be able to set verifiable success rates and clear guidelines, particularly because this will ensure you can raise more donations and apply for grants. Hence, schools will focus on evaluation methods and statistical analysis, program content development, and program planning and delivery of services.

Why Earn a Masters in Non Profit Management?

When you complete a masters in non profit management, you will be able to help nonprofit organizations create the necessary income to deliver their social welfare programs, advocacy groups, work in schools and hospitals, community development programs, and more. Hence, there is a strong focus on finances and fundraising, which are strong transferable skills that you can utilize in any career. Similarly, you will learn about organizational management and program development.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has reported that social and community services managers had a median salary of $64,680 per year as of May 2016, but this is at bachelor’s degree level. Those who have completed a master’s degree are more likely to be in the top 10% of earners, who earn $110,970 per year or more. The BLS also reported that there will be a 10% growth in demand for professionals in this field from 2014 to 2024, translating into some 13,200 new jobs.

Online Option for Masters in Non Profit Management

Liberty University

One online option that you may want to consider is the highly acclaimed Master of Public Administration in Public and Non-Profit Management offered by Liberty University‘s Helms School of Government. This degree is delivered 100% online and prepares students to take on roles of leadership and face the various administrative challenges that are common with nonprofit and public organizations. Graduates are expected to have  the skills in understanding the resources required to meet public needs, how to collaborate with other stakeholders, and how to set strategies and best practices to manage and direct these types of organizations. The degree takes 36 credit hours to complete.

The core curriculum of the program includes:

  • Fundamentals of Public Administration
  • Community Economic Development
  • Public Policy Analysis
  • Politics and Policy of Public Sector Budgeting
  • Management of Public Sector Organizations
  • Public Administration Praxis: Legal and Contemporary
  • Applied Public Policy Research Methods

Students must also complete core courses as part of the public and non-profit management cognate, which are:

  • Strategic and Leadership Management
  • Non-Profit Management
  • Grant Acquisition and Management

The nonprofit sector is incredibly wide and varied, and often focus on areas such as religion, environment, social services, research and education, health, and philanthropy. Once you complete a masters in non profit management, your education and experience will enable you to take on positions such as:

  • Development director
  • Executive director
  • Marketing director
  • Grant writer
  • Volunteer manager
  • Compliance manager
  • Administrative officer
  • Policy specialist
  • Loss prevention manager
  • Social and community service manager


As you can see, earning a masters in non profit management is a great way to advance your career in the field of public and nonprofit organizational management. It is an opportunity for you to make a difference in something that you are passionate about. The degree will provide you with important skills that will leave you in high demand for variety of different positions the world over.