A good cause is only as good as the real-world impact it has. Effective nonprofit management makes all the difference.
The nonprofit sector is continuously growing and employment levels are exceeding the rest of the economy, creating a variety of new management opportunities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of jobs for social and community service managers is on the rise, and the median annual wage for these positions was $63,530 in 2015. Graduates who hold a masters in nonprofit administration typically enter positions such as program directors, chief executive officers, chief financial officers, fundraising managers, grant writers, volunteer coordinator, or they might just start their own non-profit organization. Furthermore, degrees like a masters in public administration (focused on nonprofits) help future graduates in whatever type of industry they join: public, private, for-profit, or not-for-profit.
A Masters in Public Administration with a specialization in nonprofit will not only introduce students to the various types of nonprofit organizations (NPOs), but also the legal and financial aspects of administering them, such as strategy, planning, leadership, policies, tax status, ethics, accountability and auditing provisions, supervision and management, and economic activity. Degrees in nonprofit management equip students with the critical skills they need to lead and manage today’s diverse and complex nonprofit organizations. As you learn to manage information, people and money, you will further strengthen your ability to develop strategic, innovative, and cooperative solutions to community problems. As a graduate, you will develop a nuanced understanding of the way nonprofits operate and how to run effective, mission-driven organizations from fundraising to financial decision-making to governance. Moreover, program curricula generally focus on auxiliary, career-relevant competencies so your knowledge will be immediately relevant to your work and career. If you are passionate about social innovation and social justice, why not consider a masters in Public Administration and learn how to develop innovative solutions for positive social impact. To help you make a decision, we have compiled a list of the 10 best online master’s degrees with a focus in nonprofit management based on affordability, flexibility, and student services.
- Affordability (1/3): the out-of-state (if applicable) tuition per credit hour cost of the program.
- Flexibility (1/3): the number of options—including acceptance of prior college credits, self-paced learning initiatives, accelerated courses, and number of specializations—that allow students to complete a program at a pace of their choosing.
- Student Support Services (1/3): an institution’s rank for providing student support service such as digital library assistance, virtual office hours, and access to career services.
1. Capella University
Capella University, founded in 1993, is a publicly-traded, for-profit university of higher learning delivered mainly online; indeed, Capella offers over 1,600 online courses. Make no mistake, the online format does not sacrifice quality. Accredited by The Higher Learning Commission–among the 6 regional accrediting bodies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education–and also by NCATE–the standard of excellence in teacher preparation–86% of faculty members hold doctoral degrees. Capella is proud to offer a pretty range of support services. The career center offers free access to resources such as job search tools & strategies, resume builder tool, and personalized career counseling. Capella University matriculates approximately approximately 36,000 total undergraduate students.
Capella University’s Master of Public Administration (MPA) with a Nonprofit Management and Leadership Specialization is a well-rounded program that introduces students to all facets of public administration with the opportunity to specialize in an area of their choice. The program will prepare you for leadership and managing positions in the nonprofit sector and has an estimated completion time of as little as 18 months. The 48-credit-hour curriculum requires 9 core and 3 elective courses with an emphasis on competencies in data analysis, critical problem solving, and effective communication. The program offers prestige due to a curriculum that is designed around the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) standards–NASPAA only recognizes advanced education programs. Moreover, the program provides flexibility with an accelerated option and a competency-based curriculum with two learning formats–guidedpath and flexpath. Guidedpath offers extra structure and support to students while flexpath is a self-guided path where students choose their own deadlines. Finally, added flexibility comes from the ability to transfer up to 25% of your credits from previous graduate work (up to 12 credits) which can save you over $6,228.
- Tuition Per Credit Hour: $519
- Flexibility-enhancing components: Accelerated and credit for prior learning
2. Johnson and Wales University
Johnson and Wales University (JWU), founded in 1914, is a private, nonprofit institution with a main campus in Providence, RI and additional regional campuses in Miami, FL; Denver, CO; and Charlotte, NC. Deeply rooted in tradition, the school offers memberships in over 15 fraternities and sororities. The school sits on an urban 126-acre campus in Providence, RI–the state capital and one of the oldest cities in the country. Accredited by the New England Association of Schools & Colleges (NEASC) and its Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, JWU currently ranks #67 Best Regional Universities North by U.S. News & World Report. Johnson and Wales University enrolls about 8,768 undergraduate students, provides a student-faculty ratio of 20:1, and 49.3% of classes cater to fewer than 20 students.
Johnson and Wales University’s Master of Science in Nonprofit Management (MSNM) is a careered-focused curriculum that gives students a broad understanding of the industry and has an estimated completion time of 15 months. The 49.5-credit-hour program requires 10 core courses and offers a comprehensive curriculum with a focus on resource development, finances & budgeting, management techniques, methodology, program effectiveness, and the ethical responsibilities that are associated with nonprofit organizations, whether public or private. An additional foundation course on corporate financial accounting is needed. Notably, the program promises flexibility through an accelerated offering.
- Tuition Per Credit Hour: $462
- Flexibility-enhancing components: Accelerated
3. Walden University
Walden University (WU), established in 1970, is a proprietary, coed, public benefit corporation. Walden offers 140 degree programs with more than 300 specializations and concentrations, and cutting-edge technology is used to promote the support that students need to succeed. Student services include a fully-digital library, a career center with practical online tools, and student support available 24 hours/day. The school headquarters are in Minneapolis, MN but Walden has access to a global network of over 100 universities distributed around the world. Also accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, Walden ranked #19 Best Colleges for Adult Learners by Washington Monthly in 2016. Walden University matriculates about 50,000 undergraduate students.
Walden University’s Master of Science in Nonprofit Management (MSNM) will help students understand and apply concepts, principles, processes, and strategies related to private and public nonprofit organizations and has an expected completion time of 24 months. The 48-credit-hour curriculum normally requires 9 core courses, but 15 when specializing. Students learn how to apply the most efficient strategies within the nonprofit sector by using a blend of hands-on experience and academic theory. A foundation course and a capstone are needed to complete the minimum sequence for the General Program. Additionally, the school offers a variety of specializations (63 credit-hours available) such as Global Leadership, International Nongovernmental Organizations, Local Government Management for Sustainable Communities, and a self-designed curriculum. Moreover, the program promises flexibility thanks to the ability to transfer up to 23 credit-hours.
- Tuition Per Credit Hour: $480
- Flexibility-enhancing components: Number of concentrations
4. Lindenwood University
Lindenwood University (LU), started in 1827, is a private, public-serving liberal arts university with a Christian heritage. The Lindenwood University Career Center has its own team of career strategists and offers a full array of services. For instance, the LUCC plans career events to promote a network of opportunities between students and employers. Additionally, all Lindenwood students have access to free counseling at The Wellness Center in the case of academic and personal challenges. The school can be found on a suburban 550-acre campus in Saint Charles, MO–less than an hour from St. Louis, MO. LU is currently ranked Tier 2 Best National Universities by U.S News & World Report and #267 High School Counselor Choice by U.S. News & World Report. Lindenwood University matriculates about 8,500 undergraduate students, provides a student-faculty ratio of 17:1, and 67% of classes cater to fewer than 20 students.
Lindenwood University’s Master of Art in Nonprofit Administration (MANA) is designed to prepare students for leadership positions in the youth and community service and the nonprofit management fields. The core program emphasis is in nonprofit, governance and law, budgeting & financial management, grant-writing, human resource management, and fundraising. You will also be able to complement your degree and specialize in volunteer management, annual giving, strategic & program planning for nonprofits, or organizational evaluation. Students will also have opportunities to participate in internships, thus gaining practical experience and networking opportunities before graduating. The 37-credit-hour program requires 9 core and 12 elective courses–students may choose an area of emphasis by supervised selection of elective courses–a directed internship, and a capstone project.
- Tuition Per Credit Hour: $522
- Flexibility-enhancing components: N/A
5. University of Maryland University College
The University of Maryland University College (UMUC), established in 1947, is a public research university sitting on a 1,250-acre campus in Adelphi, MD–a suburb of Washington, D.C. UMUC is one of the largest online universities in the United States, offering 17 graduate online programs and enrolling over 90,000 students around the world. With a long-time commitment to active-duty military personnel, UMUC offers reduced tuition rates for members of the military and federal government employees. The University of Maryland University College offers a student-faculty ratio of 22:1, and 64.8% of its classes cater to fewer than 20 students.
University Of Maryland University College’s Master of Science in Management with a specialization in Nonprofit and Association management is designed to help prepare students for organizational leadership in the nonprofit sector. While a background in finance or accounting is not required, it is recommended because it will ensure the program can prepare you for the Certified Associate Executive exam. The 36-credit-hour curriculum requires 3 core and 7 elective courses where the core focus is in nonprofit management, financial management, revenue generation & cost control, and law & governance–as well as approaches to promotion, marketing, and fundraising. Also required is a capstone course in strategic management. The program guarantees flexibility with a generous 6 transfer-credit policy. Moreover, the program offers student services like assistance with résumé writing, career planning, opportunities to network with employers, and a mentoring program that helps students connect with accomplished alumni. Finally, UMUC has an online library that is available 24/7 to students everywhere, and most printed materials can be mailed at no charge within the continental United States or via electronic delivery.
- Tuition Per Credit Hour: $458
- Flexibility-enhancing components: N/A
6. American Public University
American Public University, started in 1991, is a for-profit, online-only university with a focus on providing higher education to members of the military and those interested in public service programs. The establishment does not offer physical classrooms, but APU has corporate and academic offices in Charles Town, WV. Also accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, American Public is currently ranked #92 Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News & World Report. American Public University enrolls roughly 43,000 undergraduate students and offers a student-faculty ratio of 19:1.
American Public University’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) is designed for the corporate executive or entrepreneur who wishes to further concentrate in nonprofit management. With an approximate completion time of 2 years full-time, the 39-credit-hour program requires 6 core courses and 1 elective course, with offerings such as Strategic Management, Decisions, & Techniques; Business Law, Ethics, & the Global Economy; e-commerce & Strategic Internet Marketing; and Healthcare or Sports Industry Studies. Furthermore, students also take 9 credit-hours of a specialization, 9 credit-hours of institutional requirements, and can choose between 2 end-of-program options: either a comprehensive final examination (capstone) or a 120-hour practicum. The program guarantees affordability due to a $350 credit-hour cost. Additionally, the program is flexible because of a generous 15 transfer-credit policy and its many concentration options. Finally, the program’s dedicated career services offer an array of complimentary personalized services including industry career coaching, resume reviews, mock interviews, virtual career fairs, and much more.
- Tuition Per Credit Hour: $350
- Flexibility-enhancing components: N/A
7. Park University
Park University, started in 1875, is a private, non-profit institution and a national leader in higher education serving non-traditional adults. The career development center offers placement services, tutoring, advice, resources , and networking events to help you advance your career. The establishment can be found on a suburban, 700-acre campus featuring a mixture of historic and modern facilities in Parkville, MO–a suburb of Kansas City. Also accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Park currently ranks Tier 2 Regional Universities Midwest by U.S. News & World Report. Park University matriculates roughly 11,500 undergraduate students, provides a student-faculty ratio of 17:1, and 90% of classes cater to fewer than 20 students.
Park University’s Master of Public Administration (MPA) with a concentration in Nonprofit & Community Services Management prepares graduates for careers in public and community service for various organizations–particularly for leadership and advocacy roles. The 36-credit-hour program requires 6 core and 7 elective courses where topics include social welfare policy-creation, management principles, and a comprehensive teaching of the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors. Although not required, it is recommended to take 2 foundation courses to gain the academic skills and necessary understanding of the field of public affairs. The program guarantees affordability as it is ranked the seventh-most affordable private university/college in the nation, and first in the Midwest, for tuition and fees, by U.S. News and World Report. Finally, the program offers flexibility because students who hold a Graduate Certificate in Business and Government Leadership, Disaster and Emergency Management, or Nonprofit Leadership may apply many of the hours toward their MPA degree.
- Tuition Per Credit Hour: $535
- Flexibility-enhancing components: N/A
8. Louisiana State University–Shreveport
Louisiana State University–Shreveport (LSUS), founded in 1967, is a public institution. The student success center offers free online tutoring 24/7, placement service, academic coaching sessions, supplemental instruction, academic workshops, and a variety of online academic success resources. In fact, LSUS is so committed to student employment that they assign personal advisers to students from enrollment to graduation. The school can be found on an urban 200-acre campus in Shreveport, LA. LSUS is currently ranked Tier 2 Regional Universities South and #283 Best Business Programs by U.S. News & World Report. Louisiana State University–Shreveport matriculates approximately 2,800 undergraduate students, promises a student-faculty ratio of 21:1, and 56.6% of classes cater to fewer than 20 students.
Louisiana State University–Shreveport’s online Master of Science in Nonprofit Administration (MSNPA) is designed to help you become a nonprofit professional in middle- and upper-level administrative positions. The 33-credit-hour program requires 30 hours of traditional classwork, plus 3 hours towards a directed final project of the student’s choice. Notably, LSUS offers several auxiliary services such as its Institute for Nonprofit Administration and Research–a community outreach program where students can help offer professional development seminars, quality research, and statistical analysis to clients. Finally, the program provides flexibility by offering 2 tracks of concentration–students may select a Nonprofit Development Track or Nonprofit Administration Track for a total of 6 credit-hours.
- Tuition Per Credit Hour: $395
- Flexibility-enhancing components: Two Tracks
9. Grace College and Theological Seminary
Grace College And Theological Seminary, started in 1948, is a private, Christian liberal arts college that emphasizes a biblical worldview. One of the world’s premier seminaries for master’s- through doctoral-level study in evangelical ministry and theology. 99% of undergraduates receive financial aid. The Career Institute is helping students with everything related to the job market, from internship opportunities to assisting students in resumes, interviewing skills, as well as post-hire preparation like professional etiquette and attire. The school sits on a rural 180-acre campus “village”–officially registered in the National Register of Historic Places–in Winona Lake, Indiana. Also accredited by the Higher Learning Commission–and by the Association Of Theological Schools–Grace is currently ranked #74 Regional Universities Midwest by U.S. News & World Report. Grace College And Theological Seminary registers about 2,000 undergraduate students, guarantees a student-faculty ratio of 23:1, and 57% of classes cater to fewer than 20 students.
Grace College And Theological Seminary’s Master in Science in Nonprofit Management (MSNM) is fully online program with a Christian foundation and a focus on fundraising, staff training, and improving efficiency within nonprofit organizations. Although the MSNM normally has an approximate completion time of 2 years, the program does offer flexibility through an accelerated version. The 36-credit-hour curriculum requires 7 core and 5 elective courses with an emphasis on fundraising, ethics in fundraising, advocacy, and strategic planning while also paying special attention to the latest technology and techniques such as donor management software and how to use social media effectively.
- Tuition Per Credit Hour: $425
- Flexibility-enhancing components: Accelerated
10. Post University
Post University, established in 1890, is a private, for-profit institution. Career services will help prepare students for future marketability with the Career Planning Timeline designed for all class levels. Student services offer library tutoring and outstanding services options such as writing research papers late at night and library “hyperguides” showing useful websites, books, journals, media, databases, and relevant hyperlinks for your course of study. The establishment sits on a suburban 58-acre campus–famous for its over a half-century-old Post tree, which also serves as the school logo–in Waterbury, CT (its main campus). However, the school has 3 regional satellite sites in the cities of Meriden, Danbury and Wallingford. Accredited by the Connecticut Department Of Higher Education and also by the New England Association Of Schools And Colleges (NEASC)–Post currently ranks Tier 2 Regional Universities North by U.S. News & World Report. Post University matriculates roughly 6,800 undergraduate students, offers a student-faculty ratio of 19:1, and 81% of classes cater to fewer than 20 students.
Post University’s Master of Science in Human Services (MSHS) is offered 100% online and is for working professionals who want to bring about social change. The program focuses on human services jobs in many settings, including mental health facilities, correction establishments, halfway houses, child and family service centers, and senior homes. The human services degree is particularly suited for students with a background in human services, psychology, and criminal justice as well as human services graduate certificate holders. The 37-credit-hour curriculum requires 8 core courses and 4 elective courses that serve as a concentration. Students will also deepen their analytical skills and experience with an internship, practicum, and senior capstone. Moreover, students can choose from 4 concentrations, including non-profit management. Coursework focuses on the complexities of human problems, social and cultural forces, national policies, and what it takes to do organizational work. Furthermore, you will become an expert in grant writing, budget planning, and implementing information systems.
- Tuition Per Credit Hour: $586
- Flexibility-enhancing components: N/A