Online Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management

During the past decade, a surprising trend has surfaced – nonprofit growth has outpaced that of the private sector. According to a report by Johns Hopkins University, from 2000-2010, the nonprofit sector had an annual average job growth of 2.1%, compared to 0.6% for the profit sector, despite the down economy. This is both good and bad news for those looking to pursue head positions in the nonprofit sector, as there are more opportunities, but they’re expected to do more with less.

An online masters degree in nonprofit management can help prepare students for these leadership roles in the nonprofit sector, as well as work in government agencies or the philanthropy field, and provide them with the necessary tools during this challenging time. Through a master degree in nonprofit management, they can develop a strong base in management and policy and a broad-based perspective of the social, political, economic, cultural, and ideological issues that impact nonprofit organizations today. A master’s degree in this area would take one to two years to complete, though this could be longer or shorter depending on the school, how many classes students need to take, and whether it’s part time or full time.

Classes for an Online Masters Degree in Nonprofit Management

At the masters degree level, students may study nonprofit management as a specialization within a master’s degree in public affairs, or as its own degree. Either way, they generally will learn how to
fundraise, develop effective leadership skills, and become trained in financial management as it relates to a nonprofit organization. Other topics covered may include budgeting, public finance, public management, and statistical analysis, which can help them in a variety of organizations and fields. Some examples of classes you might take in an online masters degree in nonprofit management include:

  • Human Resource and Leadership in Non-Profit Organizations
  • Financial Management of Nonprofit Organizations
  • Program Development and Accountability
  • Research, Inquiry, and Analysis in Non-Profit Organizations
  • Social Justice and the Nonprofit Sector

An online masters degree program in nonprofit management often will also require a capstone, or research project. This could mean a service-oriented field experience at a nonprofit organization, or a professional project that involves the creation, development, improvement or evaluation of a product or program, ending in the writing of a thesis. Examples include a detailed analysis of a policy or management issue for a real-world client, such as developing fiscal management strategies for financially troubled nonprofits, or developing fiscal management strategies for financially troubled nonprofits.

A Career as a Graduate with an Online Masters Degree in Nonprofit Management

Career prospects with a master’s in nonprofit management are many, from government agencies that work with nonprofits to founding your own charity organization to heading a nonprofit organization. The nonprofit sector is the third-largest employer in the United States, according to the report by Johns Hopkins University, behind retail trade and manufacturing. In 2010, it employed nearly 10.7 million paid workers, which accounted for 10.1% of the nation’s total private employment. Within that, a majority (57%) of all nonprofit jobs in the U.S. are in the healthcare fields, such as hospitals, health clinics, and nursing homes. Fifteen percent are in educational services, including private elementary and secondary schools, colleges, universities, and other educational facilities; and 13% are in social assistance, including employment in individual and family services, community food services, housing services, vocational rehabilitation and child day care.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of social and community mangers in particular is expected to grow by 27% through 2020 because of increases in the aging population, increases in demand for substance abuse treatment, and overall population growth. The best prospects, the BLS notes, will be for those with an advanced degree, as many employers prefer candidates who have a master’s degree. A master’s degree in nonprofit management therefore could help you gain an edge in this field.


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