Online Degree Information for Nonprofit Organization Officers

Dec 03, 2019

Learn about online degree programs with nonprofit management courses. Get an overview of the program types, requirements, course descriptions and career information available for this field.

Essential Information

Individuals who are currently working as nonprofit organization officers and would like to expand their skills and potentially move into a higher leadership position can complete a master's degree program in nonprofit management through distance learning.

These master's degree programs are fairly common, and they can usually be completed fully online. Some hybrid programs do require students to participate in a practical fieldwork project that introduces them to real-world issues they may face as nonprofit organization managers. Other programs provide students the opportunity to complete voluntary internships or special projects.

Master's Degree in Nonprofit Management

Nonprofit management master's degree programs cover all aspects of running a successful nonprofit organization, including financial management, grant writing, human resources management, marketing and publicity. The curriculum is similar to a general business administration degree program, but all classes focus on the issues specific to nonprofit organizations, including tax requirements and fundraising techniques. Most programs are designed for professionals who already have some experience working with nonprofit organizations.

Information and Requirements

Because online master's programs in nonprofit management are generally intended for working professionals, they tend to offer a high degree of flexibility in course scheduling. Many programs can be completed entirely through distance learning, with no on-campus visits or in-person work experience required. Programs usually take 1-2 years to complete.

Online classes are offered through a university's course management system (CMS), which collects lectures, readings and assignment and gives students a forum for interacting with each other and their instructors. Some lectures may be offered as audiovisual files.

Course Topics

Nonprofit management courses range over law, accounting, marketing and business strategy. In addition to reading textbooks and writing papers, students work individually and collaboratively to develop sample projects and respond to hypothetical business scenarios.

Grant Writing

Students learn strategies for identifying granting organizations and for planning and drafting proposals. In some courses, students can draft actual proposals for their own organizations' activities, and develop them in response to input from teachers and fellow students.

Nonprofit Law

Legal classes look at laws that apply to nonprofit organizations at the federal and state level. Topics include maintaining tax-exempt status, complying with reporting regulations and entering into contracts.

Human Resources Management

An HR class looks at strategies for hiring, managing and retaining staff members. Courses focus on fostering a diverse work environment, encouraging collaboration and handling conflict. Volunteer management is also discussed.


Fundraising courses look at strategies for soliciting donations and managing events to gain revenue from private, corporate and government sources. Techniques including membership campaigns, special event planning, government grant programs and donor solicitation are discussed.

Career Information

According to a 2018 analysis from the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, managers in social and community services earned an average hourly wage of $34.46 ( Employment in the nonprofit sector is increasing, with nonprofits accounting for 10.2% of all U.S. jobs in 2016, compared to 10.3% in 2012. In general, wages for managers in the nonprofit sector lag behind those of for-profit businesses and government organizations.

Online master's degree programs in nonprofit management are designed for nonprofit organization officers who want to further develop their skills in fundraising, grant writing and law to advance their careers. Students can find programs that are fully online as well as hybrid programs that include real-world experience through fieldwork and internships.

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