MPA in Nonprofit Management Programs

May 05, 2018

A master's degree in public administration prepares individuals for leadership positions in public sector work. A Master of Public Administration in Nonprofit Management is a degree that focuses on the special skills needed to manage non-profit organizations.

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Decades ago, it was not unusual for nonprofit organizations to operate with volunteer personnel and limited finances. However, many of today's nonprofit organizations operate like businesses, with large budgets, paid staff and Boards of Directors that oversee the work of the executive director. A Master of Public Administration degree prepares non-profit professionals to lead 21st-century non-profit organizations.

What is an MPA (Master of Public Administration) in Nonprofit Management Degree?

A Master of Public Administration program prepares students to assume leadership roles in public sector organizations, including government and nonprofit agencies. However, when a student enrolls in a public administration graduate degree program, he or she can expect to take courses that focus on working in the non-profit sector, but many program allow them to select a track or specialty area. Non-profit management is a track within many public administration masters programs that focuses on the unique issues and challenges encountered in the nonprofit arena such as implementing programs with limited resources, strategic planning, relationship building, and budgeting.

What Courses are Taught in an MPA in Nonprofit Management Program?

Individuals enrolled in an MPA in Nonprofit Management program can expect coursework to cover all aspects of managing a non-profit organization. While course titles may vary by institution, the following are examples of courses and their content.

Foundations of Public Administration or Seminar in Public Administration

The Foundations of Public Administration or Seminar in Public Administration course is usually taken early in the curriculum. It is an introduction to the discipline of public administration. Students learn about the role of public administrators in various settings.

Managing Non-Profit Organizations

A non-profit manager's work requires skill in managing people and operations. This course helps aspiring non-profit leaders develop those skills. Students in this course learn the role and aspects of leadership in public administration for non-profits.


In this course, aspiring non-profit managers learn how to understand and develop budgets. How to present budgets to stakeholders is taught. Students also learn how to manage fiscal activities related to revenue and allocation of resources.

Organizational Behavior

This course teaches non-profit administrators effective leadership skills. Organizational behavior covers understanding and managing people. The course addresses specifics such as how to deal with conflict and how to manage organizational change.

Strategic Planning

Strategic planning involves setting goals for organizations. Students learn the importance of setting long and short-term strategic goals and objectives based on the needs of the organization and the community it serves. Students learn how to facilitate or conduct strategic planning sessions.

Capstone Project or Graduate Project

This upper-level course allows a student to utilize skills learned in the program to complete a professional project or a paper that may be published. A professional portfolio may be included in the capstone project. This is usually the last course in the program.

What are the Admission Requirements for the MPA in Nonprofit Management Program?

Generally, the admissions application to a Master in Public Administration in Nonprofit Management program requires a bachelors' degree, official transcripts, resume, letters of recommendation and an essay. Some schools may require prerequisite courses such as statistics. Offered through traditional classroom programs or online, the program length depends on the part-time or full-time status but can typically be completed in two years or less. For example, one school may require as many as 48 semester hours for the degree, while another may require 38 hours.

Before you enroll in an MPA in Nonprofit Management program, weigh all of your options. Many programs today offer concentrations in nonprofit management to help you gain a better understanding of leadership, finance, organization and business operations in order to secure a role in the field.

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