Where to Find a Top Nonprofit Degree Program

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The growth in nonprofit management degree programs on the nonprofit sector supports the need for the United States’ nonprofit growth sector, up 11.3% over the decade from 2003 to 2013, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics. So Top Nonprofits’ list of Top 100+ Nonprofit Degree Program by State is a great resource when considering an undergraduate or graduate degree program for bachelor’s or master’s credentials.

 

While nonprofit administrators often move to the sector from business and specialties, many seeking careers in nonprofit prepare by earning a focused degree, usually at the undergraduate level.

 

Very often the executive director or administrator of a nonprofit has previously worked in the delivery of services. Today, more degree opportunities are available for those already working in the sector–the social worker or clergyperson who wishes to add a degree, for the liberal arts major who wants take a nonprofit path, or the visual or performing artist who wants to better manage an arts entity.

 

Available graduate degree options include such options as master’s of public affairs and nonprofit administration, while undergraduate degrees are often a broader business degree with a nonprofit emphasis or a degree in leadership and/or nonprofit management. Thus, these degree programs better equip graduates for work in social, human services, and arts organizations, foundations, and academic centers that support the nonprofit sector.

 

Before shopping for a nonprofit degree program, start by evaluating your prior professional and academic experience. There are likely strengths and weaknesses–such as prior career experience or grade-point average–that may be relevant in pairing an applicant with an institution.

 

Questions for those considering undergraduate programs might include:

  1. Does the institution have a good network for internship and job placement?
  2. Does the access to other academic programs support the applicant’s interests for such specialties as a minor or participation in extracurricular activities.
  3. Housing or local living options.

 

For those seeking a graduate credential:

  1. If the applicant is enrolling directly following undergraduate studies, how does the master’s program steer the applicant towards the desired career path?
  2. How can the graduate program build on or compliment prior career experience? For example, if the applicant is coming from a business background, will the program provide hands-on qualification for the nonprofit arena? If the student is an experienced nonprofit professional, how will the program support career trajectory.
  3. Is graduate degree completion possible within a reasonable period of time? And are the requirements adequate for further career advancement? For example, if the applicant seeks advanced academic credentials to qualify for teaching at the university level, a thesis might be an expected degree requirement. Or, a candidate on a career path in public service or nonprofit administration may seek a program with more practical aspects rather than theory and research requirements.

 

More institutions offer degrees or master’s programs exclusively, this list can be a guide to some institutions where a student can pursue an emphasis in nonprofit administration throughout both undergraduate and master’s degree studies.

 

Regionally, there are ample programs in each segment of the continental US. So if being within reasonable distance to family or “home base” is a factor, there are graduate programs in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southern, Midwest and Western regions.

 

Explore Top Nonprofits list of Top 100+ Nonprofit Degree Program by State for 2015.

 

For more on top graduate programs in nonprofit and public affairs, check out the US News Rankings.

 

 

 

 

 

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Yvonne Hudson

Yvonne Hudson, principal of New Place Collaborations in Pittsburgh, loves creating mission-driven solutions for clients. Her extensive experience as a marketer in higher education, arts, and business informs strategies for TopNonprofits, The Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management of Robert Morris University, Pittsburgh Festival Opera, and other businesses and nonprofits. As a nonprofit staff member, board member, and volunteer, she has participated in aspects of capacity-building including programming, fundraising, and audience development for organizations in New York, Washington, DC, and Pittsburgh. A speaker, singer, and mentor, she enjoys presenting and acting, including her long-running solo show Mrs Shakespeare and is a board member of Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks and a past vice president of New York Women in Communications.