The nonprofit sector currently enjoys faster growth than the for-profit world, according to many reports. Like their counterparts in the business world, nonprofits need good leadership. An online MBA in nonprofit management brings tried and true skills from the corporate world to the public sector. It prepares students for leadership roles in the social services, healthcare, government, NGOs, and a wide array of other nonprofit organizations.
Read on to discover the best nonprofit management MBA programs. You'll learn what to look for when selecting a program, where to seek financial assistance to pay for school, and how to find resources to advance your career upon graduation.
What Is an MBA in Nonprofit Management?
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An MBA in nonprofit management teaches the skills of business and translates them to the public and social sectors. In other words, it develops nonprofit leaders using the same educational methods proven to be effective at teaching corporate leaders. Students in these programs learn the same accounting, finance, economics, and marketing lessons that they would in a traditional MBA program and apply the coursework to the intricacies of the nonprofit world.
Distance learners in an online MBA in nonprofit management can expect to gain the same core skill set as their counterparts in other graduate-level business administration programs. These skills include effective communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making.
Graduates of the top online MBA programs gain a competitive edge in obtaining rewarding positions in the growing nonprofit sector, where directors of development earn annual median salaries of $73,000, according to PayScale. Alternatively, they can pivot back to the business world, as these transferable skills prove in high demand.
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Why Should You Get an Online MBA in Nonprofit Management?
As the nonprofit world continues to grow, many organizations seek leaders with strong business skills. Most top-level positions in the nonprofit sector require a bachelor's degree at minimum. Holding an MBA increases candidates' chances of landing a job.
The online learning environment provides an ideal format for earning an MBA. Many students find it particularly convenient and conducive to developing the tools needed in internet-based businesses. Students in online MBA programs learn how to effectively communicate, think strategically, work in groups, and develop leadership abilities. They also begin to build networks that can prove valuable in their later careers.
Distance learners can continue to work while they earn their degree. They can develop valuable on-the-job experience and make money to offset college costs all while adding an important credential to their resumes. Many graduates find that MBA degrees tend to pay for themselves quickly due to increased earning power.
What Can You Do With an MBA in Nonprofit Management?
Just as CEOs run for-profit corporations, nonprofit executive directors run nonprofits. They make the final decisions at their organizations, overseeing all staff and setting the strategic direction. Because many nonprofits remain small, executive directors may get involved in all areas of the business. They often represent the organization in the community and work closely with the board of directors.
These professionals hold strong communication, personnel management, critical thinking, and leadership skills. PayScale reports average annual earnings of $66,000 for this position.
Directors of development play a critical role at nonprofit entities, raising the funds needed for operations. They typically rank just below the executive director and meet often with the board. These professionals handle grant writing, researching, and interacting with potential donors.
Directors of development must work well with teams, communicate effectively, write grants, think creatively, and solve problems. As nonprofits go, these positions tend to pay well, due to their vital nature. PayScale reports $73,000 average annual earnings for directors of development.
Marketing events managers work for the largest nonprofits to plan, organize, and supervise special events and fundraisers. They research themes, locate venues, hire event staff, coordinate marketing, and oversee all the details involved in putting on a large event.
Planning, communication, and problem-solving skills all feature strongly in these positions. Because the qualifications for the job tend to be specialized, good marketing event managers remain in demand. PayScale reports average earnings of $63,000 for these professionals.
Program coordinators supervise many of the special campaigns and projects undertaken by nonprofits. They work closely with the community or population served by an organization, carrying out its mission. They may oversee volunteers or select staff, interact with the media, and handle advertising campaigns.
Skills required for these positions include communication, planning, coordination, problem-solving, and decision-making. According to PayScale, program coordinators earn median salaries of $43,000 a year.
Every nonprofit needs outreach people who work closely with the communities they serve. That role often falls to social and community service managers. These mid-level staff members identify areas of need in the nonprofit's target demographic, plan ways to reach that need, and work with the board and community to ensure proper implementation.
Like program coordinators, social and community service managers must hold good interpersonal skills, communicate effectively, and understand how to set and implement strategy. BLS data indicates average earnings of $65,000 per year for this position.
Online MBA in Nonprofit Management Curriculum
Every online MBA in nonprofit management features its own curriculum. Some programs place emphasis on the business administration aspects of the degree, while others delve deeper into the nonprofit sector. Make sure to explore each program's specializations before committing to a school. While every school differs, most will include classes such as the following.
Grants in the Nonprofit World
This three-credit course teaches students about grants, endowments, and "soft money" donations. Topics covered include sources of philanthropy, grant proposal writing, and fund management.
Ethics and Social Change
This class explores ethical behavior and its ramifications in nonprofit activity. Participants learn to identify questionable ethics, analyze common ethical problems, and propose solutions.
Leadership Best Practices
This course surveys the components of outstanding leadership in nonprofit settings. Students use self-assessment tools to develop their management skills.
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How to Choose the Right Online MBA in Nonprofit Management Program
As the number of online MBA programs in nonprofit management proliferate, it can prove difficult to sort through all the options. Selecting the right program involves many considerations. These include cost, travel, degree requirements, and the length of time it takes to earn a degree.
Tuition fees rank among the most important factors in selecting a good online MBA. Web-based learning often offers savings, due to the lack of travel and room and board costs. Many online programs also allow students to work as they earn their degree, though this will impact how many classes they can attend.
Programs may seem similar on their face from school to school, but make sure to look closely at the curricula. Keep in mind that a Master of Science in management and leadership and a Master of Public Administration in nonprofit management cover different ground than a MBA in nonprofit management. If you aspire to work in government, you may find a master's in public administration more suitable. Look carefully at practica, internships, and residencies which might impact your budget and schedule.
Always check the accreditation of any school you consider. The top MBA in nonprofit management programs carry regional accreditation. The best MBA programs also hold subject-specific accreditation from agencies like the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs or the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Do your homework to help find the right program for your needs.
Scholarships for Nonprofit Management MBA Programs
Students in nonprofit management MBA programs often find themselves in a strong position of eligibility for scholarship funds. They can avail themselves of grants and funding intended for scholars in business and nonprofit spheres. The list below features a sampling of scholarships available to eligible students pursuing an MBA in nonprofit management.
Who Can Apply: PRSSA offers several scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students earning a degree in public relations. Scholarships exist for leaders in the field and members of specific demographic and ethnic groups. Some scholarships recognize learners who have had excellent internship experiences.
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Who Can Apply: The Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellowship offers scholarships to eligible graduate students pursuing degrees in nonprofit, peace, and security fields. The organization selects recipients based on academic achievements and work in community service areas.
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Who Can Apply: Available to students in any field, these funds assist applicants over the age of 13 who reside in the U.S. and attend an accredited institution. Recipients must submit an essay for consideration.
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Who Can Apply: LeverEdge sponsors a weekly scholarship that helps a random student pay for their undergraduate or graduate education. No particular qualifications apply.
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Who Can Apply: Forté MBA Fellowships encourage women to pursue a master's in business administration. Recipients must attend one of the dozens of Forte partner universities across the nation.
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Professional Organizations for Nonprofit Management
Professional organizations bring together people working in the same industry to network, share information, and pursue continuing education. Students and recent graduates of online MBA in nonprofit management programs stand to gain many benefits through their membership. Professional organizations offer great connections, career services, educational resources, and a host of other tools that can provide a helpful boost to burgeoning careers.
NANPP creates a peer network of the nation's nonprofit leaders. The organization offers professional development, career services, college scholarships, grants and fellowships, and financial assistance in cases of extreme hardship.
This organization advocates on behalf of nonprofits in public policy issues, shares best practices, and provides updates on the latest trends. With 25,000 member organizations, it ranks among the largest associations of its kind.
As one of the largest nonprofit management support organizations in the U.S., this society helps nonprofits develop sound leadership and stay up to date on developments in the field. Member benefits include access to a database of funding sources, webinars, funding alerts, a nationwide career listing site, and a quarterly magazine.
ANM offers leadership training, publications, information sharing, and networking for nonprofit professionals. Members gain access to online forums, affinity groups, educational opportunities, and publications.
Known primarily for its certification program for nonprofit leaders, the Alliance also offers continuing education, events and conferences, and other resources expressly designed for students.
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Top 10 Online MBA Programs in Nonprofit Management
Salve Regina University is a private Catholic school in Newport, Rhode Island. With a focus on the ever-changing global business environment, the university's top online MBA in nonprofit management prepares students for high-level roles across a variety of industries, including healthcare, education, social welfare, labor unions, museums, historic sites, and performing arts.
The program consists of 12 courses for a total of 36 credits. The robust curriculum covers plus a strong understanding of entrepreneurship, ethics, organizational behavior, finance, and strategic management. Notable classes include managing in a global economy, social justice and business ethics, and creative problem-solving. Students can earn their degree in 18-24 months.
Admission requires a bachelor's degree earned from a regionally accredited U.S. institution of higher learning or an equivalent for international students. Applicants do not pay an application fee.
Located outside of Boston, Endicott College's Van Loan School offers a top online MBA in nonprofit management. Students take 12 core MBA courses, including accounting from a manager's perspective, managing in the evolving workplace, project management, and operations management. For the nonprofit management concentration, students take four three-credit courses, including marketing and fundraising in nonprofits and providing direction for nonprofits.
Students in this program gain cross-cultural and global awareness and a strong understanding of current management trends. The school provides customizable coursework, personal advising, and networking opportunities. Learners can complete the 42-credit program in 18 months.
Admission requires an undergraduate degree, two letters of recommendation, and an essay, and applicants do not need to submit GMAT scores. Online learners do not pay out-of-state tuition.
Judson University is a private nonprofit school located in Elgin, Illinois. The university's online MBA in nonprofit management is an accelerated program designed for working professionals. The curriculum integrates finance, marketing, and strategic leadership, providing students with a deep understanding of business strategy. Students practice solving real-world organizational problems and learn how to anticipate and analyze trends in the business environment.
Judson's MBA program requires 36 credit hours. Notable classes include business analytics, operations and project management, international business, and organizational culture and politics. Students also complete a final MBA capstone course. Learners can earn their degree in 18 months. Online learners take classes together in a small cohort of just 15 classmates.
Admission into the MBA program requires two years of work experience. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 from a college or university with regional accreditation. Candidates must submit two letters of recommendation and an essay.
Cairn University is a small private school in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. The university offers a top online MBA in nonprofit management designed for working professionals. Notable courses include market discovery and analysis, innovation and entrepreneurship, and creating and leading strategic organizations. Students complete a final capstone project.
Learners take one or two courses at a time with modular scheduling. Courses are offered asynchronously with no specific log-in times. Students can complete the 42-credit program in 20 months. The school awards credits for prior learning and advanced standing for students with extensive experience, as well as learners with Bible or theology credits earned at an accredited Bible college, Christian liberal arts college or university, or seminary.
Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA from an accredited undergraduate institution.
River Forest, IL
A member of the Concordia University System, Concordia University Chicago is a private university located in River Forest, Illinois. With an outcomes-based, innovative curriculum, the school offers a top online MBA in nonprofit management that integrates knowledge of ethics and social responsibility, critical thinking and entrepreneurial mindset, communication and human resources, and global interconnectedness and inclusiveness. Graduates from this program go on to become high-level ethical leaders.
Notable classes from the nonprofit management specialization include financial management of nonprofit organizations, topics in board governance and management of volunteers, and fund development and management. Students can complete the accelerated program in just one year.
Admission requires a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, an objective statement, and two letters of recommendation. The university does not require GRE or GMAT scores. Applicants do not pay an application fee.
Dallas Baptist University
Dallas Baptist University is a Christian liberal arts university located in Dallas, Texas.
One of the top online MBAs in leading the nonprofit organization, the 36-credit, non-thesis master's degree prepares students both professionally and personally. Students in this program gain critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills from a Christian perspective.
Core MBA classes include corporate finance, leadership in management, and business ethics. Students in the nonprofit management concentration complete 12 additional credits in classes such as legal issues in nonprofit organizations, creative leadership for nonprofit organizations, and marketing strategy for nonprofit organizations. DBU students complete practical and experiential projects while exploring topics such as innovation, strategic visioning, and conflict resolution.
Admission requires a bachelor's degree and 12 hours of graduate work from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Applicants must submit a minimum GMAT score of 425, have at least five years of significant managerial experience, and demonstrate evidence of sound moral character. Applicants who do not meet all criteria but show potential may be admitted on a provisional basis.
Johnson University is a private Christian university located in Knoxville, Tennessee. The school's online MBA in nonprofit administration helps students develop and strengthen critical leadership, analytics, and strategic thinking skills. Graduates of this program demonstrate integrity, passion for business, and a Christ-centered life in the workplace.
Core business courses include managerial economics, marketing management, accounting for strategic decision-making, and business law. Courses in the nonprofit administration concentration include nonprofit law, the nonprofit sector, and nonprofit resource development. MBA students work with real-world organizations in their final capstone business plan project.
The 36-credit program consists of 12 seven-week courses. Students can earn their degree in two years on a part-time basis or one year on a full-time basis. The school offers small class sizes and a knowledgeable, engaged faculty. Admission requires three letters of reference, a recent photo, and an essay. The school does not require GMAT or GRE scores for admission.
Oklahoma Christian University
Located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Christian University is a private university affiliated with the Church of Christ. The school offers a top online MBA with a leadership and organizational development track. Topics include appropriate business practices, social entrepreneurship, and volunteer management.
This specialization includes a course in nonprofit organization management that examines the similarities and differences between nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Additional notable courses include team and group leadership, system diagnosis and intervention techniques, and organizational development and design. Students can earn their degree in 12 months.
Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 2.5, a minimum GMAT score of 450, or minimum GRE score of 285 with at least a 3.0 in writing. The school offers GMAT/GRE waivers for certain students. Incoming students without a business background must take four preparatory courses before admission. Prerequisite courses include economic and quantitative analysis, marketing and the legal environment, accounting and financial resources, and organizational and operations management.
Touro University Worldwide
Los Alamitos, CA
The largest private U.S. university with Jewish roots, Touro University Worldwide is headquartered in New York City. The college and university system offers a top online MBA in nonprofit management that integrates theory, research, and business models. The 36-credit MBA curriculum features nine core business courses plus three concentration courses.
The nonprofit management concentration combines leadership theory with problem-solving management skills. Courses include foundations of nonprofit management, financial decision-making for nonprofits, and marketing and revenue generation for nonprofits. Classes are offered fully online with no on-campus requirements. Students who take two courses per term for six consecutive terms can earn their degree in one year.
Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 2.5 from an accredited institution. Transfer students must be in good academic standing with a minimum GPA of 2.75. Touro does not require GMAT or GRE scores for admission. Admitted students can choose between six start dates throughout the year. Applicants do not pay an application fee.
St. Bonifacius, MN
Crown College is a private Christian college located in St. Bonifacius, Minnesota. The school offers a high-quality online nonprofit MBA that prepares graduates to assume influential roles in their current organizations or even start their own businesses. A key part of this program is signature experiences, in which students complete practical learning experiences and tackle real-world challenges.
Crown's Christ-centered online MBA program teaches students how to lead others with a faith-based perspective. Students in this program gain strategic skills to solve problems ethically and with integrity. Notable courses in the core curriculum include theoretical and spiritual foundations of leadership and strategic planning in the corporate sector. Students take 15 credits in the nonprofit organization concentration. Key classes include nonprofit law, leadership and management for nonprofits, and fundraising and philanthropy.
This 42-credit MBA program is fully online with no on-campus requirements. Courses run for eight weeks. Crown awards college credit for work experience and does not require official GMAT or GRE scores for admission.
Lindenwood University is a private liberal arts university located in Saint Charles, Missouri. The university offers a top online MBA in nonprofit management that exposes students to the philanthropic sector and helps them understand the unique nuances specific to working with nonprofit organizations.
The curriculum combines specialized business knowledge with real-world, hands-on experience. Students explore the latest business concepts, management practices, and contemporary issues in a global marketplace.
Students in the nonprofit administration emphasis take 12 credits, including courses such as fundraising and revenue generation, strategic planning and performance measurement for nonprofit management, and human resource management for nonprofit organizations. Topics cover nonprofit governance and law, as well as volunteer management.
Courses are available fully online in eight-week terms with five terms per year. Students can study on a part-time or full-time basis. Admission requires a letter of intent and official college transcripts from previously attended institutions. Online learners do not pay out-of-state tuition.
Wilmington University is a private research institution located in New Castle, Delaware. The school offers a top online MBA in nonprofit management that equips students with the connections needed to thrive in a competitive job market. Graduates hone their ethical decision-making, problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication skills and are prepared to take on high-level management and leadership positions.
Core business courses in the MBA curriculum include organizational behavior and ethical leadership, business strategy, and a seminar in nonprofit management. The program explores quantitative and qualitative analytical techniques, complex managerial duties, and information literacy. Students in the nonprofit management concentration have the option of completing an MBA internship. Faculty at Wilmington bring first-hand knowledge about today's global business environment.
Online MBA courses follow accelerated seven-week sessions. While the program requires some course sequencing, online learners can largely complete degree requirements at their own pace. Admission requires the completion of certain prerequisites, including mathematics, economics, and finance.
Northwest Christian University
Northwest Christian University is a private Christian liberal arts college in Eugene, Oregon. The school's 36-credit online MBA in nonprofit leadership integrates business administration and Christian leadership. A key feature of this program is the final capstone project, in which students have their business portfolios evaluated by faculty.
Core business courses include managerial statistics, business ethics, and strategy and managerial decision-making. Notable courses in the nonprofit leadership concentration include volunteer leadership, legal and ethical issues in nonprofit organizations, marketing for sustainability, and leadership and mission fulfillment. The curriculum explores risk management, historical leaders, and strategic planning.
NCU's MBA program offers online classes in eight-week sessions. Students can earn their degree in just 12 months. Admission does not require previous business coursework or official GRE or GMAT scores. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 from a regionally accredited four-year college or university. Admitted students can choose from six start dates per year.
National Louis University
National Louis University is a private university with its main campus in Chicago, Illinois and an additional campus in Florida. The university offers a top online MBA in nonprofit management that helps both new and experienced managers become better leaders. The program focuses on leading authentically, achieving results, driving positive organizational impact, and leading from a place of passion.
Core business courses include leadership and organizational behavior, financial markets, strategic marketing, and technology and leadership. Students in the nonprofit management concentration take additional courses such as strategic fundraising and philanthropy, as well as a seminar in program evaluation.
Students also complete a final three-credit capstone course in which they practice running a company by making and analyzing cross-functional strategic decisions in dynamic business environments.
Admission into NLU's MBA program requires a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, two letters of recommendation, and a written statement of academic and professional goals. Online learners do not pay out-of-state tuition.
Concordia University-Ann Arbor
A member of the Concordia University System, Concordia University Ann Arbor is a private Lutheran university located in Michigan. The school offers a top online MBA in nonprofit management and leadership that's based on Christian principles and ethics. Through an exploration of financial planning and marketing, this program prepares students to start nonprofit organizations and lead teams of business professionals.
Integrating business and holistic, faith-based education, the curriculum covers volunteer recruitment, publicity and public relations, program evaluation, fraud prevention, governance and board development, and fundraising strategies. A key component of CUAA's 39-credit MBA program is a business portfolio that learners can eventually show to potential employers. Faculty bring extensive real-world industry experience into the classroom.
Students must complete a prerequisite course in business foundations for administrative professions. Students with significant professional experience may receive prerequisite waivers. Admission requires a bachelor's degree, a one-page essay, and two letters of recommendation. Applicants do not need to submit official GRE or GMAT scores.