Earning a degree in nonprofit management prepares graduates to become effective leaders of nonprofit organizations. As the field's entry-level education requirement, a bachelor's degree in nonprofit management qualifies a candidate for jobs in nonprofit management, fundraising, and social work. Many students enhance their degree qualifications with an internship or practical work experience focused on community or administrative services in a nonprofit setting. Additionally, graduates of a degree in nonprofit management may pursue voluntary certification as a nonprofit or fundraising professional.
Certification, though not required in this sector of management, can enhance a candidate's job prospects in social services, public relations (PR) and communications, and fundraising and development. Among the top career options for graduates of a degree in nonprofit management, PR and fundraising managers earn an annual average salary of over $111,000, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that job opportunities will increase by 10% through 2026 for these professionals.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Nonprofit Management?
Nonprofit management degree programs serve both traditional and online college students, preparing them for a business-oriented profession with a variety of administrative applications. A nonprofit management degree remains a popular choice among students aspiring to focus on capital development, fundraising, or PR campaigns within a community-serving organization. Earning a bachelor's in nonprofit management equips students with the business acumen, leadership skills, and resourcefulness they need to serve a nonprofit institution. The nonprofit management field generally attracts students seeking strong communication, entrepreneurship, and ingenuity in their career.
Nonprofit management degrees also serve students within the boundaries of any budget and on any schedule. For example, a student with a full-time job may need a flexible, part-time study schedule, which they can find through an accelerated online degree in nonprofit management. Meanwhile, recent high school graduates may prefer to complete their degree in a more immersive environment, on campus, in a full-time format. Schools generally offer lower tuition rates to in-state students, and many offer discounted rates for online students. Whether a student chooses to study on campus or online, earning a degree in nonprofit management can benefit them throughout all phases of their career, as schools often host internships and networking events to those still completing the program and extend job placement services to recent graduates.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Nonprofit Management?
Earning a degree in nonprofit management can prepare students to enter a variety of careers in social work, fundraising, PR, and administrative services. A bachelor's degree, which is the minimum education requirement for most entry-level jobs in nonprofit management, not only prepares students with the business and leadership skills needed for their choice of jobs, but can also lead to voluntary certification for nonprofit managers and fundraising professionals. Students commonly pursue the following five positions after earning a nonprofit management degree.
- Social and Community Service Manager
Social and community service managers supervise social workers and develop and manage human service programs in the community, including organizations for the homeless or veterans, often providing substance abuse or mental health services. Candidates need a bachelor's degree in social work, business administration, or a related field, and at least several years of work experience for entry-level jobs.
Median Annual Salary: $64,100*
Fundraisers plan events, organize campaigns, cultivate funds, and solicit donations on behalf of an organization. Most fundraisers work for nonprofit organizations in health research, politics, social services, education, or religious institutions. Most employers require a bachelor's degree for entry-level jobs, though some prefer a master's degree. Candidates should possess strong communication skills and experience in English, PR, journalism, or business.
Median Annual Salary: $55,640*
- PR and Fundraising Manager
PR managers direct publicity and manage media relations on behalf of their client. Fundraising managers supervise fundraising staff in order to direct the capital development efforts of an organization. While most employers accept a bachelor's degree in PR, nonprofit management, or fundraising, some prefer a master's degree for entry-level positions.
Median Annual Salary: $111,280*
- Administrative Services Manager
Administrative services managers coordinate and supervise all support services within an organization, including office management, correspondence, and record filing and storage. Most employers require a bachelor's degree and work experience relative to a candidate's area of interest, such as nonprofit management.
Median Annual Salary: $94,020*
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
How to Choose a Bachelor's in Nonprofit Management Program
Nonprofit management degree applicants must consider the logistics of entering a program, including its cost, completion time, and location. Many students also weigh the option of earning their degree entirely online versus completing a traditional program at their school of choice.
As always, the selection process should begin with only accredited schools. Awarded by various regional and national agencies approved by the U.S. Department of Education (ED), institutional accreditation serves as a marker that a school meets the rigorous standards of higher education in the U.S. As a field with unique specializations and concentrations, students should make sure their program offers courses on their preferred nonprofit management topic.
Each student must also decide whether to study full-time or part-time. Those seeking early graduation or an accelerated program should consider a full-time online program, many of which allow students to take a fuller course load each semester than a traditional degree, which allows them to graduate sooner. Alternately, those managing a study schedule alongside a full-time job and/or family obligations can save money by taking fewer courses over a longer span of time. Some schools offer financial incentives to online students, such as tuition discounts or flat rates for distance learning credits.
Learners must also consider the convenience of a school's location, whether they complete their degree in person or online, as some online programs require occasional campus visits or brief residencies. Applicants should get a sense for the job market, cost of living, and quality of life of a school's surrounding area. Most nonprofit management degrees do not expressly require an internship, though program directors often strongly recommend students arrange for work experience to supplement their degree before graduation.
Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's Programs in Nonprofit Management
While a student should always begin the selection process by confirming a school's institutional accreditation through a regional or national agency recognized by ED, some schools may offer programs with specialized, or programmatic, accreditation. Programs that meet industry standards for career preparation in the nonprofit management sector may receive accreditation through the Nonprofit Academic Centers Council (NACC). While pursuing certification in nonprofit management does not require a bachelor's degree from an NACC-accredited program, graduates of this specialized training may hold an advantage in the certification application process, as well as over their competitors in the job market.
Bachelor's in Nonprofit Management Program Admissions
The nonprofit management degree admissions process may seem daunting to a first-time candidate. Generally, schools require applicants to complete the same steps to apply by mail or online, though some schools require an application request from prospective students who wish to apply through the school's website or online application portal.
A student may select their preferred method of application to the school, or schools, of their choice. The early decision method requires a student to submit their application early, notifies the student of the school's decision earlier than other methods, and requires mandatory enrollment, if accepted. Less binding in its requirements, early action also delivers an early decision but allows students to apply to additional schools and does not mandate enrollment upon acceptance. For students unburdened by time, regular decision remains nonexclusive and nonbinding. Admission guides generally recommend that students apply to between four and eight colleges.
- Minimum GPA: Admission requirements vary from one school to another. However, most schools accept applicants for a degree in nonprofit management who hold a GPA of 3.0 or above. In most cases, schools consider an applicant's holistic potential, based on their previous academic performance, percentile rank, and advanced placement coursework experience.
- Application: While most students choose online applications versus mail-in forms for quicker submission, most schools still welcome either format. Colleges and universities with streamlined admissions portals often use The Common App, enabling students to complete just one application for multiple schools. While this format makes filling out forms especially convenient, students should take care to avoid copying and pasting the same essay for all schools.
- Transcripts: Crucial to a college application in any discipline, students applying to a degree in nonprofit management must send transcripts directly from their old school to their new school's admissions department. Most schools require a transcript request from the student, along with a fee to cover the cost of mailing the records.
- Letters of Recommendation: Typically, the admissions process requires two to three letters of recommendation, from current or former teachers, counselors, or mentors who are able to speak to a student's academic and personal potential in a nonprofit management degree program. Students should request letters of recommendation from their sources at least two months in advance.
- Test Scores: Some nonprofit management degrees require applicants to submit test scores, usually from the ACT or SAT. Some schools require only transfer students to include standardized test scores with their application for a bachelor's degree.
- Application Fee: Application fees also vary, depending on a school's individual program characteristics. Generally, students applying to a bachelor's degree in nonprofit management can expect to pay a $50-$75 application fee per school, though applicants who qualify as low income may apply to waive the application fee.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in Nonprofit Management Program?
As the baseline education requirement for most jobs in the field, a bachelor's degree in nonprofit management can lead to a lucrative and fulfilling career in the philanthropic business sector. Nonprofit management degree programs serve not only business people and administrators looking to enhance their entrepreneurial skills, but also aspiring fundraising managers seeking a new cause in their professional lives. Graduates of a degree in nonprofit management can become leaders in both the public and private sectors of healthcare, the arts, and community and social services.
|Nonprofit Management||Commonly offered as a concentration within a public administration, bachelor of business administration, or general management degree, nonprofit management emphasizes a unique combination of leadership, fundraising, accounting, and grant-writing skills. Graduates may qualify for voluntary certification as a nonprofit manager or professional fundraiser.||Nonprofit manager, social and community service manager, founder of a nonprofit|
|Business Administration||Ideal for students considering potential career options in interdisciplinary fields after graduation, a focus in business administration emphasizes entrepreneurship, administrative tasks, and communication skills for a variety of practical applications.||Administration manager for a nonprofit, nonprofit manager, nonprofit director|
|Fundraising||Sometimes called philanthropic studies, a concentration in fundraising emphasizes skills in grant writing, donor behavior and motivation, capital campaigns, and marketing strategies for corporate giving. Students learn techniques for raising funds specific to the nuances of a nonprofit organization, as opposed to the development efforts of a large, for-profit business or corporation.||Fundraiser, fundraising manager, development director|
|HR Management||A crucial aspect of nonprofit management, a concentration in HR management focuses on organizing and cultivating human resources, including employees, volunteers, and consultants, within a nonprofit institution. Coursework in the concentration emphasizes legal compliance, recruiting and interviewing, and hiring challenges specific to nonprofits.||HR manager, HR director, volunteer services manager|
|Marketing||A concentration in marketing for aspiring nonprofit managers teaches students to develop and manage marketing campaigns and materials, specific to the needs of a nonprofit organization. Coursework in this concentration explores the overlapping marketing, public relations, and fundraising efforts required of marketing professionals operating in the public sector.||Marketing manager, promotions manager, community relations manager|
Courses in a Bachelor's in Nonprofit Management Program
As with management jobs in the for-profit sector, coursework in a degree in nonprofit management teaches students to master interdisciplinary business, communications, and leadership skills. While courses vary depending on your chosen concentration, the following sample courses represent some of the topics that commonly comprise the core of a bachelor's in nonprofit management.
- Accounting for Nonprofit Organizations
This course prepares students to perform basic accounting operations specific to a nonprofit organization. Topics covered include legal status, ethics, and compliance; financial reporting; tax status and filing; budgeting; and financial governance and structure.
- Managing Nonprofit Organizations
Students in this course study not only the practice of management and leadership in the nonprofit sector, but also the theories that drive them. Topics explore both traditional and contemporary perspectives on managing a nonprofit organization, including decision making, governance, and the efficiency and effectiveness of its operations.
This course teaches students to become successful entrepreneurs and apply personal leadership methods to the management of a nonprofit institution, with a focus on global business and commerce. Coursework uses case studies, simulations, contemporary theories in business, and the study of entrepreneurship as a business model.
- Grant Writing
A crucial skill for any aspiring nonprofit manager, grant writing coursework teaches students to cater to the needs of their organization by applying for grant funding. Topics include identifying funding needs and locating opportunities for funding that both align with the the organization's mission and values.
- Nonprofit Management Seminar
A common closing requirement of a degree in nonprofit management, the seminar course typically includes an experimental project, in which a student creates a strategic solution for an issue affecting nonprofit organizations. The course represents the culmination of a student's education in nonprofit management, challenging them to assume a position of leadership in a simulated environment prior to graduation.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Nonprofit Management?
Common among related business and management majors in an undergraduate program, a bachelor's in nonprofit management typically comprises four years of study, and requires students to earn 120 credits. While several factors can affect completion times, such as whether a school offers an online or accelerated program, whether a particular nonprofit management bachelor's requires an internship, and whether the program specifies that a student must enroll in coursework full time or part time. While each student makes their own decision to take online or on-campus courses based on unique criteria, enrolling in an online program can often provide maximum flexibility in terms of course scheduling and completion times.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in Nonprofit Management?
The cost of earning a bachelor's degree in nonprofit management varies among programs, much like other variables, including the time it takes to complete, the concentrations offered, and the program's individual requirements. Tuition also varies according to each school's classification as a public or private, or for-profit or not-for-profit institution. Other factors affecting the cost of the degree may include whether students complete coursework on campus or online, the student's state of residence, and their eligibility for various financial aid programs. Most schools offer lower tuition rates to in-state students, and some even extend in-state tuition to out-of-state online students. Still others tailor specific discounts to online students, with incentives including laptop vouchers and scholarships.
While costs vary from one school to another, the National Center for Educational Statistics reported the average cost of attending a four-year, degree-granting institution at around $26,000 per year, as of 2016. Private school tuition rates averaged around $39,500 per year while public institutions charged an average of $19,000. Online students may find additional opportunities for lower tuition prices, in addition to savings on transportation, childcare, and housing compared to their peers studying and/or living on campus.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Nonprofit Management Prepares For
- Certified Nonprofit Professional
The only national certification of its kind, the CNP credential provides nonprofit practitioners and researchers with a competitive edge in the job market. Candidates with a bachelor's degree and CNP certification may experience a higher likelihood of upward mobility in their nonprofit career than their counterparts without the certification. Applicants must complete a bachelor's program aligned with the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance's core competencies, a minimum of 300 internship hours, and a capstone experience through the Alliance Management Institute.
- Certified Fund Raising Executive
The Association of Fundraising Professionals offers CFRE certification to applicants with at least five years of experience practicing fundraising for a philanthropic organization. To earn the CFRE credential, students must pass a written examination and meet specific experience requirements in four primary areas of practice: education, professional practice, performance, and service.
- Advanced Certified Fund Raising Executive
As the field's highest professional credential, ACFRE certification designates a recipient as an expert in fundraising practices and principles. Candidates must apply to and gain acceptance from the ACFRE board, submit a professional portfolio for review within two years of applying, and pass both a written exam and oral peer review. Applicants must also meet extensive work and volunteer experience requirements.
Resources for Nonprofit Management Students
A leader in advocacy endeavors for nonprofit professionals, Everyday Advocacy operates as its own section of the National Council of Nonprofits website. It offers unique resources for students, including facts and figures on local nonprofit employers in each state, a subsite dedicated to trends and policy issues, and state chapter membership options.
The only credentialing agency for aspiring nonprofit professionals in the U.S., the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance offers training programs preparing students for CNP certification through dozens of academic partners nationwide. The organization also promotes exclusive grant opportunities, a resource library, and career services for recent graduates.
FirstGen offers funding opportunities to students pursuing social justice, public policy, and related programs who are first-generation college students in their family. FirstGen offers internship and professional development opportunities to help students build skills in fundraising, leadership, lobbying, and campaign and marketing strategy.
The nation's foremost authority on nonprofits and charitable organizations, this website enables students to research and compare the performance of numerous nonprofit agencies, not only to gain insight into the industry as a whole, but also to use for consideration when selecting prospective employers after graduation.
As experience in the field remains a crucial element of any nonprofit management career, Idealist maintains listings of hundreds of internships and thousands of volunteer opportunities for nonprofit management students. The site also hosts a frequently updated list of grad fairs in major metro areas nationwide.
Professional Organizations in Nonprofit Management
While networking, continuing education, and general business acumen prove essential to any occupation, aspiring nonprofit managers require especially diverse professional experience to maintain a competitive edge over their peers. As most nonprofit and fundraising professionals require only a bachelor's degree to enter the field, employers uphold a high standard of supplemental work experience in an applicant's area of expertise, such as internships or credentialing courses. Many professional organizations centered on nonprofit management, fundraising, and social services offer discounts for student membership, and feature internship opportunities, voluntary certification training programs, and industry networking events for emerging professionals and recent graduates.