The Master of Business Administration (MBA for short) is the most popular degree track among today's graduate students. During the 2013-14 academic year alone, roughly 190,000 master's degrees in business were conferred to students throughout the U.S. The MBA is designed to prepare students for managerial roles in today's business sector. Students in this degree pathway will sharpen their skills and knowledge of accounting and finance, marketing, human resources, supply chain management, office administration and other key areas of business leadership. A large number of colleges and universities allow MBA students to focus their studies on niche areas of business administration; these concentrated pathways are called 'specializations'.

The field of 'nonprofit management' is a popular specialization choice among MBA students who plan to lead charities, foundations, and other organizations that strive to address social causes without generating profits or dividends for shareholders. MBA in nonprofit management degree programs cover the ethical and legal guidelines for these organizations, as well as various strategies for nonprofit success. Additional courses will build skills and knowledge in finance, HR, logistics, and other core business subjects. MBA programs often culminate in a comprehensive capstone project; an onsite internship may be required, as well. Many of today's students are choosing to earn their MBA in nonprofit management online, rather than in a classroom. Web-based students follow the same rigorous curricula as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, leading to a comparable number of post-graduation job opportunities. The asynchronous (or self-paced) format of most online MBA in nonprofit management programs is also ideal for students with other commitments that may interfere with campus-based education, such as part-time employment or family obligations.

What are the best nonprofit management programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

Rank School Location
1 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
2 Northeastern University Boston, MA
3 University of Denver Denver, CO
4 The University of West Florida Pensacola, FL
5 Regis University Denver, CO
6 Cairn University Langhorne, PA
7 University of Northern Iowa Cedar Falls, IA
8 Arizona State University Scottsdale, AZ
9 Johnson & Wales University Providence, RI
10 Touro University Worldwide Los Alamitos, CA

Learn more about what you can do with an online MBA in nonprofit management and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.


MBAs can contribute greatly to the operations of many nonprofit organizations. There are many scholarships, grants, and fellowship programs that incentivize MBA graduates to pursue careers with nonprofits.


Graduates with a master's in nonprofit management can pursue careers as logisticians, fundraisers, management analysts, and operations research analysts. Read more here..


A master's in nonprofit management is worth it for those who want to bring much-needed business acumen to the nonprofit sector. Read more here..


A master's in nonprofit management is an graduate degree that prepares students to effectively manage a nonprofit organization. Nonprofit management may also be offered as a specialization in an MBA program.


Most online MBA programs cost between $35,000 and $50,000. Program costs can vary between public and private schools and based on the size of a school's student body. Read more here..

Choosing a Program


An MBA in nonprofit management will prepare students for the unique challenges of running and leading a not-for-profit organization, as well as the expected demands of any business management career. Areas of focus include brand-building and fundraising methods, capacity-building, cross-sector collaboration, and personnel development. Along the way, students will bolster their skills in communication, problem-solving, resource management, and leadership. Capstone projects and internships further boost their career standing by exposing them to the realities of real-world nonprofit operations.


MBA online programs provide a flexible, user-friendly alternative to traditional postsecondary education. Students can download course lectures and readings, participate in virtual discussions with other students, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors ― all from the comfort of their home computer. Current technology also enables them to study on the go using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other portable devices with Wi-Fi capabilities. For added convenience, online supply chain management MBA students can usually coordinate internship opportunities at training locations that are reasonably close to their current residence.


Most students who leave school with an online MBA in nonprofit management will be qualified to lead existing organizations, or develop and launch new ones. Many find their niche in specific areas of management and administration, such as accounting, sales and marketing, human resources, or risk analysis. Because the MBA is considered a terminal degree for business professionals, graduates will typically be considered for top-level positions as soon as they collect their diplomas.


Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school's strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online MBA in nonprofit management programs in the United States. Our ranking is based on the courses schools offer, available specializations, student outcomes, career support services, and other criteria used to determine academic excellence. If you are considering an online MBA in nonprofit management, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific requirements and offerings.

2020 Best Accredited Online MBA in Nonprofit Management Programs

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle

University of Central Florida

Orlando, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 73%

UCF is a leader in distance learning, offering over 90 online programs, including an online master's in nonprofit management that prepares students for careers as grants managers, development directors, and community engagement specialists. This program allows students to work full time and still graduate in two years.

The 36-credit curriculum covers topics like resource development, human resources, and program evaluation techniques. Students also explore ethics and governance in the nonprofit sector. The program culminates in a nonprofit administration capstone seminar.

Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must submit a statement of goals, a current resume, and three recommendation letters. UCF does not require GRE scores for admission. Students enroll as members of a cohort.

UCF is regionally accredited by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.


Northeastern University

Boston, MA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 88%

Northeastern delivers a variety of career-focused online certificates and degrees through its College of Professional Studies. Graduate students can enroll in an online master of science in nonprofit management program, gaining the technical skills needed for leadership positions in fundraising, direct services, and program support. Full-time students can complete the program in 18 months.

Required courses include grant and report writing, financial management, and promoting nonprofit organizations. Students can personalize the curriculum through two electives. The curriculum offers five concentrations, including social media analytics, leadership and communication, and social innovation.

Northeastern accepts applications on a rolling basis. Prospective students must submit a professional resume and two recommendation letters. They must also submit a 500-word statement of purpose describing their educational goals and program expectations.

Northeastern holds regional accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education.


University of Denver

Denver, CO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 77%

DU offers over 100 flexible and career-focused programs through its University College platform, including an online master's degree in nonprofit leadership. Students can earn the 48-credit degree in 18 months. Distance learners can complete all required courses online or choose to take some courses on campus.

Required courses include leading nonprofit/nongovernmental organizations and graduate social research methods. Students take advanced courses in one of four concentrations: philanthropy and resource development; mission-driven operations and management; executive leadership and governance; or social enterprise, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Applicants must hold a regionally accredited bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Prospective students do not need to submit standardized test scores. DU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


The University of West Florida

Pensacola, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 43%

Located in Pensacola, UWF administers distance learning through the Canvas platform. The university offers a fully online master of science in administration with a public administration specialization. This 36-credit program prepares students for careers as budget directors, social/community service managers, and urban and regional planners.

Required courses include organizational behavior and financial management. As part of the specialization, students delve into public service policy analysis and human resource management. All learners can earn an embedded graduate certificate in either leadership in public service and nonprofit administration or acquisition and contract administration.

Applicants with a GPA below 3.25 must submit GMAT, GRE, or MAT scores. All prospective students must submit a letter of intent that describes their work experience and career objectives.

UWF is regionally accredited by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.


Regis University

Denver, CO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 69%

Based in Denver, Colorado, Regis serves about 7,900 students each year, many of whom enroll online. The university's distance learning degrees include an online master of nonprofit management. The program uses a hybrid delivery method, with students completing eight-week courses both on campus and online.

The 36-credit curriculum includes courses in conflict resolution for leaders, program development and accountability, and governance and organizational leadership. Unlike traditional MBA in nonprofit management programs, Regis's program lets students gain practical skills through a service-oriented field experience. Learners can personalize the curriculum through two advanced electives.

Regis accepts applications on a rolling basis and offers five start dates each year. Prospective learners must submit a resume and a 500-word personal statement responding to designated prompts.

Regis is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Cairn University

Langhorne, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 62%

Founded in 1913 as the result of a merger between two schools, Cairn now offers several online degrees, including a master of science in nonprofit leadership. By completing this program, students learn to apply fundamental business principles in the nonprofit and nongovernmental sectors.

The 39-credit curriculum includes courses like research methodologies, fundraising and development, and nonprofit innovation. Students also examine the theology of leadership and business to concretize their own set of professional ethics. Like online MBA in nonprofit management programs, this program culminates in a capstone practicum in strategic management.

Admission requirements include an accredited bachelor's degree earned with a minimum 2.5 GPA. In addition to two references, applicants must submit an essay on their spiritual growth and an essay explaining their reasons for pursuing graduate education.

Cairn is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.


University of Northern Iowa

Cedar Falls, IA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 65%

UNI operates its flagship campus in Cedar Falls, serving 11,000 students annually. The university provides 25 online graduate programs, including a master of arts in philanthropy and nonprofit development. Through accelerated eight-week classes powered by the Blackboard platform, distance learners can earn their degrees with plenty of flexibility.

The curriculum covers core business topics like applied research methods and strategic management of human resources. Students learn how to develop and implement public relations campaigns. The program culminates in a research project that tackles a relevant challenge in the nonprofit sector.

Applicants need a 3.0 GPA. Prospective students who do not meet this requirement may be able to enroll on a provisional basis. UNI does not require standardized test scores for admission.

UNI is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Arizona State University

Scottsdale, AZ Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 48%

ASU uses the Canvas platform to deliver over 300 online certificates and degrees, including an online master of nonprofit leadership and management. Program graduates can begin careers in program development, fundraising, and volunteer management and advocacy. Distance learners benefit from accelerated 7.5-week classes that allow them to graduate in under two years.

The 33-credit curriculum includes coursework like social entrepreneurship, grant writing in nonprofit organizations, and financial and resource management. Learners can personalize the curriculum through 15 elective credits. The program culminates in an integrative capstone seminar.

Applicants must hold a regionally accredited bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Prospective students must submit a resume or CV, three reference letters, and a statement of educational and career goals.

ASU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Johnson & Wales University

Providence, RI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: N/A

JWU enrolls approximately 1,500 distance learners every year. The university delivers several online programs through the Blackboard platform, including an online master of science in nonprofit management. Students who enroll in this career-focused program take accelerated eight-week courses, graduating in under two years.

The 30-credit curriculum includes courses like budgeting and financial management, decision-making and analytical techniques, and resource development. The program also teaches students to recruit and deploy personnel and culminates in a capstone seminar in strategic planning and leadership.

Prospective learners with a 2.85 GPA or higher do not need to submit standardized test scores. Admission requirements include two recommendations and a 250-word statement of purpose.

JWU holds regional accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education.


Touro University Worldwide

Los Alamitos, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 50%

Located in Los Alamitos, California, TUW offers eight programs through its School of Business, including an online MBA degree in nonprofit management. Through six start dates each year and accelerated courses, distance learners can complete the 36-credit program within 12 months.

Required coursework covers topics like management across cultures, contemporary marketing, and managing organizational behavior. As part of the nonprofit management concentration, students delve into financial decision-making and revenue generation. All learners must complete a research-focused capstone project.

First-time students need a minimum 2.5 GPA, while transfer applicants must have a 2.75 GPA. TUW does not require GMAT or GRE scores for admission. In addition to affordable tuition rates, distance learners can access grants, loans, and GI Bill benefits.

TUW is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

What else can I expect from an online MBA in Nonprofit Management program?

Every online master's in nonprofit management program is different, and no two schools offer the same curricula. However, many institutions offer graduate students the opportunity to specialize in a subfield of nonprofit management. The following are some of the most common concentrations offered through MBA in nonprofit management online programs.


Concentration Description Careers this concentration prepares for
Public Policy Students concentrating on public policy will learn the fundamentals of policymaking and analysis. Focusing on the financial and budgeting aspects of nonprofit management, this concentration is designed for those interested in public service or government careers. Coursework may address topics such as advocacy and legal issues affecting nonprofit groups. Charity Director; Public Administration Consultant; Public Affairs Director
Environmental Policy This concentration offers a multidisciplinary curriculum that draws equally from the fields of science and management. Students gain cutting-edge perspectives on ecological matters as they develop core competencies in resource management, public policy, and benefit-cost analysis. Some programs include courses on energy and sustainability policy, or environmental law. Environmental Lawyer; Land Use Planner; Environmental Lobbyist
Philanthropy Combining aspects of management, economics, and sociology, this concentration focuses on the role of public and private funding in nonprofit management. Topics covered in this curriculum may include grant writing, capital campaigns, and financial planning, with an emphasis on ethical and legal matters. Grantmaker; Volunteer Program Administrator; Donor Relations Administrator


Like degree concentrations, curricula can vary widely between online master's in nonprofit management programs. Most, however, offer some variations on the following core courses.

  • Human resource management: Covering labor relations, team building, and fundamental topics in organizational theory, this course provides students with the practical knowledge required to effectively manage a team in or out of the nonprofit sector. Coursework teaches broadly applicable leadership skills that graduates will find useful in virtually any management position.
  • Financial management: This course provides an overview of financial concepts integral to running a nonprofit organization. Students will learn to effectively allocate funds, measure risks and returns, and manage payrolls. Crucial for anyone earning a master's in nonprofit management online who is interested in philanthropy, this course often touches on fundraising and grant writing topics.
  • Nonprofit ethics: Most nonprofit organizations adhere to a code of ethics, and this class describes how and why these codes are created. Case studies demonstrate the importance of accountability and transparency in nonprofit management — particularly in areas of fundraising, financial allocation, and conflicts of interest.


The best online MBAs in nonprofit management aren't always the longest programs. Designed with busy professionals in mind, some can be completed in as little as a year. On average, it takes around two years to finish a 36-credit master's in nonprofit management online, but program length can depend on several variables, including how courses are paced.

Offering relatively loose deadlines and maximum flexibility, individually paced, or asynchronous nonprofit management certificate online programs let students view lectures and complete assignments at their convenience. Without being required to log on at certain times, students can effectively manage educational, work, and family commitments. Cohort programs take a synchronous, group-based approach to learning. Students in a cohort course are expected to be present online at assigned times, and may be required to contribute to group discussions and projects. While these classes often take longer to complete, some students prefer them for their emphasis on teamwork and personal accountability.


Certified Nonprofit Professional: Ideal for anyone earning their MBA in nonprofit management online, this credential opens up a wealth of career and networking opportunities. Training is centered on ten core competencies most sought after by employers. While training can be completed online, applicants are required to complete a 300-hour internship in the field.

Certified Fundraising Executive: This certification is awarded to philanthropists and students of philanthropy who complete an examination and meet certain qualifications. Applicants must earn a series of points that are awarded through education, professional practice, and performance. Points can be earned by attending relevant conferences and programs, but may also be earned through college courses.

Accreditation for online MBA in Nonprofit Management degrees

Getting your master's in nonprofit management online from an accredited institution is crucial for success, both in and out of the classroom. Accreditation ensures that a school meets the proper standards of academic quality, as defined by agencies such as the Department of Education or Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Schools can be regionally or nationally accredited, and it's important to understand the distinction between these designations. Regionally accredited schools are typically nonprofit, public institutions that have been evaluated by one of six accrediting agencies, while nationally accredited institutions tend to be for-profit vocational schools. Although both can offer quality educations, earning an online degree in nonprofit management from a regionally accredited school provides several advantages. Credits from regionally accredited schools easily transfer to nationally accredited ones, but the opposite is rarely true. Some nationally accredited programs are ineligible for scholarships or certain forms of financial aid.

A school's eligibility to receive federal financial aid is determined by the U.S. Department of Education. While the DOE doesn't accredit schools itself, this branch of the government relies on other organizations, such as the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, to assess accrediting bodies. CHEA is a quality assurance group dedicated to monitoring accreditation organizations around the country. By ensuring that accreditors are holding schools to the appropriate standards, CHEA assists the DOE in determining which schools should receive aid. A full database of accredited programs and institutions can be found on CHEA's website.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs in the business management sector ― including nonprofit-related roles ― will increase by roughly 6% between 2014 and 2024, resulting in more than half a million newly created positions. MBA in nonprofit management recipients will be well-positioned to compete for these jobs, particularly management roles in the not-for-profit sector.

Unemployment rates in business and nonprofit management vary significantly by specific job title. Using current data from U.S. News & World Report, the following comparison table looks at unemployment projections for 12 common careers in nonprofit management.

Occupation Unemployment Rate (2017)
Statistician 0.8%
Cost Estimator 1.7%
Financial Manager 2.0%
Financial Analyst 2.1%
Accountant 2.5%
Operations Research Analyst 2.6%
Human Resources Specialist 2.7%
Logistician 3.0%
Market Research Analyst 3.1%
Management Analyst 3.2%
Business Operations Manager 3.9%
Fundraiser 8.1%

Source: U.S. News & World Report

The average unemployment rate of all 12 occupations is 2.98%. Comparatively, the average unemployment rate for all occupations nationwide currently sits at 4.5%.


Much like unemployment rates, the salary expectations for someone with an MBA in nonprofit management will largely depend on their job title. Other factors to consider include experience level, organization size, and city/state of employment. The next table features 20-year earnings projections for five of the most popular occupations related to nonprofit leadership.

Occupation Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 Years) Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years) Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)
Executive Director, Nonprofit Organization $51,917 $60,577 $69,402 $79,517
Program Manager, Nonprofit Organization $45,227 $50,919 $53,428 $56,391
Program Coordinator, Nonprofit Organization $39,304 $42,339 $44,658 $48,618
Development Manager, Nonprofit Organization $46,427 $51,582 $57,563 $56,712
Fundraiser $43,904 $52,539 $61,013 $80,000

Source: PayScale

All five occupations experience salary growth of at least 22% after 20 years on the job. Fundraisers reported the highest growth rate: n 82.2% increase in earnings between the entry-level and late-career stages. Nonprofit executive directors ranked second with 53.2% salary growth, followed by nonprofit program managers with 24.7% growth.

Career Opportunities

Those who earn an MBA in nonprofit management will be qualified for various leadership roles in the nonprofit sector, although individual eligibility may depend on areas of specialization. Four common career pathways in nonprofit management are outlined below.

Logisticians: Logisticians account for the various resources that comprise the supply chain of an organization, including manpower, transportation, materials, tools, and financial assets. In the nonprofit sector, logisticians are trained to minimize overhead costs and exercise efficiency throughout the supply chain in order to save as much money as possible.

Management Analysts: Also known as management consultants, management analysts meet with executives and business leaders to discuss ways to make their organization run more smoothly, effectively, and efficiently. Many analysts work exclusively within the nonprofit sector, offering advice and wisdom to entrepreneurs and nonprofit managers looking to improve their organization's structure.

Operations Research Analysts: Similar to management consultants, operations research analysts work with organizational leaders specifically in areas related to day-to-day operations. They rely on algorithms, statistical analyses, business modeling, and other strategies to predict the results of different operational changes in order to determine the best course of action for a particular organization.

Fundraisers: Fundraisers are responsible for securing financial support for different organizations and causes. In nonprofit management, fundraisers must often seek funding from investors and venture capitalists, write grants, and collect donations in order to keep their organization afloat.

Profession Median Annual Salary Projected Growth (2014-24)
Logisticians $74,260 2% (+2,500 jobs)
Management Analysts $81,320 14% (+103,200 jobs)
Operations Research Analysts $78,630 30% (+27,600 jobs)
Fundraisers $52,970 9% (+6,900 jobs)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to nonprofit management is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you'll find three of the country's most prominent organizations established for nonprofit managers and personnel. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates. Resources like these often prove invaluable as you complete your degree requirements and prepare to enter the job market.

National Council of Nonprofits: Considered the country's largest professional network for nonprofits, the NCN represents more than 25,000 organizations. The council's website includes tools and tutorials for nonprofit managers related to finance, human resources, ethics and accountability, fundraising, and other important topics.

Society for Nonprofits: Established more than 30 years ago, SNPO has grown to represent more than 6,000 members nationwide. Perks for registered members include a complimentary magazine subscription, access to a 'members-only' online resource library, and discounts on professional insurance coverage.

American Sustainable Business Council: This 501(c)(4) organization represents more than 200,000 organizations and 325,000 individual employees working in the business sector. As a leading advocate for sustainable operations, the ASCB's online action center features the latest news on initiatives related to climate and energy, food labeling, healthcare and other hot topics in the business world.

Financing Your Online MBA in Nonprofit Management

Despite the relative affordability of online MBA programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.


Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.


Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.


Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.


Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We've curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.


Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.


Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.


Students who pursue online degrees will be eligible for scholarships, grants and other financial aid that is unavailable to their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Learn more about these financial opportunities for web-based learners.


Finance — the study of money and asset management — is one of the most popular degree concentrations for MBA students. Learn about the best schools for this area of study with our comprehensive degree guide.


Another popular specialization field for MBA students, human resources (or HR) focuses on hiring, new employee orientation and other administrative needs. Visit our guide to master's degrees in HR for more information.


Our page dedicated to resources for business students includes links to professional organizations, open courseware, industry publications, books and business-minded users to follow on Twitter.


Our career page for business degree graduates includes a state-by-state breakdown of business careers and academic options for business students, as well as popular job sites, professional organizations and continuing education opportunities for established professionals.