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By pursuing an MBA in nonprofit management, you’ll be entering a specialized field that addresses the most challenging issues of our society, designed for individuals committed to driving positive change through mission-focused organizations. This degree prepares graduates for several rewarding careers, such as social and community service managers with a median salary of $74,240 or fundraising managers with salaries that regularly reach six figures.

For those enrolled full-time, the program typically lasts two years, with the average cost of graduate tuition being $19,749 for the 2020-2021 academic year. Beginning this educational venture leads to opportunities where contributing to societal improvements is a central career goal.

How to Choose an MBA in Nonprofit Management Program

Choose your area of study

For many students, the search for the right MBA program in nonprofit management begins with selecting a potential specialization. Starting your research this way has two purposes: it helps align your education with your career goals and improves your chances of finding programs that will help you achieve them.

To illustrate, a fundraising concentration is ideal for those looking to excel in donor relations and capital campaigns, while social entrepreneurship attracts students keen on innovative solutions to social issues. A policy and advocacy concentration is suited for those aiming to influence public policy and champion causes at the legislative level.

Research schools and programs

Now that you have a specialization in mind, you can officially begin researching schools and programs. This may feel overwhelming, but you can simplify this process by using the following questions to guide your research:

  • What is the program’s curriculum, and how does it align with my specialization?
  • Who are the faculty, and what is their experience level in my area of interest?
  • What networking and internship opportunities does the program offer?
  • Does a recognized accrediting body accredit the program?

Most programs make this information readily accessible on their official website, where you can also review program descriptions and faculty backgrounds. Reaching out to an admissions counselor and attending information sessions can provide deeper insights and personalized answers.

Prepare for tests and applications

With your shortlist of intended schools in hand, it’s time to begin preparing for tests and applications. Start by gathering essential materials early, including transcripts and letters of recommendation, to avoid any last-minute stress. You’ll also want to allocate significant time to write your personal statement, reflecting on your goals and suitability for the program.

Test prep courses are often beneficial for the GMAT or GRE, as they can help boost your scores. Be sure to check each institution’s waiver policies, as some may not require these tests under certain conditions.

Select your program

When acceptance letters arrive, you may have a significant decision to make. Fortunately, you can simplify this process by revisiting your initial research criteria — focusing on curriculum relevance, faculty you’re excited to learn from, and the program’s networking opportunities.

Additionally, evaluate each program’s total cost of attendance and research financial aid opportunities to ensure it aligns with your financial planning. This careful consideration will help you choose the program that best fits your professional goals and economic means.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

A common misconception is that earning an MBA is impossible without accruing significant debt, but this is untrue. You can achieve your degree without accumulating debt by strategically leveraging financial aid options.

Prioritize scholarships and grants, which are awarded based on merit or need and do not need to be repaid. Though grants are more common for undergraduates, some programs may offer them to graduate students.

Consider assistantships, which provide tuition waivers or stipends in exchange for research or teaching responsibilities. Additionally, ask your employer about tuition reimbursement programs, where some or all of your tuition costs might be covered in return for a commitment to work for your employer post-graduation.

Best 50 Accredited MBA in Nonprofit Management Programs

Best MBA in Nonprofit Management Degree Programs

Brandeis University

Louisiana State University

University of Portland

UMass Boston

University of Maine

Discover More Options

How we rank schools

This list covers the top universities and colleges that offer MBA degree programs in nonprofit management. We included both online and in-person programs as well as hybrid programs that combine these two learning formats.

To ensure the high quality of the education being offered at each of the schools on our list, we have only included accredited schools. Accreditation is integral to the reputation and validation of a graduate degree program. It is bestowed upon each school by whichever of several regional agencies is associated with its geographic location. A school’s accreditation is a guarantee that the curriculum has achieved a basic standard of excellence and that what it is teaching is both relevant and accurate.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

What Can You Expect From an MBA in Nonprofit Management Program?

While a general MBA may seem sufficient for any organizational management, it often falls short in addressing nonprofits’ specific needs, prioritizing fulfilling a mission over profit generation. These programs delve into strategic planning, fundraising, volunteer management, and fiscal policies unique to nonprofits, ensuring you’re well-prepared to lead with impact.

Typically completed in two years, curriculums often include internships that provide real-world experience or capstone courses that allow students to apply their knowledge to solve practical problems. This comprehensive approach ensures that graduates are versed in both the theory and the practice of nonprofit management, making them highly valuable in their future careers.

Potential courses you’ll take in an MBA in nonprofit management program

  • Fundraising and Resource Development: In this course, students explore fundraising strategies and resource development techniques critical for nonprofit sustainability. These courses typically focus on donor relations, grant writing, crowdfunding, and building a diversified funding base to support nonprofit missions effectively.
  • Nonprofit Financial Management: A core requirement in most programs, these courses examine budgeting specifics, accounting, and financial reporting in the nonprofit context. Students gain expertise in navigating the unique financial challenges of nonprofits — including fundraising, grant management, and financial transparency.
  • Marketing for Nonprofits: Another common core requirement, this course teaches students how to leverage marketing and communication strategies to promote their organization’s mission, engage the community, and attract funding. The curriculum covers branding, social media, public relations, and audience engagement specific to nonprofit management.
  • Nonprofit Leadership and Governance: This course examines the roles and responsibilities of nonprofit boards and executive leadership. Students learn about ethical leadership, board development, governance models, and building effective board-staff relationships to improve organizational performance.

MBA in Nonprofit Management Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an MBA in nonprofit management degree program?

To apply for these degrees, you’ll need to navigate an admissions process to assess your readiness and fit for the program. Requirements can vary by institution, but many programs share the same criteria:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Relevant work experience in the nonprofit sector
  • Letters of recommendation that attest to the applicant’s leadership and management potential
  • A personal statement outlining career goals and reasons for pursuing this specific degree
  • GMAT or GRE scores, although some programs offer waivers under certain conditions

It’s important to consult with an admissions counselor before applying. By taking this additional step, you can ensure that you understand all program and application specifics, maximizing your chances of admission.

How much does an MBA in nonprofit management degree cost?

The cost of an MBA in nonprofit management can vary widely, but the average graduate tuition for the 2020-2021 academic year was $19,749. Beyond tuition, you’ll want to consider additional expenses such as textbooks, course materials, living expenses, and fees associated with internships or capstone projects. These costs can add up over time, but it’s important to remember that many programs may have financial aid, scholarships, and grants to help offset expenses.

How long does it take to earn an MBA in nonprofit management degree?

Earning this degree takes two years for full-time students and up to four years for part-time enrollment. Full-time study allows for immersive learning and quicker completion, which is ideal for those able to dedicate significant time to their studies. However, those who enroll part-time can better balance a full-time job with their education, but it can extend the time to degree completion.

Considering the total number of required credits is essential, as this can vary between programs. Generally, more credits mean a longer duration to complete the degree.