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Individuals passionate about positively impacting the nonprofit sector may be well-suited to pursue an online MBA in nonprofit management. With many robust curriculums covering strategic planning, financial management, fundraising, and more, earning an online MBA in this field can help students meet their professional goals on their timeline. Graduates with this degree can find employment as fundraising and public relations managers and often progress to coveted leadership positions such as executive director and program manager.

Regarding cost, tuition fees for online MBA programs in nonprofit management vary across institutions. On average, the cost to attend a public institution was $13,000 per year in 2021. Attending a private institution is likely to have a higher price tag, with the average cost at $28,000 per year. With impressive median salaries of over $100,000 in most roles and flexible program durations ranging from 18 months to three years, these online MBA programs offer a promising pathway to a fulfilling career in nonprofit management.

How To Choose an Online MBA in Nonprofit Management Degree Program

Choose your area of study

When choosing an area of study, it’s essential to consider what matters most to you for your future career. First, consider your personal interests, skills, and career goals. Reflect on what aspects of nonprofit management resonate with you and align with your long-term aspirations.

Assess the areas within nonprofit management that you find most compelling, such as fundraising, strategic planning, or program evaluation. Choosing an area of study that resonates with all these elements can increase your potential for success in your degree program.

Research schools and programs

Next, research the curriculum and course offerings of different online MBA programs in nonprofit management. Evaluate whether the program covers the areas of study that interest you the most and provides a comprehensive understanding of nonprofit management and principles. Look for courses that align with your desired specialization and career objectives.

Additionally, exploring the faculty and their expertise within the program can be beneficial. Investigate whether the professors have experience in the specific areas of nonprofit management you wish to focus on. This can ensure that you receive quality instruction and mentorship in your chosen field.

Prepare for tests and applications

Standardized test scores and applications for admission are often your first opportunity to make a positive impression on admission committees, so you’ll want to devote some time to this part of the process. To start, thoroughly research your desired programs’ requirements and application process. Understand the deadlines, required documents, and additional components such as essays or recommendation letters. A proactive approach will help you plan your timeline effectively and allocate sufficient time for each step.

Note if the program requires standardized test scores, such as the GMAT or GRE, for test preparation. If so, create a study schedule and utilize resources like practice exams, study guides, and online test prep courses. Familiarize yourself with the test format, question types, and time constraints to enhance your performance.

Regarding applications, focus on crafting a compelling personal statement or essay showcasing your passion for nonprofit management and relevant experiences. Highlight your achievements, leadership roles, and commitment to making a positive impact in the nonprofit sector. Request recommendation letters from individuals who can speak to your skills, character, and potential for success in the program.

Select your program

After conducting thorough research, preparing for tests, and completing applications, selecting the right program for your online MBA in nonprofit management involves careful consideration and evaluation.

Start by reviewing different programs’ acceptance offers and scholarship opportunities and assessing their financial implications. Compare the curriculum and course offerings of the programs that have accepted you, ensuring they align with your interests and career goals. You’ll also want to evaluate the program’s reputation, faculty expertise, and alum network, as these factors can contribute to a well-rounded educational experience or future networking opportunities.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

When choosing an online MBA program, figuring out how to finance your degree is paramount. Fortunately, there are many financial aid options for these degree programs.

Start by assessing your financial situation and identifying resources like personal savings or employer tuition reimbursement programs. In addition, research scholarships and grants specific to nonprofit management or MBA programs can be found through online scholarship databases, professional organizations, and the program’s financial aid office.

Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine eligibility for federal student loans and need-based grants. Federal student loans usually carry lower interest rates and offer more flexible repayment terms, making them preferable to private loans.

The Top 29 Online MBA in Nonprofit Management Programs

Best Online MBA in Nonprofit Management Degree Programs

Johnson & Wales University

Concordia University, Nebraska

Hope International University

Liberty University

Concordia University Wisconsin

Lakeland University

Concordia University Chicago

Lindenwood University

New England College

SUNY Empire State College

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How We Rank Schools

This list focuses on Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees with a concentration in nonprofit management. MBA degrees are designed for working professionals with foundational business knowledge who want to learn more advanced skills tailored to a specific area of expertise.

We focused on finding flexible programs that can be completed fully or primarily online. Many programs offer students the option of taking online or in-person classes based on their schedule and preferences.

As a measure of quality, we only included regionally accredited schools. Many programs also have specialized accreditation through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

We evaluated each program based on reputation, outcomes, flexibility, faculty, and cost, then calculated an Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100 for each. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

What Can You Expect From an Online MBA in Nonprofit Management

An online MBA in nonprofit management offers a comprehensive education in the principles and practices of managing nonprofit organizations at every level. A well-rounded curriculum typically covers nonprofit leadership, strategic planning, financial management, fundraising, grant writing, and more. You can expect to gain a significant understanding of the unique challenges and dynamics of the nonprofit sector, as well as the skills needed to lead and manage these organizations effectively.

Most students take 18 months to three years to complete their MBA in this field, but some programs offer accelerated options that can be completed in a shorter time frame. In addition to coursework, some programs may encourage students to engage in practical experiences, like internships and capstone projects, to apply their knowledge in real-world nonprofit settings.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online MBA in Nonprofit Management program

  • Nonprofit Leadership: Also known as “Introduction to Nonprofit Organizations” or “Servant Leadership and Ethics,” this course focuses on the principles and strategies of effective leadership within nonprofit organizations. Students learn about the roles and responsibilities of nonprofit leaders, board governance best practices, ethical decision-making, and developing leadership skills necessary for managing and inspiring teams in the nonprofit sector.
  • Financial Management for Nonprofits: This course delves into nonprofit organizations’ unique financial considerations and challenges. Students will gain expertise in budgeting, financial planning, reporting, and managing resources and revenue streams effectively in a nonprofit context. Topics covered may include grant management, fundraising strategies, financial sustainability, and measuring financial performance.
  • Program Evaluation and Impact Assessment: Often termed as “Nonprofit Program Evaluation,” this course focuses on assessing the effectiveness and impact of nonprofit programs and initiatives. Students develop a deep understanding of evaluation methodologies, data collection and analysis, outcome measurement, and reporting findings to stakeholders. The course equips students with the skills to evaluate program success, make data-driven decisions, and improve programmatic outcomes.
  • Strategic Management and Planning: This course introduces students to the strategic planning process and its application within the nonprofit sector. Students will learn how to develop and implement strategic plans that align with nonprofit organizations’ mission, vision, and goals. The content may touch upon various subjects, including environmental scanning, goal setting, strategy formulation, and monitoring and adapting strategic plans to address changing needs and circumstances.
  • Fundraising and Development: Alternately called “Nonprofit Fund Development,” this course explores the essential techniques and strategies for successful fundraising and resource development in nonprofit organizations. Students will learn about donor cultivation, relationship management, grant writing, and creating effective fundraising campaigns. The course may also cover major gifts, planned giving, corporate partnerships, and leveraging technology for fundraising efforts.

What Can You Do With an Online MBA in Nonprofit Management?

Career outlook

An online MBA in nonprofit management arms you for a career in a growing field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many jobs in nonprofit management are growing faster than average. For example, the need for social and community managers is expected to grow by 12% by 2031, much faster than average for all jobs. These professionals make a median salary of $74,000 annually. Meanwhile, public relations and fundraising managers can expect to see their profession grow by 8% over the coming decade. These skilled professionals earn a median pay of $119,860 a year.

Career paths

Since the nonprofit sector is so large, many career paths are open to those with an MBA in nonprofit management. If you are interested in a particular industry, such as health care, for example, you may look for positions within hospitals, clinics, or nursing facilities. Those interested in education will find jobs available in schools or districts at the primary and secondary levels and numerous job options in higher education. Here are some other areas that employ those with an MBA in nonprofit management:

  • Museum management — both at art museums and those focusing on science or other topics.
  • Social welfare services — including organizations that help marginalized populations such as the homeless.
  • Environmental advocacy — including organizations of international scope, such as Greenpeace or the Sierra Club, and those that work locally or at regional levels.
  • Disaster relief agencies — these may be independent or affiliated with the government, such as FEMA.
  • Faith-based organizations — larger churches often employ nonprofit managers, and there are also opportunities at regional levels, such as dioceses or conferences.

Nonprofit CEO

Earning Potential: $50,000-$170,000 or more
Education Required: Master’s of Business Administration with a focus on nonprofit management, finance, or leadership

A nonprofit CEO is the senior manager of an organization that works in the nonprofit sector. Duties can vary depending on the nature of the organization. Still, the CEO will generally be responsible for designing and implementing the organization’s strategic plan and ensuring that work is undertaken efficiently and effectively. In smaller organizations, the CEO may work directly with junior staff members and play a role in running daily activities. In larger organizations, the CEO is likely to work with a dedicated team of senior staff members to ensure smooth operations. Fundraising may play a primary role in this position. The CEO is generally the direct liaison with the board of trustees and other stakeholders.

Grant and Fundraising Manager

Earning Potential: $45,000-$150,000
Education Required: Bachelor’s degree or MBA in accounting, finance, or nonprofit management

The fundraising manager of a nonprofit organization has the important role of raising the money needed to allow the group to pursue its mission. This person may liaise with government officials or lobbyists who can help the organization secure federal or state funding. They may also be involved in ground-level fundraising, such as planning and implementing phonations or capital campaigns, writing and submitting grants, and overseeing databases of donors. Fundraising managers need strong communication skills and the ability to clearly articulate the organization’s goals to various donors and philanthropists. Good writing skills are a plus, and the ability to work with online platforms targeting donors is increasingly essential.

Public Relations Specialist

Earning Potential: $47,000-$110,000
Education Required: Bachelor’s or master’s degree in business management, public relations, or communications

Public relationship specialists are a vital part of most nonprofit organization’s leadership team. It is up to this individual to effectively communicate the organization’s mission, vision, and goals to the general public and specific audiences such as potential donors, alumni, or others. They will likely work closely with the organization’s development, fundraising staff, and senior leadership. Good writing skills are essential; they may draft speeches, write press releases, or manage promotional campaigns. They are likely to play a role in shaping and maintaining the organization’s public image and identity, effectively sharing that image with constituents. They may also work closely with local, regional, or national media.

Online MBA in Nonprofit Management Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online MBA in Nonprofit Management degree program?

Before applying to any online MBA program, it’s essential to consult with an admissions counselor to ensure you have a clear understanding of the program’s specific requirements and deadlines. Typically, you must complete an online application form, submit official transcripts from previous institutions attended, and provide a current resume highlighting relevant experience. Many programs also require letters of recommendation, preferably from professional or academic references who can attest to your potential for success. Some programs may require standardized test scores like the GMAT or GRE, while others may have waivers available or test-optional policies.

How much does an online MBA in Nonprofit Management degree cost?

According to U.S. News & World Report, tuition costs for these programs range from approximately $7,000 to $37,000 per year. However, it’s essential to consider the additional expenses beyond tuition, like textbooks, course materials, technology requirements, and potential residency fees for in-person components. While these costs can add up, online programs often offer more flexibility regarding location and can save costs associated with commuting or relocating.

To help mitigate the overall expenses, consider exploring your financial aid options, like scholarships, grants, and employer tuition assistance programs. These options help reduce the financial burden of pursuing higher education.

How long does it take to earn an online MBA in Nonprofit Management degree?

Most full-time students can complete their online MBA in 18 months to three years. Unlike most in-person programs, online programs often offer more flexibility in course scheduling, allowing students to tailor their study pace. Part-time enrollment can extend your completion time, with most part-time students taking two to four years to complete degree requirements.

The total number of required credits also impacts program length, with most online MBA programs requiring around 36 to 54 credits to graduate. On-campus programs may have similar time frames, but online programs generally provide more flexibility for students to balance their studies with other commitments and to adjust their course load by semester to suit their needs best.

Is an online MBA in Nonprofit Management worth it?

If you wish to make a positive change in the world by working for a nonprofit organization, earning your MBA in nonprofit management is a good choice. There is expected to be robust growth over the next decade in nonprofit careers, leading to numerous open jobs from which you can choose.

Because of the breadth of areas represented in the nonprofit world, you also have the opportunity to choose a position with a specific focus that interests you. For example, if you are passionate about preserving wilderness or working with endangered species, you are sure to find an organization that aligns with your interest and allows you to pursue fulfilling work that matters deeply to you.

Although salaries in the nonprofit world vary greatly depending on the size and scope of the organization, there are opportunities to earn six-figure salaries, and your master’s degree will position you to take advantage of lucrative and satisfying jobs as they become available. The finance manager of a nonprofit, for example, can expect to earn a median salary of $131,710 a year, according to the BLS, while a fundraising manager can earn $119,860 annually.

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