Nonprofit Certificate

Overview: The Certificate in Nonprofit Management provides students with an introduction to core aspects of management and leadership in the nonprofit sector. The course of study emphasizes an introduction to essential aspects of nonprofit management, an overview of current policy and management issues, the development of analytical skills critical to effective work in the nonprofit sector and specialized course work in aspect of management (such as strategy development or grants management).

The Certificate Program is geared to two types of students, individuals currently working in the nonprofit sector and students in master’s degree programs.

For individuals currently working in the nonprofit sector, the certificate program provides an opportunity to develop a broader understanding of the nonprofit sector and management practices. The certificate program supplements the practical knowledge students have gained from work experience, with an introduction to theory, empirical research, skills and best practices. Course work provides students with a foundation of knowledge about management and leadership in the nonprofit sector that they can use to enhance their performance in their current job or for higher level jobs in the nonprofit sector in the future.

For individuals currently enrolled in master’s degree programs, the certificate in nonprofit management is appropriate for those who foresee using their master’s degree to pursue a career in the nonprofit sector. The certificate program provides management and leadership training to complement the professional knowledge students acquire in their course of study for the master’s degree. In the certificate program, students receive an introduction to relevant theory, empirical research, skills and best practices. Course work provides students with a foundation of knowledge about management and leadership in the nonprofit sector that they can use in future jobs in the sector.

Course of Study

To earn the Certificate in Nonprofit Management, students must complete 15 credits.

There are four required courses:

1. PAFF 551, Introduction to Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 3 credits (offered every fall)
2. PAFF 552, Issues in Nonprofit Administration, 3 credits (offered every spring)
3. PAFF 527, Public and Nonprofit Finance, 4 credits (offered every fall and spring)
4. PAFF 526, Managing Information and Technology, 2 credits (offered every fall and spring)

Students must also satisfactorily complete an additional three (3) credits from the following list:

  • PAFF 514 Proposal Preparation and Grant Management (3 credits)
  • PAFF 553 Nonprofit Innovation and Social Enterprise  (3 credits)
  • PAFF 554 Strategy Development in Nonprofit Organizations (3 credits)
  • PAFF 555 Introduction to Nongovernmental Organizations (3 credits)
  • PAFF 564 Service Learning and Language Immersion in Cusco, Peru: "Sustainability in an Era of Globalization” (6 credits)[LK1] 
  • PAFF 558X Advanced Topics in Not-for-Profit Management (3 credits)
  • PAFF 559 Workshop in Not-for-Profit Management (var. credits)
  • PAFF 569X Sustainable Communities: Theory and Practice
  • PAFF 585 Emergency Management (3 credits)
  • PAFF 581R Organizational Advancement/Fundraising 
  • Courses offered in other departments with a clear nonprofit management focus as approved by the Director of Admissions and Student Services

Students pursuing the Nonprofit or Local Government Certificate must compile a portfolio that includes samples of work which represent knowledge and skills specific to their certificate and which they believe best demonstrate their grasp of the core competencies identified for each Certificate program. The portfolio is required for all students entering the program in fall 2014 and beyond; the portfolio is optional for students who entered the program earlier than that date. A list of competencies and
assessment tools for each certificate is provided in Appendix E. Students must submit their portfolios by the last day of classes of their final semester in the program. While all Certificate students must submit a portfolio to graduate, assessment of portfolios will not affect students' graduation. Members of the MPA Advisory Board will assess portfolios periodically. Assessments will be shared with the students after graduation and will be used on an aggregate level to inform program improvements within certificate programs.

Admission Requirements

If you wish to pursue a certificate in conjunction with your MPA, please fill out the Add-on Certificate Application located here and return to Brianna King (DC 437):

To be admitted into the Certificate Program, if a student is not already enrolled in the MPA Program, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  1. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  2. An undergraduate grade point average of 3.0

For prospective students who do not hold or are not currently enrolled in a master’s degree program:

  1. Two or more years of experience as a volunteer or paid staff member in a nonprofit organization
  2. Or, a master's degree in Public Administration or a related field (such as Social Work or Student Affairs Administration).

The application process requires students to submit the following materials:

  1. The online Grad School Application
  2. Transcripts from your undergraduate institution
  3. A current resume
  4. A letter of recommendation from a professor or professional colleague (such as a supervisor or executive director of a nonprofit organization) who can evaluate your suitability for the Certificate program.
  5. A one page personal statement that addresses why you are interested in the program.

These materials will be reviewed in total to assess whether applicants bring the necessary skills and experiences to succeed in the program.

If students are interested in completing two specializations or certificates, a minimum of 51 total credits must be completed. If a student is interested in completing three specializations or certificates, a minimum of 60 total credits must be completed. Credits cannot be “double counted” for more than one specialization or certificate.

If you would like to discuss the certificate further, please contact:

Brianna King: or 607-777-2719.

Gainful Employment Disclosure information for the Nonprofit Certificate is available at:

Last Updated: 9/13/16