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Nonprofit Leadership, M.S.

Program Description

The Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership is an interdisciplinary program intended for both those already working in the nonprofit sector as either a paid employee or a volunteer, as well as those who wish to move into the nonprofit sector. Preparing leaders for the nonprofit world of the 21st century requires competency in many different disciplines. Thus, the program draws from the disciplines of psychology, planning, evaluation, fund raising, ethics, law, human resources, finance, marketing and more so that students can develop the understanding needed to be a successful nonprofit leader and run a successful nonprofit organization. Graduates of this program not only gain the interdisciplinary framework and knowledge needed to lead, they also have had an opportunity to apply that knowledge and learn the challenges of aligning theory and practice.

The program adheres to the crucial goals of Lasallian graduate education.

  • Scholarly inquiry in the pursuit of truth, evidenced by its faculty and students alike.
    Whether relying on real life case studies, the revelations of current research and/or the assessment of real life events, students and faculty in the program dissect the data to understand better the past so they can prepare for the future.
  • Through their research and professional components, graduate programs prepare students for academic and professional careers as well as service to the community.
    Through an integrated approach used in all classes, the program equips students with the ability to balance theory and reality, a constant need in the real work world. It prepares students to be successful paid leaders in the nonprofit sector, as well as very knowledgeable volunteers, should they choose to serve on a nonprofit board, board committee and/or be a volunteer to help implement the mission.
  • Graduate programs promote lifelong learning in response to the changing and diverse needs of the 21st century workplace and the global community.
    The current workforce needs more nonprofit employees in general, and leaders in particular. In the past fifteen years, the nonprofit sector has grown between 17%-24%, while the for-profit sector declined by 5%. We are now seeing the exodus of Baby Boomer executive directors who delayed their retirement because of the Great Recession, and some delayed it further due to the pandemic. This rate of growth and retirement of executive directors combine to create a need for new leaders that well exceed 500,000. Directly and indirectly, the program curriculum will teach students the importance of bringing research and theory into their daily practice to ensure that they are driving their program or organization on the good-better-best practices continuum, aiming always for best practices.


The mission of the Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership is to educate those who seek a leadership position anywhere in the nonprofit sector and to provide them with the knowledge, theory, skills, and approaches necessary to guide an organization (or program) successfully through the ever changing and complex environment in which we all operate. It equips leaders wherever they reside on an organization chart to best fulfill the promises of the particular nonprofit in which they lead and and to fulfill the promise of all nonprofits: to improve the quality of life for all and enrich the communities in which we live.

Program Goals

The program has the following three broad goals:

  • To give students a theoretically based, practice-oriented, best practices framework for leading in the nonprofit sector of the 21st century, which translates into competencies in psychology, planning, evaluation, fund raising, ethics, law, human resources, finance, governance, and marketing;
  • To emphasize the practical and real time application of knowledge gained, to ensure that students don’t just learn ideas about leading a nonprofit but also have experienced how to organize and assess them in the real world under the tutelage of an experienced professional; and
  • To ensure that both the knowledge and experience gained are solidly rooted in ethical practice. Thus, while there is a course focused on the law and ethics of nonprofits, ethical practice will run continuously through every class in the curriculum.

The nonprofit sector is extremely diverse, from social service organizations to arts and culture to environment to social justice and more. The National Taxonomy of Exempt Organizations, used by the IRS and others, identifies 26 major categories of nonprofits, and 655 detailed categories. Variety of purpose aside, however, the majority of the tasks of leading a nonprofit varies little from category to category. Thus, the program will prepare students to work anywhere in the sector.

Program Specific Information

Graduation Requirements

Successful completion of all required courses within a 7-year period is required for graduation. Additionally and importantly, all students must have a cumulative minimum grade point average of 3.0 to graduate.