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Become a Nonprofit Leader

You already have a job in the nonprofit world. You love what you do. You are committed to a cause. Now you are ready to advance your career by stepping into a management position. So, how can you move into nonprofit leadership?

Experience counts, of course, but so does education. One way you can become a leader in a nonprofit organization is by earning a master’s degree. Earning a Master of Science in Nonprofit Administration will show your employer — or potential employers — that you are committed to the nonprofit sector. Graduates of master’s degree programs have specialized and substantive knowledge in their fields of study, and employers know this. As such, many nonprofits require people in top-level positions to have master’s degrees.

According to an article from, common titles for people with master’s degrees who work at nonprofit organizations include:

  • Executive Director.
  • Assistant Director of Programs.
  • Chief Executive Officer.
  • Director, Marketing and Communications.
  • Vice President Finance and Administration.
  • Senior Business Development Officer.
  • Development Director.
  • Membership Director.
  • Volunteer Coordinator/Director.
  • Director of Fundraising.

More Education Means More Pay

A study conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that in 2014, people working in nonprofit leadership positions earned $34.14 an hour, compared to other nonprofit employees, who averaged $15.79 per hour. The same study also found that people in nonprofit management positions are more likely to receive health insurance benefits. Finally, a different BLS study found that the national unemployment rate for people with a master’s degree was 2.4 percent in 2015, compared to 4.3 percent overall.

What You Will Learn

A Master of Science in Nonprofit Administration degree offers students practical, real-world experience, knowledge, skills and insights to help them develop the management tools to succeed in nonprofit leadership.

A course list for a master’s degree focused on nonprofit management might include classes such as the following:

  • Development of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations.
  • Nonprofit Administration Theory and Research.
  • Nonprofit Governance and Decision-Making.
  • Nonprofit Financial Management.

Balancing Obligations

Finding the time to return to school for an advanced degree can be daunting for working professionals. The idea of trying to find a balance between personal and professional obligations can seem so overwhelming that some people put off school for years at a time, until it is too late.

Working professionals who want to advance a career in nonprofit administration should consider online learning. Earning an online degree gives you the flexibility to study where and when it suits you best. Online programs help students develop professional networks with colleagues from diverse professional and geographical backgrounds, and the degree demonstrates drive and commitment to the nonprofit sector.

Working in a nonprofit organization offers a certain kind of fulfillment not available in all fields. After all, by definition, a nonprofit is working to further a social cause. By earning a master’s degree — the next step toward a nonprofit leadership position — you know that not only are you making a difference in the lives of others, you are also making a difference in yours.

Learn more about the LSUS online MS in Nonprofit Administration program.

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