Earning a Master's in Nonprofit Management Online

What You’ll Learn & What You Can Do After Graduation

Should I Pursue a Master's in Nonprofit Management Online?

Nonprofit organizations are the backbone of civil society and much of the social services we take for granted. These organizations need skillful administrators to achieve their unique missions, and earning a master's in nonprofit management online can help you become a leader in this rewarding field.

Nonprofit managers work in organizations serving a wide variety of human, social, educational, and environmental needs. Effective nonprofit managers care deeply about their organization's mission, and communicate their passion clearly to board members, staff, volunteers, donors, and the public. They possess a diverse skill set, enabling them to solve problems, manage multiple projects, supervise staff, and oversee budgets.

Pursuing a master's degree online provides the flexibility to continue working or to balance school with other responsibilities. Explore this guide to learn whether earning a master's in nonprofit management online fits your career goals.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Nonprofit Management Graduates

Master's in Nonprofit Management Salary

Salaries for nonprofit managers vary by position, location, and the type and size of employer. Senior-level directors typically earn more than program managers, for example, and large nonprofits located in or near major cities may offer higher salaries. Nonprofit executive directors can earn wages similar to those of other top executives, averaging $104,700 annually.

As seen below, managers responsible for fundraising and public relations earn average annual wages of $127,690 -- higher in certain locations, though those working in nonprofits may make less than those employed by corporations. Entry-level fundraising managers earn $48,000 per year on average, while social and community service managers command average salaries of $64,100.

Top Paying States for Public Relations and Fundraising Managers

State Employment Annual Mean Wage
District of Columbia 4,460 $170,750
New York 6,100 $164,740
New Jersey 1,830 $161,860
Rhode Island 320 $158,730
Virginia 1,310 $150,150
United States 67,300 $127,690

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pay by Experience Level for Fundraising Managers

  • Entry-Level (0-5 Years):
    $48,000
  • Mid-Career (5-10 Years):
    $57,000
  • Experienced (10-20 Years):
    $61,000
  • Late-Career (20+ Years):
    $51,000

Source: PayScale

Master's in Nonprofit Management Careers

A master's in nonprofit management online program prepares students to pursue careers in nonprofit management. Nonprofit managers run nonprofit organizations, manage nonprofit programs, and direct fundraising efforts. Effective nonprofit managers possess excellent time-management, communication, and fundraising skills. They excel in problem-solving and juggling multiple responsibilities and priorities at once.

These professionals care deeply about their organization's mission, and work to ensure all employees, programs, and board members contribute to fulfilling that mission.

Public Relations and Fundraising Managers

Annual Median Salary: $111,280

Projected Growth Rate: 10%

Effective public relations and fundraising efforts prove essential to any nonprofit. These managers focus on selling their nonprofit's mission and programs to potential donors, who make these programs possible. These professionals develop and oversee public relations and fundraising campaigns, and create promotional materials.

Chief Executive Officers, Nonprofit

Annual Median Salary: $104,015

Projected Growth Rate: N/A

A nonprofit CEO oversees all operations, including event planning, program management, budgeting, fundraising, and hiring. In cooperation with the board of directors, they establish the mission, goals, and direction of the organization, and ensure all staff efforts align with organizational goals. They make sure staff members manage funds responsibly, and report on finances to the board and sponsors.

Directors of Development, Nonprofit

Annual Median Salary: $62,960

Projected Growth Rate: N/A

These directors oversee fundraising efforts, an essential operation for any nonprofit. They develop fundraising campaigns, meet with potential donors, direct donor fulfillment efforts, and report to the executive director and board about funding efforts, needs, and goals. Additional responsibilities may include grant writing and social media marketing.

Executive Directors, Nonprofit

Annual Median Salary: $64,901

Projected Growth Rate: N/A

Executive directors serve as the top leaders in their nonprofit, equivalent to a CEO. These leaders oversee all organizational operations, ensuring programs run smoothly and staff use funds responsibly. They promote their organization and its programs to donors, partners, stakeholders, and the public. Executive directors also hire and manage all personnel.

Program Coordinators, Nonprofit

Annual Median Salary: $41,245

Projected Growth Rate: N/A

Program coordinators and managers run nonprofit programs. Their responsibilities typically include marketing, event planning, updating website content, writing and editing publications and promotional materials, meeting with stakeholders, and training volunteers. They work with the executive director, board members, and other staff to make sure their programs run effectively and efficiently.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statstics / PayScale

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Nonprofit Management Program?

Master's in nonprofit management online programs prepare graduates to become nonprofit managers through coursework in finances, law, human resources, leadership, strategic planning, fundraising, and marketing. Many programs also require a capstone project or fieldwork experience. Required courses may vary by school and program, but most curricula include common courses, such as those below.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Nonprofit Management

Financial Management

This course explores essential financial management issues and introduces students to financial and managerial accounting for nonprofits. Students learn to implement financial control systems, conduct cost analyses, determine pricing structures, create budget reports, and perform financial audits.

Law and Governance

Nonprofit leaders must understand the legal and ethical issues pertaining to nonprofit organizations. This course introduces students to laws that regulate and support the work of nonprofits, and addresses key concepts related to responsible and effective board governance.

Fundraising and Development

Nonprofit survival depends on successful fundraising efforts. This course prepares students to identify potential funders and grants, create strategies to engage donors, develop fundraising plans, and cultivate ongoing relationships with sponsors.

Human Resource Management

Human resources play an essential role in the success of any nonprofit. This course prepares nonprofit managers to hire, train, and supervise staff, contractors, and volunteers. Topics include screening applicants, identifying staff development needs, and mentoring.

Grant Proposal and Report Writing

Grants provide essential funding for many nonprofits. This course explores methods for identifying potential grant makers and evaluating grant proposals. Students learn to write grant proposals, develop grant budgets, and write reports.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Nonprofit Management Prepares For

  • Certified Nonprofit Professional: The Nonprofit Leadership Alliance offers the CNP credential to students and professionals who complete a leadership development program at an affiliated institution. The program features opportunities to apply classroom knowledge, and requires certification candidates to attend a national conference and have completed an internship or professional experience.
  • Certified Fundraising Executive: This certification validates fundraising knowledge, experience, and skills. Applicants must first complete a written application requiring education in fundraising topics, work experience, and evidence of professional performance. Successful applicants may then take the certification exam.