What Is the Core Curriculum of a Nonprofit Management Degree?

Nonprofit organizations generate income for advocacy groups, social welfare programs, community development projects, hospitals and schools, so the curriculum in a degree program typically covers financial and fundraising topics, as well as program development and organizational management. Continue reading for information about these major subjects covered in nonprofit management programs. Schools offering Nonprofit Management & Leadership degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Nonprofit Management Degree and Curriculum Overview

Educational options range from noncredit courses and professional development certificate programs to bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs. The core curriculum in a nonprofit management programs typically provides instruction in grant writing, government compliance, financial planning and employee relations.

Important Facts About Nonprofit Management Degrees

Prerequisites High school diploma or GED equivalent
Online Availability Yes
Concentrations Policy, international development, marketing & development, public relations & advocacy
Possible Careers Director of development, program director, chief financial officer


The following four major areas are among some of the most commonly encountered subjects for students in nonprofit management programs.


Fundraising is a key aspect of nonprofit management. Managers and directors may develop relationships with large-gift donors, establish planned giving programs or apply for government grants. Revenue is also generated through fundraising events, direct mail campaigns and phone solicitations. Often known as 'the ask,' fundraising is a skill that requires specialized knowledge covered in nonprofit management degree programs. A fundraising course often includes content such as:

  • Fundraising fundamentals and donor management
  • Grant writing and administration
  • Nonprofit marketing and promotions

Financial Management

Because many nonprofits are tax-exempt, they are subject to strict federal guidelines in areas such as executive compensation and distribution of revenue. While many nonprofits are private organizations, some also receive government funding, requiring specific knowledge of laws, regulations and Internal Revenue Service requirements. Degree program coursework in this area often includes:

  • Nonprofit law and regulatory compliance
  • Taxation and IRS reporting guidelines
  • Accounting principles for nonprofits

Organizational Management

Nonprofit leaders recruit and manage teams of paid employees and unpaid volunteers. They must also be able to interact with board members, who are an integral part of the leadership team. Board responsibilities include establishing the organization's mission and selecting a chief executive. Managers and board members alike must be well-versed in nonprofit structure and governance. Coursework in this area includes:

  • Human resources management and law
  • Strategic management for nonprofits
  • Organizational behavior

Program Development

A nonprofit meets the needs of its clients through the programs it develops. Nonprofit managers establish program goals and guidelines, plan ways in which the organization's services will be distributed and create ways to track a program's success. Clear-cut guidelines and verifiable success rates are critical to obtaining grants and other donations. Program development courses often cover:

  • Program planning and delivery of services
  • Program content development
  • Evaluation methods and statistical analysis

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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