By BVS Staff
An online master’s degree in nonprofit management and leadership could do wonders for your career. If you have an interest in philanthropy, charitable giving, and generally making the world a better place, you should consider work in the nonprofit sector. If you additionally have an interest in business and management, working your way to the head of a nonprofit organization could be the perfect plan for you.
Admittedly, it can be difficult to find a job in upper management without a graduate degree. Luckily, online colleges make attending a master’s program easier than ever. You can enroll at multiple times throughout the year, and there is generally a great deal of flexibility regarding the pace at which you complete classes.
The 20 Best Online Master’s Degrees in Nonprofit Management Ranking Methodology
For this ranking, we focused on public and private (non-profit) colleges and universities that offer online nonprofit management master’s programs. Because the focus of this list is on affordability, we only considered programs with average* tuition rates of $20,000/year or less.
*For public schools, we calculated the average value of their in-state and out-of-state rates.
Unfortunately, there are a limited number of online master’s in nonprofit management degree programs available. Therefore, we could not compile a pool of options large enough to justify a multifactorial ranking system in which we’d score programs based on a list of specific considerations.
So instead, we ranked the programs solely according to their affordability. See below for the best cheap master’s in nonprofit management and leadership online programs, listed from most to least expensive.
Cheap Online Master’s in Nonprofit Management Degree Programs Ranked
20. Gratz College
Online MS in Nonprofit Management
Gratz College’s “practitioner-oriented” MS in Nonprofit Management is designed to impart the unique skills that professionals need to succeed in the world of philanthropy. Classes focus on how leadership, ethics, and social principles apply to real-world situations – not just in your local community, but also in global contexts. Assignments frequently have a hands-on component, and research projects and case studies make regular appearances throughout the curriculum. Another highlight of this affordable online nonprofit management master’s program? Accelerated eight-week courses will help you stay on track while keeping the average completion time to about two years.
Average Tuition & Fees: $17,042/yr
19. Our Lady of the Lake University
Online Master of Science (MS) in Nonprofit Management
Our Lady of the Lake University offers a fast-track MS in Nonprofit Management designed for busy professionals. The curriculum consists of 12 set courses (no electives), giving you a straightforward path from registration to graduation in just one year. Of the required courses, the most significant is the “Professional Project.” During this class, which takes place at the beginning of the program, you’ll work with your instructor to develop a year-long project in an area of interest to you. You’ll keep building on this project throughout the program, finally presenting it to faculty and classmates once you’re ready to graduate from OLLU with your accredited online master’s in nonprofit management degree.
Average Tuition & Fees: $16,818/yr
18. Central Michigan University
Online Master of Science in Administration: Philanthropy and Fundraising
As an MSA, Central Michigan’s degree program covers a broad swath of general administration topics. For example, the required core touches on financial analysis, organizational dynamics, and strategic planning. While these topics aren’t limited to nonprofit work, the skills they encompass are nonetheless beneficial for anyone interested in managing a philanthropic organization. Of course, that’s not enough to qualify as a top online nonprofit management master’s program. But this degree also comes with a concentration in Philanthropy and Fundraising, complete with classes like “Grants Fiscal Administration,” “Foundations of Philanthropic Organizations,” and “Philanthropy: The Role of Foundations, Non-Profit Organizations in Society.”
Average Tuition & Fees: $15,906/yr
17. University of Northern Iowa
Online MA in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Development
If you already work in the nonprofit sector and are looking to boost your career opportunities, check out the master’s program at the University of Northern Iowa. UNI’s M.A. in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Development caters to professionals who have about three to five years of experience in the field. The curriculum works to build on that experience with advanced coursework in grant writing, public relations, advocacy, research, and financial decision-making, among other topics. And to make it easy to enroll in this affordable master’s in nonprofit management and leadership online, the program doesn’t have any entrance exam requirements – not even the GRE!
Average Tuition & Fees: $15,430/yr
16. Ohio University
Online Master of Public Administration: Non-Profit Management
Students who want a career in public administration should strongly consider earning their MPA. And those with a specific interest in nonprofit management should strongly consider earning that MPA from Ohio University. While not a traditional top online master’s degree in nonprofit management, this program offers a nice balance for professionals who want to keep their career options open. Core courses address crucial industry issues like public budgeting, policy analysis, and public-private partnerships. By opting for the Non-Profit Management concentration, you’ll then embark on a deeper exploration of how finance, governance, outreach, and communication each play a role in philanthropic organizations.
Average Tuition & Fees: $13,711/yr
15. University of Montana
Online MPA Nonprofit Administration
The University of Montana takes a somewhat unique approach to online education. All its nonprofit administration classes are available online without any formal application process – simply enroll through the site and take one or more classes as you see fit. However, those looking for a full-fledged, accredited master’s in nonprofit management and leadership online can get the equivalent through UM’s MPA program. Also available online, this degree offers a Nonprofit Administration Track. This four-course concentration lets you choose your topics of study from a list of nearly a dozen relevant classes, including ones in fundraising, grant writing, volunteer management, marketing, human resources, and more.
Average Tuition & Fees: $13,571/yr
14. North Park University
Online Master of Nonprofit Administration
North Park University boasts a robust, 18-course Master of Nonprofit Administration program that prioritizes the skills you’ll need to run successful, mission-driven organizations. A 13-course core addresses just about every topic you could possibly want, from ethical leadership and consumer behavior to fundraising, government relations, and social responsibility. The strength of this curriculum comes in part from North Park’s very own Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management, an on-campus resource that provides training, events, and networking. But there’s an even bigger benefit to attending this accredited online nonprofit management master’s program. In doing so, you’ll automatically earn an exclusive Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) credential, available only as part of NPU’s membership with the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance.
Average Tuition & Fees: $13,248/yr
13. California State University-Northridge
Online MPA: Nonprofit Sector Management
Cal State Northridge specifically created its Nonprofit Sector Management MPA concentration in response to student requests for more courses in this area. And in taking candidates’ input, CSUN has created a cheap online master’s in nonprofit management degree that directly reflects current interests and trends. You’ll study funding and resource development, needs assessment and program design, board management, non-profit finance, and much more. In the last semester of this program, you’ll also complete a graduate project. This project requires you to take an existing research paper (from a previous MPA class) and expand upon it to produce a manuscript that you can publish in a real academic journal!
Average Tuition & Fees: $13,061/yr
12. Johnson & Wales University
Online Master of Science – Nonprofit Management
Whether you want to work in a hospital, social service center, federal agency, or charitable organization, JWU’s cheap online nonprofit management master’s program can help you achieve your goals. In addition to its affordable price, this program also attracts applicants for its accelerated schedule. Although you can pursue the degree at your own pace, ambitious learners who maximize their time will be in and out of this program in just 15 months. In that time, you’ll take ten courses, each concentrating on a niche area of nonprofit management. Examples of classes include “Social Entrepreneurship,” “Ethics and Social Change,” “Resource Development for Nonprofits,” and “Public, Private, and Nonprofit Collaboration.”
Average Tuition & Fees: $13,008/yr
11. Regis University
Online Master of Nonprofit Management
Primarily designed for current industry professionals, Regis University’s Master of Nonprofit Management can help you take your career to the next level. Rather than cover all the basics of the field, Regis’ affordable online master’s in nonprofit management degree will help you augment existing skillsets with classes like “Logic and Critical Analysis” and “Leading from Within.” Of course, you’ll still learn plenty about program development, governance, legal issues, and other key topics, but you’ll do so with a mind toward expanding your existing career opportunities. The program also includes a final capstone, which you can fulfill either by completing a “Professional Project” or participating in a service-oriented field experience.
Average Tuition & Fees: $12,852/yr
10. Cairn University
Online MS in Nonprofit Leadership
At Cairn University, being a successful nonprofit manager starts with good leadership. That’s why its MS program includes a leadership-oriented capstone practicum that focuses on developing students as strategic leaders. Note that as a Christian university, Cairn also incorporates religious topics into its programs. And its online nonprofit management master’s program is no exception; required classes include “Overview of Christian Theology” as well as “Theology of Leadership and Business.” Of course, you’ll also study plenty of standard nonprofit administration subjects as well, from fundraising and development to financial management, best practices, and innovation.
Average Tuition & Fees: $12,384/yr
9. Shorter University
Online Master of Management: Human Services Nonprofit Management
Compared to other programs on our master’s in nonprofit management and leadership online ranking, Shorter University’s degree puts a much heavier emphasis on general management. In fact, the first six classes you take will have nothing to do with nonprofit work. Fortunately, the topics they do cover – such as business analytics and organizational behavior – are still useful for developing your managerial prowess. In the second half of this 31-credit program, you’ll take a deep dive into all things philanthropy, studying marketing, communications, volunteer management, and fundraising in the context of the nonprofit sector.
Average Tuition & Fees: $12,200/yr
8. Metropolitan State University
Online Master of Nonprofit Leadership and Management ( MNLM)
As a 40-credit program, Metropolitan State University’s Master of Nonprofit Leadership and Management is among the most robust options on this list. The curriculum starts with six credits of fundamentals (research, governance) along with 18 credits in “Strategic Skills and Knowledge” (e.g., economics, ethics, organizational behavior). You’ll then have a chance to focus your studies by selecting electives from different departments. You can stick with nonprofit classes, explore general public administration courses, or take credits in a completely different area – cultural heritage or political leadership, for example. Lastly, you’ll round off this top online master’s degree in nonprofit management with a capstone that focuses on issues facing diverse communities.
Average Tuition & Fees: $11,897/yr
7. University of Houston-Downtown
Online Master of Arts in Non-Profit Management (MANPM)
In many ways, UHD’s MA degree is no different from the other affordable online nonprofit management master’s programs on this list. After all, the core coursework covers all the expected topics: strategic planning, finance, leadership, resourcing, and more. However, the program distinguishes itself from the crowd with some rather unique electives. Yes, you’ll still find the standard subjects (e.g., grant writing) but you can also study “Public Relations and Media,” “Communications and Technology,” or even “Negotiation and Conflict Resolution.” In addition, the University of Houston–Downtown’s program includes a required six-credit internship.
Average Tuition & Fees: $11,381/yr
6. National Louis University
Online Master of Business (MBA) in Nonprofit Management
Want the cachet of an MBA degree without sacrificing the focused training of a master’s in nonprofit leadership? Look to National Louis University, where you’ll find an MBA with a concentration in Nonprofit Management. In the main portion of the program, you’ll accrue an impressive stockpile of business knowledge in finance, human resources, economics, marketing, and strategy. This know-how will serve you well in the second half of the program, where you’ll build on these skills as you learn how to form relationships with stakeholders, address organizational issues, and run successful fundraising campaigns. Also note that in addition to its 100% online master’s degree in nonprofit management, NLU has created a new blended format for residents of Illinois and Florida.
Average Tuition & Fees: $11,364/yr
5. Crown College
Online MBA: Nonprofit Management Concentration
Christian students, take note: Crown College offers a “Christ-centered” MBA in Nonprofit Management. Officially, the 42-credit, accredited online nonprofit management master’s program only includes one religiously-focused course (“Theoretical and Spiritual Foundations of Leadership”). However, you can expect ideas related to spirituality and religion to crop up throughout the curriculum as faculty address lessons “through a God-centered lens.” Aside from its Christian leanings, this program stands out for its especially comprehensive coursework. Not only will you take 27 credits in general business, but you’ll take another five classes specifically related to nonprofit management.
Average Tuition & Fees: $9,430/yr
4. Concordia University-Nebraska
Online MBA: Nonprofit Management
Another great choice on this online nonprofit management master’s programs ranking for aspiring MBAs, Concordia University’s graduate degree offers a forward-thinking and career-oriented education. In the MBA core, you’ll take traditional classes in accounting, marketing, and finance. But you’ll also stretch your critical-thinking skills and challenge yourself to think outside the box in progressive courses like “Innovation and Business Model Generation in a Digital Age” and “Effective Decision-Making and Communication.” But your biggest challenge will come in the “Strategic Management” capstone course, during which you’ll have to design, implement, and assess an actual business plan for a nonprofit organization.
Average Tuition & Fees: $9,395/yr
3. Liberty University
Online Master of Business Administration in Non-Profit Leadership and Management
The top-ranked (and cheapest) of the MBA degrees on this ranking, Liberty University’s graduate program offers a solid business education at a great value. And in case you have any doubts about its quality, note that Liberty’s MBA curriculum has earned approval from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. And its no wonder why; the business core goes beyond most curricula, touching on complex issues like “Policy and Strategy in Global Competition” and “Global Economic Environment.” Add in a focused cognate of courses in workforce planning, strategic communication, and grant acquisition, and you have the makings of a top affordable master’s in nonprofit management and leadership online.
Average Tuition & Fees: $8,723/yr
2. Grace College and Theological Seminary
Online Master of Science in Nonprofit Management
Grace College’s MS in Nonprofit Management focuses on one question:
“What will help [you] do a better job of serving others now?” To aid you in answering that question, Grace faculty offer you a solid repertoire of philanthropic and managerial skills. You’ll learn how to train staff, use donor management software, leverage social media in y our fundraising, advocate for important causes, and much more. Before graduating from this affordable online master’s degree in nonprofit management, you’ll also have the chance to take some electives. Given that Grace is a Christian college, it should come as no surprise that many of these electives focus on religious topics, such as “Principles and Practices of Prayer” and “Ministry and Cultural Diversity.”
Average Tuition & Fees: $7,888/yr
1. Louisiana State University-Shreveport
Online Master of Science in Nonprofit Administration
If you’re in the market for a quick but high-quality nonprofit management program, take a look at Louisiana State University at Shreveport. By attending full-time, you can graduate from this cheap online nonprofit management master’s program in just 12 months. In that short time, you’ll acquire a hefty dose of knowledge in all the standard topics – and then some! The curricular core covers social institutions, human resources, research methods, philanthropic development, decision making, and financial management, among other subjects. In addition, you’ll take two targeted seminars – one in “Planned Giving” and another in “Development” – that explore crucial questions like why people give and how to maximize donations.
Average Tuition & Fees: $7,349/yr
Thanks for reading our ranking of the 20 top cheap online master’s degrees in nonprofit management and leadership!