College of Arts and Sciences
Master of Nonprofit Leadership

Curriculum

  • The Master of Nonprofit Leadership was one of the first graduate degrees in the country developed specifically for those who lead, or aspire to lead, nonprofit organizations. Today, the curriculum emphasizes the latest in leadership and management theory and the practical skills and dexterity required of nonprofit leaders. Students work with a distinguished mix of Seattle University faculty and practitioner instructors, learn with a cohort of peers, and build their networks among nonprofit and grantmaking leaders in the region.

    This 45-credit degree combines 33 credits of core coursework completed with a cohort, and 12 credits of electives. The program can be completed in 18 to 24 months. 

    Designed for working professionals, the program schedules courses in the evenings or on Saturdays. Students are provided with class schedules in advance to facilitate planning.

    Course work is dynamic, and builds on the diverse professional experiences that students bring with them to the classroom. Students participate in a 3-credit practicum, which places them in local nonprofit organizations and allows them to immediately apply their classroom learning to real world situations. Applicants with extensive leadership and managerial experience may petition to replace the practicum with an elective course.

    The program culminates in the Summary Project, a synthesis of focused academic study and the results of the community practicum experience.

    Personal mentoring is also provided by professionals currently working in the field. Graduates have access to career counseling services and are invited to continue their association with the network of over 330 alumni.

    Required Courses (33 credits)

    • Leadership - Theoretical and applied knowledge about concepts of leadership, leadership styles and situations, communication skills, techniques of inspiration, motivation, conflict resolution, negotiating and building consensus, coping with change, and fostering innovation. This class will include six week days of full time study.
    • Foundations - The role of nonprofit organizations, their history, traditions, values, ethics, legal, tax, and economic base, and emerging issues facing the sector.
    • Planning - Understanding the function of strategic, long range and tactical planning, developing the framework and tools to design a variety of planning models, motivating and managing stakeholder involvement with different planning initiatives, integrating learning organization and systems principles, creating vision, mission, values, strategic thinking.
    • Financial  Management - Planning, reporting and controlling of fiscal resources and overall management control systems, budgeting, terminology and principles of financial accounting and program evaluation, analysis of financial statements, responsibility and program structure, internal controls and audit responsibility, managerial financial controls and pricing.
    • Boards and Volunteers - Organizing and leading volunteers to provide governance and other assistance, board and staff relations, systems and tactics of volunteer motivation, recruitment, development, utilization and retention, strategies and best practices for creating an effective, diverse and committed organizational leadership team.
    • Fundraising - Specific skills, knowledge and understanding required of executives to lead and manage the resource development and fundraising functions, integrating fundraising and stewardship throughout the organization, organizational readiness measures, materials and tools of resource development, best practices for involving volunteers, boards and staff in researching and soliciting contributions, methodologies for creating and using an effective, diversified and comprehensive resource development plan.
    • Strategic Marketing - Marketing an organization’s image, mission and services, developing and implementing a public relations strategy, working with the media, and tying these functions to the ability of the organization to attract financial support.
    • Program  Evaluation - Program evaluation as a management practice that relates to strategic planning, program development and improvement, resource allocation, and marketing. Application of outcome-based evaluation and results-based accountability frameworks.
    • Leading Staff - Best practices for implementing the management competencies needed to lead staff, political realities of staff operations, fostering creativity, coaching for excellence, achieving diversity, nonprofit aspects of personnel recruitment, administration, retention and evaluation policies and procedures, laws and regulations.
    • Practicum - Integrates and applies the nonprofit theories being learned in the course work with the realities of the workplace. This practicum provides students the opportunity to apply their knowledge in a variety of nonprofit skill areas within local nonprofit organizations.
    • Capstone - Independent research analyzing and proposing resolution to a significant nonprofit leadership issue or management problem that synthesizes, through application, a wide variety of the leadership management skills and knowledge taught throughout the program. The course requires completion of a physical product and an oral presentation.