Nonprofit Leadership, MNPL

Become an effective nonprofit leader and make a lasting impact with Seattle University's Master of Nonprofit Leadership program. You'll be equipped with the knowledge and skills to navigate the complex landscape of nonprofit organizations.

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About this Program

Learn to Lead for Positive Change

Seattle University's Master of Nonprofit Leadership program (MNPL) prepares social justice-minded leaders to make a difference in the world.   

Founded in 1994 as one of the first graduate programs in the United States focused on the professional education of nonprofit leaders, the MNPL is built on the national standards established by the Nonprofit Academic Centers Council, the international membership association that focuses on the study of nonprofit/nongovernmental organizations, voluntary action and philanthropy.  

Designed for working adults, the program consists of evening and weekend classes that combine the latest in leadership theory and nonprofit research with hands-on experience through community-based consulting and practicum projects. Our program focuses on the professional skillset you need to succeed as a nonprofit leader:  

  • Leadership Theory 
  • Governance  
  • Strategic Planning  
  • Policy and Advocacy 
  • Finance  
  • Fundraising and Philanthropy 
  • Marketing and Communications  
  • Human Resources Management  
  • Social Justice 
  • Program Design and Evaluation  
  • Applied Research  

Nonprofit Leadership Graduate Degree at a Glance

Learn how this degree from the Department of Public Affairs and Nonprofit Leadership will contribute to your career goals. Then, explore course requirements and see how impactful a Seattle University degree can be.

Embarking on a Master's in Nonprofit Leadership takes you into the worlds of strategic management, resource mobilization, and ethical leadership within the nonprofit sector. You engage with real-world case studies, honing your skills in organizational development and effective collaboration. Guided by experienced faculty, you explore innovative approaches to address societal challenges and drive meaningful change. Networking with fellow passionate individuals, you build a community dedicated to making a difference. Through this immersive experience, you emerge as a skilled and compassionate leader, ready to lead and inspire within the nonprofit landscape.

Upon completion of the program, Master of Nonprofit Leadership students will possess core competencies in:

  • Leadership: Demonstrate understanding of theories of ethical and values-based leadership, as well as the ability to apply these theories to real-world situations. Be able to motivate and inspire others, build consensus and make sound decisions.
  • Foundations of the Sector: Understand the history, development, and function of philanthropic and nonprofit organizations. Be able to articulate the values and principles of the nonprofit sector and how they differ from those of the for-profit sector.
  • Visioning and Planning: Be able to identify social needs, analyze opportunities, and develop strategic plans to address those needs. Be able to articulate a clear vision for the future of an organization and to inspire others to share that vision.
  • Communication: Be able to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences, including board members, staff, volunteers, donors and the general public. Be able to write clear and concise reports, proposals and grant applications. Be able to speak in public in a way that is both informative and inspiring.
  • Managing Resources: Be able to acquire and allocate resources effectively. Be able to develop and manage budgets, and to identify and secure funding sources. Be able to build and maintain relationships with donors and funders.

What You’ll Learn

Learn about the classes you’ll take as a student here.

Support That Makes a Difference

A student holding an SU nonprofit leadership sign

Career and Networking Events

Whether you are launching your nonprofit career or seeking to develop your leadership, we are here to help you achieve your goals and maximize your impact.

A SeattleU Non Profit Leadership notebook

Practicum: Experiential Learning

The practicum is designed to give you an opportunity to apply your education and develop your nonprofit leadership skills through practical application. In the practicum, you will examine an organization’s needs, analyze opportunities and deliver implementation-ready recommendations to the organization.

Competency-Based, Experiential Learning with a Supportive Network

Learn from accomplished faculty members, leading practitioners and collaborate with a diverse cohort of like-minded peers. Engage in dynamic discussions, share insights and leverage a network of passionate leaders—including an enthusiastic alumni network—who share your vision for change.

Empowerment Through Education: Our comprehensive curriculum equips you with the knowledge, skills and ethical foundation needed to navigate the complex landscape of nonprofit organizations. You'll gain a deep understanding of strategic management, resource mobilization and innovative leadership practices that drive sustainable social impact.

Social Justice at the Core: Immerse yourself in a community that values and champions social justice. Seattle University's commitment to inclusivity, equity and advocacy serves as the backbone of our program, fostering leaders who are dedicated to creating a more just and equitable world.

Real-World Application: Put theory into action through hands-on experiences with consulting opportunities and practicum projects with our extensive network of nonprofit partners. Gain practical skills that are immediately applicable to your leadership journey.

In this program, you’ll sharpen your abilities, develop new competencies and network with colleagues working across the full breadth of the nonprofit sector.

Strong Connections for a Strong Network

Learn with passionate leaders from all levels, including a thriving alumni network, ready to make change happen. Peer learning and building an expanded network are core to your Master of Nonprofit Leadership experience.

You’ll reflect on your values, think critically and share and apply knowledge in real time with peers and nonprofit organizations.

A diverse cohort of students move through the program together, fostering deeper relationships and ongoing collaboration. 

Throughout the program, you will also present professional work to peers and organizations, building knowledge and skills along the way.

Meaningful Roles in Nonprofit Leadership

No matter your passion, our programs will prepare you to make a difference in any field of nonprofit work.

Our graduates work in a variety of nonprofit, public, and private sector organizations. Leveraging the skills and knowledge gained in the program, many of them move into new roles within their organizations or into new areas of impact within 6-12 months of graduation.*.

During a recent program study, 100% of respondents reported using the skills or knowledge learned in the nonprofit leadership programs in their daily work.

Alumni employment includes:

  • Executive Directors
  • Directors of Development
  • Volunteer Managers
  • Marketing and Communications Directors
  • Philanthropy Advisors
  • Youth Program Leads
  • Community Engagement Managers
  • Major Gift Officers
  • Program Managers
  • Directors of Operations
  • Directors of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Public Policy Associates
  • K-12 Faculty
  • Nonprofit Consultants

*Seattle University does not guarantee employment.

From Our Alumni

Andrew Kambwiri, ‘23

"I chose Seattle University’s Master of Nonprofit Leadership program because I wanted to become better at working with communities. I have worked in rural communities in Malawi and as I advanced in my career, I wanted to improve my leadership skills and deepen my understanding of issues of social justice.”

Master of Nonprofit Leadership

Featured Faculty

Get in Touch

If you have any questions about the program or application, we’re here to help!

Ashley Miller

Senior Admissions Counselor

Ashley Miller Headshot