The Master of Nonprofit Leadership program at Seattle University 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 philanthropic leaders in the region.
This 45-credit degree combines 39 credits of core coursework completed with a cohort, and 6 credits of electives. The program can be completed in 22 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 Capstone 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 400 alumni.
Required Courses (39 credits):
- Leadership - Integrates theory, practice and skills on topics critical to functioning as a leader in a nonprofit organization. Students will examine their own leadership ideas, styles, and behaviors in relation to general principles and to their own organizational contexts.
- Fundamentals of the Nonprofit Sector - Discusses the development and function of the nonprofit sector as a social institution, both in the U.S. and internationally. Reviews multiple disciplinary approaches to the sector including history, law, economics, sociology, anthropology, critical theory, and philanthropy.
- Nonprofit Governance - Examines how nonprofits are governed and current issues in nonprofit governance. Analyzes nonprofit board and executive director roles in leading change, decision processes, and legal and ethical behavior. Explores theories and strategies to understand and improve nonprofit organizations’ performance and accountability for sector leadership.
- Nonprofit Marketing and Communications - Considers multiple strategies for marketing to support an organization’s mission, developing and implementing a marketing plan, ethics in persuasive communications, working with the media, and tying these functions to the ability of the organization to attract financial support.
- Planning and Evaluation - Study and practice of planning and evaluation for nonprofit organizations, programs, and cross-sector collaborations. Topics include traditional and emerging approaches to strategic thinking, forecasting, and decision making; theories of change; evidence-based practice; equity and ethical evaluation; and promoting a learning organization.
- 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.
- Fundraising and Philanthropy - Overview of fundraising theories, techniques and practices for nonprofit organizations, and the history and development of philanthropy. Topics include motivations for giving, ethical concerns, donor research, types of funding sources, annual giving, campaigns, events, solicitation techniques and channels, new mediums, and the increasing impact of global philanthropy.
- Social Justice in the Third Sector - Social justice as a key component of the third sector. Exploration of historical and contemporary frameworks for social justice in the U.S. and globally, and application of those frameworks to nonprofits and philanthropy. Focus on structural inequality, power, privilege, and social location. Interaction with practitioners working for social change.
- 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.
- Nonprofit Policy and Advocacy - Understanding how nonprofit organizations can work productively with governments, businesses, and other nonprofits to develop and maintain sound public policies that serve the interests of the organization and their constituents, framing public problems and developing policy proposals, building effective partnerships and advocacy campaigns, and complying with lobbying regulations.
- Leading Staff and Volunteers - Best practices relating to staff and volunteer management and motivation. Focusing on skills necessary for successful leadership in nonprofit organizations such as: stress management, communications, power and influence, conflict management, diversity, equity, and inclusion. In addition, the course will emphasize the opportunities and challenges with staff and volunteer recruitment, engagement, and retention.
- Applied Research Methods - Prepares students to design and conduct effective research projects relevant to nonprofit organizations and the nonprofit sector. Topics include the processes of social research, the uses of theory, distinctions between quantitative and qualitative research, research ethics and the protection of human subjects, data collection and data analysis. Students will learn how to select the best methods for the issue or problem being researched, develop a research plan for the program capstone, and identify how to develop effective research reports and communications.
- Practicum - Integrates and applies the nonprofit theories being learned in the course work with the realities of the workplace. 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.
Elective Courses (6 Credits):
- Individual Giving
- Courses from additional University departments as approved by your Advisor