Working in high-level positions in non-profit organizations requires a specific set of skills and often includes a desire to improve the lives of others. Non-profits tend to draw socially minded individuals who want to make positive change in the world around them. While a for profit business has sales and revenue as their bottom line, a non-profit organization is often focused on organizing volunteers and fundraising.
There are many reasons to get a graduate degree. You may be finishing up your undergraduate degree and plan to move into the non-profit sector. Perhaps you want to make a change to non-profit from the business world, or maybe you currently work for a non-profit and are looking to obtain a higher-level position. Depending on what you’d like to do, there are a few options for graduate school.
Types of degrees:
The most common option is a Master of Public Administration (MPA). This degree is very similar to its private-sector counterpart, the MBA, but it has some focus directly related to non-profit administration. You’ll learn about fundraising, and about specific tax and accounting situations encountered in non-profits. MPA’s focus on all kinds of public entities, so you’ll learn about working in other public sector environments, such as the government.
Another option is a Master of Nonprofit Management. This degree provides training on non-profit program administration and management. You’ll learn about grant writing, government relations, advocacy, public relations, and community outreach.
Some have found that their MBA has information that translates to non-profit management. Other degrees include Master of Public Policy, Master of Social Work and Master of Urban Planning – depending on what kind of non-profit work you’d like to do after you graduate.
Finding a school:
There are many graduate programs to choose from. Finding the right one for you depends on a variety of factors. Some of these factors are common to all students, and others are dependent upon the student’s preference.
For all students, it’s important to find a quality program that will most closely fit your future career goals. Most schools will be able to provide you detailed information on the program, as well as statistics that show how many graduates of the program move on to get positions in their chosen field.
Location is important to some students. Some want to stay close to home. Others have dreams of attending school in a particular city or state.
For most students, the cost of attendance is a very important factor. Likely you already have student debt from your undergraduate degree. Most students want to get the best graduate degree possible while at the same time limiting the amount of student debt added. It’s a good idea to research the cost of tuition for each school, as well as any specific scholarship and grant opportunities for the school.
Finally, there is the school culture and environment to consider. Most students choose to visit their prospective schools to see how well they feel they would fit in the environment.