Master of Arts in Nonprofit Leadership and Management

Department of Leadership Studies


How long does it take to complete the program?

The program is a 36-unit program that can be completed in two academic years (including a summer session that bridges the first and second academic year). Students who are looking to complete the program in two years take at least 7 units per semester, a required 1-unit course during winter term, and a required 3-unit summer course. Students can also elect to undertake their studies on a part time basis, completing the degree in three or four years depending on the pace they set for themselves. Approximately half of our students complete the degree in two years. Please see the Handbooks, Forms and Policies page for the most recent course schedule and the sample two and three year academic schedule.   

Can I work full time and complete the program on schedule?

Yes, the majority of our students work full time. 

When are classes held?

Most of our classes take place from 6 - 9 p.m. during weekday evenings. A small number are held on weekend days. Please refer to the course schedule on this website for more detailed information. In addition all students participate in a multi-cultural/international academic experience of their choosing – either in San Diego or elsewhere – that is designed to strengthen their ability to understand and lead diverse organizations.


What qualities are you looking for in applicants?

We are looking for applicants who are already or have the potential to be leaders in the nonprofit community, people with critical thinking skills, good interpersonal skills and strong writing skills. We have a preference for applicants who have been in the workforce for four years or longer. However, we take into consideration any professional work experience in the nonprofit sector.

We encourage prospective student to apply by our priority deadline. Applicants that submit applications by this deadline will be the first to be reviewed for admissions. The priority deadline for Fall 2017 is February 1, 2017. The final deadline to apply is March 31, 2017.  Students may be accepted for enrollment in the Spring on case-by-case basis. 

What is the cost of the program?

The cost of the program depends upon whether the student is employed by a 501 (c)(3) corporation or not. If the student is employed in the private sector, public sector, or a nonprofit that is not classified as a (c)(3) by the IRS, then the tuition reflects that of USD SOLES' graduate tuition cost

Students who are employed by nonprofit corporations are eligible for reduced tuition and scholarship funds. The discounted tuition rate for Fall 2017 cohort is $815 per unit (total cost of $29,340 for the degree). An annual scholarship of up to $2,000 is available for all nonprofit practitioners. Scholarship procedures.

Who should write my recommendation letters?

We like to see letters from people with whom you have a professional relationship – your immediate supervisor, a board member with whom your work closely, perhaps someone you supervise, or a colleague you collaborate with at a related organization.

Is this program offered online?

No, this program is offered on campus at USD only. There is no online, hybrid or distance learning option available.

What types of people are enrolled in the program?

Our students are a very diverse group of professionals, the vast majority of whom work in mid-to-senior-level management positions at nonprofit corporations and philanthropies (a few work in the public and private sectors). They reflect the racial, ethnic and religious diversity of our nation, and work for nonprofits across the spectrum of fields ranging from human services to the environment, health care to arts, philanthropies, and everything in between. Approximately one third of our students are in their 20's, one third are in their 30's and one third are over 40. A few of our students already have advanced degrees. 

Do you provide job placement services?

No, we don’t, but 86% of our students report they have received a raise, new jobs or promotion as a direct result of their participation in our program. We provide an informal job announcement distribution network that combined with the networks of our existing students, alumni and advisory board members helps many of our students land new jobs in the sector.

How can I find out more about the program?

For more information, please contact the office of the Institute for Nonprofit Education and Research by email at nonprofit@sandiego.edu or (619) 260-7442.

We also sponsor many community events throughout the year including a prospective student day where attendees have the opportunity to chat with our enrolled students and faculty. Please visit the events page for more information on this and other events.