Master of Arts in Nonprofit Leadership and Management

Department of Leadership Studies

Program of Study

The goal of this 36 unit program is to provide existing and aspiring nonprofit practitioners with cutting-edge leadership theories and state-of-the-art management tools that can be used to create high-performing organizations. Students learn new ways of conceptualizing their work through their studies with noted faculty from the School of Leadership and Education Sciences as well as from prominent practitioners who teach in our program. Most courses include consulting projects with locally-based nonprofits and foundations where concepts learned in the classroom come to life.

Student Learning Outcomes

The Student Learning Outcomes were developed during a multi-stage effort involving faculty, advisory board members, students and administrators that concluded on February 19, 2014. This work involved re-examining the goals of the program and mapping those against the curriculum.


Core Courses (31 units)

LEAD 501 Nonprofit Sector and Management Fundamentals 3
LEAD 550 Integral Leadership and Practice 3
LEAD 500 Research, Design and Evaluation of Nonprofit Programs 4
LEAD 502 Leadership and Ethics 3
LEAD 503 Nonprofit Finance 3
LEAD 559 Organizational Theory and Change 3
LEAD 506 Resource Development and Marketing 3
LEAD 507 Community Organizing & Change 3
LEAD 510 Board Management and Leadership 2
LEAD 509 Legal Issues, Human Resources and Risk Management 2
LEAD 511 Strategic Planning and Positioning 2

In rare instances where a student has a demonstrated competency in one of the following subject areas: finance, marketing, strategic planning, fundraising, nonprofit legal issues, or research design/program evaluation the student may approach the program director and subsequently, the course professor, about opting out of that course. If the director and professor agree, the student may substitute elective units for those required courses. No other course substitutions will be granted.

Elective Courses (5 units)

Choose 5 or more units from the following:

LEAD 513 Advocacy Skills and Strategies 2
LEAD 512 Collaboration 1
LEAD 517 Capital & Endowment Campaign Planning 2
LEAD 514 Public Speaking 1
LEAD 515 Social Entrepreneurship – Innovations in Creating Social Value 2 - 3
LEAD 518 Nonprofits and Civil Society in Guatemala 2 or 3
LEAD 519 Understanding Bi-National Nonprofits In the US-MEX Border Region 2
LEAD 508
Grant Making for the Greater Good
LEAD 579 Volunteer Engagement 1
LEAD 579 Human Rights Advocacy and International NGOs 2 or 3
LEAD 504 Human Relations for Leaders 1

Students enrolled in the MA in Nonprofit Leadership and Management are eligible to enroll in courses at the Franciscan School of Theology. These courses would count as elective units. The mission of the FST is to prepare candidates for professional ministry in the Roman Catholic Church, for careers in theological education and provide opportunities for enhancing knowledge of the Christian faith and the practice of Ministry.  

Practice Component and Portfolio Requirements

The majority of the courses offered in the nonprofit concentration will contain one or more practice projects with nonprofit organizations. A student may not undertake more than 50% of his or her projects with a single nonprofit agency.

The terminal project for this degree is a portfolio of demonstrated competencies which will be evidenced by a submission of no fewer than three practice projects with accompanying supporting documents, a narrative explaining the process you undertook to complete each assignment, and the impact said assignments had on the nonprofit agency with which the student worked. In addition, each student will be asked to prepare a synthesis of what he or she learned in the core Leadership classes. The students’ portfolios will be evaluated by a nonprofit program faculty member and an external practitioner.

Optional National Credential with the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance (NLA)

Credential is open to all current students and alumni of the Nonprofit Leadership and Management Program.
Students wishing to receive the credential must complete the following:

  • Nonprofit competency requirements (which is a part of the MA program coursework). Competency areas of study include: nonprofit fundamentals, ethics, volunteer management, board development, fundraising and resource development, finance, management and marketing
  • At least 300 hours of work in a nonprofit (this can be actual work experience in a nonprofit or volunteer work)
  • Attendance at the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Institute or an equivalent professional development meeting (i.e. Nonprofit Governance Symposium, State of Nonprofits Philanthropy Summit, etc.)
  • Personal essay on leadership

How can I find out more about the Nonprofit MA program and the optional certificate with NLA?

For more information, please contact Teresa VanHorn the office at (619) 260-4760. 

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