Master of Arts in Nonprofit Leadership and Management

Online Application:

  • The University of San Diego Graduate School Admission Application and $45 application fee

    • Upload the following to submit your online application
      • Statement of Purpose
      • Resume
      • Recommenders’ Contact Information


An official transcript from the university where you earned your bachelor’s degree is required at the time of application.


  • Official E-Transcripts are acceptable only if emailed to
  • Transcripts from study abroad courses and transfer credits are not required.

Degrees Earned Outside of the United States:

Letters of Recommendation:

  • A minimum of two professional letters of recommendation from current or previous supervisors, board chairs or board members, or past professors or academic advisors (who know you well).


  • Current resumé or curriculum vitae

Statement of Purpose:

  • A 500-word maximum statement of purpose answering the question: What do you believe are the greatest challenges facing the nonprofit sector (either locally or nationally) and how will what you learn in this program help you effectuate change in those areas?

English Proficiency Exam (EPEX) Score for International Applicants:

EPEX Requirement

An official score report for the  or the  is required of all international applicants. Official score reports must be two years old or less from the time you submit your online application in order to be considered. 

Official scores can be sent to the Office of Graduate Admissions,  school code: 4849.

  • TOEFL minimum scores:
    • Internet-based test: 83
    • Computer-based test: 237
    • Paper-based test: 580
  • IELTS minimum score:
    • Band score 7

Waiving out of the English Language exam requirement: The English Language Exam waiver may be requested if you:

  1. Have submitted your online application and 
  2. You meet one of the following: 
    • English is your primary language
    • You completed a 4-year bachelor's degree or 2-year master's degree, and obtained (or in the process of obtaining) a bachelor’s or master's degree in the U.S. with a minimum 3.0 GPA. 
    • You obtained your bachelor's degree in Great Britain, Canada, or Australia with an equivalent minimum 3.0 GPA. 

Be sure to promptly order official transcripts or official transcript evaluations, as they are also required to determine waiver eligibility.

If you believe you are eligible for an EPEX waiver, please email the SOLES Admissions and Outreach Office at . Each request will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Experience Requirements

The program has a preference for applicants with at least four years of professional work experience.

Interview Requirements:

After an initial review of applications to the program, the most qualified candidates will be invited to USD for an interview with the program faculty. Applicants who live outside California will have the option of participating in a phone or Skype interview.

Students entering the University of San Diego and/or declaring a major during 2022-23, should follow information contained in the printed course catalog (also known as the "catalog of record") published on April 1, 2022. Access the catalog of record at

Program Requirements 

Required Core Courses27
LEAD 500Research, Design and Evaluation of Nonprofit Programs4
LEAD 501Nonprofit Sector: Theory & Practice3
LEAD 503Nonprofit Finance3
LEAD 505Developing Human Capital3
LEAD 506Resource Development and Marketing3
LEAD 507Community Partnerships & Civic Engagement3
LEAD 510Board Development2
LEAD 545Survey of Leadership Theories3
or LEAD 550 Integral Leadership Theory
LEAD 559Organizational Theory and Change 3
Elective Courses9
Select 9 elective units from list below
Total Degree Units36

Please note: In rare instances where a student has a demonstrated competency in one of the core curriculum subjects 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.

Electives choices
LEAD 504Human Relations for Leaders1
LEAD 508Grant Making for the Greater Good2
LEAD 509Legal Issues, Human Resources and Risk Management2
LEAD 511Strategic Planning and Positioning2
LEAD 512Policy Advocacy Leadership3
LEAD 513Advocacy Skills and Strategies2
LEAD 514Presentation Skills2-3
LEAD 515Social Entrepreneurship-­Innovations in Creating Social Value2-3
LEAD 517Capital and Endowment Campaign Planning2
LEAD 518INonprofits and Civil Society in Guatemala2
LEAD 519IUnderstanding Bi-National Nonprofits In The Us-Mexican Border2
LEAD 520Volunteer Engagement1
LEAD 525Leadership in the Arts and Culture Sector 3
LEAD 526Leading Visitor-Facing Nonprofits3
LEAD 527Arts and Cultural Leadership Institutional Tour 3
LEAD 555Ethical Leadership for Global Social Justice3
LEAD 597Portfolio Seminar1
Other electives may be added.

The majority of the courses offered in this program will contain an applied consulting project, completed on behalf of a nonprofit organization. A student may not undertake more than 50% of his or her applied projects with a single nonprofit client.

International Requirement

At SOLES, all masters and doctoral students participate in an international experience designed to support the growth of cultural competency. Our goal is to inform best practices in working with culturally diverse populations locally, nationally and globally.  International experiences are approved by each student's faculty advisor and can be credit based or non-credit based activities. 

Exit Requirement

The terminal project for this degree is a portfolio of demonstrated competencies which will be evidenced by a submission of no fewer than three applied projects with accompanying supporting documents. Each portfolio will be evaluated by a nonprofit program faculty member and an external executive level nonprofit practitioner.


All application materials must be received by the Office of Graduate Admissions by the final deadline in order for your application to be considered for admission.

Start Your Application

Tuition and Financial Aid

Review tuition rates, fees, and financial aid opportunities to start investing in yourself. 

Status and Decisions

To confirm that application materials have been received, please log into the MySanDiego portal or contact the Office of Graduate Admissions at (619) 260-4524. Admissions decision letters are sent via US Mail.

Submit all supplemental materials to:

Office of Graduate Admissions 
University of San Diego, Manchester Hall 105
5998 Alcalá Park, San Diego, CA 92110-2492

For questions about the admissions contact:

SOLES Office of Admissions and Outreach 
Mother Rosalie Hill Hall 143
(619) 260-7988
Advising Appointments