Master of Arts in Nonprofit Leadership and Management

  • 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.

    • Students who earned their bachelor's degree from an institution outside the United States must submit a course-by-course degree evaluation conducted by a NACES current member.  
      • Applications for students educated outside the United States will not be considered complete nor can an admissions decision be made until this degree evaluation has been submitted.
    • NOTE:  
      • Official E-Transcripts are acceptable only if emailed to
      • Transcripts from study abroad courses and/or transfer credit are not required.
      • Letters of Recommendation and International Transcript Evaluations must be received by the program deadline to complete your application.
  • 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).
  • A current resumé or curriculum vita
  • 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?
  • International applicants only:
    • Official score reports for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is required of all international applicants and may only be waived if English is the applicant’s primary language or if he or she obtained a bachelor’s degree in the U.S., Great Britain, Canada or Australia.
      • TOEFL minimum scores:
        • Internet-based test: 83
        • Computer-based test: 237
        • Paper-based test: 580
      • IELTS minimum score:
        • Band score 7
    • Transcripts from universities outside of the United States must be accompanied by a Course-by-Course transcript evaluation from World Education Services (WES).

Admission Requirement

Education Requirements

  • Applicants must complete a bachelor’s degree prior to beginning the program. Applicants may apply prior to completing their bachelor's degree. In this case, please submit your most up-to-date transcripts, and if admitted, submit a second set of official transcripts after your degree is conferred
  • The minimum cumulative grade point average is 3.0 (on a 4.00 scale) in all undergraduate and graduate coursework. Applicants whose Grade Point Averages are below a 3.00 (on 4.00 scale) should contact the program director in advance of application and may be asked to submit the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) General Test for consideration. For more information on preparing for the GRE, visit USD's Test Prep or call (619) 260-4585. 
  • This program does not have any specific prerequisite courses.

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.

Application Process

Application Deadline

All application materials, including transcripts, test score reports and letters of recommendation, must be received by the Office of Graduate Admissions by the final deadline in order for your application to be considered. View current deadlines for admission.

Application Status and Decisions

To confirm that application materials have been received or to check the status of your application, please log in to the MySanDiego portal with your applicant login or contact the Office of Graduate Admissions at (619) 260-4524. Admissions decision letters are sent via US Mail.

Submit all application materials online, or to:

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

For questions about this program or the admissions requirements contact:

Office of Admissions and Outreach
School of Leadership and Education Sciences
University of San Diego
Mother Rosalie Hill Hall 149

Phone: (619) 260-7988

Students entering the University of San Diego and/or declaring a major during 2019-2020, should follow information contained in the printed course catalog (also known as the "catalog of record") published on April 1, 2019. Access the catalog of record at

Program Requirements 

Required Courses
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
Total Units27

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 (students will select 9 or more units)
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 Leadership1
LEAD 513Advocacy Skills and Strategies2
LEAD 514Presentation Skills1
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 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.

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 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.

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.