Nonprofit Leadership Master's Degree

Program Description:

The program in Nonprofit Leadership at Juniata College is an interdisciplinary Master of Arts (MA) program that provides students with the fundamental theories and skills leaders need to work successfully in the nonprofit sector. The program engages students in a combination of disciplinary perspectives, blending theory and practice so that students are well equipped to address the challenging social issues of our time.

The program addresses all areas of the sector including working with boards and volunteers, marketing and fundraising, fiscal managements, assessment and evaluation, advocacy and social change. The program provides a special emphasis on social innovation and problem solving skills, particularly for working with communities who have been marginalized by geography, culture, or custom.

Program goals include:

  • engaging and strengthening the ability of local leaders to utilize interdisciplinary knowledge systems to work collaboratively
  • teaching skill sets that enable leaders to be analytic and adaptive as they innovate to meet emergent challenges
  • supporting leaders in developing a strategic impact vision and strategy with a trajectory to compel social change.

The Juniata Nonprofit Leadership MA is a fully online program.

Academic Program Requirements

The Nonprofit Leadership MA consists of a set of four required courses, a series of electives, and a capstone project or thesis. Students have the option of a master's thesis or a capstone project to complete the degree. A master's thesis involves completing and defending original research. Students may do a capstone project, individually or as part of an interdisciplinary team, to address a specific issue for a particular organization. A thesis committee must approve and review all capstone projects.

The program offers two MA options.

NPL MA 30 credits
Students entering the program with work or significant volunteer experience (1 or more years volunteering with a specific agency, or 2 or more supervised internship experiences) in a nonprofit environment can complete the master's program in one year (12 months, 4 semesters) with 30 credit hours of coursework.

NPL MA 42 credits
Success in the program, as well in the nonprofit sector, requires students to have some level of relevant professional work experience. Students with no work or significant volunteer experience must complete a for-credit internship in addition to the other MA requirements, to finish the MA with 42 credit hours.

Students may transfer in up to 6 credits (subject to the approval of the graduate committee) to fulfill program requirements. In addition to taking credits at Juniata, students enrolled in the program may take up to 6 credits at our partner institutions and up to 12 credits while studying abroad at our international partner sites.

Certificate Programs

Students may also choose to enroll in non-degree, certificate programs. To earn a certificate, students must complete three courses within a certificate area. The certificate program is designed for professionals interested in enhancing their sills in particular areas of professional development. Courses may be applied to a MA degree if a student chooses to enroll in the full program at a later date. Certificate options include:

  • Leadership
  • Social Innovation and Social Change
  • Conflict Transformation
  • Finances and Marketing


NP-501   Foundations Nonprofit (Variable; Yearly; 3.00 Credits) In this course students will develop an informed understanding of the nature of the nonprofit sector, and the criteria that shape and define nonprofit organizations. Students will explore the factors that have shaped the expansion of nonprofit work and current trends influencing the structure of nonprofit organizations and the roles they play in governance and social change efforts as part of civil society.

NP-502   21st Century Leadership (Variable; Yearly; 3.00 Credits) This course examines the challenges of providing leadership in the information age of global and cultural contexts. Leadership as manifested in today's workplace provides both opportunity, and a great responsibility. The role and function of leaders looks very different today than years ago. Change is the norm. Leaders must understand today's challenges and be able to function effectively given a borderless, multicultural, virtual, and diverse group of partners, stakeholders and constituents.

NP-503   Leading and Managing NP (Variable; Yearly; 3.00 Credits) The past decade has seen an explosion of nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations, and an accompanying expansion of academic research and training about, and for, the field. This course utilizes this information to explore what it means to lead and manage nonprofit organizations. In particular this course will explore leadership roles within a nonprofit organization, the management tasks necessary to develop and run a healthy and successful organization, and examine what leadership looks like outside the organization when working with constituents, stakeholders, partners and the " opposition. " Students will learn theories to enhance their capacities to provide effective leadership for nonprofit organizations and explore the leadership skills needed to build partnerships across sectors, respond to emerging trends and challenges, to partner with diverse groups, and to leverage power in order to bring about desired changes.

NP-504   NP Fiscal Management (Variable; Yearly; 3.00 Credits) This is a core course in the Non-Profit Leadership Master's program. The course introduces students to the basics of financial management as applied to non-profit organizations. Students will be invited to learn about the fundamentals of budgeting and accounting for public, health, and not-for-profit organizations. Through readings, webcasts, online chat, assigned problems, case studies, and problem sets, students will gain an understanding of how to use financial information in organizational planning, implementation, control, reporting, and analysis.

NP-508   Research Methods (Fall & Spring; Even Years; 3.00 Credits) Social Science Research Methods is an intensive, graduate-level research methods course with the overarching purpose of preparing students from a variety of POEs to be able to design, implement, and report original social science research in their respective fields of interests.

NP-510   Organizational Communication and Culture (Variable; Yearly; 3.00 Credits) This course blends the exploration of a critical, theoretical understanding of organizational culture with the theories and skills of leadership and change, equipping students with the knowledge and ability to develop a healthy, successful nonprofit organization. As part of this course, students will explore how values shape and define organizational culture, along with management structure, geographic scope, size, client groups and governance structures. Students will develop the theories and skills needed to lead organizational change processes.

NP-520   Fundraising for the NP (Variable; Yearly; 3.00 Credits) This course builds the student's understanding of the sources of income for nonprofit organizations, with a specific focus on the fundamentals of effective resource development and fundraising. Students will explore principles and theories of " best practices " of fundraising, the fundraising process (research, planning, cultivation, solicitation, stewardship, and evolution), and emerging trends in the field (crowd sourcing, public/private partnerships, social investment, and social entrepreneurship). The course also provides students with a clear understanding of the historical, organizational, legal and ethical contexts that define how leaders and managers raise funds to support the organizations mission and vision.

NP-522   Marketing in Info Age (Variable; Yearly; 3.00 Credits) This course examines traditional marketing and how it has adjusted as a result of the challenges and opportunities of marketing in the Information Age. Information technology as manifested in the Internet and other enabling technologies creates a valuable marketing opportunity, and a great peril. As customers and competitors learn the power of real-time information, companies must learn to compete in a world where location and other long-held advantages may be less important.

NP-530   Conflict and Change (Variable; Yearly; 3.00 Credits) This course provides the student with an introduction to the study and conflict and its resolution. We will explore the basic theoretical concepts of the field and apply this knowledge as we learn and practice skills for analyzing and resolving conflicts. The first section of the course examines the causes of conflict and explores methodologies for understanding, analyzing, and responding to them. The second section of the course focuses on skills for waging conflicts productively, and for resolving and transforming them. Throughout the course we will examine conflicts occurring within different contexts that stem from a variety of needs and interests.

NP-540   Social Entrepreneurship (Variable; Yearly; 3.00 Credits) The goal of the class is to expose students to the field of social entrepreneurship, with a particular emphasis on understanding how social entrepreneurs effect positive social change. The course aims to provide you with a comprehensive overview of the emerging field of social entrepreneurship, understand what makes it distinctive from traditional entrepreneurship, and identify and understand the framework needed to start and grow a sustainable social venture. The course will explore the assessment of the variations of social entrepreneurship, from the creation of an organization aimed at creating positive social change, to social responsibility initiatives within the concept of corporate social entrepreneurship.

NP-590   Internship (Variable; Variable; 2.00-9.00 Credits) See catalog

NP-594   Internship Seminar (Variable; Variable; 2.00-6.00 Credits) See catalog

NP-595   Capstone (Variable; Yearly; 3.00-6.00 Credits) The Nonprofit MA capstone is designed to provide students with the opportunity to synthesize the materials they have worked with over the course of the program. The capstone provides students with a critical learning opportunity either in the form of public service project where students work with a client organization on a specific challenge or task, or conduct original research. The capstone project provides students with the opportunity to pursue a specific body of knowledge within a particular context, thus honing their expertise in a specific knowledge area, while also developing research skills, gathering and analyzing data, and in the case of a project, the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills to a real-time need. Students are encouraged to work in teams to complete the capstone project.

NP-599   Special Topics (Variable; Variable; 1.00-6.00 Credits) Allows departments to offer subjects not normally taught.