COVID-19 Update: To help students through this crisis, The Princeton Review will extend our “Enroll with Confidence” refund policies one month to cover students who enroll between April 21st and June 30th. For full details, please click here.

The Princeton Review is currently experiencing some Dashboard down time. Come back again soon for an update. Sorry for the inconvenience.


Interested in social change? A degree in non-profit management can help you put your ideals into action.

Running a non-profit requires many of the same skills needed to run a business. You’ll need to raise capital, manage your organization for maximum cost efficiency, and effectively deliver a service to your “clients”. Management skills and financial savvy are even more essential in today’s tough economic climate.

The non-profit management curriculum is wide-ranging. You’ll be trained in core business skills like accounting, finance, human resources and management. You’ll also take classes specific to the non-profit world, such as fundraising, financial management of non-profits, board governance, and social entrepreneurship. Some programs offer training in public policy and related disciplines. There is a strong emphasis on hands-on learning, and you’re likely to spend a significant amount of time working with local organizations.

Students who pursue this specialty come from a variety of backgrounds. Some have business experience and are looking to translate their skills to the non-profit world. Others have a background in activism, social services or philanthropy, and are looking for the financial and managerial knowledge to implement their ideas more effectively.

A degree in non-profit management will prepare you to succeed at any organization that works for the public good.

Degree Information

If you’re looking for a strong grounding in business principles, consider an MBA with a concentration in non-profit management. These programs are generally two years long. You’ll spend the first year developing general business skills and the second year learning to apply those skills in a non-profit context.

Many graduate and business schools offer an MS in non-profit management. This degree has less of a focus on general business skills, and can often be completed in less time than an MBA. It’s ideal for mid-career professionals.

A Master’s of Public Administration (MPA) in non-profit management is usually offered through public policy schools, and has a stronger focus on politics and government. More about the MPA degree.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Degree Program

  • Is the degree designed for those with non-profit experience, or those new to the field?
  • What are faculty members’ areas of expertise?
  • What opportunities are available to gain hands-on experience with local or national non-profits?
  • Is it possibility to specialize in a sub-field like fundraising or marketing?

Career Overview

The non-profit world can be as competitive (or more so) than the business world. Competition for available positions is fierce, and many start-up organizations fail. Nevertheless, a graduate degree will give you the edge. Non-profits are always looking for skilled professionals, especially those with a business background.

You might start your own non-profit, work at an existing non-profit in a managerial capacity, or go into public service. Another option is to work for a for-profit company with a social mission, or in the social responsibility division of a large corporation.

Career/Licensing Requirements


Salary Information

Non-profit salaries tend to be low: people certainly don’t go into this field for the money. But many find the sacrifices to be worth it. If non-profit work is your passion, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’re making a difference.

At small to mid-size non-profits, managers with a graduate degree can expect to earn a starting salary of $40,000 to $65,000, with (generally) strong benefit packages. Top salaries at large non-profits can hit six figures. Of course, if you’re working in the social responsibility sector of a for-profit corporation, you’ll make more than you would in the non-profit world.

Related Links


  • Corporate Governance, Accountability And Ethics

  • Entrepreneurial Management

  • Financial Management For Non-Profits

  • Fundraising

  • Grant Writing

  • Human Resources

  • Leadership

  • Marketing For Social Change

  • Non-Profit Accounting

  • Non-Profit Board Governance

  • Non-Profit Finance

  • Organizational Management

  • Project Management In Non-Profit Organizations

  • Public Policy Analysis

  • Recruiting And Managing Volunteers

  • Social Entrepreneurship

  • Strategic Program Planning And Evaluation