Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Nonprofit Administration (MNA)


Nonprofit management (NPM) education is a relatively new and dynamic academic field with the first programs established in the early 1980s. These programs have developed and multiplied with very little research in the field providing guidance in designing curricula or focusing on what skills are needed to manage a nonprofit organization.

Because degrees in nonprofit management (NPM) are granted by a variety of different schools, this paper attempted to assess the variability in curricular design that might occur as a result of this variability. The hypothesis tested was that the school of origin for a NPM program determines the content of the curricula. It was hypothesized that a NPM program housed in a school of public administration would have more policy courses while an NPM program in a school of business would have more quantitative and management courses. Furthermore, free-standing, or interdisciplinary NPM programs would have a mix of policy, management, quantitative, and general nonprofit courses.

An internet-based search strategy was used to identify curricular content for existing programs. A panel of outside experts was surveyed to define course classification. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to determine the factors influencing the content of the curricula in nonprofit management education programs. A cross-sectional analysis comparing the types of courses required to obtain a graduate degree was utilized to determine the effect of program affiliation with the different schools or academic disciplines in colleges or universities.

This study found 74 graduate-level programs offering a degree or a concentration in nonprofit administration. In those programs, neither a standard curriculum nor a standard title for the degree was found. In other words, there appears to be no standard approach to the NPM curriculum. This study also found that an NPM program's school or departmental affiliation within an educational institution affects the curricular content of that program. The difference in curricular content of management courses between schools or departments of business and interdisciplinary/miscellaneous schools or departments approaches statistical significance at the p= .05 level. However, NPM programs in schools or departments of business do not have more quantitative courses, as was hypothesized.

It was also hypothesized that NPM programs in multidisciplinary schools or departments have a balance of course types. This study found that the range of the percentage of courses was narrower in multidisciplinary schools or departments than all school types except for public affairs, although the differences are not statistically significant.