Monday, April 11, 2011

Do You Need a Master's Degree to Get a Nonprofit Job?

The short answer to this question is no: you don't need a Master's Degree to get a nonprofit job.  The long(er) answer is no, but it can certainly help your chances if you are wanting to stand out from the crowd.  Besides, Masters Degree jobs can be a lot more appealing in terms of your long term career goals.  If you are willing to put the time (and money) in, getting a Masters Degree will make you an even more attractive candidate for nonprofit organizations.  As an added bonus, the kind of jobs Masters Degrees can get you tend to be a bit more glamorous than those you would get with a Bachelor's Degree.  So if you are interested in taking this next step, here are some Master's Degrees you should consider:

  • MBA: Master’s of Business Administration: Students who complete this kind of Master's Program are being actively recruited by nonprofit organizations as they look to measure the impact their programs are having.  Generally, this particular program lasts about two years and you will most likely be required to take an MCAT or GRE with your application.  However, the work is well worth it, as nonprofit careers with this degree often lead to jobs as a marketing director, financial officer, or a business manager.

  • MPA: Master’s of Public Administration: If you are interested in managing employees or projects at a nonprofit, this is the Masters Degree for you, as this program is usually affiliated with courses in Nonprofit Management.  Like Business Administration, this program lasts about two years and requires you to take a GRE. 

  • MPP: Master’s of Public Policy: This kind of Masters Degree is ideal if you want to manage and lead in public service.  Again, this program lasts two years and you will need to take a GRE test.  At the end of the program, you will have developed strong administrative and leadership skills necessary for managing public affairs at a nonprofit.
As you can see, Masters Degree offer great opportunities to get the best nonprofit jobs out there.  Even if you are not able to earn these degrees, I would at least recommend taking Certificate Courses in Nonprofit Management.  Many schools are adding such programs, so inquire with your local universities.


  1. Please change the labels on the Masters in Public Administration to MPA and the Masters in Public Policy to MPP. These are often not considered and are both valuable degrees for nonprofits. Thanks!

  2. Thnks for the correction, Terri!

  3. I have found that obtaining an MPA (Master of Public Administration) has been highly valuable to the growth of my nonprofit career. What I thought to be most beneficial were the other nonprofit professionals that I had the pleasure of interacting with during my time in graduate school. Many of my classmates were already high-level nonprofit executives looking for an alternative to an MBA that would best fit their needs. The combination of their professional experience with the preplanned coursework provided many real-world scenarios in which to compare notes and discuss tactics. I would highly recommend an MPA, focusing in nonprofit management if you are looking to expand into an executive-level position within a nonprofit organization. Not only will you gain valuable management tools, you will expand your network and create valuable relationships with other nonprofit professionals in your area.

  4. I really want to get in the field of non profit. I asked the local college and they told me to take social services. Is this where I need to start?

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