Frequently Asked Questions

Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership FAQs


Are there other elective requirements or options in addition to the four classes?

There are four required courses for completing the Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership. They are Fundraising, Financial Management, Strategy, and Management and Leadership. These courses cannot be substituted for others. There are no prerequisites or electives in the Graduate Certificate program.

What is the typical class size, and how are classes scheduled and structured?

In the 2018-19 school year, our first year of the certificate program, classes ranged in size from 7 to 12 students. Each semester, two classes are offered in the evenings in College Park, typically one on Tuesday and one on Wednesday. Each of the four classes is structured in a different way, according to the teaching style of the course instructor, but all classes balance readings with discussions and real-world projects that enable application of course concepts.

What types of assignments are required in the courses?

In all four courses, students are expected to complete the assigned readings and participate in robust weekly discussions in-class. The Strategy and Fundraising courses require students to complete a capstone consulting project with a nonprofit in the region. The Management and Leadership course capstone project is developing a personal leadership philosophy. The Finance class teaches students how to use Excel for nonprofit financial management and then requires use of the software for course assignments.

Can I complete this program while also working full-time? What is the weekly time commitment?

Yes, you can! The program is designed for working professionals, with classes beginning at 6:30pm. Previous students have taken either one or two classes per semester while working full-time. Based on current and alumni students’ feedback, we advise starting with one class if you have a full-time job.

Are there required textbooks and other materials for the courses?

Specific book and material requirements depend on the class and the instructor. Generally, each class requires one or two reference books that detail the primary principles of the course. The Strategy and Fundraising courses, however, are grounded in case studies and professional reports. These materials will need to be purchased (and are a minimal cost).


What is the Do Good Institute’s role in the program?

The Do Good Institute is housed in the School of Public Policy and co-manages the Graduate Certificate program with the School. DGI staff provide Graduate Certificate students opportunities to get involved in campus events and publish a bi-weekly newsletter that alerts Graduate Certificate students about campus events, nonprofit sector news, and job opportunities.

From orientation to graduation, the Do Good Institute aims to engage the entire student body in initiatives designed to ensure that every student who graduates from UMD will do so informed and motivated to Do Good in their communities and around the world.

What types of students enroll in this program?

All of our students are interested in learning how to effectively manage a nonprofit organization and join an impressive network of nonprofit professionals.

The program includes professionals who have been in the workforce for 3 to more than 30 years, as well as master’s and PhD students from UMD schools and colleges who are looking to complement their subject matter expertise with practical management and leadership skills.

Some of the students work for nonprofits and want to lead an organization in the future. Others have a current leadership role at a nonprofit, and a few have created their own nonprofit organization.

What is the background of the instructors in the program?

We select instructors for their subject matter expertise as well as their teaching abilities. Each of them brings at least a decade of experience in a leadership role at a nonprofit organization and has experience teaching at the graduate level.

Is the community supportive and collaborative?

Absolutely! Most of the classes entail team-based consulting projects that will give you the opportunity to grow and learn with your fellow classmates. Together, they collaborate in teams and form both professional and personal bonds - celebrating holidays, each other's birthdays, job placements, and more.  The program also provides opportunities to connect with program alumni.

Are networking and other professional development opportunities offered?

Yes, many. Nonprofit professional guest speakers are a key component of the classes in the program. Students will be able to network with foundation executives, nonprofit program staff, board members, and senior fundraising professionals. Also, outside of class, Graduate Certificate students are invited to events and workshops on and off campus that allow them to grow their networks and gain additional workplace skills.

Career Prospects

How have students used the coursework in their careers?

“I’ve used my strategic planning course as the foundation of the grantmaking strategy at the Foundation where I work. I’ve also used it in that same role to give advice to nonprofits that may not have a strategic plan, or may not use their plan as much as possible. In addition, without the financial management course I would have a real haphazard understanding of financial statements, and wouldn’t fully understand the narrative told by a 990 and other forms. Now I feel confident reading financial statements and I’ve even used some of what I’ve learned in my personal life! Finally, the Fundraising class helped me understand the importance of diversifying revenues and practical tactics for constructing a healthy, sustainable fundraising operation for my organization.”

- Xan Avendaño

“I’ve been operating a nonprofit for five years and I want to get things right as we start getting ready to scale our programs nationwide. After just a few weeks in this certificate program, I feel much more confident in my ability to lead us in the right direction.”

-Tenneh Kemah

What types of jobs do people get after completing the program?

Here are some examples of companies and nonprofits School of Public Policy (masters and graduate certificate) alumni have joined - and in some cases, founded! - upon graduation:

  • Arabella Advisors
  • TIAA
  • Deloitte
  • Wells Fargo Foundation
  • Partnership for Public Service
  • A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation
  • Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
  • Richard E. and Nancy P. Marriott Foundation
  • Calvert Impact Capital
  • National Center for Family Philanthropy
  • Exponent Philanthropy
  • Fund for Educational Excellence
  • America Achieves
  • Urban Teachers
  • Oakland Promise
  • Share Our Strength
  • Imperfect Produce
  • Environmental Finance Center
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Unbound Impact Consulting

How does this degree help a professional who wants to grow their nonprofit?

The program gives you a solid foundation in fundraising, financial management, and strategic planning--key skills for an effective nonprofit leader. At the same time, you will also learn about yourself and your own management and leadership philosophy as well as how to effectively manage people to achieve social impact.

Finances and Logistics

How much does the program cost?

Tuition for each course is $5,500, and university administration fees are approximately $450 per semester. This brings the total price of the four-course Certificate to around $23,000 if you complete it in two semesters. To date, all of our students have received Fellowship funding to help offset the cost of the program - more on that below.

Is financial support available for current nonprofit professionals?

To date, we have been able to provide all students who enroll $7,000 in Fellowship funding, lowering the total cost to about $16,000, or about $4,000 per course. Nonprofit professionals with no active affiliation to UMD can apply for additional Fellowship funding, through the Philanthropy Fellows Program. University of Maryland staff and students are eligible for tuition remission benefits through the University in addition to the $7,000 Fellowship award.

What is the parking and transportation situation?

Free parking is available near every class. The College Park campus is accessible via Metro and Metrobus as well. From the Metro Green Line College Park Station, you can take a free shuttle to campus and then walk less than one mile to class.