Home Graduate Graduate Certificate Programs Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership

Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership

Your Passion | You have a passion for making the world a better place. You want to lead positive change for a cause you care about, whether that is improving your community, creating better opportunities for youth, making people healthier, or cleaning up the environment for future generations.

In addition applying your talent and energy towards positive change, do you also want to have a successful career that enables you to exercise leadership, assume important responsibilities, and support yourself and your family?

Your Career | The nonprofit sector is one of the three biggest industries in the United States, and affords loads of opportunities for ambitious people to do well while also doing good. With state and local governments increasingly strapped financially, nonprofits increasingly meet critical needs in their communities while also employing millions of highly skilled professionals across the country.

Your Impact | The Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy is designed for anyone who wants to manage and lead a nonprofit organization. Our alumni are not only making an impact; they are leading teams and organizations to be the change they want to see in the world.

In 2019, the Nonprofit Management and Leadership graduate program in the School of Public Policy was ranked as one of the best in the country by US News and World Report.

This world-class Certificate program, which can be completed in as little as one year, is designed for working professionals at all levels of nonprofit organizations. You will be empowered in your career and you will multiply your impact through your organization and for the people that you serve!

Program Overview

The 12-credit, four-course Graduate Certificate program, which can be completed in as little as two semesters, is designed for working professionals who want to advance their careers by honing their skills in leadership and management; strategic planning and management; fundraising; and financial management.

Students taking these evening weeknight classes are guided by our award-winning team of faculty with deep leadership experiences to:

  • Confront the challenges facing today’s nonprofit leaders
  • Strengthen management and leadership skills to amplify their impact in their communities
  • Gain the credentials needed to advance their careers

Experiential learning is the signature component of our Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership. Many of the courses include real world projects which provide our students with the opportunity to practice what they are learning in the classroom, bolster their resumes and build their professional networks with leading organizations.

The School of Public Policy is home to an unmatched group of faculty who are both scholars and practitioners, teaching in the classroom while playing key roles in the nonprofit, international NGO, and social innovation spaces. Biographies of the current Graduate Certificate faculty are listed below.

*select program code Z116 in the online application*

Fellowship Funding Available

Students who apply and are admitted will automatically be considered for any available fellowship. No separate fellowship application is required. Fellowship awards can be as much as $14,000, depending on the student's work experience and future career goals. If an applicant is admitted into the Graduate Certificate program, a School of Public Policy representative will contact the applicant to schedule an interview. The interview will inform the School's decision on the amount of fellowship funding to be offered to the student. 

  • School of Public Policy Fellowship: the School of Public Policy Fellowship award can be up to $10,000. All incoming students qualify for this award. 
  • TIAA Nonprofit Leadership Fellows Program: the TIAA Nonprofit Leadership Fellows Program award can be up to $7,000. Please see the Financial Aid section below for more information about the criteria for qualifying for this award.  
  • Philanthropy Fellows Program: Philanthropy Fellowships are paid part-time work opportunities at regional foundations and nonprofits. More information about the available positions, application, and deadlines can be found here.

*Note, the total fellowship amount awarded will be evenly distributed across all four classes. For example, a $10,000 award will be disbursed in $2,500 increments. 

Doing Well While Doing Good

The School of Public Policy and Do Good Institute support its students to make a greater impact on the world AND have rewarding careers. Here are some examples of companies, foundations and nonprofits our alumni have joined (and in some cases, founded!) upon graduation:

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

Student Testimonials

“My experience as a student of the Certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership was and will always be a valuable learning opportunity. I felt that this program gave me the opportunity to learn how to be an effective nonprofit leader, how to manage nonprofit finances and operations, and how to design and implement an effective fundraising event. In addition, the Certificate program has knowledgeable professors who provide guidance and insight based on their nonprofit experiences. I know that my Certificate degree in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from the reputable School of Public Policy will boost my professional persona as I continue my career path within the nonprofit sector.”

-Nicole Stephenson, Spring 2019 Certificate Graduate

Program Requirements

Students are required to maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average in order to be awarded the Graduate Certificate.

Tuition and Fees 

The 2019/2020 tuition for this program is $5,500 per course for a program total of $22,000. There are also associated mandatory fees, which can be found here. Students are billed each semester based upon how many courses for which they register.

Financial Aid and Fellowships

Fellowship funding is available for all students, and total Fellowship awards can be as much as $14,000.

All admitted students will automatically be considered for both the School of Public Policy Fellowship and the TIAA Nonprofit Leadership Fellows Program. No separate application is required. If an applicant is admitted into the Graduate Certificate program, a School of Public Policy representative will contact the applicant to schedule an interview. The interview will determine the amount of fellowship funding to be offered to each student. 

All students are eligible for School of Public Policy Fellowship funding, while TIAA Nonprofit Leaders Fellows will meet the following criteria:

  • Apply to the Graduate Certificate program after June 1, 2019
  • Commitment to completing the program within four semesters (at or before May 2021) with continuous enrollment (no deferrals or withdrawals)
  • Preference for at least five years of professional work experience with demonstrated leadership potential
  • Demonstrated commitment to the nonprofit sector through professional work and/or volunteering
  • Desire to lead a nonprofit organization in the future
  • Ability to strengthen the University of Maryland's community of nonprofit professionals

Federal financial aid is available to students who are taking at least two graduate courses per semester. Eligible students will need to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year. Using the FAFSA, our eligible students in the Nonprofit Management and Leadership Certificate Program will be offered a Direct Federal Unsubsidized and Direct Graduate PLUS Loan. Eligible students are required to enroll for at least 24 units (6 credits) or more for each semester. Please review the Gainful Employment Disclosure requirements.

Plan of Study





 PLCY798Y (3 credits)

 Nonprofit and NGO  Management and Leadership       

Fall 2019 (Tuesday's, 6:30 - 9p.m., beginning Aug. 27)

 Prof. Alex Counts

Prof. Robert Grimm

 PLCY688F (3 credits)

 Nonprofit Financial  Management

 Fall 2019  (Wednesday's, 6:30 - 9p.m., beginning Aug. 28)

 Prof. Nathan Dietz

 PLCY689Y (3 credits)

 Theory, Practice and  New Paradigms in Nonprofit Fundraising

 Spring 2020 (to be scheduled)

 To be announced

 PLCY689Z (3 credits)

 Strategic Management  for Nonprofit and   Public  Organizations

 Spring 2020 (to be scheduled)

 To be announced


Nonprofit and NGO Management and Leadership (PLCY 798Y)

Tuesday's from 6:30-9pm, beginning August 27, 2019
Nonprofit organizations, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), philanthropy, civil society and social entrepreneurs are major players in how public policy gets developed and implemented as well as how change occurs in the United States as well as countries around the world. In the United States alone, the nonprofit sector encompasses over a million organizations and annually reports trillions of dollars in revenue and assets. The nonprofit sector is so heavily intertwined with the public sector that government executives will find themselves interacting and partnering with nonprofits on a regular basis. Through discussions of contemporary trends, challenges and issues, this course provides an introduction to the nonprofit sector and the leadership and management skills required to achieve social impact. (3 credits)

In March 2019, Professor Alex Counts hosted a webinar titled Clarifying Your Leadership Philosophy to offer interested students a snapshot of this course’s content. You can view the webinar here.

Nonprofit Financial Management (PLCY 688F)

Wednesday's from 6:30-0pm, beginning August 28, 2019
This course covers the fundamentals of accounting and financial management for public and nonprofit organizations. Through course readings, case studies and short assignments, students will learn how to understand and use public sector financial information to inform decision-making. The first half of the course will focus on: operating budgets, cash budgets, tools for evaluating capital budgeting decisions and an introduction to accounting principles. Topics in the second half of the course include financial reporting, financial condition analysis and unique aspects of accounting for public and not-for profit organizations. Along the way, students will gain familiarity with spreadsheet applications and financial calculations. By the end of the course, students should be able to read and interpret financial information and perform straightforward financial analyses. (3 credits)

In April 2019, Professor Nathan Dietz hosted a webinar titled Decoding Your Balance Sheet and 990 to offer interested students a snapshot of this course’s content. You can view the webinar here.

Theory, Practice and New Paradigms in Nonprofit Fundraising (PLCY 689Y) 

This course will introduce students to the fundamentals of fundraising. We will identify the major types of nonprofit funding models and assess which fundraising methods are appropriate for each model. We also will explore motivations for giving; types of funding sources; types of fundraising mechanisms and instruments; grant writing and the rise of strategic philanthropy and the new demands it places on nonprofit leaders. (3 credits)

In April 2019, Professor Sara Gallagher hosted a webinar titled Crowdfunding to Advance Your Mission to offer interested students a snapshot of this course’s content. You can view the webinar here.

Strategic Management for Nonprofit and Public Organizations (PLCY 689Z)
Serving as a successful leader for a nonprofit or public organization of any kind requires an understanding of the strategic management process and a well-developed and managed strategy is a key to an organization’s performance. This course provides an integrated approach to leadership theories and concepts, research and modern practices related to strategic planning and execution. Leading strategy approaches will be discussed and students will gain a deep understanding of how strategy can be effectively developed, implemented and managed in these organizations. The course will be relevant for students who want to work for and/or consult with nonprofit and government organizations. (3 credits)

Need more? The School of Public Policy also offers master's degree programs. In fact, you can apply up to three of the four certificate classes toward a master's degree.  Please contact the Graduate Admissions Office at 301-405-6331 or policy-applications@umd.edu, for more information about the certificate and/or master's degree.

Faculty Biographies

Alex Counts founded the Grameen Foundation and became its President and CEO in 1997, after having worked in microfinance and poverty reduction for 10 years. Grameen Foundation became an award-winning international NGO under Counts’ leadership. A Cornell University graduate, Counts’ commitment to poverty eradication deepened as a Fulbright scholar in Bangladesh, where he witnessed innovative poverty solutions being developed by Grameen Bank. He trained under Professor Muhammad Yunus, the founder and managing director of Grameen Bank, and co-recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Counts propelled Grameen Foundation’s philosophy through his writings, including Small Loans, Big Dreams: How Nobel Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus and Microfinance Are Changing the World and Voices from the Field. Counts has also been published in The Washington Post, the International Herald Tribune, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, The Miami Herald, The Christian Science Monitor and elsewhere. You can find his recent book Changing the World Without Losing Your Mind (released in April 2019) here.

Dr. Nathan Dietz joined the Do Good Institute in March 2017 as a Senior Researcher after more than twenty years of conducting and managing research projects in government, the nonprofit sector, and academia. Since 2013, he has held an appointment as a Senior Research Associate at the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute. While at Urban, he has served the Associate Director for the National Center for Charitable Statistics, the national clearinghouse of data on the nonprofit sector in the United States; has led the Urban Institute’s participation in the (nonprofit) Growth in Giving Initiative and the Fourth Sector Mapping Initiative; and has led several research and evaluation projects in a number of policy areas. From 2002 through 2012, he worked at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and was serving as Associate Director for Research and Evaluation.

Sara Gallagher is the Chief Program Officer of the Do Good Institute. As a campus-wide hub of social innovation and as a center of thought leadership in philanthropy and social change, DGI is reinventing the college experience by producing future pioneers and entrepreneurial leaders who will address the challenges of the 21st century. DGI and UMD’s Do Good Campus are transforming students’ idealism into extraordinary outcomes through rich learning experiences built on real-world application. Sara comes to the Do Good Institute from Calvert Impact Capital’s Strategic Initiatives team where she served as the Program Officer for IdEA (the International diaspora Engagement Alliance). Sara is an alumna of the Do Good Institute and the School of Public Policy, where she received her Master of Public Policy specializing in Nonprofit Management and Leadership. While a graduate student at the Institute, Sara served as a Philanthropy Fellow at Calvert Impact Capital and at The Greater Washington Community Foundation.

Dr. Robert Grimm Jr. is the Levenson Family Chair in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership and Director of the award-winning Do Good Institute (DGI), which is pioneering the Do Good Campus and developing leaders, innovators, and individuals who produce extraordinary outcomes. Dr. Grimm and the DGI won the 2017 Voinovich Public Innovation Prize from an association of 300 universities, the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Public Affairs, and Public Administration (NASPAA). Do Good alumni include multiple Forbes Top 30 Social Entrepreneurs Under 30, a 2018 Pritzker Emerging Environmental Genius Finalist, and a 2017 EY Social Entrepreneur of the Year in Argentina. Fast Company recently featured Do Good alum start-ups. Prior to joining the University of Maryland, Dr. Grimm served as the senior counselor to the CEO (2006-2010) and director of research and policy development (2004-2010) at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a national grant-making organization that runs AmeriCorps and partners with thousands of nonprofits. CNCS’s annual budget expanded from $856 million to $1.15 billion while Grimm led strategic initiatives, generated new partnerships, drove management reforms, and developed research that dramatically expanded the agency’s public profile. Dr. Grimm received senior appointments from both President Bush’s and President Obama’s administrations, co-lead the creation of the Social Innovation Fund, and previously taught and directed research at what is now the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. A recent MSNBC interview and Fast Company article on the decline of American charitable behaviors featured Dr. Grimm who also testified at the first 2019 public hearing (covered by C-SPAN) of the bi-partisan National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service created by Congress. Dr. Grimm is an author of a widely-cited article on “The New Volunteer Workforce” in the Stanford Social Innovation Review; articles in journals such as Nonprofit & Voluntary Sector Quarterly and the Journal of Policy Analysis & Management; a book on American philanthropists.  

Dr. Robert Sheehan has more than thirty years of executive management experience, including eighteen years as the CEO of two different national nonprofits. His research and academic publications are focused on leadership, strategy, and organizational effectiveness. His background and experiences have included serving as CEO of LeaderShape, Inc. from 1992-2001 and CEO of the Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity & Educational Foundation from 1981-90. As academic director of executive MBA programs at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, Sheehan directs the academic aspects of executive MBA programs with responsibility for cohorts in the College Park and Beijing EMBA. He also assists with custom-designed executive education programs for various organizations. He received his master’s degree and PhD from The Ohio State University. While at Ohio State, he directed The Excellence in Philanthropy research project, which became the basis for his dissertation “Mission Accomplishment as Philanthropic Organization Effectiveness.” His BA is from Westminster College, Pa. Sheehan is an active member of ARNOVA (Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action) and the Academy of Management. He is a regular presenter of academic papers at conferences and has been published in leading nonprofit research journals—including Nonprofit Management & Leadership and Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. Sheehan is also an active member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and attained the association's CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive) designation in 1986. He is author of “Mission Impact: Breakthrough Strategy for Nonprofits,” a book which introduces a new approach to strategic planning. Dr. Sheehan regularly posts on his blog Insights With Impact, which can be accessed here.

Application Process and Fee Waiver Information 

Before you can enroll in courses, you must first submit an online graduate application for admissions review. See link for details. Select "Nonprofit Management and Leadership (Z116)" for intended program of study in the online application. 

Application Requirements:

  • Statement of Purpose - please include a description of your motivation for the program of study
  • Transcripts - upload your official transcripts for all prior academic work. 
  • Resume

Application Fee Waiver: Please contact the School of Public Policy admissions office (policy-applications@umd.edu) once you have started your online application for the non-profit management and leadership certificate program (code Z116) to request an application fee waiver. You will need to provide the email address you used to create your application account. It is important that you DO NOT SUBMIT the application until you receive confirmation from our admissions office regarding the application fee waiver.  

Note: If you are a current degree or certificate graduate student at University of Maryland, College Park wishing to simultaneously complete the nonprofit certificate program, you must follow a different application process (see below) than the one using the standard graduate school online application.  See below for instructions.

Instructions for applicants currently enrolled in another degree seeking program offered through the University of Maryland (College Park) Graduate School:

  • Complete the paper application: available here
  • Submit the paper application with your statement of purpose, resume and copies of previous transcripts (unofficial is okay) either by emailing to policy-applications@umd.edu or mailing to:  Attn SPP Student Affairs, 3111 Van Munching Hall, College Park, MD  20742
  • Complete the application for fellowship: available here

Application and Fellowship Deadlines

For Fall 2019 start: Application and fellowship deadline is August 15
For Spring 2020 start: Priority for fellowship funding: December 20; Final: January 17

Questions? Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page

Learn more about the School's application process