Master of Nonprofit Studies

The Master of Nonprofit Studies (MNS) offers an advanced level of knowledge and leadership development for nonprofit managers, for those seeking to transition from positions in the corporate sector and for those who seek to lead or establish a nonprofit organization.

The master’s degree requires five core courses, four elective courses and an integrative seminar.

  • The core courses provide a thorough understanding of the nonprofit sector and address key aspects of nonprofit leadership and management.
  • The elective courses offer an opportunity to specialize on a focused nonprofit function, including social entrepreneurship and program evaluation combined with mission alignment.
  • The program culminates with the integrative seminar, which addresses specific critical issues facing nonprofits, often through a community-based, hands-on learning project.

Class sizes are small (the average is 12-15 students) and adjunct professors are professionals in the fields they are teaching, able to provide both theoretical knowledge and applied, practical experience in the classroom.

The MNS requires 30 hours of coursework. There is no thesis requirement. All 18 semester hours of coursework from the graduate certificate in NPS may be applied to the master’s degree.

15-Month Track

The MNS is available for full-time study* for students seeking to complete a master’s degree in just over a year. The 15-month track schedules courses to ensure completion within a 15-month timeframe starting in the summer and concluding the following summer.

The degree is completed using the following schedule, which includes fall and spring semesters of full-time graduate study. This track includes two summer internships, providing recent college graduates with professional field experiences. The 15-month track admits only in the summer. Be sure to select the “15-month track” application form when applying.

15-Month Track Schedule

Course schedule & sequence for the 15-month track master’s degree
Term Hours Courses
Summer 1 6*
  • NPS 501U Understanding the Nonprofit Sector (required)
  • Internship & Seminar (content specialization elective)
Fall 9
  • NPS 530U Law, Ethics & Governance (required)
  • NPS 540U Resource Development & Promotion (required)
  • Content Specialization or Systematic Design & Inquiry focused course (elective)
Spring 9
  • NPS 520U Financial Management & Budget Decisions (required)
  • NPS 550U Strategic Human Resource Management (required)
  • Content Specialization or Systematic Design & Inquiry focused course (elective)
Summer 2 6*
  • NPS 590U Integrative Seminar (required)
  • Internship & Seminar (Systematic Design & Inquiry elective)

* Summer coursework comprises part-time study for financial aid purposes, but remains eligible for financial aid.

Review the degree requirements below and the schedule of classes each semester for a list of electives available in each area of focus.

Program Details

  • Requirements

    MNS Program of Study

    Total: 30 semester hours


    15 semester hours

    • NPS 501U Understanding the Nonprofit Sector
    • NPS 520U Financial Management and Budget Development
    • NPS 530U Law, Ethics and Governance
    • NPS 540U Resource Development and Promotion
    • NPS 550U Strategic Human Resource Management


    12 semester hours. Select 6 hours (2 classes) from each group below.

    Content Specialization

    6 semester hours. Topic for NPS 598U must relate to content specialization as determined by the program chair.

    • NPS 522U International Non-Governmental Organizations (iNGOs)
    • NPS 566U Public Policy and Advocacy
    • NPS 567U Sustainability and Nonprofit Organizations
    • NPS 571U Social Entrepreneurship
    • NPS 581U Community Engagement in the Nonprofit Sector
    • NPS 598U Selected Topics

    Systematic Design and Inquiry

    6 semester hours. Topic for NPS 598U must relate to systematic design and inquiry as determined by the program chair.

    • NPS 562U Assessment and Program Evaluation
    • NPS 570U Program Design and Proposal Writing
    • NPS 572U Innovations in Organizational Norms and Practice
    • NPS 598U Selected Topics
    • EDUC 680U Content Specialization and Research I

    Integrative Seminar

    3 semester hours

    • NPS 590U Integrative Seminar
  • Graduate Admissions

    Admission to Graduate Programs

    Transfer of Graduate Credits

    Up to six semester hours of graduate credit may be transferred toward a graduate program in the School. Transfer credits may be accepted only from another regionally accredited institution of higher education. In order for graduate academic credits completed prior to admission into a graduate program to be considered, credits: (1) must have been completed within the past five years with a grade of 'B' or better; (2) must not have been used to satisfy requirements for another degree or certificate at the University of Richmond or another institution of higher education; and (3) must be approved by the Program Chair. Possible transfer credits completed while in the program must receive prior approval by the Program Chair. Except by waiver, no more than six hours may be transferred into a graduate program.

    Graduate Admission Process

    Students seeking admission to a graduate certificate or a master's degree program must complete the following:

    • File a Graduate Application with the School and submit the non-refundable $50 graduate application fee
    • Have official transcripts from all colleges and/or universities where college work was attempted forwarded directly to the School
    • Have three (3) letters of recommendation sent directly to the School (requirement differs for Graduate Certificate in Teacher Licensure Preparation and Master of Teaching)
    • Have official TOEFL scores sent (when applicable)

    Official documents verifying college and university work and test scores must be sent from the institution or agency responsible for the information directly to the School.

    Letters of recommendation should be substantive regarding the applicant’s potential to be successful as a graduate student and professional in their field. Letters from past or current supervisors and professors are preferred, and those from professional peers and coworkers who can offer meaningful input about the applicant’s abilities and potential may be appropriate as well. Letters from friends, family members, and subordinates are discouraged.

    Additional requirements vary by graduate degree programs. See the section that follows for the graduate program to which you are applying.

  • NPS Admissions

    Admission to the Master of Nonprofit Studies or Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Studies

    Students seeking admission to the Master of Nonprofit Studies or the Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Studies must have the following (in addition to the admission requirements for all graduate programs):

    • A baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university (or international equivalent)
    • A grade point average of 3.0 or higher on all college or university academic work attempted
    • Successful interview with the program chair or designee

    The three letters of recommendation should be substantive regarding the applicant’s potential to be successful as a graduate student and professional in the nonprofit sector. Letters should be written by those who have supervised or held responsibility for evaluating the applicant’s academic, professional, or nonprofit-related activities. At least one of the recommendations should come from someone who can speak to the applicant’s nonprofit-related interests or experiences.