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Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management


SPIA, in cooperation with the Institute for Nonprofits, offers the Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management. This 15-credit hour program, which carries graduate credit, is targeted to individuals working in or planning careers in the nonprofit sector. The program is built around regularly offered graduate courses and provides the basic knowledge, skills, processes, analysis and advocacy needed to manage nonprofit organizations.

Admission Requirements

The admission process is “rolling” and students may begin classes at the start of the Fall, Spring, or Summer semester after they are accepted, provided courses are available.

Current NCSU Graduate Students only need to fill out the “Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management Application” form and submit it to the Certificate Program Coordinator, Dr. Richard Clerkin, at  richard_clerkin@ncsu.edu to apply to add the certificate program.

Applicants must be currently enrolled and in good standing.

Certificate-Only Students (non-degree or non-NC State graduate students) will fill out an application through the Graduate School.

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with at least a 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) in the last two years (last 60 credits) of undergraduate study and will submit transcripts as part of their application.

Certificate Requirements

The Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management consists of 15 credit hours and requires students to meet a Substantive Experience Requirement before they graduate from the certificate.

Core Courses (9-12 credits)

Students choose at least three courses out of the four listed below.
  • PA 531 – Human Resource Management in Public and Nonprofit Organizations
  • PA 536 – Management of Nonprofit Organizations
  • PA 538 – Nonprofit Budgeting and Financial Management
  • PA 539 – Fund Development

Elective courses (3-6 credits)

Students that take 3 core courses must complete 2 elective courses; students that take 4 core courses must complete 1 elective course. Examples of courses students have taken before are listed below.
  • PA 514 – Management Systems (MPA students only)
  • PA 525 – Organizational Development and Change Management
  • PA 532 – Contract Negotiation and Mediation in the Public and Nonprofit Sectors
  • PA 542 – Public Information Technology
  • PA 546 – Seminar in Program Evaluation
  • PA 598 – Special Topics: Effective Public Communication
  • PA 598 – Special Topics: Grant Writing
  • COM 546 – Nonprofit Marketing and Public Relations
  • HI 599 – History of Nonprofit Organizations

Substantive Experience Requirement

The Substantive Experience Requirement can be met by:
  • Prior (or Continuing) Experience:
    • Full-time employment with a nonprofit (at least one year by completion of certificate program).
    • Serving on a nonprofit board or chairing a nonprofit’s standing committee (at least one year by completion of certificate program).
  • In-program Work:
    • Internship or independent study with a nonprofit (at least 1 credit hour).
    • Completing a course with a field component (e.g. PA 546 or PA 525).

Frequently Asked Questions

Students in the Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management take graduate courses that develop the basic skills which faculty and representatives of local nonprofits have identified as needed to manage a nonprofit. All participants will be registered at NC State University. Their NC State transcripts will record the courses, the grades, and the receipt of the Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit management. Upon completion of the program the recipient will receive a certificate signed by the Chancellor.

The Duke Program in Nonprofit Management is a non-credit program. It is based on short courses and workshops covering a range of management skills and topics. The Duke program offers a sound introduction to nonprofit management for nonprofit staff and volunteers.

Applicants who have a GPA of less than 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) in their last two years of undergraduate course work may be admitted provisionally. A provisionally admitted student must initially take PA 536 Management of Nonprofit Organizations, PA 538 Nonprofit Budgeting and Financial Management or PA 539 Fund Development and earn a minimum grade of B (3.0) to continue in the certificate program.

Not necessarily. Your academic success may have a strong bearing on admission to a degree program, but completion of a certificate program in no way guarantees entry into a graduate degree program. Each graduate degree program has its own application process and admission requirements. Before beginning the certificate program, students interested in obtaining a graduate degree should meet with that degree program’s Director of Graduate Programs (DGP) or a designated staff person. People interested in the MPA degree should meet with the PA Graduate Services Coordinator, Meggie Romick (mromick@ncsu.edu).

MPA students may count PA 514 as a required MPA core courses and as an elective certificate course. Other certificate courses can count as electives in the MPA program.

PA 536 is recommended as a first course for students with limited management experience in a nonprofit. For MPA students, PA 514 Management Systems should not be taken until you have completed at least two of the core courses. PA 536, PA 538, and PA 539 and most electives are offered either every year or biannually. Students will work with Certificate Program Coordinator, Dr. Richard Clerkin, to plan the sequence of courses.

The list of electives is updated regularly to reflect additions and changes in the NC State University course offerings. Appropriate electives should deal explicitly with an area of nonprofit management. To recommend a course for the list of electives please send information on the course (prefix, number, and title) to the Program Coordinator, Dr. Richard Clerkin (richard_clerkin@ncsu.edu).