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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato


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What is this program?

Minnesota State University, Mankato's multidisciplinary Nonprofit Leadership Certificate is an 18-credit undergraduate certificate that draws from the fields of sociology; urban studies; recreation, parks and leisure, and social work to provide an exciting program that will change the way you look at the community and enhance your professional opportunities in the nonprofit sector.

What about my major?

Nonprofits hire graduates from every major. Some desirable majors include:

  1. Business
  2. Gender and Women's Studies
  3. Social Work
  4. Political Science
  5. Sociology & Corrections
  6. Recreation, Parks & Leisure
  7. Management
  8. Education
  9. Urban Studies
  10. Nursing

Can I find a job?

Nonprofits are the fastest growing employment sector in the nation. Salaries are competitive and, even more, you will be able to make a difference!

What courses are required?

Complete the following courses:

(Semester offered: F=Fall; S=Spring; Su=Summer)

6 credits in Nonprofit Leadership:

NPL 273 Introduction to Nonprofit Leadership F, S, or Su (online)

NPL 473 Advanced Workshop in Nonprofit Leadership F, S, or Su (online)

9 credits in Program Planning, Evaluation, Administration, and Finance

Choose one class from the each of the following groups:

Program Planning and Evaluation

RPLS 376 Program Planning F or S or

URSI 413 Urban Program Evaluation F or

SOWK 469 Applied Social Work Research F or S or

SOC 466 Program Planning S (online)

Program Administration

RPLS 473 Administration of Leisure Time Programs F or S or

URSI 230 Community Leadership F, S or Su (online and on campus) or

SOC 417 Program Administration S

Financial Management & Development

URSI 453 Grants Administration F, S or Su (online) or

RPLS 465 Events Management S

3 credit internship

Choose an internship in any of the four cooperating departments: Sociology, Social Work; Recreation, Parks Leisure; or Urban Studies. Internship supervisors are: Sociology: Leah Rogne; Social Work: Bill Anderson; RPLS: Jim Petersen; URSI: Perry Wood.

You may do the internship in your local area with supervision from MSU NPL program faculty. See the program director for information on how to set up an internship in the best way to suit your particular needs.

Total: 18 credits

How do I complete this program online?

Online courses are available so that you can complete the entire NPL Certificate program online, including the two NPL workshops (NPL 273 & 473), SOC 466, URSI 230, and URSI 453. You can complete your internship in your local area with supervision from MSU NPL program faculty.

Online courses provide you accessibility and convenience along with the opportunity to interact with faculty and other students through group discussions, bulletin boards, and chat rooms. You'll be surprised at the quality of the conversations you will have with your instructor and fellow students as you complete each online course.

For useful information on taking online courses at MSU, go to Extending Learning Resources. The same site can link you to various other University resources.

After you’re enrolled, you’ll find course content, assignments, and instructions for structured student discussions posted in Desire To Learn (D2L), MSU’s distance learning course management system. See web links on the NPL Course page for sample syllabi and assignments.

You’ll receive responsive and friendly technical support from MSU’s Office of Information Technology Services. See for more information about online learning with D2L. To log in to D2L, go to

To activate your MSU email account and for other information on using the electronic services at MSU, go to Find Your Way Around E-MSU!

If you sign up for an online course, you’ll be sent the information you need to get started at your campus email address ( Textbooks can be ordered from the MSU bookstore.

What about the NPL minor?

To obtain a minor in Nonprofit Leadership, simply take one additional course from the undergraduate selection of courses. For example, instead of taking Grants Administration (URSI 453) by itself to complete the Certificate, you would take Grants Administration (URSI 453) and Events Management (RPLS 465). But this is only an example, you can take the additional course in any of the three areas: program planning and evaluation, program administration, or financial management and development (see list of courses above).

Total: 21 credits


Should I take the course in a particular sequence?

No, there is no required sequence you must follow.

Ideally, however, you should start with NPL 273 and finish with NPL 473, taking the other courses along the way and doing the internship your last semester. That way you will be able to apply what you've learned in the courses in your internship. The other courses do not need to be taken in sequence. But, again, there is no required order in which any of the courses must be taken.

For student convenience, for example, it is possible to take NPL 473 before you take NPL 273 or even to take both NPL courses at the same time. And you can take the other program courses before taking NPL 273 and 473. We think this flexibility is a great asset of the Certificate program. We still recommend the internship be done toward the end of your program.

For help in deciding how best to make the program work for you, contact the Program Director.

Do I have to be admitted to MSU to take the courses?

You may take up to 12 credits online without being formally admitted to MSU. If you are not already admitted and you are taking your first undergraduate online course, go to University Extended Education and click on “Contact Us” at the lower left to ask for permission to register.

To take additional credits and to complete the entire 18-credit certificate, you will need be admitted to the university. Go to for the admissions process.

I've already received a bachelor's degree. Can I take the NPL Certificate for graduate credit?

There is a graduate certificate offered. Download the [PDF] brochure (1 MiB) or go to the Graduate Certificate page.

Or contact the NPL Program Director for more information.

Is financial aid available for the NPL Certificate?

For undergraduates financial aid is handled the same as it would be for any other MSU courses. For those who’ve already completed a degree (depending on the individual circumstances), financial aid is also available to complete the Certificate. Contact the financial aid office. Designate that you are completing an NPL Certificate, which is considered a “second degree.” For further information, contact the NPL Program Director.

What value does the NPL Certificate have?

Nonprofits are the fastest growing sector in the nation. The demographics of the leadership of nonprofits around the country indicate there will be a strong need for skilled persons with leadership training and experience as the current Baby Boom cohort nears retirement. Academic programs in nonprofit leadership are relatively new in higher education.

While there are probably no jobs yet for which an NPL Certificate is required (as a licensed social worked or professional engineer would be required for certain positions), the skills you learn in the program are the competencies required by the nonprofit sector. Given a choice between a job candidate with bachelor's degree with or without NPL training and the hands-on experience of a supervised internship, it is likely that the potential employee who had completed the nonprofit leadership program would have an advantage. This program can be the edge that gives you that desired entry-level job or gives you the opportunity to ladder up within an organization in which you already work.

How does the NPL Certificate work with my major?

If you are a Sociology, Corrections, Urban Studies, Social Work, or Recreation, Parks and Leisure Services major, courses you take for the NPL Certificate can be double counted to apply to your major as well. The same is true if you are a minor in any of these areas.

Nonprofit leadership training compliments other majors such as business, political science, nursing, management, education, corrections, ethnic studies, women's studies, community health, public administration, communications, and nursing.

Contact the NPL Program Director to plan your program so you are able to complete the Certificate and graduate on time.

What career opportunities are available in nonprofits?

Nonprofits are the fastest growing employment sector in the nation. Salaries are competitive and, more importantly, you will be able to make a difference. As state and federal government programs shrink, many basic services are being addressed by the nonprofit sector.

Go to Nonprofit Careers on the NPL home page for job listings in the nonprofit sector.

Gainful Employment Program Information