Today, thanks to Heather Mansfield, who runs the Twitter NonprofitOrgs profile, I came across a great article that I would like to share with you. Entitled, “Setting the Record Straight about Nonprofit-Focused Graduate Degrees” by Nonprofit Leadership 601. This is a great article that explains the subtle differences in nonprofit-focused master’s degree programs.
I chose to go the Master’s of Public Administration with a Concentration in Nonprofit Management route. It is, so far, serving me well. I think it is a great degree because there is so much versatility to it. As Nonprofit Leadership 601 states, there is so much versatility to the degree because as a student you are “studying the intersection between government and nonprofits” and this “master’s degree program… offer(s) core courses in managing a governmental organization (while) offer(ing) elective courses in managing a nonprofit organization.” So, following graduate school, a person with this degree can either go into the government or nonprofit sectors. Also, it keeps the door open between the two because you might change your mind while enrolled, because the experience of graduate school may change your mind about a given field (nonprofit to government or vice versa).
I thought I would end up with a concentration in policy analysis, but due to scheduling and a growing interest in the nonprofit field (attending school part time while working for a nonprofit full time), I decided to go the Nonprofit Management direction. I am glad that I did. Today, I am employed by another nonprofit organization and I understand a great deal about the nuances of legal entity, the need for professionalization, how to approach performance measurement of a given program and how to evaluate its efficiency, the difference between a 501(c)(3) and a 501(c)(4) as well as what private inurement means and how to avoid it or understand its avoidance by the management of the organization.
The nonprofit field is vibrant and holds a promising future. As problems face society that neither government or the private sector are willing to address, nonprofits step in to fill the void. Nonprofits also can focus on a single issue area, different from the government sector. If you are passionate about something and want to help, this is the path for you. Please take a look at the Nonprofit Leadership 601 blog post and I hope you will consider a future in the nonprofit sector through pursuit of a nonprofit-focused master’s degree.