A Guide to Choosing a Graduate Program for individuals interested in nonprofit and social impact work

We all have different life trajectories that led us to be involved in the nonprofit sector. If you’re like me, you got involved in the social impact sector based on a cause or organization that you care about. And now, you may be wondering how to build a career from here.

There are countless possibilities. Pursuing a master's degree may be on your list of things to consider. It can be a little confusing to parse through the difference between the various degree and certificate options. Below is a quick guide to some options in the Triangle area.

While I've tried to be thorough, there are probably other options for graduate studies. Please leave a comment with other great programs I did not address here!

 

Public Policy

Public Policy students examine the actions of government along with nonprofit and private sector partners. These discipline includes the creation, adoption and implementation of public policy. What is public policy? Some examples are laws, regulations, social programs, public education, and economic development, to name a just a handful. Understanding public policy is complex and requires skills in quantitative analysis, reasoning and argumentation. Through these programs, you can prepare for careers as analysts, program directors, and managers at various levels of government, nonprofits and corporations.*

Triangle Area Offerings

Duke

Master of Public Policy

Full-time on campus 

NC State

Public Policy Certificate

With or without graduate credit 

 

Public Administration

Studying Public Administration prepares public service leaders to solve public problems. Program courses include management, leadership, public policy analysis, and project evaluation. Public Administration emphasizes the (often competing) public service values of efficiency, effectiveness, equity and accountability. This is a good program for future leaders for local, state, and federal governments and the nonprofit sector.*

Triangle Area Offerings

NC State

Master of Public Administration

Full/part-time; evening classes to accommodate internships and work

UNC

Master of Public Administration

Full-time on campus and full/part-time online program

 

Business Administration

A Master’s of Business Administration is a highly versatile, flexible degree. Students learn multiple business disciplines, such as marketing, finance, human resources, IT/IS, operations, and entrepreneurship. Though these programs are not generally targeted toward social impact work, there are certainly opportunities to customize, specialize, and transfer these valuable skills.*

Triangle Area Offerings

Duke

Master of Business Administration

Full-time and evening executive programs

NC State

Master of Business Administration

Full-time, professional evening, and professional online programs

UNC

Master of Business Administration

Full-time, evening executive, weekend executive, and online programs

 

Nonprofit Management

Generally, Nonprofit Management is not a degree in itself, but an add-on or emphasis of another program. You can expect to learn topics like board governance, planning and evaluation, grant writing and compliance, social enterprise, strategic planning, legal practices, financial management, and human resources management.*

Triangle Area Offerings

Duke

Nonprofit Management Certificate

8-day intensive or individual courses available; no graduate credit

NC State

Nonprofit Management Certificate

With or without graduate credit 

UNC

Nonprofit Management concentration of UNC MPA

Full-time on campus and full/part-time online program



YNPN Triangle NC’s board and members have been focusing on a Competency Model this year, which emphasizes professional development in four main areas: effective communication, personal management, leadership development, and technical skills. Any of the above programs, and many other training and educational opportunities, can prepare you to be a better worker and leader in the social impact sector. It’s up to you to decide which path to follow!

 

*Program descriptions are drawn from their respective course websites. 

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  • Jack Lambert
    commented 2019-11-10 19:25:58 -0500
    Thank you for putting together this list. It is important for the next generation to have some guidance concerning their educational choices. Great list. <a href=“”http://www.petsittingsavannah.com" rel="nofollow">http://www.petsittingsavannah.com"></a>
  • Arlene Brown
    commented 2019-09-24 16:48:57 -0400
    Allie- This is a great jumping off point for further exploration. I really appreciate the time and research you put into this article. Thanks so much!
  • Allie Brown
    published this page in News & Blog 2019-09-19 20:56:37 -0400

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