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What is the difference between a Master’s in Nonprofit Management and an MPA?

The nonprofit world has grown quickly over recent years. In fact, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are current over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations operating within the United States. “Nonprofit organizations include everything from neighborhood associations that meet a couple of times a year and have no assets, to large universities and foundations with billions of dollars in assets.  They include soup kitchens and traditional charities that serve the poor as well as a local church, the Chamber of Commerce, the Sierra Club, the United Steel Workers Labor Union, and the Metropolitan Opera. Nonprofit organizations can be divided by the subsection of the United States Internal Revenue Code 501(c).” To prepare for a career in nonprofit management, a student can choose between several different types of degrees from associates to doctorates. For the professionals looking for a career in management and leadership in the nonprofit sector, a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management can offer the training in business, management, and nonprofit management they are looking for. Here are a few master’s degree options to consider.

The M.A. in Nonprofit Management

The Master’s of Arts in Nonprofit Management is a good choice for students who have completed an undergraduate degree in business or who have already entered the workforce but would like to pursue a management-level position within a nonprofit organization. The content of this degree will be helpful to the student who is unfamiliar with the differences between for profit and nonprofit organizations. This degree can take anywhere from one to three years to complete depending on the pace of study and whether or not the program is in the classroom or online.

The M.P.A. in Nonprofit Management

The Master’s of Public Administration is often thought of as the perfect fit for professionals wanting to work within the public sector. Differing from the Master’s of Arts, the MPA prepares students for careers in government, education, and other branches of public service. While there is certainly some overlap in curriculum topics between the MA, MPA, and MBA, the specialized courses within an MPA may be very specific in order to give the learner the best education to ready him for a career in policy making. Not only do most schools not require previous professional experience in order to gain acceptance into their programs, but many MPA graduates consider career options as educators and may pursue a PhD in the future.

The M.B.A. in Nonprofit Management

The Master’s of Business Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management is a very attractive program for professionals in the workplace who may be employed by a nonprofit but lack any formal business training. With foundational courses, which are in place to bring the student up to speed on financial and business principles, the MBA student is then able to be trained in sound business theory and practical application. Since most business schools require at least two years of professional work or managerial experience, this degree is best suited for more experienced students. Students seeking an accelerated degree can often graduate in as little as one year while students with less time available and work at their own pace and take as many as seven years to graduate in some cases.

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