Becoming a Certified Nonprofit Professional

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Students enrolled in USD’s Nonprofit Certificate Program have an opportunity to obtain a national credential from the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance (NLA), whose  mission “is to is to strengthen the social sector with a talented and prepared workforce” (Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, 2015). The University of San Diego has been a member of NLA since 1988 and is 1 of the 40 colleges and universities within the Alliance’s network.

The Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) credential is the only national nonprofit credential preparing undergraduate, graduate and professional students for careers in management within the nonprofit industry. A recent study conducted by LinkedIn, the world’s largest online professional network, found that CNP’s are seven times more likely to reach the level of director or rise to a higher position in the nonprofit sector.

Students who successfully complete the NLA’s program are awarded the CNP credential and obtain access to the NLA’s network of nonprofit career resources. Graduates may also join the NLA Alumni Association with its 1000+ members.

CNP training consists of 10 core competencies that organizations are seeking in candidates and are critical in establishing a long term career within the industry.

  1. Marketing, Communications and Public Relations
  2. Cultural Competency and Diversity
  3. Financial Resource Development and Management
  4. Foundations and Management of the Nonprofit Sector
  5. Governance, Leadership and Advocacy
  6. Legal and Ethical Decision Making
  7. Personal and Professional Development
  8. Program Development
  9. Volunteer and Human Resource Management
  10. Future of the Nonprofit Sector


  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) Degree
  • Completion of the USD Nonprofit Certificate Program
  • Registration in the NLA program
  • 300 Hours of internship or verifiable work and/or volunteer experience at a nonprofit agency
  • Attendance at one NLA Management Institute or approved alternative conference

For more information, please on obtaining your CNP through NLA contact: 
Teresa VanHorn, MA, CNP, Director, Undergraduate Nonprofit Leadership Program; Director, Field Experiences and Leadership Mentor Program (619) 260-4760 or

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