Course Description

Explore Nonprofit Management Fundamentals

Nonprofit organizations are responsible for some of the most valuable, community-enriching work that occurs in our country. And with missions devoted to anything from arts accessibility to wildlife rescue to helping underserved populations, there is a seemingly endless list of things to know when one decides to enter the nonprofit sector. 

Our Nonprofit Sector Overview course provides a foundation for understanding nonprofit organizations within the greater context of the nonprofit sector and society as a whole. Students will learn the characteristics of nonprofit organizations, their organizational structures and unique dimensions of the state of the sector. They will also explore leadership best practices and grow to understand the integral role nonprofits play in our communities

Who is the Nonprofit Sector Overview Course For?

This research-based continuing educations course is ideal for nonprofit sector employees, professionals transitioning to the nonprofit sector, current or prospective board members, or potential or veteran volunteers

Nonprofit Sector Job and Career Outlook

The nonprofit sector is notoriously understaffed, which creates a promising job outlooks for those passionate about a career in this field. And while nonprofits exist in a wide variety of industries or disciplines, the qualifications to work or lead one of these organizations are fairly universal.

Most nonprofit managers have a bachelor's degree in a relevant field of study at a minimum, with many jobs preferring some sort of advanced degree or certificate. Some of the most commonly required skills include analytical and critical thinking, communication, multitasking, fundraising and of course knowledge of nonprofit laws and regulations, just to name a few. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment opportunities for nonprofit managers are expected to increase by 17% nationwide from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the national average. The BLS also reports that nonprofit managers have an average salary of $69,000 dollars.

Nonprofit Overview Course Instructors

Leslie Hennessey: Leslie Hennessey, PhD in Leadership Studies with an emphasis in nonprofit leadership, has served on various nonprofit boards. Closest to her heart is the mission of Canine Companions for Independence that provides assistance dogs to individuals with disabilities. Leslie serves on the Canine Companions national board and is also a 13-time puppy raiser. She has over 25 years as a senior executive of a for-profit company that produces and sells products globally.

Nonprofit Sector Overview Course Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a nonprofit?

A: A nonprofit organization is "one that qualifies for tax-exempt status by the IRS because its mission and purpose are to further a social cause and provide a public benefit. Nonprofit organizations include hospitals, universities, national charities and foundations"

Q: What is nonprofit management?

A: Nonprofit management and being a nonprofit manager entail overseeing all facets of a nonprofit organization's operations, from day-to-day fulfillment of the mission to behind-the-scenes executive level work. In terms of necessary skills, nonprofit managers should be adept at developing resources, setting and aligning the mission, improving communications, leading the organizations and making executive decisions in the best interest of everyone.

Q: Is online learning right for me?

A: Our online courses offer the same high-quality content and expert instruction as the courses held on-campus at the University of San Diego. Instructors facilitate courses through engaging multimedia presentations and provide prompt feedback to questions within a 24-48 hour timeframe. This online format allows students to interact with classmates worldwide and replicate in-classroom interactions through weekly discussion forums, chats and email communication. See more information about online learning through the University of San Diego.


The University of San Diego's Division of Professional and Continuing Educations is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges — Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

Learner Outcomes

  • Define predominant models and theories of nonprofit management
  • Evaluate nonprofit industry trends shaping activity in the sector
  • Understand key theories of board governance

Course Details

Number of Units: 1.0 graduate level extension credit(s) in semester hours

Applies Towards the Following Certificate(s), Professional Programs and Series: Nonprofit Management Certificate

Required Materials: All required materials are available through the online learning platform.

Technical Requirements




“A fantastic overview for those in or looking to enter the nonprofit sector.” --Stephen Aherne
“It was informative and covered a broad spectrum of content. It was also helpful to have mandatory interaction with peers in the class. There were several modules that educated me on issues I was not currently aware of.” -- Jennifer Bradford, Director of Operations, Moonlight Cultural Foundation

Applies Towards the Following Certificate(s), Professional Programs and Series

Enroll Now - Select a section to enroll in
Online Fixed-Date
Aug 30, 2022 to Sep 26, 2022
Course Format
Course Fee(s)
BUS PD - $299 credit (1 units) $299.00
Available for Extension Credit
1 units
Section Notes

Once you have enrolled in your course, log in to your account to access the course Welcome Letter, which includes directions on how to access the Online Orientation and your online course.

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