Nonprofits serve as indispensable forces and facilitators of positive social change for underserved and marginalized individuals and communities. Their challenging work is essential to community well-being, making them crucial to the health and success of our nation. Now, more than ever, innovative nonprofit leaders with specialized training are needed to develop sustainable efforts to complex problems and to build more effective organizations from the inside out.
Adler University’s fully online Master of Arts (M.A.) in Nonprofit Management equips nonprofit professionals with a specialized skill set that prepares them for leadership roles in their current organization or ones that are aligned with their goals. This highly relevant and rigorous master's degree helps both new and experienced advocates become more effective agents for social justice in their nonprofit world, wherever they may be.
Taught by experienced and accomplished faculty who guide students through all aspects of nonprofit management, including grant writing, fundraising, marketing, advocacy, research, and program development, our curriculum focuses on understanding the underlying factors that contribute to growing inequities in the socio-political structure and how to work with community stakeholders to create positive and sustainable change. You’ll learn how to find effective and creative ways to streamline processes, maximize efficiency, and bridge existing barriers as needed.
Students also complete a nonprofit capstone project that demonstrates their commitment to Adler's mission toward building a more just society. You will conceptualize and build your technical skills through the use of an on-going and distinctive e-portfolio project, which can ultimately serve as a specialized CV/resume and impressive calling card long after you graduate.
Should you choose to enroll in our fully online leadership-focused master’s program, you can complete the curriculum in just 24 months—while balancing your existing professional and personal responsibilities. Or you have the option of choosing our Executive Format, an approach that blends online learning with evening or weekend courses on our Chicago Campus. Either way, you’ll experience the academic rigor and personal attention that has distinguished Adler University for more than 60 years.
Earn your Nonprofit Management master’s degree fully online from an institution that shares your values of social justice and community-based solutions.
Strengthen your expertise in the following areas of nonprofit management:
- Resource Development - Diversify your financial resources, improve your grant-writing abilities, build your single donor portfolio, and work with your board to help make meaningful decisions and budget projections.
- Program Evaluation - Collect and use data to inform strategic decisions about programs, and comply with funding and governmental requirements.
- Role Definition - Facilitate effective relationships among your board, executives, managers, and staff to clarify responsibilities for better organizational efficacy and impact.
- Strategic Planning - Employ research and data to inform your priorities, manage on-going services, and improve long-term planning.
- Advocacy Skills - Develop professionally and personal-based advocacy skills to understand how systems work and how to change them to advance social justice.
- Risk Management - Minimize liability and risk for your organization and other community stakeholders through succession planning, sustainable funding, and board-supported advocacy.
- Community Impact - Work to ensure holistic community health, rather than simply providing services, so you can address systemic issues and help remove barriers that hinder success.
- Adaptable Actions - Discover how to best modify and adapt your actions whenever inevitable political forces or regulatory changes demand adjustments or negotiations to reach your end goals.
Adler University’s fully online Master of Arts (M.A.) in Nonprofit Management is a 36 credit-hour program. Courses are eight weeks in length, and this program can be completed in two years with scheduled breaks.
The Nonprofit Management M.A. is offered in the following sequence of classes, including a two-part capstone project:
Graduates of Adler University’s Master of Arts (M.A.) in Nonprofit Management online program enter the nonprofit workforce with the skills and experience to thrive in the following career roles and more:
- Nonprofit Executive Director
- Nonprofit Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
- Nonprofit Manager
- Human or Volunteer Resources Manager
- Development Director
- Communications & Marketing Manager
- Grant Writer/Manager
Leslie Starsoneck, M.S.W.
Interim Program Director
- M.S.W., Social Work, University of Pittsburgh
- B.A., Psychology, State University of New York at Potsdam
- Certificate of Excellence in Nonprofit Governance, Harvard Business School
- Principal, Starsoneck Consulting
- Senior Advisor, Armstrong McGuire & Associates
- National Senior Trainer, Saint Wall Street, LLC
- Consultant, North Carolina Pediatric Society’s Fostering Health program
- Investigator, Project NO REST, North Carolina state initiative to reduce human trafficking
- Co-Developer and Implementation Specialist, Strong Fathers program
- Director, North Carolina Domestic Violence Commission/Council for Women
- Adjunct Faculty, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work
Areas of expertise, academic & research interests
- Nonprofit capacity building
- Child welfare
- Child well-being
- Domestic and sexual violence
Professional activities, memberships, and honors
- Vice Chair, Lucy Daniels Center in Cary, North Carolina
What professional experience do you bring to the Nonprofit Management program?I have had a variety of roles in my career within the nonprofit sector. I’ve worked as a nonprofit manager and as an advocate for system change. I’ve worked as a funder of nonprofits as well as a strategic adviser. For the past 10 years, I’ve been a consultant to nonprofits that want to have greater impact. All of these roles are ones we are preparing students of our program to succeed in.
How does Adler’s program differ from programs offered by other schools?Our focus and commitment to social justice is unique among nonprofit management programs and is a particular draw for students. We focus on how social justice intersects with socially responsible practices and Adlerian principles. We also stress relevance because the nonprofit sector is so dynamic. Our goal is to be current on the latest trends and techniques—about giving, the use of social media to advocate, how boards of directors function most effectively, and so on.
How can prospective students enhance their careers through this graduate degree program?Careers are enhanced through further credentialing; new or improved expertise; and the confidence, renewed commitment, and creativity that comes with education. Our program can prepare practitioners already in the field for new leadership roles within a current or new organization. It can also ready a person changing careers to become an effective manager in the nonprofit sector. Current leaders benefit from sharpening their skills and being exposed to the latest thinking and practices for nonprofit excellence. Whether a program manager is preparing for a director position, or an accountant is seeking a role in resource development for a nonprofit, the Nonprofit Management program can provide the necessary preparation.
Should someone already working in this field consider Adler’s M.A. in Nonprofit Management?Adler’s online program is rigorous but includes the flexibility that students working in the field often require. The nature of our online campus means students take courses with other students who are from anywhere and everywhere, giving them exposure to diverse thought and experience.
How is this degree program helpful for career changers?Typically, a career changer brings a set of skills from one industry—let’s say financial management—that serves him or her well in the nonprofit sector. What the Nonprofit Management program does is fill in what is different and unique about the nonprofit sector in terms of requirements and practice—reporting to the Internal Revenue Service, for example, and the role of a board of directors in approving budgets.
How do the concepts of social justice and social responsibility apply to Nonprofit Management? What is the Adlerian ideal, and how is it expressed?Social justice efforts recognize and work to change systems that promote or allow inequities that disadvantage certain people or groups. While nonprofits provide a multitude of critical services—such as feeding the hungry or providing shelter—social justice efforts attempt to resolve what is making people vulnerable in the first place. Alfred Adler emphasized that individual well-being is closely related to community health. That approach fits neatly into the missions of many nonprofits. We make sure that students know how to build programs that answer community needs and can show impact.
What does ‘community’ mean in the context of the Nonprofit Management program?
Nonprofit practitioners and managers generally consider the impact on “we” rather than “me.” This approach focuses on broad impact and requires practitioners to define community. Nonprofit managers must be deliberate about whom their organizations seek to serve. It’s impossible to effectively engage a community if you haven’t properly defined it.
Many students come to the Nonprofit Management program already connected to their communities and with a passion for a particular segment or cause—they may want to improve conditions for refugees, improve the economic status of ex-offenders, or address the disproportionate representation of certain groups in the child welfare system. Often these are students who know how to build community and are already invested in its value. They willingly come together to exchange ideas, challenge one another, and grow. It’s our job to make sure the technology allows them to do this easily.
How are students supported as practitioners?
The online environment is an ideal option for busy practitioners. Many of our students currently work within the sector and are looking for advancement opportunities. Because of our focus on peer-to-peer learning and engagement, there are many opportunities to gain support from both faculty and other students. Also, each student is assigned a Student Services Advisor who helps students manage the many commitments they have within and outside the classroom to optimize their success.
Similar to traditional campus programs, Adler online students make lasting connections with other students. Because of our online campus, students make connections with people across the country and beyond. These connections are fostered through the Adler alumni association.
Is there a specific course you’d like to highlight?The Nonprofit Management program has an Advocacy course that exposes students to a broad range of advocacy strategies and ethical considerations related to advocacy. Being a change agent is a role that some students may not see themselves in, but this is a requirement of a socially responsible practitioner. The Advocacy course provides a foundation for understanding the role and importance of civic engagement and how to practically apply advocacy to change systems.
What has surprised you about the online student experience?Humans crave meaningful connection, and perhaps because of their passion for nonprofit work, this is particularly true of our nonprofit management students. I have been surprised and pleased with our online students’ degree of willingness to connect with, embrace, and support one another. That engagement with each other and the learning that it facilitates is one of the main drivers of a successful student learning experience. We can have a young woman who works in a homeless shelter in Alabama in the same class as a middle-age man from Canada who left one industry to seek more meaningful work in the nonprofit sector. This creates unique and powerful learning opportunities for all of our students.
- Ake, G., Bauman, K., & Starsoneck, L. (2008). Strong Fathers Program facilitator’s manual. Raleigh, NC: Center for Child and Family Health.
- North Carolina Criminal Justice Analysis Center, Governor’s Crime Commission, NC Crime Control and Public Safety. (2010). Exploring alternatives for improving child support application filing rates within the context of 50B domestic violence protective orders. Children and Youth Services Review 30, 821–833.
- Pennell, J., Sanders, T., Rikard, R.V., Shepherd, J., & Starsoneck, L. (2013). Family violence, fathers, and restoring personhood. Restorative Justice, 1(2), 268–289. doi: 10.5235/20504188.8.131.52.1
- Starsoneck, L. (2010). Judicial guide for district courts: Domestic violence best practices for the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts.
- Starsoneck, L. (2010, Summer). Speaking out: The Rules. The dos and don’ts when someone you know is diagnosed. Cure.
- Wasilewski, Y. Murphy, R.A., Starsoneck, L., Samuels, M., Potter, D., Foster, A., & Schmid, L. (2010). Identifying and responding to the needs of children residing in domestic violence shelters: Results from the North Carolina Domestic Violence Shelter Screening Project. In E.K. Douglas (Ed.) Innovations in child and family policy: Multidisciplinary research and perspectives on strengthening children and their families (pp.117–133).Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
Alisha Lund-Chaix, Ph.D.
- Ph.D., Public Administration and Policy, Mark O. Hatfield School of Government, Portland State University
- Master of Urban Studies, Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning, Portland State University
- B.A., Political Science, Southern Oregon University
- Principal, Lund-Chaix Consulting
- Statewide Survey Coordinator, Oregon Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
- Lead Consultant, Metro Regional Government Volunteer Services redesign
- External Evaluator, Oregon Office of Student Access and Completion: Oregon Opportunity Grant, Access to Student Assistance Programs in Reach of Everyone (ASPIRE)
- Consultant, Portland Women’s Crisis Line
- Trainer: New Nonprofit Leaders Boot Camp, Taiwanese NGO Executive Training
- Adjunct Faculty, Portland State University
Dawgelene Sangster, M.A.
- Ed.D. Pending, Organizational Leadership, Argosy University
- M.A., Industrial and Organizational Psychology, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
- B.A., Business Administration, Chicago State University
- Certified Professional Coach, Fowler Wainwright International Institute of Professional Coaching
- Adjunct Faculty/Course Designer, Adler University
- Principal/Consultant, Sangster Consulting
- Adjunct Faculty/Alumni Advisory Board Member, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
- Independent IT/Organizational Consultant
- Global IT Manager, Diamond Management Technology Consultants
- Digital Strategist, SBC Media
Ellen Stokes, Ph.D.
- Ph.D., Business Administration, Human Resources Management and Organizational Leadership, Northcentral University
- MBA, Management and Strategy, Western Governors University
- B.S., Management, University of Phoenix
- Certificate of Human Resource Management, Delaware County Community College
- Director of Operations, People for People, Inc.
- Auditor, Philadelphia Works, Inc.
- Adjunct Faculty, University of Virginia, Southern New Hampshire University
- Associate Faculty, University of Phoenix
Samantha Coleman, Ph.D.
- Ph.D., Organizational Leadership, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
- M.A., Professional Counseling, Concordia University Chicago
- B.A., Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago
- Lecturer, University of Chicago
- Adjunct Faculty and Orientation Facilitator, Adler University
- Director of Training, Development, and Support Services, Village Leadership Academy, Chicago
- Adjunct Faculty, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
- Executive Director, Assist Her, Inc., Chicago
- Crisis Counselor, Youth Crossroads, Inc., Berwyn, Illinois
- Pediatric Mental Health Counselor, Riveredge Hospital, Forest Park, Illinois
- Psychological Rehabilitation Assistant, Child and Adolescent Specialist, Bobby E. Wright Comprehensive Behavioral Health Center, Inc., Chicago
Tom Tresser, M.S.
- M.S., Urban Development, Spertus College
- Certificate in Business Management, University of Chicago School of Business
- Certificate in Nonprofit Management, Roosevelt University
- B.A., Sociology, Antioch College
- Publisher, "Chicago Is Not Broke. Funding the City We Deserve"
- Co-Founder, The CivicLab & The TIF Illumination Project, Chicago
- Co-Leader, No Games Chicago
- Co-Founder, Protect Our Parks