20 Best Online Associates in Non-Profit Management Degrees

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Updated: March 8, 2024, Reading time: 20 minutes

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Universities and colleges in the country offer competitive online associate in non-profit management degree programs for interested students who want to make a difference in the community. These associate degree programs teach students to help nonprofit organizations raise funds for a cause.

They will learn the necessary knowledge and skills that help in numerous tasks involved in nonprofit management, including directing the financial budget, ensuring fundraising tactics are in place, formulating strategies to comply with government regulations, and managing personnel.

Best Online Associate in Non-Profit Management - fact

Students are being trained to handle the diverse responsibilities of nonprofit managers. They must employ various skills and competencies to help them do their job well. This includes organizational leadership capabilities to aid nonprofit organizations in meeting their goals.

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College Cliffs is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

The Lowdown

While a bachelor’s degree is typically required to get into a nonprofit managerial position, earning an associate degree in nonprofit management is also a good option for those who need a stepping stone into a meaningful and rewarding career in the field.

This program equips students with a good foundation of knowledge and competencies when it comes to fundraising, governance, and program development.

Students may opt to get into entry-level positions in nonprofit organizations and gradually climb their way to managerial posts. This includes job opportunities that involve event planning, mission trip coordination, and nonprofit coordination. They can also use this degree to prepare for a bachelor’s degree in the field to beef up their career credentials.


Although not as common as the traditional degrees, associate programs in Non-Profit Management are offered online with the same academic rigor.

On our list are the top web-based associate degrees from the country’s most reputable community colleges or four-year universities. Each Associate in Non-Profit Management program was picked based on these factors:

For a closer look at how our ranking process goes, please read our Methodology.

5 Top Online Nonprofit Management Programs

Colorado Christian University

Colorado Christian University

AS in Nonprofit Management

Established in 1914, Colorado Christian University’s commitment to providing world-class higher education to transform students’ lives extends to offers of online associate degree programs that are accessible to all.

One of their online programs is the Associate of Science in Nonprofit Management. This nonprofit management degree online trains students for a fulfilling career in nonprofit organizations. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited the university.

What Makes This Program Unique:

Students in this degree program have an accelerated option. College, military, or technical credits are accepted for transfer, helping prospective students finish the associate degree faster. They can transfer up to 45 credit hours (equivalent to 75% of the Associate of Science degree requirements.

Did You Know?

Colorado Christian University offers Guaranteed Tuition. This allows students to maximize their money with guaranteed tuition for undergraduate programs under the College of Adult and Graduate Studies. This means qualified students’ tuition will be guaranteed for up to six years with continued progress toward an undergraduate degree.

Forsyth Tech Community College

Forsyth Tech Community College

Associate of Applied Science in Nonprofit Leadership and Management

Forsyth Technical Community College, a public community college based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, offers an Associate in Applied Science degree program, which is designed to prepare students to take up leadership and management roles in the nonprofit sector.

Graduates should be able to move into various leadership positions throughout the nonprofit sector upon graduation.

What Makes This Program Unique:

The Program’s curriculum covers a broad range of topics, which includes fundamentals of Nonprofit Organizations, legal and ethical concerns affecting Nonprofits, as well as the issue of funding and financial management.

Did You Know?

Forsyth Tech also offers the following related certificate programs: Nonprofit Leadership and Management – Financial Management, Nonprofit Leadership and Management – Governance, and Nonprofit Leadership and Management – Marketing, which prepares students with more specialized skill sets for specific roles within the nonprofit organization structure.

Northwood Technical College

Northwood Technical College

Associate in Nonprofit Leadership

A public technical college with campuses in 4 locations across Wisconsin, Northwood Technical College offers an Associate Degree in Nonprofit Leadership.

This degree program is designed to help prepare students to meet the various challenges and needs faced by communities across the country, challenges and needs that nonprofit organizations are typically called on to fill.

Graduates of the program can be expected to go on to take up roles in various nonprofit organizations such as shelters, assisted living centers, government social services, YMCAs, and more.

What Makes This Program Unique:

As a comprehensive degree program designed around the principles of nonprofit management and leadership, students learn the whole range of crucial skills and processes that are central to the role of those in nonprofit management and nonprofit leadership roles. 

Did You Know?

Northwood Tech holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, ensuring students have quality education.

Ferris State University

Ferris State University

Associate of Arts in Community Leadership

A public university based in Big Rapids, Michigan, Ferris State University offers an Associate of Arts in Community Leadership.

It is a degree program that contains a total of 63-65 credit hours and is provided on-campus with some online options. Graduates are expected to be able to take up careers as community leaders, social/community service managers or organizers, and other positions in the nonprofit sector.

What Makes This Program Unique:

While it isn’t strictly an Associate degree in Nonprofit Management, it overlaps in its thematic areas of concern and is primarily a program that is orientated towards taking action on various social, economic, and environmental inequalities, things that are also the main objects of action of most nonprofit organizations working with communities throughout the country.

The critical difference lies in the more specialized skills that are taught in Nonprofit management degree programs, such as financial management, volunteer management, strategic planning, etc.

Did You Know?

Admission to the program requires a minimum High School GPA of 2.50 on a 4.00 scale; transfer students are required a minimum of 2.00 college GPA on a 4.00 scale. 

Seminole State College of Florida

Seminole State College of Florida

AA Pathway, Nonprofit Management

Seminole State College of Florida has been accredited by the SACSCOC-Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges to offer associate programs. One of which is the Associate of Arts in Nonprofit Management.

This pathway program allows students to merge their passion for good causes with their lifelong careers as they gain valuable knowledge and skills when it comes to organization-level project management.

At the same time, they are given the opportunity to develop ironically profitable skills in communication, economics, and leadership.

What Makes This Program Unique:

The university offers students in this program guaranteed to transfer. This means they can earn their associate degree and take advantage of guaranteed admission to the University of Central Florida or one of Florida’s state universities for their bachelor’s degree.

Did You Know?

Students may earn this associate degree at about half the cost. A full-time college education at Seminole State University is more than $10,000 less each year compared to most state universities. To demonstrate, the tuition and fees cost at Seminole is only around $3,131.

Nonprofit Management Degrees vs. Business Management Degrees: Key Similarities and Differences

While these two families/categories of degree programs can be seen as similar or parallel, there are a number of key similarities and differences that lie between them.

Leadership Skills and Strategic Thinking

Courses related to the theory and practice of leadership are among the common points shared between these two degrees.

Business Management/MBA degrees, as well as nonprofit management degree programs, are both designed to prepare students to take up leadership roles and positions in their respective industries and settings, and these generally require the same skillsets and mindsets.

Management Needs and Content

Both nonprofits and businesses/for-profits contain significant human resource management components in terms of hiring and retaining talent, developing personnel skills and human capital, conflict resolution, and a few other core processes. Accordingly, the respective curriculums of business management and nonprofit management degrees reflect this commonality.

However, given the significant amount of engagement nonprofits have with specific communities and sectors they serve, their curriculums often have additional coursework related to developing links with communities and other sector-specific human resource needs.

General vs. Specific Scope

Business Management/MBA degrees tend to have curriculum designs that adopt a more general/broad scope of leadership and management-related content, often offering their own unique sets of specialization areas that cater to specific industries, roles, or settings.

Non-profit management degrees, on the other hand, are more specific in scope, featuring coursework that teaches the fundamentals of the sector and specific skill sets related to the management needs of nonprofit organizations. In many colleges/universities, nonprofit management is offered as a Specialization area in the MBAs they offer.

Specialized Skills

Given their more specific scope, nonprofit management degree programs also teach a number of sector-specific skills and core processes, either as individual courses or in thematic sets.

To give an example, these degree programs may teach grant writing or proposal development, cultivating and managing the network of donors and partners, as well as fundraising.

Funding and Financial Structures of For-profits and Non-Profits

Like any management degree, nonprofit management degree programs also feature financial/fiscal management and/or financial accounting courses.

Compared to MBAs, however, these degree programs often take on a slightly different approach to financial management since traditional businesses/for-profits and nonprofit organizations have fundamentally different cost structures and are monitored and accounted for differently. They also have different ways of generating funds to keep their operations going.

A Closer Look at Nonprofit Management Associate Degree Programs

Given that these degrees are associate degree programs, Associate Degree Programs in Nonprofit Management will invariably feature a standard set of general education courses on top of the set of techniques that cater to the core competencies crucial to nonprofit management.

They will also feature a two-year completion timeframe (typically on full-time enrollment). However, some schools may offer a longer part-time enrollment completion time frame and contain a total of around 60 credit hours.

Beyond their general education components, they also share a standard set of core discipline-related courses that may differ in name but have the same thematic area of concern.

Here are the common core courses:

Fundamentals of/Introduction to Nonprofit Management

These courses lay the groundwork for the rest of the methods that follow in the curriculum, putting students into the contexts and realities that they will be operating within as leaders of nonprofit organizations.

Advocacy and Public Policy

Nonprofits operate on a foundation of advocacy of specific causes and concerns and typically work closely with the realm of public policy as agents that help promote positive change in the communities they serve. This is a specialized topic that is often treated as a separate course.

Nonprofit Financial Management

The unique financial structure and context of nonprofit organizations require their own unique take on financial management.

Unlike for-profits/businesses, they often operate within the bounds of a set budget that they have to maximize and may have to raise funds, find other supplemental funding sources, and have their own budgeting and cost control measures.

Strategic Planning and Nonprofit Program Development

Effective nonprofit organizations invariably think in the long term, given that the change they advocate for consistently doesn’t come overnight. Long-term goals may be broken up into separate components that are achievable in the short term, for example.

This fact feeds into the need for effective strategic planning and skills in developing effective programs and sub-components.

Recruitment and Selection, Personnel Development

The effectiveness of Nonprofit organizations relies significantly on all its personnel and the unique skills, talents, and mindsets they can bring not only internally but, more crucially, to the communities they serve.

Human resource management needs of these organizations invariably include the right skills in finding and recruiting the right personnel, retaining them, and developing them further.

Grant Writing and/or Proposal Development

Nonprofit organizations rely significantly on donors, such as other organizations that have their own criteria and goals for selecting partners. Effective leadership in nonprofit organizations invariably includes the crucial skill of grant writing (also known as proposal development).

Fundraising and/or Marketing, Event Planning – this is another skill set that is mainly unique to nonprofits, who may often turn to social media marketing or various events to not only raise awareness of their advocacies but also raise funds and even find new partners and donors.

Community Engagement/Fostering community partnerships

Nonprofit management degrees may also include a separate course on community engagement, which has not only the population/s they serve but also their donors and community partner organizations. Nurturing these networks and partnerships is vital to the effectiveness of nonprofits.

Associate degree programs in nonprofit management are designed to prepare students to take up positions throughout various nonprofit organizations right after graduating. As is the case with most Associate degrees, they can also take their earned credits toward earning several related 4-year bachelor’s degrees.

Some associate in nonprofit management programs are designed with further education in mind.

Career Prospects for Online Associate in Nonprofit Management Graduates

Students who successfully earn an associate degree in nonprofit management often have two choices. They can either proceed to earn a bachelor’s degree and enhance their credentials further, or they can delve into the field and work.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fundraising managers can earn up to $119,860 per year. However, this can vary depending on the job position, one’s educational credentials, work experience, geographic location, and industry.

Career Path

Graduates of the online associate in nonprofit management program can find plenty of opportunities to work in the field and advance their nonprofit management careers in different industries and settings. Nonprofit organizations require someone who can steer the organization toward its goals.

Nonprofit managers are responsible for handling the day-to-day operations. The extent of their responsibilities will vary depending on the organization’s budget, size, location, and a host of other factors.

With an associate degree, graduates can gain entry-level positions as fundraising managers. This job often entails developing innovative and effective programs to help nonprofit organizations raise money for operations. They often take on online campaigns, contact potential donors and process grant applications.

Another job prospect for graduates of this degree is being a financial manager. Their task often involves managing available cash, keeping up to date with financial reports, and overseeing monies from donations and fundraising.

Job Outlook

Between 2021 and 2031, fundraising managers’ overall employment is expected to grow by 8%. Each year, there are 8,100 projected openings for jobs in public relations and fundraising management. The growth is primarily attributed to the need to replace older workers who decided to retire or transfer to different occupations.

There is a growing demand for nonprofit managers. This is because nonprofits are becoming more and more relevant not only in the country but also globally.

Fundraising managers and nonprofit managers are essential in the nonprofit sector as they lend their financial, management, and design thinking skills to help organizations achieve their objectives.

The expected job growth, however, could mean that competition is fierce for students and career changers.

Skills Needed for Successful Nonprofit Managers

It is important for an associate degree in nonprofit management graduate to develop their skills and keep up with industry changes to be successful in leading nonprofit organizations. Some of the top skills they need to employ in this field include the following:

People Management

The bulk of the work of nonprofit managers has to do with dealing with employees at different levels, from the sales department to the executive board. It is crucial that they know how to get the best out of their team and work seamlessly with other departments.

Adaptability and Flexibility

As a manager, it is vital that one is adaptable to changes and flexible enough to find fitting solutions to challenges. Flexibility is also needed when dealing with different types of people within the field. They can make use of this skill when adapting to the changing needs of stakeholders.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is vital in any organization, more so in nonprofits. This skill can help nonprofit managers in making their processes more efficient by thinking through problems and presenting solutions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a degree in Nonprofit Management worth it?

Is a degree in Nonprofit Management worth it?

As a whole, yes. While nonprofit organizations don’t typically make the list of the most prestigious and most valuable (these awards go to for-profits), this doesn’t diminish the essential nature of the role they play in society.

Most, if not all, societies will have gaps where underserved and marginalized sectors fall through and are left behind. Nonprofit organizations are the ones that step in and fill their needs or bridge the gap between funding sources and underserved communities.

In a way, nonprofits act like crucial glue that keeps the most vulnerable parts of society together.

Careers in nonprofit management might not be as lucrative or profitable as, say, hedge fund managers or stock market traders, but being able to effect visible positive change in society and the lives of others is in itself highly rewarding.

How much do associate degrees in nonprofit management cost?

Tuition cost estimates for online Associate degrees in nonprofit management may start at around $10,000 at the lower end of the scale. However, colleges and universities that offer these programs also provide a set of means to offset the total cost of the degree, which includes federal financial aid.

These colleges and universities may have their own criteria for financial aid eligibility, so it is best to directly communicate with individual colleges and universities to get the most exact total cost figures, as the costs advertised on their websites are often only rough estimates.

How long does it take for students to complete online nonprofit management programs?

Typically, an online nonprofit management associate program takes about two years or less to complete. This can, however, depend on the number of credits required for students to earn the degree.

There are online degree programs in nonprofit management that require 60 credit hours. Others hover between 30 to 50 credit hours.

Another factor when it comes to program duration is the enrolment basis. Students who are taking online courses on a full-time basis will be able to finish the degree faster than those enrolled part-time. In some cases, accelerated options are also available to individuals who want to complete the degree quicker than the conventional nonprofit management associate degree programs.

Certain schools allow students to transfer credits from accredited post-secondary schools as well, which can help a lot in cutting down the time it takes to complete the associate degree. This is especially useful for adult or working students.

What are the standard admission requirements to an online program in nonprofit management?

The admission requirements from one higher learning institution to another often vary. Most colleges require the successful completion of an online application, with an application fee in some cases.

Others have other requirements on top of the application form. This includes official high school transcripts, a minimum GPA, usually around 2.0 or higher, and a personal statement, among others.

To be sure, prospective students must thoroughly check the specific degree requirements of the school of their choice.

Summary Points

Associate Degrees in Nonprofit Management typically feature courses that teach not only standard leadership and management skills but also sector-specific skills that cater to the unique financial structures and overall goals of nonprofit organizations.

Careers in nonprofit organizations may not be the most financially lucrative, but these are highly rewarding nevertheless. The role that these organizations play in society is often overlooked but is invariably always highly important.

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