Top Online MBA Nonprofit Specializations


Find Your MBA

Get matched with top online MBA programs now!

Leadership involves more than just delivering inspiring speeches and enforcing policy and procedures. It’s about relationship building, strategic decision-making, and listening. An online MBA program can push business professionals to understand group dynamics, share responsibility, improve team structure, and navigate through difficult conversations within stressful circumstances. While all the issues that plague our world today are in no way limited to nonprofits, an effective online MBA program in nonprofit leadership will force business leaders to confront these issues while trying to make the world a better place. If leading with a sense of justice and purpose excites you, a degree like the online MBA with a nonprofit specialization may be the right fit for your career. Here are the top ten Online MBA nonprofit specializations to research.

catholic church

Catholic Philanthropy

Graduate students interested in learning to develop their abilities to serve the mission of the Church will discover that an online MBA with a Catholic Philanthropy concentration will give them the operational and fundraising knowledge they need. Provided by some of the best business schools in the nation, an online MBA specializing in Catholic Philanthropy fuses advanced teachings in the core operational areas of philanthropy and business with courses devoted to the best practices and values that make Catholic nonprofits and charities successful. Graduates of this advanced distance degree play critical roles in advancing the ministry and mission of the Church via professional resource development. Skills learned in this degree help graduates invite community members to participate in the mission of the Church through sacrificial giving. This program seeks to help students understand Catholic philanthropy as evangelism, equip graduates with the skills needed to meet people where they are, and encourage them to grow closer to Christ and the Church by giving themselves and their financial gifts.

Church Management

With an online church management MBA, business professionals can expand their business expertise as they manage churches and learn how religious institutions utilize foundations in faith to thrive in the modern dynamic economy. Some of the best business schools in the United States created this degree specifically for those already in church leadership roles—such as lay leaders, executive pastors, and church administrators. Additionally, this program applies to business leaders wanting to transition from the private sector to church settings. The distance degree is also ideal for recent bachelor’s degree graduates and actively working professionals ready to further their education. It is common for a business school’s faculty members to provide insight into the mission field utilizing their real-world experience. Today’s churches face a unique set of challenges. The curriculum in a church management degree addresses and prepares graduate students for these issues by exploring concepts like leadership development, innovation in the church, and spiritual formation.

Human and Social Services Leadership

An online MBA nonprofit specialization in Human and Social Services Leadership is the perfect distance degree for graduate students seeking leadership roles in nonprofit, governmental, or social service programs. Distance learners gain the knowledge and skills needed to lead human or social services agencies effectively. The program emphasizes interdisciplinary concepts like secondary trauma, including program planning, development, evaluation, and organizational development, to social service organizations. Students also learn about information systems and security, fiscal management and assessment, and how to write effective grants. This online MBA specialization also provides practitioners and leadership knowledge in non-therapeutic, direct services to influence social change. Graduate students can position themselves for human services with an advanced distance degree in Human and Social Services Leadership. Often, graduate students choosing a thirty-six-hour degree emphasizing Human and Social Services Leadership complete an average of nine required MBA core courses and then three concentration-specific courses. Through their high-quality coursework, they integrate concepts of knowledge within managing interdisciplinary relationships.

church pews


Some of the nation’s best business schools understand that work and ministry are not mutually exclusive. So, they have designed the online Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Ministry. This advanced business degree allows distance learners to strengthen their knowledge of business principles relevant to viewing their work as a ministry. The program features leadership, management, vocational ministry, accounting, theology, and worldview ministry. Some online programs like this are delivered in accelerated formats, allowing graduate students to finish their graduate program in as little as a year or less from a regionally accredited institution. Graduates of this program are ready to take on positions, knowing they have developed their leadership and management skills focusing on ministry. A curriculum will typically include concepts like discovering how practical business applications can serve others, increasing earning potential by qualifying for salary increases and promotion, expanding ethical frameworks, and integrating Christian principles into business practices. One of the best parts of a degree like this one is how online courses permit students to hold down full-time positions while earning their degrees.

Nonprofit Leadership

A popular career path for many professionals is that of a nonprofit manager. These professionals have committed their careers to helping organizations and enterprises across the nonprofit, private, and public sectors complete initiatives that support their high-level missions that often range from environmental sustainability to community outreach and beyond. Graduate students enrolled in an online MBA nonprofit specialization in Nonprofit Leadership complete their courses on their schedule while still forming meaningful relationships with their instructors and classmates. Students also enjoy opportunities to work with various nonprofit organizations working on their everyday issues and triumphs. The most successful nonprofit managers are committed to their nonprofit’s mission. Still, they realize that to build a fruitful career, they must be more than passionate and idealistic about the organization’s purpose. They also need to acquire the kinds of technical skills which only come through a graduate program like an online MBA in Nonprofit Leadership.

nonprofit volunteers

Nonprofit Administration

One of the top online MBA nonprofit specializations is nonprofit administration. An online MBA in Nonprofit Administration is an advanced business degree that combines specialized business leadership knowledge with a practical, real-world experience designed to train in nonprofit leadership. An MBA is as much a stepping-stone to career advancement as it is a way to gain hands-on experience in the business world. Online MBA students benefit from being exposed to the latest concepts, skills, and management practices by exploring case studies and contemporary business issues. A growing number of nonprofit organizations are positioning themselves to compete within the global marketplace will need skilled workers who can navigate various business environments. Although an MBA features a broad-based education, it is also a degree that provides many choices for electives while enabling students to emphasize something as satisfying as nonprofit administration. An emphasis on nonprofit administration allows graduate students to gain exposure to the philanthropic sector, understanding the nuances of leading nonprofit organizations, their operations, and stakeholders. A nonprofit administration specialization typically requires four additional courses within an online MBA’s coursework.

Nonprofit Governance

Today’s nonprofits face an array of complex struggles in their effort to provide education and services to the public. Regardless of program focus or size, organizations must pay close attention to governance issues, financial reporting mandates, and compliance. An online MBA in Nonprofit Governance gives distance learners a comprehensive understanding of corporate sectors most affected by governance issues and trains them to proactively address them while staying consistent with an organization’s mission. MBA students develop the strategies and skills needed to increase the effectiveness and size of volunteer corps as well as helping to examine the impact of legal issues on an organization. Distance learners enrolled in this program also gain valuable experience building accountability structures, including planning and maintaining organizational budgets and assembling active boards. Because the success of an organization rises and falls due to its leadership, a distance degree in nonprofit governance is a true asset to any business leader interested in the field.

Nonprofit Leadership and Management

An online MBA in Nonprofit Leadership and Management provides graduate students with the needed skills to pursue careers leading nonprofit organizations. The top MBA degrees in the nation offer rigorous academics to give distance learners a solid foundation in core business practices. Nonprofit Leadership and Management-focused programs include courses tailored to the needs of future professionals directing nonprofit organizations. Just like all successful business ventures, nonprofit organizations rely on influential leaders to succeed. Nonprofit managers need to be equipped to handle government regulations, put efficiency improvements into place, and build teams of workers and volunteers who can help reach an organization’s goals. Since nonprofits prioritize putting any available profits and resources back into furthering their mission, nonprofit managers use specialized skills not found in traditional business programs. An online MBA in Nonprofit Leadership and Management is designed to equip business leaders with technical skills to help their nonprofits thrive.

Nonprofit Management

Professionals working in nonprofit management hope to make the world a better place. They may not earn as much in salary as their corporate counterparts, but most believe their work makes a difference. It is common for professionals with a degree in nonprofit management, as an online MBA, to discover their work carries an abundance of high social meaning. Aspiring leaders in the nonprofit sector may find that a distance degree in nonprofit management helps them develop the skills they need to run nonprofit organizations. Graduates prepare for careers as development directors, executive directors, program coordinators, and other top roles. A degree like the online nonprofit management MBA program offers flexibility for distance learners who are actively working professionals. Web-based programs follow the same rigorous curricula as on-campus options, leading to the same advancement opportunities for graduates. An online format is also ideal for students responsible for additional commitments – like a child or family care – on top of their class and work schedules.

Public Administration

capital building

Another leading online MBA nonprofit specialization is public administration. The courses within an online MBA with a Public Administration specialization focus on the skills leaders need in the corporate world, including finance, accounting, economics, and marketing. Graduate students in these programs immerse themselves in topics like operations management and business research. The public administration component of the curriculum typically involves broad-brush exposure to ethics, government budgeting, public law, and public policy lessons. While an online MBA in Public Administration is designed to prepare graduates for potential upper-level government positions, degree holders are also attractive to private-sector organizations that work closely with agencies or heavily regulated industries. An online MBA in Public Administration offers graduates greater flexibility to work in either the private or public sector – a smart choice for students who haven’t decided on a definite career track. This program is an excellent choice for students interested in convenient and high-powered business education.

Action Plans

Now that you’re familiar with some of the best Online MBA nonprofit specializations available today, it’s time to consider how to get into a top business school to pursue an online MBA in the field. Here are three actions to consider:

1. Volunteer!

Most professionals get into nonprofit leadership because they want their careers to count for more than just a paycheck and a 401k. Start your career by looking for ways to volunteer your time within organizations and nonprofits that align with your values. Not only will you feel the satisfaction of using your time wisely, but you will also begin making some much-needed networking contacts that will help to open doors in the future. 

2. Work on that Resume!

Go online and find free resources that help you create an excellent academic, professional, and extracurricular resume. You will want to remember and aptly describe all the opportunities you took to better yourself. Find a format that works for you and find some English majors who can edit and proof the document before emailing it across the nation. 

3. Read Some Books!

It has been said that we are a combination of the books we read and the people we spend time with. If this is true, then we should read the best books possible. A quick online search will yield plenty of books on leadership both in the nonprofit and for-profit realms.

Remember to make your action plans SMART, and you will be on your way to your future career in nonprofit management.

Related Resources:

Guide to an Economics Online MBA
Guide to a Sustainability Online MBA
How Can I take Free Online MBA Courses?
Top Online MBA Programs

Find Your MBA

Get matched with top online MBA programs now!