Master of Nonprofit Organizations (MNO): Creating Visionary Leaders in Nonprofit Management

Founded in 1984 as one of the first nonprofit management programs in the nation, the MNO program at Case Western Reserve University is at the forefront of training future leaders in the nonprofit, health care, and public sectors. It provides the essential tools you need to lead a nonprofit and carry out its mission ethically and effectively, featuring an innovative curriculum that emphasizes leadership, strategic planning, revenue development, finance, organization management, ethics, and use of data.

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On behalf of the Dean and faculty of the Mandel School, I invite you to learn more about the Master of Nonprofit Organizations (MNO) degree program. Work in the nonprofit sector is rewarding, but it presents unique challenges and demands for those who seek to take on leadership roles. The Mandel School has three decades of experience in delivering graduate education to prepare nonprofit leaders to meet the demands required by the sector. We invite you to explore the MNO degree program and learn how it can help you better achieve your career objectives and personal goals.

Robert L. Fischer, PhD | MNO Chair | Research Professor | Co-Director, Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development

The Mandel School offers a Master of Nonprofit Organizations (MNO), which is a 39 credit hour degree program comprised of 27 hours of required coursework and 12 hours of electives. The MNO requires a 3-credit hour internship, an ideal way to gain real-world experience and network in the field (this requirement may be waived if you have previous or current nonprofit experience). Complete the MNO full-time in three semesters over 11 months or part-time in two years (taking 3-7 credits per semester). We conveniently offer fall, spring, and summer enrollment options, every application receives scholarship consideration, and financial aid is available.

A Certificate of Nonprofit Management (CNM) is also offered, which is a 15 credit hour program that may be completed as a stand-alone certificate or part of the MNO or MSSA programs.

Much like the diversity within the nonprofit sector itself, graduate programs in nonprofit management have developed from within a wide range of educational areas. Programs now exist in schools of public administration, business, social work, and public affairs/policy. We believe the social work environment is the best place to learn about nonprofit management for three reasons:

  • We are immersed in – and deeply connected to – the nonprofit sector. Our faculty studies and evaluates nonprofit programs and their research informs policy and practice in this arena. Each year, our social work students access field placements in more than 300 nonprofits in Northeast Ohio and throughout the United States. Our graduates have fanned out across the globe to work and lead in a wide range of nonprofits and NGOs. We are committed to the same goals as our nonprofit partners: well-run organizations, effective programs, innovative leadership, and better serving the community.
  • We are a top-ranked school at one of the nation’s top research universities. The Mandel School’s social work master’s program is ranked #9 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report and has a 100-year history of excellence, with a 30-year record specifically in nonprofit management. Furthermore, our students are able to tap the educational opportunities throughout the University, including law, business, bioethics, economics, and more.
  • We are in Cleveland, which has a long history of nonprofit innovation as the birthplace of the Community Chest (predecessor of the United Way), home to the oldest community foundation in the United States (The Cleveland Foundation), and the location of the first healthcare conversion foundation. It is a city with a thriving nonprofit sector, one of the highest concentrations of community development organizations, and a world-renowned health care infrastructure.

Current estimates are that more than 600 colleges and universities offer coursework in nonprofit studies. The vast majority, however, offer only a few courses or at best a concentration. At the Mandel School, we believe that nonprofits are fundamentally different from public and for-profit organizations. As such, we have developed a specialized curriculum tailored to nonprofit work. From your first course, you will be immersed in learning specific to the nonprofit sector – not learning tools or approaches that you must then adapt to nonprofit work. Our required coursework will train you in five areas essential to nonprofit management – finance, revenue development, strategic planning, organization management, and use of data. You will also be exposed to the legal and ethical frameworks particular to the sector. Via the Dialogues course and practicum experience, you will discuss and apply the concepts you are learning. You will also select four electives that help you best meet your career goals.

Required Courses:

Strategic Planning
Ethics and Professionalism
Revenue Planning and Development
Nonprofit Organization and Management
Data-Based Decision Making
Financial Management
Law of Nonprofit Organizations
Nonprofit Leadership Dialogues (3 semesters)
MNO Practicum or elective course

Elective Courses:

Introduction to the Nonprofit Sector
Nonprofit Public Policy and Advocacy
Needs Assessment and Program Evaluation
Nonprofit Program Design
Nonprofit Governance
International NGOs
Nonprofit Marketing
Legislative and Political Processes
Collaboration and Strategic Partnership
Nonprofit Economics

Dual Masters in Nonprofit Management and Social Work (MNO/MSSA)

Combining an MNO with a Master of Science in Social Administration (MSSA, equivalent to an MSW) dual degree allows students to blend a social work background with the nonprofit business expertise that is the hallmark of top leaders in human service organizations and agencies. You will undertake a specialized curriculum in social work and nonprofit management in a minimum of 81 hours of academic coursework. It can be completed in 2.5 years. Students entering with advanced standing can graduate in two years with a dual MNO/MSSA.

Dual Masters in Nonprofit Management and Law (MNO/JD)

Being part of a world-class research university means you can combine your nonprofit management education with a Juris Doctor (JD) from Case Western Reserve University’s School of Law. The MNO/JD program is 109 credit hours (JD 88 hours and MNO 39 hours, with 18 hours that double-count) and can be completed in four years. You must apply separately to and be admitted in each of the programs. Alumni with MNO/JD degrees are employed worldwide by leading organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Certificate in Nonprofit Management (CNM)

The Certificate in Nonprofit Management (CNM) is offered as a credential requiring 15 academic credit hours. The CNM may be done concurrently with the MNO degree, MSSA degree, or may be taken as a stand-alone credential open to non-degree students. The CNM requirements are:

  • Nonprofit Dialogues (3 hours), and
  • Four 3-hour courses from the approved listing for the Master of Nonprofit Organizations selected in consultation with and academic adviser.

Are you an exceptional Case Western Reserve University undergraduate who wants a competitive edge on the job market? Enroll in the 3+1 Program (Senior Year in Professional Studies), which enables you to earn a Master of Nonprofit Organizations during your senior year. Gain leadership, management, and strategic planning skills, no additional tuition is necessary, and you can graduate with your class from CWRU in just four years with both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree!


The MNO program is a 39 credit hour program. You may begin the MNO classes in either the summer after your junior year or in the fall semester of your senior year, completing the MNO coursework in three semesters. Your bachelor’s and master’s degrees will be granted by Case Western Reserve University after successful completion of the MNO coursework your senior year.


You must apply to the Mandel School before the end of your junior year. To begin the application process, contact Mandel School Admissions at or 216.368.1655. The application process will include an interview.


To qualify for the 3+1 program, you must demonstrate superior academic ability and achievement during your first three years of undergraduate study, have met your undergraduate major requirements by the end of your junior year, have a 3.2 GPA or higher, and obtain a letter of eligibility from Claudia Anderson, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Studies.

We encourage you to join our network of alumni working in leadership positions in nonprofits, government, healthcare, and higher education institutions around the world!

The Mandel School is proud to be the editorial home of Nonprofit Management & Leadership, one of the field’s leading academic journals. We are also a member of the Nonprofit Academic Centers Council (NACC) and are active in the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA), the U.S.-based national and international association that connects scholars, teachers, and practice leaders interested in research on nonprofit organizations, voluntary action, philanthropy, and civil society.

Apply Now! There is no application fee ($0) and every application is automatically considered for scholarship awards. The deadline to apply for Fall 2017 is June 30, 2017. The deadline to apply for Spring 2018 is December 1, 2017. Learn more >