Worcester State University
Nonprofit Management



Program Requirements

In order to graduate from the Master of Science in Nonprofit Management program, students must accumulate thirty six (36) credits in total.  The credit breakdown is as follows:


Credit Type

No. of Courses

Total number of credits

Core credits

6 courses @ 3 credits


1 course @ 4 credits


Elective credits

2 courses @ 3 credits


Thesis credits

1@1 credit


1@3 credits


1@4 credits







NM 901: The Nonprofit World: NGOs, the State & Civil Society (3)
NM 934: Ethics and Management of Human Resources (3)
NM 942: Organizational Theory (3)
NM 945: Financial Management (3)
NM 949: Strategic Leadership & Planning (3)

NM 951: Grant Writing (4)

NM 993: Marketing and Resource Development (3)


To cap the Master’s in Nonprofit Management degree experience, students will undertake an Action Research thesis project in their areas of interest. Students may begin their thesis  projects after completing at least 5 core courses.

Thesis Courses (8 credits)

The thesis consists of three courses:  

1)      NM 990: Action Research (3 credits)

NM 990 is offered every fall. The goal of this course is to prepare students to undertake nonprofit-relevant research projects in areas of their choice, by developing an understanding of fundamental concepts of research design. By the end of the course, students develop a research proposal.

 2)     NM 980: Thesis I (1 credit)

This course takes a practical approach, providing students with the opportunity to design their individual research projects based on sound research principles as explored in NM 990. Students will prepare their applications to the WSU Human Subjects Review Board (H.S.R.B.).

 NM 980 must be taken concurrently with NM 990.

3)     NM 991: Thesis II (4 credits)

This course builds on the skills acquired and work completed during NM 990 and NM 980.

 Students will submit their H.S.R.B. applications. Upon gaining approval from the board, students implement their research design by collecting and analyzing data on their chosen topics, and present their findings, conclusions and recommendations orally, and in a written report. Students consult individually with their instructor throughout the semester as they work on their individual projects. The final report is expected to be of publishable quality.


Students submit three copies of their research projects for evaluation by the instructor and two other program-approved readers.


Elective credits enable students to focus on their nonprofit areas of interest. The program electives fall under the following concentrations:

General Non-Profit Management
Public Agency Management
Human Service Management
Health Care Management
Human Resource Training and Development

Please note, however, that the program is unable to offer all the electives listed within the two to three-year period that an individual student may be enrolled in the program.  Students are free to transfer relevant graduate courses from other Worcester State College programs, or other recognized graduate schools. The transfer must, however, be pre-approved by the program coordinator (this means that you get approval from the program coordinator before you take elective courses outside of the program).

Independent Studies

Students are encouraged to pursue independent studies through the course NM 994: Assigned Readings. The purpose of the Independent Study is to provide students with the opportunity to pursue a specific area of study, which is of particular interest to him or her. Students choose a faculty member with whom to pursue the Study, and sign an Independent Study contract. The contract forms are available in the Graduate Office. The study must be approved by the program coordinator and the graduate dean. Students may do one such study in lieu of an elective.  Please note that, an independent study will not be approved as a substitute for a core course. All core courses must be taken as scheduled. 


NM 901: The Nonprofit World: NGOs, the State & Civil Society (Core)

This course will examine nonprofit organizations and international nongovernmental organizations at a macro level, that is, the civil society. Current trends in the nonprofit sector such as funding, increased pressure to perform, increased government and private citizen scrutiny of nonprofits, and increased demand for nonprofit services will be explored within the framework of outer environments including the global and technological environment; the social-cultural environment; the political environment; and the economic environment. Students will keep abreast of the nonprofit sector while developing an appreciation of the outer forces that impact it, the collective power of civil society, and the vulnerabilities of the sector. Close attention will be paid to the relationship between the state and the nonprofit sector.

3 credits

 NM 934: Ethics and Management of Human Resources (Core)

Leaders and managers of nonprofit and public organizations face moral and ethical dilemmas in dealing with their publics (clients, staff, volunteers, donors, government agencies, board of directors, collaborating partners, the community, etc.). These dilemmas are particularly pronounced in those organizations because the organizations operate under strict ethical guidelines, are accountable to the general public, and have to deal with many different publics. This course will explore the ways in which leaders resolve these ethical dilemmas while sustaining their organizations. Additionally, this course will explore the human resources management functions including planning, recruitment & selection, motivation, compensation & employee services, development, labor relations, evaluation, and separation, as well as compliance with state and federal government regulations.                                                                      

3 credits

 NM 942: Organization Theory (Core)

Organizational theory and development strategies considered. Formal and informal aspects organizations, authority structures, specialization and integration of functions, and the role of professional managers.

3 credits

 NM 945: Financial Management (Core)

Theoretical and practical approaches to the allocation and control of financial resources in nonprofit settings. Conventional and nonconventional budgeting techniques, cost/benefit analysis and preparation of financial statements.

3 credits

 NM 949: Strategic Leadership and Planning (Core)

This course will critically examine the revolutionary changes emerging in the globalized economy through the exploration of the strategic planning process, and discuss the various strategic decisions and the leadership skills necessary to formulate and implement the strategic plan successfully.

3 credits

 NM 951: Grant Writing (Core)

This “how to” course will a hands-on experience that will cover the skills and strategies essential to the full range of the grant writing process, from needs assessment and identification of potential funding sources through proposal writing and submittal, to planning for evaluation and continuation.

4 credits

 NM 993 Marketing and Resource Development (Core)

This course will focus on three major functions that nonprofits must perform in order to survive and thrive: fundraising, marketing, and the development of resources. The course will cover the role of institutional planning in the setting fundraising goals, creating the annual development plan, preparing for and implementing capital campaigns and planned gift programs. This course will also examine the development and management of volunteers, boards of directors, and individual donors in nonprofit organizations. The course will also examine how marketing concepts are applied to nonprofit and public organizations. Marketing research, product development, pricing, advertising, publicity, and market control will be studied.

3 credits

NM 902: Internship
With the help of an internship coordinator, local students who do not have nonprofit experience and all international students will identify suitable nonprofit organizations in which to do an internship. The internship must provide valuable, career-related experience and learning goals. The goals of the internship will be established in conjunction with the coordinator and the host organization. These goals should take into account the student’s career interest, for example, development, fundraising and grant-writing, human resources management, financial management etc. Students must complete a minimum of 100 hours in the organization and write a summary of the internship experience.
3 credits

NM /HC 905 Marketing the Health Care Organization (Elective)

Application of marketing tools and concepts to health care organizations. Market research and project development, pricing, publicity, and delivery systems.

3 credits

 NM /HC 908 Legal, Regulatory and Ethical Issues in Health Care (Elective)

Prerequisite: HC 900

An overview of the legal and regulatory framework governing health care from both the manager and the client’s point of view. Legal rights and duties of patients and health-care providers, hospital liability, hospital-physician relationships, patients’ rights, informed consent, privacy and confidentiality, negligence and malpractice.

3 credits

 NM 911 Global Health Issues and Human Rights (Elective)

Understanding health and human right issues from a global perspective of the economic political, social and cultural forces which impact on health and health services.

3 credits

 NM 930 Communications for Effective Management (Elective)
This course stresses the behavioral aspects of organizational communication, such as impact of power, persuasion, values, status, and role of the communication process; barriers to communication; conflict management; and, group communication. Examination of the principles and practices of effective communication, focusing on oral and written communication styles.
3 credits

NM 931 Seminar in Critical Issues for Nonprofit Management (Elective)

Discussion of cutting-edge issues in nonprofit management and the larger surrounding society, including reinvention, outsourcing, total quality (TQM), technological advances, and global positioning. The seminar will provide opportunities for students to explore critical issues with visiting field practitioners and a variety of regular faculty members. The course is designed to allow students to stay current in the field of nonprofit management.

3 credits

 NM 932 Practices in Community Organization (Elective)

Studies the principles and methods of effective community organization as a process of helping people and communities to help themselves. Range of theoretical and pragmatic approaches considered.

3 credits

 NM 940 Leadership Skills and Group Dynamics (Elective)

Explores the nature and principles of effective group and organizational leadership. participate in a group which studies its own leadership process. Examples will be taken from therapy groups, business/organizational situations, classrooms, and other case studies. Emphasis upon the components of effective leadership and followership in small groups and organizations. Group formation, group roles, group stages, and group conflicts are studied.

3 credits

 NM 946 Seminar in Program Analysis and Evaluation (Elective)

Explores philosophical issues, politics, and specific evaluation instruments involved in effective program analysis upon utilization of computer systems.

3 credits

 NM 954 Ethics, Professionalism, & Leadership (Elective)

In-depth exploration of the fundamental and moral issues that pose dilemmas for leaders and managers of various public, nonprofit and health care organizations. Course provides comprehensive discussion of the meaning of professionalism and the role of leadership under difficult circumstances and/or settings. Topics include: organizational mission, funding sources, clients or constituencies, board of directors, volunteers and staff.

3 credits

 NM 944 Politics and Public Policy (Elective)

An explication of the nature of political power and the influence of power upon the delivery of various types of nonprofit, public, health care and human services.

3 credits

 NM 948 Advanced Staff Development (Elective)

Examines the management and implementation of staff development and training programs in organizations. Explores basic concepts and theories of management styles relative to the learning styles of both employee and supervisor. Participants assess their management styles by means of self-assessment instruments and simulations.

3 credits

 NM 950 Unions and the Public Sector (Elective)

An intensive examination of key collective bargaining topics. Topics include grievance-arbitration processes, productivity bargaining, and impasse resolutions in the public sector.

3 credits

 NM 955 Board Relationships & Volunteer Management (Elective)

An informative and critical look at the role of support volunteers as well as the role of volunteer boards of directors in the governance of nonprofit organizations. Relationships between the board and professional managers and program staff are analyzed as are the relationships between paid staff and volunteer members. Methods of recruiting, developing, motivating, and training, volunteers for all roles are explored.

3 credits

 NM 960 Seminar in Critical Issues for Health Care Management (Elective)

This seminar examines important topical issues in health services management and policy. It surveys selected current issues in health care management and policy at the local, regional, national, and international levels. Selected topics may include: physician payment reform, uncompensated medical care, quality of medical care, confidentiality and legal implications.

Topics will change to remain timely and relevant.

3 credits

 NM 961 Health Care Law (Elective)

Exploration of the relationship between law and health care. Legal rights and duties of patients and providers of health services are discussed. Topics include: hospital liability, hospital-physician relationships, patient rights and informed consent, privacy and confidentiality, negligence, and malpractice.

3 credits

 NM 962 Management of Gerontological Programs (Elective)

Emphasizes administration of health care services for the aged, along with the issues that affect these services. Examines the structure and functions of publicly and privately funded programs and organizations providing health services to the aged. Acquaints students with the planning process and resources available for meeting the needs of the elderly. Provides broad knowledge of health care services for the aged and their implementation.

3 credits

 NM 963 Nonprofit Law (Elective)

Course provides a comprehensive overview of the legal, regulatory and policy issues governing nonprofit organizations today. Includes discussion of legal principles and research methods challenging contemporary nonprofit organizations. Specific procedures such as steps for incorporation, reporting and maintaining tax-exempt status, and other legal requirements will also be addressed.

3 credits

 NM 970 Issues in Clinical Case Management (Elective)

Introduction to managerial, clinical and ethical issues in effective case management in the human services. Various models of case management thoroughly explored.

3 credits

 NM 971 Issues in Residential and Long-term Care (Elective)

Theory, philosophy and behavioral aspects of administration and management of residential and long-term care facilities. Role of administrators relative to management, community activities, public relations, ethical practices, licensure, as well as state and federal requirements.

3 credits

 NM 992 Fundraising, Development and Community Relations (Elective)

Exploration of fundraising, resource development, and community relations as an integrated approach to organizational development. Course covers state-of-the-art fundraising, board development, and public relations techniques. Topics include: identification and cultivation of benefactors; prospecting; personal and telephone solicitations; direct mail; annual fund; capital campaigns; planned giving; utilization of volunteers and staff; communications with publics;

internal and external public relations programs.

3 credits

 NM 994 Assigned Readings (Independent Study - Elective)

Independent study under faculty supervision. Student will define area of advanced study in an area of nonprofit, health care, public agency, human service or human resource training and development.

3 credits

 NM 995 Accounting and Budgeting for Public Management (Elective)

Introduction to accounting and budgeting concepts as applied to management in federal, state, or local public agencies. Topics include control limit theorem, confidence intervals, probability values, analysis of variance, simple and multiple regression and partial and multiple correlations.

3 credits

 NM 996 Public Law (Elective)

Legal framework and constraints within which nonprofit administrators operate. Discussion of rights and responsibilities, and discretionary limits of managerial decision-making.

3 credits

 NM 998 Research (Elective)

Supervised research in nonprofit, healthcare, human service, public agency, or human resource training and development. Students will learn a variety of research tools specifically relevant to research in nonprofit organizations.

3 credits

 NM 972: Special Topics (Variable credits)

 This course is an indepth exploration of contemporary topics/issues in the field of nonprofit management.

Related Links
  Students' Research
  Course Schedules
  What Our Graduates Do
  Program Newsletter
  Central MA Nonprofits Survey 2009

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