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MSNM Accelerated Daytime Program Core Curriculum

MSNM Accelerated Daytime Program Core Curriculum

Master of Science in Nonprofit Management

Accelerated Daytime Core Curriculum

The MSNM program offers a comprehensive Core Curriculum that addresses all aspects of nonprofit management.

MSNM Curriculum
The MSNM program is composed of the following elements:

  • Core courses (38 credit hours)
  • Synthesis sessions and Program Capstone (2 credit hours)
  • Completion Options: Concentration or Independent Project (10 credit hours)

Academic System

Accelerated quarter system presented in 15 modules
Total: 50 quarter credit hours

Core Courses

Module I
Overview of Nonprofit Organizations and the Management of Nonprofits
This course introduces new students to the Master of Science in Nonprofit Management program (MSNM). Students receive an overview of the program, program outcomes, the sequencing of critical content, and keys to successful completion of the program. This course also introduces students to nonprofit organizations, the contributions they make to the larger society, and management of nonprofits.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Discuss the history and purpose of nonprofit organizations
  • Identify the skills essential for effective management of nonprofit organizations
  • Relate management skills to the components of the MSNM program
  • Describe support systems available to Spertus students

Module II
Essential Skills for Thinking Critically
Managers of nonprofit organizations must be able to make sound decisions, use information wisely, recognize opportunities, state their thoughts with clarity, and work with complexity, reason, and open-mindedness. The purpose of this course is to help students develop critical thinking skills of interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and inference. Students will learn to explain what they think and how they arrived at that judgment. They will learn the skill of self-reflection and be able to recognize their own critical thinking skills and improve on them. The focus of this course is the attainment of these skills, as well as the logical construction of written and oral arguments. This course provides the foundation for Module 3 and the skills introduced here will be further refined in Module 12.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Describe essential critical thinking skills
  • Use critical thinking skills in making managerial decisions
  • Critically assess selected legal and policy issues
  • Assess the credibility of information obtained from the web

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Module III

Written and Oral Communication Skills
Communication skills are key for leadership and management skills. Good communication is essential for supervising others, developing operational procedures, assuring quality, building relationships with stakeholders, convincing others of a point of view, resolving conflict, and performing the myriad of other administrative functions organizations demand. This course focuses on attainment of written and oral skills for preparing a persuasive and clear argument, analyzing a statement of a particular viewpoint, interpreting academic journal articles, and learning how to prepare reports.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Describe effective organizational communication
  • Improve professional writing skills
  • Prepare a persuasive and clear argument
  • Develop skills in creating professional documents
  • Develop skills in public speaking
  • Interpret a scholarly work
  • Analyze a statement of a particular viewpoint

Module IV
Management and Leadership of Nonprofit Organizations
The characteristics of an effective manager and leader form the focus of the fourth module of the MSNM program. The complexity of leadership is addressed, along with the need for critical thinking skills and flexibility in applying theoretical knowledge. In addition, the course explores the differences and relationship between management and leadership. In today’s work environment, managers must not only have requisite skills in people and project management, but they must also "let go and lead," developing coaching, team building, and strategic planning skills. To be an effective leader, a manager must believe that the work of the organization matters and must be committed to excellence. Managers must know their own strengths and weaknesses and be able to build a team that complements them so that the organization is strong. Managers must be life-long learners in the area of leadership, constantly updating and honing the skills that will ensure successful attainment of organizational mission and goals.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Describe the nature of management and leadership
  • Analyze various models of management and their impact
  • Discuss the origins and impact of power and influence
  • Relate the connection of interpersonal relationships and productivity
  • Discuss the impact of teamwork and demonstrate skills in building teams
  • Discuss selected problem-solving techniques
  • Apply principles of conflict resolution to real-life situations
  • Evaluate one’s own strengths and management and leadership skills

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Module V

Organizational Culture and Governance
This course examines the creation and management of organizational culture. Students learn the impact of managers on the culture, effectiveness, and growth of the organizations they lead. They also examine governance and the impact of governance on culture, with special attention given to the function and development of boards. Because the ability of leadership and staff to work together influences and is influenced by culture, students learn the elements of group process and the skill of facilitating groups with both internal and external constituents.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Define organizational culture and its dimensions
  • Describe how organizational cultures develop and affect nonprofit organizations
  • Analyze and compare various organizational cultures and the impact on the ability to manage
  • Describe impact of nonprofit governance on the culture of an organization and on the roles and responsibilities of its board of directors
  • Apply skills related to facilitation of group process

Module VI
Management of the Work Environment
This course focuses on the attainment of people management skills. Utilizing communication and self-awareness skills attained in previous courses, students learn how to form and nurture teams and the coaching skills to bring together many different personalities, attitudes, values, talents, and expectations. Students learn outcomes-based performance evaluation of staff and the intricacies of human resources-related laws and regulations. Students also explore methods of creating a more diverse workforce.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Describe the difference between teams and teamwork and how to lead a high-performance work team
  • Develop an effective performance evaluation system that includes personal goal attainment
  • Relate laws that impact the management of employees
  • Discuss the nature and effective strategies of employee recruitment and supervision
  • Discuss coaching skills needed by managers
  • Relate factors critical to the creation of a diverse workforce

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Module VII

Strategic Planning
In this course, students develop an overall understanding of the relationship of strategic management and program effectiveness. They learn step-by-step development of a strategic plan that flows logically from the mission of the organization, the external environment, and organizational goals and objectives. The most common steps in the process include reviewing the mission statement; collecting data related to program effectiveness, constituent needs, and environmental influences; assessing organizational capacity; reviewing the mission statement; setting goals and objectives; creating procedures for evaluating outcomes; and implementing the strategic plan.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Relate the general processes to the outcomes of nonprofit organization programs
  • Evaluate the strategic planning process and resulting outcomes
  • Analyze an agency’s strategic strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT)
  • Determine when long-term or short-term planning is appropriate
  • Describe the importance of a strategic vision
  • Create organizational goals
  • Develop a strategic plan for an organization
  • Measure outcomes resulting from a strategic plan

Module VIII
Applied Research and Program Evaluation
Managers of nonprofit organizations must know where to find information, how to determine the quality of information available, how to measure performance outcomes, and how to write persuasive arguments based on the myriad of data available. Occasionally, managers also must be able to write convincing proposals for data collection efforts. This course focuses on the research-related skills of conducting program evaluations and needs assessments, developing basic research proposals, and utilizing data and published research findings.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Investigate scholarly literature on a subject to clarify the state of theory and research on the topic
  • Analyze research data published in professional journals
  • Evaluate program outcomes
  • Analyze demographic information
  • Design a needs assessment
  • Describe sampling methodology and the interpretation of results
  • Design appropriate instrumentation for program evaluation
  • Develop an evaluation plan
  • Develop a research proposal

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Module IX

Budgeting and Finance
The growing nonprofit sector in the US is heavily regulated by federal, state, and local governments, particularly in the area of financial management. This, along with competition for resources, has contributed to complex accounting systems and increased financial responsibilities for nonprofit managers. This course addresses the skills necessary for performance-based budget development and monitoring. Since budget development must flow from a strategic plan, this course builds on the content presented in Module VI, Strategic Planning. This content is the foundation for creating a fundraising plan and is a prerequisite for Module IX, Financial Development.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Discuss budgeting in the context of strategic planning
  • Describe the components of nonprofit organizational budgets
  • Construct and interpret a series of spreadsheets
  • Interpret cash flow and budget variations
  • Define accrual and cash accounting
  • Calculate unit of service and program costs
  • Describe financial audits and accounting and tax regulations
  • Distinguish between funding for restricted projects and endowments

Module X
Revenue Development for Nonprofit Organizations
The financial health of many nonprofit organizations depends on the ability to generate resources (funds, volunteers, and in-kind support) to support programs, services, and organizational infrastructure. Organizations require a variety of funding streams to insure cash flow and avoid reliance on any one particular source. The staff and board must develop a long-term strategy to expand funding sources and maintain relationships with current donors. This course is an introduction to the role of revenue development (including the development of earned income) within a nonprofit organization, development and implementation of a fundraising plan and management of the fundraising operation. Understanding grants and effective grantwriting are also discussed and practiced. Students are also provided an introduction to marketing and public relations for nonprofit organizations, as well as endowments and corporate giving which affect larger organizations.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Relate the history of philanthropy in the US
  • Discuss the role of different funding sources (individuals, corporations, foundations, government, events, and federated giving organizations) in an organization’s budget
  • Develop skills to identify, cultivate, and solicit funding sources
  • Describe how to develop and sustain relationships with foundations and develop grant proposals and grant reports
  • Describe how to structure a development office and develop a fundraising plan as part of an organization’s budget process
  • Demonstrate how to identify appropriate granting foundations and opportunities and to write effective grant proposals
  • Learn how to use marketing and public relations techniques effectively to support fundraising efforts
  • Synthesize financial development information with information from the budgeting and strategic planning modules

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Module XI

Legal and Human Resources Issues
Nonprofit organizations operate within a legal framework that regulates governance, human resources, confidentiality, employee (paid and volunteer) and labor relations, and other issues such as unionization and advocacy. In addition to broader recruitment and supervision issues, this course introduces specific content related to personnel issues, the creation of regulations and organizational policies, the impact of tax-exempt status on nonprofit organizations, and laws that impact on the administration of nonprofit organizations.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Discuss the nature and effective strategies for employee recruitment and supervision
  • Describe how laws, regulations, and policies are created and enacted
  • Identify the relationship between tax-exempt status and the functions of an organization
  • Relate the laws that impact on administration of nonprofit organizations
  • Discuss legal issues related to the creation and enforcement of agency policies
  • Describe the legal and ethical responsibilities required of board members

Module XII
Writing for the Professions
This course helps students further develop communication and management skills through extensive writing exercises. The course focuses on professional writing in such forms as grantwriting, literature reviews, personnel job performance evaluations, budget justifications and presentation skills. Students engage various writing styles and have the opportunity to evaluate the work of their peers.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Demonstrate competency in written and oral communication
  • Utilize written and oral communication skills to demonstrate competency in skills essential for management of nonprofit organizations

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Module XIII

Knowledge Management
In today's technological world it is relatively easy to locate a wide range of general and specialized information. But how do managers find, assess, and utilize the information and expertise available? In this course students learn strategies to determine what knowledge they need, how to find information and acquire knowledge that is credible and relevant, and then to present that knowledge in useful and effective ways. In the process students refine critical-thinking and decision-making skills through exercises related to synthesis and analysis of various forms of information.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Describe how to isolate information needs and narrow knowledge resources
  • Demonstrate how to assess available information
  • Present information effectively
  • Demonstrate general competency in critical thinking and decision making
  • Utilize written and oral communication skills to demonstrate competency in skills essential for management of nonprofit organizations

Module XIV
Ethics in Nonprofit Organizations
When faced with difficult decisions in problem resolution, managers frequently need to make choices among competing interests, often in situations where there may be more than one correct solution. The voices of conflict may be either internal or external. Learning how to make these tough choices requires a deep understanding of professional ethics as well as the development of a firm moral foundation. Building on all previous modules, this course addresses personal and organizational values and their impact on management decisions, while providing constructs for ethical decision-making.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Discuss basic ethical philosophies
  • Describe the nature of ethical dilemmas
  • Explain how values, both personal and organizational, affect ethical decision making
  • Identify key principles for resolving dilemmas

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Internship and Internship Project  

The core curriculum is supplemented by an Internship and Internship Project that is planned and developed by the student with the help of an advisor.


Students will choose one elective from the following courses, to be taken on a Monday evening.

•    History and Infrastructure of Philanthropy
•    Individual and Institutional Donal Cultivation
•    Entrepreneurial and Earned Income
•    Grantwriting
•    American Social Policy and the Development of Human Services
•    Analysis of Community Characteristics
•    Special Issues in Human Services Administration

Next Steps

Complete this Online Inquiry Formcall 312.322.1707 or email

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