Nonprofit Administration

About the Program

The University of Montana's Department of Public Administration and Policy's  Nonprofit Administration Online Program offers students education and specific training in the field of nonprofit administration. These courses are offered entirely online and are designed for interested students as well as busy professionals working in the nonprofit sector. Practicing administrators and others interested in building skills relating to nonprofit administration are encouraged to register.

The Professional Certificate in Nonprofit Administration is a 16-credit, fully online professional certificate program offered at the undergraduate or graduate level. The mission of the program is to build leadership capacity and professional skills for students to lead, manage and support nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. 

There is no formal application process or enrollment requirement for these courses; you may simply register for the courses using this site.  Students who do not wish to pursue the Professional Certificate may also take the courses individually.

Interested in obtaining a graduate degree? Unique to the University of Montana's MPA Public Administration program is the opportunity to concentrate specifically in nonprofit administration. Coursework completed in the nonprofit certificate bacn be applied to the full Master's degree. 

The Nonprofit Administration Online Program is coordinated by UMOnline and the Department of Public Administration and Policy in partnership with the  Montana Nonprofit Association.

Assistance and Information

To receive more information on the program, the certificate, or for academic advising, please contact  Dr. Sara Rinfret, Alexander Blewett School of Law 146. (406) 243-4702.

For registration and course access questions, please contact Clare Kelly at (406) 243-6496.

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Fees & Policies

Online Courses: $385 each
Internship: $435

Note: Fall 2020, course prices will increase to: 
Online Courses: $500.00 each class. 
Internship: $635.00 for an internship

Course fees are subject to change. The total cost for the Professional Certificate is approximately $3,000. Required textbooks are listed on course syllabi and may be purchased online (i.e. Amazon, etc.).

Fee Rates

There is no fee differential for out-of-state students and UM tuition fee waivers do not apply.

Withdrawal Policy

Because of the intensive nature of these courses, students must login to the course no later than the third instructional day. Students will not be able to add into a course once it has started. The final deadline to withdraw from a course is one week before the last day of the course. After this date, no withdrawals are allowed and the course grade assigned by the instructor will be posted to the student transcript. To withdraw from a course, please submit a request to Clare Kelly.

Refund Schedule

Withdraw by payment deadline: 100% refund
Withdraw during 1st week: 75% refund
Withdraw during 2nd week: 50% refund
Withdraw 3rd week and beyond: no refunds

Please note The University of Montana requires a "Substitute W-9 Form" in order to process refunds for payments made by check. The "Substitute W-9" form requires your Social Security Number.

Financial Aid and Discounts

Financial aid is not available exclusively for the Nonprofit Administration Online Program. However, if students are simultaneously enrolled in a degree-seeking course of study, then the online courses may count toward the minimum credit requirement for financial aid. Please discuss this option with Dr. Sara Rinfret and sign the appropriate paperwork.

Students may use their AmeriCorps Education Award to pay for these courses. However, students must pay for the courses first and then "reimburse" themselves with their Education Award when it arrives. Payment for these courses must be received before the course start date otherwise the registration will be canceled. For more information, please contact department chair, Dr. Sara Rinfret at (406) 243-4702.


Course Schedule and Descriptions

The course schedule can be found online. Sample syllabi and course descriptions are listed below. Starting Fall 2020, all courses will be offered at the 500 level. 

Each course will involve approximately 5 hours of work each week: 2.5 hours of online contact and 2.5 hours of study/homework. The one exception to this is Grant Writing, which, due to its intricacies, may require up to ten hours a week.

Syllabi listed below provide an overview of the course content, but are subject to change prior to the course start dates. The official course syllabus will be placed in Moodle (the course delivery system) prior to the beginning of the course. Required textbooks are noted on the course syllabus and may be purchased online (i.e. Amazon, etc.). Students should purchase textbooks before the first class meeting.

Human Resource Management (NPAD 501)

Students learn about human resource management and apply that understanding to work-life situations. The course also provides an overview of the numerous federal laws, executive orders, and court decisions which have shaped the field of human resource management.
Human Resource Management Sample Syllabus

Volunteer Management (NPAD 502)

This course teaches methods to effectively recruit, train, manage, recognize and reward volunteers.  

Program Planning and Evaluation (NPAD 503)

Students learn how to create program plans based on organizational culture, values, goals and objectives, and how to design an evaluation plan that will show grantors and other supporters program impacts.
Program Planning and Evaluation Sample Syllabus (revised July 2017).

Advocacy and Public Policy (NPAD 505)

Students learn how policy influences nonprofits and how nonprofits impact policy. Students learn advocacy strategies and techniques and examine how laws shape nonprofit involvement in that process. 
Advocacy and Public Policy Sample Syllabus.

Board Management (NPAD 506)

This course explores the components inherent in creating and maintaining a governing body that promotes a healthy and successful nonprofit organization.
Board Management Sample Syllabus.

Strategic Planning (NPAD 510)

Students learn strategic planning theory and implementation. They learn a process by which leaders, stakeholders and staff members can bring their shared vision of success into being.
Strategic Planning Sample Syllabus (August 2019).

Grant Writing (NPAD 511)

This course teaches students how and where to look for foundation and government funding sources, and the fundamentals of writing effective grant proposals. 

Fundraising (NPAD 512)

Students explore the fundamentals of fundraising, including major gifts, capital campaigns, planned giving, grants and special events and learn specific techniques and strategies for effective fundraising. 
Fundraising Sample Syllabus

Financial Management (NPAD 513)

Students learn the basics of financial management for nonprofits and explore special issues related to nonprofit finances including budgeting, reporting, tax issues and accounting.
Financial Management Sample Syllabus.

Marketing and Social Media (NPAD 560)

This course provides students with an overview of basic marketing principles and social media strategies. Students will learn steps to create a marketing plan to further the mission of a nonprofit organization. 

Four-Credit Internship (NPAD 498/PUAD 598)

Please review the Department's Internship Website, for more information.


The Department of Public Administration and Policy has premiere public and nonprofit sector experts teaching our courses. To found out more information about our faculty on our website.


Registration for courses in the Nonprofit Administration Online Program closes about three weeks before course start dates. Please register early. Each course carries a maximum enrollment and will be closed to registration when full. Each course also carries a minimum enrollment; therefore, a sufficient number of registered, paid students is required by the registration deadline or the course will be canceled and full refunds issued to students. We strongly encourage not waiting until the last minute to register as the courses may be full or canceled due to low enrollment.

Summer 2020 Courses: (May 11, 2020 to July 17, 2020 - 10 Weeks)

  • NPAD 412 | Fundraising, Goldman, Internet Course
  • NPAD 498 / PUAD 598  | Four-Credit Internship, Brewer, Internet Course (May 11 to August 28) - 16 Weeks.

You can visit the Summer Course registration link, for more information.

Fall 2020 Courses: (August 19, 2020 to October 30, 2020)

  • NPAD 502 | Volunteer Management
  • NPAD 506 | Board Management
  • NPAD 510 | Strategic Planning
  • NPAD 513 | Financial Management
  • NPAD 598 / PUAD 598 | Four-Credit Internships

You can register for 2020 Fall courses online starting March 9. 

NOTE: These courses are available for graduate credit only. If you do not have an undergraduate degree contact Dr. Sara Rinfret, 406.243.4702 for permission to take these courses.

If you are new to or relatively unfamiliar with the nonprofit sector, you are still welcome in these courses. A great resource for beginning to familiarize yourself with nonprofit organizations can be found at Basic Overview of Nonprofit Organizations. You can also refer back to this page and its links if you find yourself on unfamiliar ground in any of the courses.

The material taught and used in these courses largely concerns 501(c)3, or "charitable" nonprofit organizations. In many cases, however, knowledge gained can be adapted for use in other types of nonprofits.

Professional Certificate

Professional Certificate

The Professional Certificate in Nonprofit Administration is a 16-credit, fully online professional certificate program offered at the undergraduate or graduate level. The mission of the program is to build leadership capacity and professional skills for students to lead, manage and support nonprofit and philanthropic organizations.

In the last 10 years, the U.S. nonprofit sector has grown by 20% in contrast to a growth rate of 2 to 3% in the for-profit sector (U.S. Department of Labor). Employment needs have increased, the need for a talented pipeline of professionals is high. In Montana, the nonprofit sector employs 11.4% of the workforce. The nonprofit sector in Montana is the second largest employment industry in the state behind retail trade (MT Nonprofit Sector Report).

UM's Department of Public Administration and Policy partners with the Montana Non-profit Association to reach the need for professional development of nonprofit employees. 

To further its mission, the program's objectives include the following:

  • Create a foundation of knowledge about the sector to inform skill development.
  • Teach students unique aspects of working in and managing nonprofit organizations.
  • Emphasize specific professional competencies for excellence in the field.
  • Recognize the value and contribution of the nonprofit sector in society and the economy.
  • Provide university graduate level professional preparation and connects to the MPA nonprofit administration track.

The program's primary function is to prepare nonprofit leaders with the professional skills and competencies to elevate the sector resulting in stronger, healthier and more vibrant communities locally, nationally and globally.

Through a set of core courses and an internship, students combine theoretical learning about nonprofit practices such as grant writing, strategic planning, fundraising and human resource management with hands-on experience at a nonprofit organization. Students must complete at least 12 credits from among a series of 2-credit online courses in addition to completing a 4-credit internship course. A grade of C or above must be achieved in order to receive credit toward the Professional Certificate. Credit cannot be granted retroactively for courses that were previously completed on a non-credit basis.

Certification Process

The program certification process is simple and designed to be self-directed. Students are required to submit a copy of their UM Transcript (unofficial is fine) to the Department of Public Administration and Policy by way of email attachment, This verifies you have completed your internship and required coursework. UM Transcripts are accessible via Cyberbear. Please ensure that all completed courses appear on the transcript prior to submission. In your email to Dr. Rinfret, indicate your mailing address to send your certificate of completion. Dr. Rinfret will send a final assessment to evaluate your experience, which is required of all students in the program. 

Assistance and Information

To receive more information on the program, the certificate, AmeriCorps Education Award use, or for academic advising, please contact Dr. Sara Rinfret at (406) 243-4702. Dr. Rinfret is located in the School of Law, 146.

For registration and course access questions, please contact Clare Kelly, 406.243.6496.  Clare is located in the Todd Building, 3rd Floor.