Certificate Program in Non-Profit Administration

School of Public Affairs

The Certificate Program in Non-profit Administration is offered by the Master of Public Administration Program at Penn State Harrisburg, which was recently ranked 57th in U.S. News & World Report's rating of over 240 graduate schools of public affairs throughout the country. In addition, the MPA program was rated 24th in Public Budgeting and Financial Management.


  • Develop an in-depth understanding of nonprofit organization evolution, current operation, and future direction.
  • Gain a better appreciation of how population dynamics, finance, taxation, and competition affect the future of your organization.
  • Prepare for leadership positions.
  • Learn how you can more effectively influence power and decision-making in your organization.
  • Increase management skills in planning and personnel management.
  • Acquire a thorough working knowledge of financing strategies and practices that can improve your organization’s resources.

Description and Requirements

The purpose of the certificate is to provide comprehensive knowledge of the dynamics of conceptualizing, managing, and leading the nonprofit sector. Students who complete this course of study should be ready to accept positions in the full range of nonprofit endeavors in health care, education, voluntary services, and associations. The program is designed for professionals with three years' work experience who want to expand their knowledge and skills in leadership and management. The certificate program consists of four graduate courses (12 credits). All courses are at the 500 level, and all courses have been approved by the School of Public Affairs and the Penn State Graduate School.

Required Courses

  • P ADM 517 NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS: HISTORY AND EVOLUTION (3) This course provides an overview of the history, development, and current role of nonprofit organizations as a distinguishing feature of American society. Students will trace the evolution of nonprofit organizations in the United States from Colonial times to the present, focusing on the definition, legal foundations, missions, and accomplishments of these entities. Students will review various nonprofit sectors including healthcare, education, religion, human services, advocacy, and the arts.
  • P ADM 518 NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS: MANAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP (3) This course is designed to review the theory and examine the practice of leadership and management in nonprofit organizations. Students will examine the mission, organizational structure, resources, and work processes in the nonprofit sector.
  • P ADM 519 NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS: RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT AND MANAGEMENT (3) This course examines the theory, strategies, and practices for securing and managing resources for a nonprofit organization. Students will study a variety of fund-raising and other resource acquisition strategies and will examine mechanisms for prudent management of these resources.

Elective Courses: (choose one)

  • P ADM 510 ORGANIZATION BEHAVIOR (3) An examination of concepts of human behavior in formal organizations, systems analysis, conceptual models, and decision processes.
  • P ADM 514 PUBLIC ORGANIZATION AND MANAGERIAL CONSULTATION (3) A review of the theories, approaches, methods, and expected outcomes of organization and management consultation.
  • P ADM 516 STRATEGIC PLANNING (3) A survey of strategic planning purposes, approaches, and methods, and expected outcomes in small and large organizations.
  • P ADM 522 GOVERNMENT FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT (3) A study of the theories and techniques of financial planning and control, with emphasis on their application in government and nonprofit agencies.
  • P ADM 523 GOVERNMENTAL AND NONPROFIT ACCOUNTING (3) An examination of accounting, reporting, and auditing principles and procedures for public sector agencies and nonprofit organizations.
  • P ADM 550 PROGRAM PLANNING AND EVALUATION (3) An introduction to the theoretical issues in and basic methods of policy and program evaluation.

Admissions Criteria

Individuals who hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university (with 3.0 grade-point average in the last two years of undergraduate work) or a master's degree and at least three years of professional experience may enroll in this certificate program.

Students who are already in the MPA program at Penn State Harrisburg must complete a Notice of Intent form to enroll in the certificate program. Please ask the program contact person listed in this publication for a copy of the form. Tuition for the certificate program may be reimbursed by your employer; check with your Human Resources office.

Location and Times

Certificate courses will generally be taught at Penn State Harrisburg in Middletown, Pa. with evening classes to accommodate the working professional.

Additional Information

About Certificate program content:
James Ziegenfuss, Ph.D.
School of Public Affairs
Penn State Harrisburg
777 West Harrisburg Pike
Middletown, PA 17057-4898
Phone: 717-948-6053
E-mail: jtz1@psu.edu

To request an application:
School of Public Affairs Certificate Programs
Penn State Harrisburg
777 West Harrisburg Pike
Middletown, PA 17057-4898
Phone: 717-948-6050

This page is not a part of the official Penn State University Bulletin.