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Top 5 Non-Profit MBA Programs

Non Profit MBALike the monk who sold his Ferrari, more people have started thinking about their lives from a different perspective. Now, does this philosophy have a place in the dog eat dog world of MBA graduates? The answer is a strong affirmative.

Majority of MBA students’ rate job satisfaction as one of the most important factors for choosing a job. If you think that social enterprise cannot create assets that can compete with for-profit businesses, think again. Nobel Prize winning economist Yunus Khan started Grameen Bank in 1983 to give micro loans without collateral to the poor in Bangladesh. This has helped over a hundred thousand people rise from extreme poverty and the bank now has over $125 billion in assets.

MBA in non-profit

To be successful in a Non-Profit sector, you should know how to raise funds, manage business on a tight budget, think outside the box, and take an ethical view to every decision you make. Social Entrepreneurs and Managers should look into MBA that provides specialized training for Non-Profit.

Here are our top five Non-Profit MBAs

1) Yale School of Management


From the time it was founded, Yale SOM focused on building social leaders, with a motto of, ‘Educating leaders for business and society.’ The college has numerous electives that reflect this approach. A few among them are:  ‘Global Social Entrepreneurship’, ‘Doing Business in the Developing World’, ‘Financial Statements of Nonprofit Organizations’, ‘Philanthropic Foundations’, ‘Leadership, Organization, & Human Resources in Mission-Driven Enterprises’ and ‘Strategic Management of Nonprofit Organizations’. Take for example - Strategic Management of Nonprofit Organizations. It consists of 26 lectures that start with ‘The role and mission of Nonprofits’ and conclude with ‘Innovation in the Nonprofit Sector’. Most electives include projects and practical assignments. This focus on relevant, contemporary content, along with Yale’s pioneering leadership in this sector makes it the number one college of choice in nonprofit.

2) Stanford Business School


Stanford’s Public Management Program started 40 years ago and is now part of the Stanford Center for Social Innovation.  Students can take this program within the MBA, which includes 50+ electives in education, environment, healthcare, international development, public policy, nonprofit management, social entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility. As part of this non-profit certificate, students take up many local and international study trips while also participating in various clubs, conferences and speaker events for a well-rounded education.

Stanford also has an annual Public Management Initiative (PMI), where first year students pick one topic to focus on for the following year. The college also gives students the opportunity to become Board or Venture Philanthropy Fellows. Further, Stanford Management Internship Fund (SMIF) Summer Internships sponsor students who turn down lucrative summer internships. The Social Innovation Fellowship offers $80,000 stipend for individuals or $120,000 for a team of students / recent alumni, addressing and solving important social or environmental issue. With such an encouraging atmosphere, it is not surprising that Stanford attracts students seeking non-profit / social entrepreneurship careers. But Stanford’s most effective initiative has been its Nonprofit/Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, the first ever in the history of MBA. It subsidizes a major portion of students' loans while they are involved in nonprofit/public service.

3) Harvard University

Harvard’s MBA curriculum has a combination of required topics and electives to help students develop skills relevant for the non-profit sector. The college even grants 7 to 10 extraordinary MBAs from the social sector around $10,000. Here, a wide variety of clubs and activities encourage students to develop an active interest in this sector.

Harvard’s Social Enterprise Initiative has involved non-profit sector innovators and leaders to develop and spread information and skills for making the world a better place. The famous HBS Business Plan Contest has a Social Venture Track that rewards and educates students to focus on social initiatives. To encourage summer internships at non-profit organizations, HBS also has in place the Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship program. The college is a pioneer in research, with more than 700 cases and teaching notes in the field of social enterprise. HBS has a slew of measures like the Loan Repayment Assistance Program, as well as a host of grants and competitions to encourage social sector development as well as entrepreneurship among students and alumni. It is no surpirse that 90% of HBS MBAs serve on the board of a nonprofit organization.

4) Duke University (Fuqua)

Duke University’s Non-profit initiative is led by Professor Gregory Dees, widely dubbed as the father of social enterprise in academics.Inspired by him, the college runs the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship on campus. Duke offers a formal, ‘Concentration in Social Entrepreneurship’ that requires the mandatory completion of six electives, chosen from 32 topics relevant to various verticals in the non- profit sector. The verticals are nonprofit management, community development, environment and sustainability, global health and international development.

Electives include topics like Social Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurial Finance, Philanthropy, Voluntarism & Not-For-Profit Management, Community Economic Development Law, Business Strategy for Environmental Sustainability and Strategic Management of Policy Change. Further, the Fuqua Student Consulting Program consults for nonprofit organizations. In addition to that, the Fuqua Loan Assistance Program (LAP) offers loan forgiveness to students opting to work in the nonprofit sector.

5) University of Michigan - Ann Arbor (Ross)

Allied to the advantage that comes with being located in a town known for philanthropy, Ann Arbor’s MBA has a distinct focus on the nonprofit sector. Through the Nonprofit and Public Management Center, University of Michigan provides unstinting support to the nonprofit community. Also, through the Board Fellowship Program, over 380 students have actively participated on the governing boards of 150+ nonprofit organizations since 2003. Another Ann Arbor initiative, Domestic Corps has since 1993 supported over 110 nonprofit organizations through more than 380 summer internships.

The college has also initiated the Recycle Ann Arbor project for sustainable waste management in the community at large. Of the 15 non-profit and public management courses offered, the standout ones include Business Strategies for the Base of the Pyramid, Leading Non-profit Organizations, and Solving Societal Problems through Enterprise and Innovation.  There are other options at the School of Public Policy, the School for Social Work, and the College of Engineering, among other university departments and schools.

Most top MBAs encourage students to take up a career path in Non-Profit sector with monetary and infrastructure support, even to alumni who has changed course of their career from traditional sectors post-MBA to a non-profit sector after a few years.

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