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The Richard M. DeVos Center at Grand Valley State University.

Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership, M.P.N.L.

The master of philanthropy and nonprofit leadership prepares students for careers or advancement in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector through classroom study, applied research, professional development, and hands-on experience.

Visit the program website for more information.

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Program Overview

Students will learn to act ethically and effectively in leading and managing philanthropic and nonprofit organizations, and to transcend traditional boundaries in the pursuit of prosperous, safe, and healthy communities. The MPNL consists of 36 credit hours of coursework. Students can pursue the following emphases:

  • Community impact
  • Mission advancement
  • Nonprofit healthcare
  • Customized with approval of advisor

Why Study Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at Grand Valley?

  • The program is accredited by the Nonprofit Academic Centers Council and is regularly ranked in the top ten nationwide for graduate programs in nonprofit management.
  • The program meets the needs of both part- and full-time students with evening and weekend courses, workshops, and the ability to take course in a variety of formats.
  • Grand Valley library's endowed Johnson Collection for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership is one of the country's most comprehensive collections of books, journals, and audiovisuals on the nonprofit sector.
  • There are opportunities for students to collaborate with faculty on field-related research projects.
  • Students develop skills in effective, ethical leadership and management through real-world learning opportunities.
  • Grand Valley's innovative nonprofit leadership curriculum is designed for the diverse needs of today's job market.

Career Insights

This tool shows an overview of potential career opportunities for this major. Actual salaries, employment opportunities, and job titles may change over time.

Location & Format

Most courses are offered in a variety of formats, including online and hybrid. In-person classes for graduate students in this major meet downtown on the Robert C. Pew Grand Rapids Campus.



Students will study a variety of topics, including:

  • Financial management
  • Fund development
  • Grantmaking
  • Marketing
  • Nonprofit management
  • Program evaluation
  • Social entrepreneurship

Admission Requirements

A complete application to the M.P.N.L. program requires the following:

  • A completed graduate application
  • A nonrefundable application fee, unless the applicant has previously applied to Grand Valley State University and has paid this fee
  • An official transcript from your baccalaureate degree granting institution
  • Three letters of reference from informed sources
  • An essay on career and educational objectives (250 to 750 words)
  • A resume
  • Submission of an official TOEFL or IELTS score report is required of applicants whose native language is not English

Applications will not be reviewed until they are complete. The admissions committee may request additional information or a personal interview if it deems them appropriate and necessary.

Visit the online catalog for details.

For More Information

School of Community Leadership and Development

[email protected]
288C DeVos Center
(616) 331-6575

Graduate Admissions and Recruitment Office

Program Director

Michelle Wooddell, Ph.D.



“Every time I go to class, I come back to work the next day with five more things I want to incorporate into my job.”