Master of Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership (MPNL)

The MPNL curriculum is designed to prepare students 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.

Grand Valley State University educates students with the mission to shape their lives, their professions, and their societies. Nowhere is this mission more effectively realized than when Grand Valley alumni become leaders of our voluntary and charitable organizations. Furthermore, there is no better way to prepare students for this role than through a program that builds the theoretical and practical knowledge critical to leading and managing these organizations.


Why Study Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at Grand Valley?

  •      Faculty Research Opportunities. Opportunities to collaborate with faculty on research projects.
  •      Innovative Curriculum. Innovative curriculum designed to meet diverse educational needs.
  •      Real-world Learning. Develop skills in effective, ethical leadership and management.
  •      Flexibility. The program meets the needs of part-time and full-time students with evening and weekend courses, workshops, and Web-enhanced learning.
  •      Academic Resources. 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.

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Ratio of MPNL graduate faculty to graduate students


Share of regular faculty that have doctorates (PhD, EdD, or professional doctorate).

#8 website ranks our MPNL program as the #8 Best Master’s in Nonprofit Management in the nation.


Number of years of work experience recommended for admittance to the MPNL program.


Share of MPNL students who are first generation students (Fall 2017)


The year the MPNL program achieved accreditation by the Nonprofit Academic Centers Council.

Costs and Financial Aid

The completion of the MPNL requires a minimum of 36 credits. For information on tuition per credit hour and other fees, please visit the costs portion of the GVSU Financial Aid website. 

For scholarship information please visit the SPNHA scholarship page. For graduate assistant information, please visit the SPNHA graduate assistantship page. For other financial support and filing for FAFSA, please visit the GVSU Financial Support website.

The Graduate School provides funding for student conference attendance and research projects through the Academic Conference Fund and Presidential Research Grants.

Key People

Graduate Program Director: Raymond Higbea


Career Center contact: Dayna Phillips

Library liaison: Ashley Rosener

College Dean: Sherril Soman

Department Chair: Raymond Higbea

Employment Outlook and Career Advice

Connect Early, Connect Often

Make regular appointments with your faculty advisor to discuss your post-graduation plans.  (Consult Banner to identify your advisor.)


average number of credit hours attempted by MPNL students in a semester (Fall 2017)


the average MPNL class size (2017-18)


The number of different majors that MPNL students had as undergraduates (2014-2017)


the number of different colleges and universities from which MPNL students matriculated (2014-2017)


Average GPA for MPNL students entering the Fall 2017 semester.


Projected growth from 2012 to 2022 for management positions in the nonprofit sector (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Program Transparency


The Nonprofit Academic Centers Council (NACC) accredited our MPNL Program for their pilot year one, 2018 - 2019

Class sizes

  • The average MPNL class size was 15 in 2017-2018
  • This is below the average class size for the School of Public, Nonprofit & Health Administration as a whole which was 17 students in 2017-2018


  • 5% of MPNL students registered full-time (9 or more credits) in Fall 2017
  • 95% of MPNL students registered part-time in Fall 2017
  • the average student course load was 6.45 credit hours in Fall 2017


  • The majority of MPNL students are already working at the time of enrollment and throughout their degree. GVSU alumni are working in nonprofits throughout the state and form a network to support students upon graduation
  • The median salary of Executive Directors of nonprofit organizations is $77,511 according to (Nov 2017)

Student Learning Outcomes

Student Body Profile

MPNL students Fall 2013 to Fall 2017

  • Age 24 and under: 2% 
  • Age 25-29: 16%
  • Age 30-39: 33%
  • Age 40+: 49%
  • Female: 88%
  • Male: 12%
  • African-American / Black: 4%
  • Hispanic/Latino: 2%
  • Mixed-race: 6%
  • White: 86%
  • Race not reported: 2%

Some recent graduates

Veronica (Dainelis) Minard

Veronica (Dainelis) Minard is currently Marketing and Communications Coordinator for West Michigan Works

Suzie Blake

Suzie Blake is currently Donor Relations Director at the Grand Rapids Public Museum

Page last modified March 20, 2024