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Schools Team Up to Create Superlative Training in Nonprofit Leadership


The Graduate School of Business Administration (GBA) and the Graduate School of Social Service (GSS) are taking an unprecedented step this year by teaming up to offer a new joint master’s program designed to train the leaders of nonprofit organizations.

Beginning fall of 2014, the Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership program will integrate the schools’ respective emphases on management excellence and social justice to prepare future leaders for the unique financial and social demands of nonprofit organizations.

Applications to the program will open this fall.

“In this program, you’ll learn how to plan strategically for your business and also learn how to orient those strategic plans toward social change,” said Allan Luks, director of the Fordham Center for Nonprofit Leaders, which will oversee the program.

Although Fordham is not the first to offer coursework in managing nonprofits, this degree program takes the novel approach of giving two graduate schools equal weight in administering the degree.

“What’s unique about this program is that it is run jointly by the business and social work schools, with courses taught by both GSS and GBA faculty,” said Elaine Congress, D.S.W., professor and associate dean for continuing education and extramural programs at GSS. “Many other schools have courses in nonprofit management, but they don’t have the social justice orientation that you get from a social work school.”

The one-year program will require 30 credits taken over three trimesters. Students will take one intensive at the beginning of each trimester that runs Thursday through Sunday evenings. The remaining 21 credits will be offered as weekly evening courses.

The schedule, Congress said, aims to accommodate full-time workers, making it an ideal program for mid-level managers who want to advance their careers, professionals who want to switch from the corporate to the nonprofit field, clinicians who want to move into administrative positions, and others interested in leadership positions.

The program stems from an earlier endeavor by GBA and GSS, the executive education certificate in nonprofit leadership. The 18-credit certificate is earned over three consecutive all-day sessions that cover such topics as organization management, program development, and fundraising. Since its launch in April 2010, the certificate program has trained more than 600 students.

The new master’s degree allows students to delve even deeper into the world of nonprofits, exposing them to topics such as social entrepreneurship, volunteerism, the history of nonprofits, and public policy/advocacy. Students will also have the opportunity to work with mentors in the field in order to get firsthand experience with running nonprofits.

Together with its offer of a graduate-level degree, the comprehensive look at the worlds of both business and social work will make program graduates highly marketable, Luks said.

“Nonprofits have the key to making social justice a reality instead of just a dream,” he said. “It’s our job to teach leaders that they don’t just run their organizations for the numbers, but that they run them to change society.”

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