Apply to the MS in Nonprofit Leadership Program
Applicants for admission to the MS in Nonprofit Leadership Program at the School of Social Policy & Practice must meet all of the following criteria:
- Hold at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university anywhere in the world;
- Have a grade point average (GPA) that reflects strong academic ability;
- For international applicants whose first language is not English, TOEFL score (Institutional Code 2926; Department Code 95) of 100 or higher or IELTS score of 7.5 or higher taken within the last two years.
The early application deadline is December 15th.
The regular application deadline is January 15th.
Select early application applicants who are not admitted to the program early may be considered in the regular application pool instead of being rejected. On-campus program applications will be accepted and considered after January 15th only if slots remain to be filled in the program.
The early application deadline is January 15th.
The regular application deadline is February 15th.
Select early application applicants who are not admitted to the program early may be considered in the regular application pool instead of being rejected. Online program applications will be accepted and considered after February 15th only if slots remain to be filled in the program.
Your admissions process begins with submitting your application online. After creating an account to start your application, you will be able to return to your application as many times as you wish before submitting. You can track the status of your application, including the receipt of letters of recommendation and any other supplemental materials, at any time by logging into your account.
You must submit a resume as part of your online application.
All applicants are required to write an application essay. There are three (3) questions we expect all applicants to answer when composing the application essay. Typically, we ask that applicants respond to the questions and compose a well-constructed essay not to exceed one thousand words with standard font and double spacing. This is your opportunity to explain why you want to attend graduate school and how you believe this master’s degree program will assist you in your educational and professional goals.
Applicants must submit transcripts detailing all undergraduate and postgraduate study via the online application. This includes coursework conducted at an applicant’s degree-granting institution(s) as well as in study abroad programs and at institutions out of which an applicant may have transferred. Applicants should upload copies of their official transcripts (i.e. not screenshots from a student record or student grade system) that clearly display their name, dates of enrollment, the names of all courses in which they enrolled, and the credits and grades awarded for each class. Applicants should not mail hard copies of transcripts to the School for purposes of application review.
ATTENTION INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS:
Transcripts reflecting more than two semesters of study at institutions based outside of the United States must be evaluated on a course-by-course basis by a third-party evaluation service such as WES or Educational Perspectives, or another NACES-accredited member. This applies even if the studies were conducted in English and even if the transcript is printed in English.
Applicants with these international transcripts should upload their university-issued transcripts into the online application and order their official, third-party evaluations sent to the School of Social Policy & Practice. Please note that these international transcripts cannot be considered official until they have been evaluated and that their respective applications cannot be reviewed until the evaluations have arrived in the Admissions Office.
Letters of Recommendation
Letters of Recommendation
Each application requires three letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation should be submitted directly to the online application.
Applicants are required to have one academic reference and one employment or volunteer reference. The third letter can be an academic, an employment, or a volunteer reference. Students who graduated 4+ years ago may submit an employment or volunteer reference in place of the academic reference.
Applicants to the accelerated program must include a reference from the Executive Program they completed.
Applicants are not required to submit GRE scores, but we will consider test scores if an applicant chooses to submit them.
For international students whose first language is not English, we require official TOEFL or IELTS scores taken in the last two years. A minimum of 100 on the Internet-based (iBT) TOEFL or a minimum Overall Band Score of 7.5 on the IELTS is required. TOEFL scores should be sent to Institutional Code 2926 and Department Code 95. IELTS scores cannot be reported electronically; applicants submitting IELTS scores in lieu of TOEFL scores should email official copies of their score reports to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The TOEFL/IELTS requirement can be waived for applicants who completed an undergraduate or master’s degree in the United States or in a country in which English is recognized as the official language. Please note that it can take up to one week following application submission for the waiver to be indicated on your application checklist.
We will consider waiving the TOEFL requirement if the applicant can establish they have a thorough understanding and comprehension of the English language. The decision to waive the TOEFL requirement rests with the Associate Dean of Enrollment Management and the Director of the NPL program.
All students will be asked to complete a recorded video interview prior to submitting the application. You will be asked to record your answer to four questions and will have time to both practice recording and prepare for the questions prior to recording your video interview. We would advise planning to spend approximately 20 minutes distraction-free to complete the recorded video interview process.
You will need to complete the interview portion of the application in either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. You can complete the interview on any laptop or desktop with a functioning webcam and microphone.
On occasion, applicants will be asked to interview after application submission. Since your interviewer is responsible for anticipating questions from the faculty reviewer and/or the Admissions Committee who ultimately makes the final decision on your application, there are various reasons an interview may be requested.
Although there is little preparation needed for the interview, you may want to consider the following:
- Review your personal statement and writing sample (if applicable) and be prepared to discuss what you wrote;
- Prepare questions to ask the interviewer;
- Be on time (sign into Zoom a few minutes early);
- Dress professionally (wear what you feel is appropriate for a job interview);
- Consider what you feel you bring to the program;
- Relax and be yourself.
This interview will be with a member of the academic program staff and last 25 to 40 minutes. At this time, all interviews will occur virtually via Zoom.
Upon notification of acceptance for admission to the University, you are required to submit a nonrefundable $300 to reserve your spot in the class. The deposit due date is provided with the offer of admission. The deposit will be credited to your account upon matriculation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the structure of the on-campus program?
Students take a total of 10 CUs either full- or part-time to complete the NPL degree. Four CUs come from the NPL Core Courses, four CUs come from the NPL Elective Courses, and 2 CUs can be Penn Electives. On-campus students may take online courses.
What is the structure of the online program?
Students take a total of 10 CUs either full- or part-time to complete the NPL degree. There is an optional, recommended cohort building experience in August. Students are welcome to join SP2’s Commencement Exercises in May. Penn does not issue international student visas for the online program. Online students may take on-campus courses.
How many courses do you take each semester?
Full-time students take 5 credit units (CUs) each semester to complete the program in May, although there is an option to take 4 CUs each semester and 2 in the final summer.
Part-time students take 2 to 3 CUs each semester, although they can also take 1 CU some semesters with approval from their advisor.
Can students take their electives at other schools within the university?
On-campus students may take graduate level courses at one of the other graduate and professional schools with the consent of the Administrative Director of the NPL Program as well as permission from the course instructor and/or the school. Elective courses must be at least a 5000-level course. Students also have the option of taking all ten of their courses within the NPL Program as we offer a wide range of diverse and compelling courses that are open not only to our students, but to the broader Penn community. Online students can take online courses in other schools within the University as long as they are 5000-level or above and the student received permission from both their academic advisor and the department where the course is housed. Students will pay SP2 tuition for the elective(s).
How many students are in a class?
Our classes are seminar style classes, averaging 25 students. This is a plan to promote the valuable classroom interaction and exchange between faculty and students. In other words, be prepared to participate, raise critical questions, and share your ideas and learning.
What is the size of your incoming NPL cohorts?
In recent years, the incoming on-campus and online classes have averaged 20 to 30 students each.
What is the difference between this degree in Nonprofit Leadership and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration?
Typically, public administration examines the creation and implementation of government policy, and how it can be applied in public service positions. The NPL program invites our students to see themselves in leadership positions in a variety of sectors with primary focus on leadership, management, and social impact. We examine the intersection between and among the sectors, look at social entrepreneurship and the theory and practice of nonprofits, as well as financial management, budgeting, fundraising and philanthropy, ethics, and governance in a world that needs new leadership to continue to provide services and solutions to many issues that desire positive social outcomes and social impact.
What is the grading system at SP2?
SP2 uses the system of letter grade evaluation that is used by other MA and PhD programs at the University. A cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or above is required for NPL graduation.
Does the School provide academic advising?
Yes. Each student is assigned an academic advisor who helps the student make the maximum use of the School and University’s resources for a rich academic experience.
What is the practicum?
The Leadership Practicum is an integral part of the experiential learning for all NPL students, which builds upon core competencies and principles of leadership developed in the classroom. It consists of a supervised mentoring and leadership development experience: a partnership with the goal of learning about the organization and providing student support on various levels that can include strategic planning, succession planning, branding or marketing, development and philanthropy, or other targeted projects.
The year-long practicum is arranged through a matching process that includes practicum info sessions, interviews, and matching by the program coordinators and the administrative director.
Full-time students complete 180 to 225 hours with their host organization. Part-time students count their work with their nonprofit or social impact organization as the hours requirement.
The practicum ends in late April but can be extended through the summer through mutual agreement of the student and organization.
In some circumstances a student may arrange their own practicum, but the placement must be approved by the Administrative Director of NPL.
When do submatriculate students complete the practicum?
Submatriculate students can complete their practicum during the summer between when they earn their undergraduate degree and the fall semester of their master’s degree or during their senior year as undergraduates as long as they have taken at least two NPL Core Courses prior to the practicum.
Will I receive a grade for the practicum?
The Leadership Practicum is a zero-credit course (NPLD 7010) that students must enroll in. Students will attend monthly class meetings in addition to their work with a host organization. The Leadership Practicum is a requirement for successful completion of the program.
Who is my mentor for the practicum?
Your mentor is a leader within a nonprofit or social impact organization. Some students have multiple mentors within an organization and some have both a work supervisor and a mentor.
Is the NPL program accredited?
The University of Pennsylvania is accredited, but there is no separate accreditation for nonprofit master’s programs.
The Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership degree program is offered by the University of Pennsylvania, an institution of higher education authorized to confer degrees and certificates conferring academic credit under applicable laws of the United States.
Students who are interested in participating in the program from countries other than the United States are advised that each jurisdiction may have its own laws and regulations governing online educational programs, and some jurisdictions may not recognize course credit or an online degree awarded by the University as satisfying local requirements for professional licensure, employment qualification, or other purposes. Before enrolling in this program, prospective students should investigate their jurisdiction’s treatment of foreign online programs to ensure that participation in this program will meet their objectives.
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