Nonprofit Studies Program Offers Graduate Certificate

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from USM

The University of Southern Mississippi now offers a special course program that will appeal to individuals working for non-profit organizations. The Graduate Nonprofit Studies (NPS) Certificate is an interdisciplinary program appropriate for individuals with a baccalaureate degree who are currently employed in or wish to transition to the nonprofit sector and need additional or specialized training.

Nonprofit organizations need empathetic people, but they also need people who understand how nonprofits work in order to be effective. Students in the program must take three required nonprofit management courses and then choose two business foundations courses. When participants complete the program, they have the knowledge and skills necessary to make an immediate and lasting contribution in the nonprofit sector.

According to Dr. Ann Marie Kinnell, director of the NPS Certificate program, the ideal candidate is currently employed in or wishes to transition to the nonprofit sector, but does not have a background in nonprofit management. The courses are also ideal for individuals who want more in-depth training than is provided by workshops.

“Often individuals get into nonprofit work through volunteering but don't have training in nonprofit management. They learn by trial and error how to make a nonprofit work,” Kinnell added.

Kinnell goes on to say that the nonprofit courses may also be helpful for those in the private sector as many individuals who work for private sector companies serve on non-profit boards. In addition, private companies often collaborate with nonprofit organizations through sponsorships, cause marketing or operational partnerships.

“Misunderstandings in management philosophies can often inhibit this collaboration,” she said. “Understanding how non-profits work is vital to creating strong boards and collaborations.”

In addition to providing a background on the nonprofit sector, its historical roots and philosophical foundations, the nonprofit courses provide individuals with training in many important aspects of running a non-profit organization: board management, volunteer management, executive leadership, accountability and ethics, measuring performance, strategic planning, nonprofit collaboration with for-profits and other nonprofits, marketing, fundraising, grant-writing and advocacy.

“Nonprofits as businesses share many of the same operational concerns as private businesses. Thus the business courses provide a background in business that are of a benefit regardless of the sector in which they are employed,” Kinnell said.

The NPS Certificate can be achieved in one to two years, depending on which two business classes one chooses to take, out of the four of which are required.

“If one chooses to take all four business foundations classes, he or she may earn a Business Foundations certificate in addition to the Nonprofit Studies certificate,” Kinnell said.

Because courses are taught on a rotating schedule, anyone interested in learning more about the program is encouraged to visit

or contact Dr. Ann Marie Kinnell by e-mailing

or by calling 601.266.4306.