Educational Programs in Chicago for Nonprofit Professionals by Katie Anthony

YNPN Chicago Board of Directors Speak!

Recently YNPN Chicago and YNPN National featured articles about Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Armed with this funding information, and perhaps new year’s resolutions to make some big life changes, you may be considering going back to school. This is a complex, and at times overwhelming, decision. (I empathize; I have been contemplating it for a while now too!) Like all big endeavors the first step is the hardest, so here is some basic information about postgraduate educational opportunities for nonprofit professionals in Chicago.

An advantage of living in Chicago is having a wealth of options in all areas of life, and schooling is no different.  The array of universities in the city allows for various masters and certificate programs.  There are a wide range of degrees for nonprofit advancement (e.g., MPA, MSNM, MPP, MNA, MBA, MNM, LPS).  To narrow the scope, I included only programs that concentrate exclusively on nonprofit careers,  but I encourage you to look into other degrees and schools.  Remember, schools have different options regarding admissions deadlines (e.g., annual, quarterly), requirements (e.g., GRE, writing samples, letters of recommendation), and educational instruction (e.g., full-time, part-time, online) you will want to take into consideration. Deciding to go back to school is a complex choice. I hope that the list below helps you start researching options and find one that works with your life and career goals.

 DePaul University, School of Public Service 

Illinois Institute of Technology, Stuart School of Business

Loyola University Chicago, School of Social Work, Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy Sector

Loyola University Chicago, School of Continuing and Professional Studies

North Park University, School of Business and Nonprofit Management

Northwestern University, School of Continuing Studies

Roosevelt University, Walter E. Heller College of Business Administration


University of Chicago, Graham School of General Studies

University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, Great Cities Institute

Are there any other programs you think your nonprofit colleagues should look into?  Do you have any personal experience with the programs above that you’d like to share?  If you’ve gone back to school do you have any advice for people determining if this is the right move for them? Post a comment and keep the dialogue going!

Katie Anthony would like to help strengthen Chicago’s nonprofit community by promoting communication between Chicagoland nonprofits, as well as increasing their interaction with local government. She believes collaboration across sectors can be instrumental in supporting communities and strengthening Chicago as a whole. Katie has over six years of experience working in the nonprofit sector, and currently serves as Co-Chair of YNPN Chicago’s Communications Committee.  She works in the Education Department of the American College of Surgeonsand previously worked at the University of California, San Francisco. Katie is an active volunteer with other nonprofits including Woman Made Gallery, the Junior League of Chicago, and her alma mater Carleton College.

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2 Responses to Educational Programs in Chicago for Nonprofit Professionals by Katie Anthony

  1. Kate Franklin says:

    As someone who just graduated with a Masters, as well as recently relocating to Chicago, I would like to say a few things about this endeavor.
    1) Many nonprofit leaders that I’ve encountered don’t necessarily have an advanced degree in nonprofit management. I’ve seen a lot more people with academic backgrounds in policy and administration than with nonprofit management per se. I just wanted to re-emphasize that point, even though the author mentions it in her article.
    2) Do some informational interviews with different departments that you find interesting before applying to any schools. These were how I decided on my program (University of Minnesota Educational Policy and Administration), and helped make the process seem less overwhelming.
    3) Do your research on what alumni from programs in which you’re interested are doing after their graduation. What areas of work do more graduates seem to be going into and why? These might also be some good people to talk to, if you have the time.

    Of course, I’m assuming that most people understand to not go into too much student debt for a graduate degree, preferably no more than what you’ll make in a year’s salary after you graduate. Just a rule for thumb, so you don’t end up paying crazy money for a career track that may not be as lucrative as the for-profit sector. Hope this helps!

  2. Bethany says:

    I’m going part-time for my MPA at the University of Illinois at Chicago. They have a nonprofit management concentration in the program.

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