Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership at University of Pennsylvania

Why you should consider this program

You want to make a difference in the world. We can give you the skills, knowledge, and connections to make it happen. Penn’s Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership is designed for social impact professionals preparing for the next step in their careers. We welcome individuals who are bright, passionate, and energized to be transformative thought leaders, social entrepreneurs, and innovators for social impact. Our students are the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs who will help transform nonprofits and social impact organizations in all sectors from arts to education, economic development to social services.

The program prepares students to enter an economy where the public, private, and social sectors are increasingly interdependent by approaching education from an interdisciplinary lens. The program trains students to communicate across disciplines, build community, coordinate an effective approach to addressing social challenges, and increase their own leadership potential.

Given the dynamic experiences of international development and service, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCV) are a natural fit for study within the program. Learning practical skills like fundraising, governance, and management, along with the more theoretical foundations for social impact like design thinking and ethics, can help Returning Volunteers continue their impact after their Peace Corps service.

Benefits for Coverdell Fellows

Tuition/fees for Complete Program Value of Coverdell Fellowship Net cost *
In state $ 63,512 $ 23,890 $ 39,622
Out of state $ 63,512 $ 23,890 $ 39,622
* Net cost is equal to tuition/fees minus fellowship value. For some universities, the fellowship value includes non-tuition/fee benefits such as health insurance or housing—see the first point below for more details.

Where the cost savings value of the Coverdell Fellowship comes from

  • Tuition waiver: $21,825
  • Work study (if eligible): $2,000
  • Application fee waiver: $65

Fellowships awarded per year (average)

2 Coverdell Fellowships can be awarded each year with this benefits package

Other benefits or opportunities

No other program-specific benefits are offered, but the NPL program staff can assist Coverdell Fellows with seeking additional sources of funding within the University of Pennsylvania network to defray the cost of attendance.

Annual cost of living (estimated)

$ 22,058

Application fee waived?



The Nonprofit Leadership practicum is a yearlong internship placement with a Philadelphia-area nonprofit with dedicated one-on-one mentorship from a senior level leader within that nonprofit. The program works with about 30 partners throughout the Philadelphia area, who submit a scope of work and mentor biography to the program office at the beginning of the academic year. Students meet with mentors through program-hosted networking events and interview with potential placements. The program staff then facilitates a matching process, taking into account student and organizational partner preference.

In order to complete the leadership practicum, students must complete a minimum of 180 hours at the placement site over the course of the academic year, though many students choose to complete more hours with their placement. Organizational partners span a variety of different interest areas throughout the sector, and some of these placement sites include Habitat for Humanity, the National Philanthropic Trust, CCS Fundraising, and Episcopal Community Services. Full-time, on-campus students are placed with organizations based upon their interests. Students who are already working at a social impact organization can use their current organization for their practicum, and may find a mentor within or outside of their organization.

Jobs for program alumni

Alumni of the NPL program tend to secure employment in leadership positions at nonprofit or social impact organizations across the sector. While we have many alumni who choose to enter careers at existing nonprofit organizations in myriad capacities – with fundraising and program management representing a significant percentage of alumni career paths – we also have a growing percentage of alumni who choose to launch and grow their own nonprofit organizations or social impact ventures.

Some examples of our recent graduates’ jobs include Director of Operations, City Blossoms (Washington, DC); Founder and CEO, StudentsCare (Philadelphia, PA); Director of Education and Strategic Partnerships, University of Pennsylvania Center for High Impact Philanthropy (Philadelphia, PA); Chief Operating Officer, Rescue Mission of Trenton (Trenton, NJ); and Director of Gift Planning, University of Pennsylvania Development and Alumni Relations (Philadelphia, PA).

Other details

Program length

• Full time 1 year • Part time 2-3 years

Application requirements

  • College transcripts (bachelor’s degree, GPA of 3.0 or higher)
  • GRE (waived if applicant has three or more years’ experience working in a social impact organization – Peace Corps counts toward this requirement)
  • TOEFL if English is not a first language (score of 100 or higher)
  • Resume
  • 3 letters of recommendation, at least one academic and one professional
  • Application essay
  • Admissions Interview

Admissions process

See above

Program begins

Late August

Non-traditional options

Coverdell Fellows applicants will be evaluated and selected using the same admissions criteria as the general admissions for the NPL program. When reflected in the professional history (resume/CV), the public service orientation and international focus of the Peace Corps are certainly traits that the NPL program actively seeks out in our candidates.

Coverdell Fellows can complete the program in any of the three learning formats in which it is offered – full-time residential, part-time residential, or online. Of the on-campus courses offered, about half are offered in the evenings.

Year Coverdell Fellows partnership started



Sarah Craig, On campus coordinator

3701 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104