Home » Graduate Certificate in the Nonprofit Sector, Philanthropy and Social Change

Graduate Certificate in the Nonprofit Sector, Philanthropy and Social Change

The Graduate Certificate in the Nonprofit Sector Philanthropy and Social Change is a response to recent developments in social change theory, practice, and funding that are placing new demands and expectations on social change actors in the nonprofit, public, and private sectors, including nonprofit leaders, philanthropists, policy makers, and corporate social responsibility managers. These developments include the emergence of hybrid, cross-sector business models and new intermediary mechanisms for channeling the flow of capital into social change; new expectations and standards for performance measurement, transparency, and accountability; more sophisticated use of data and technology to support decision making, evaluation, and continual improvement; decreased public funding for traditional nonprofit activities; and the emergence of social media as a vehicle for mobilizing people and resources. The certificate enables social change professionals in all sectors to respond to these changes more effectively, and will distinguish itself from other nonprofit certificate programs by focusing on the relationship between social program implementation and funding.

The certificate is a professionally-oriented, application-based program for students seeking leadership positions in nonprofit organizations or in a public agency that deals extensively with nonprofits. The curriculum is designed to address the distinctive features and practices of the nonprofit sector and emphasizes management techniques helpful to nonprofit leaders.

In addition to providing hands-on training to those working in the nonprofit sector, the certificate is also valuable for students seeking government positions that involve oversight of, or partnerships with, nonprofit organizations. As government at all levels increasingly relies on nonprofits to implement programs, successful public managers need to develop a deeper understanding of the methods, practices, limitations, and opportunities facing the nonprofit sector. Indeed, with the blurring of boundaries, public service professionals today are likely to find their careers involve movement between the two sectors.


The certificate is comprised of two required courses and one elective course for a total of three courses (12 semester hours). A grade of B or better in each course is required. Current and prospective students should refer to the 2019-2020 Graduate Catalog for a description of the Graduate Certificate in the Nonprofit Sector Philanthropy and Social Change curriculum.


The certificate may be completed as a stand-alone graduate program or in conjunction with a graduate degree program at Northeastern. Additional information about CSSH graduate certificates is available here.

Requirements and policies subject to change. For up-to-date information, contact Julie Switkes or view the official graduate catalogue for a full listing of graduate level courses.