Community and Nonprofit Leadership

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On-campus, cohort-based instruction. Prepare to be an effective change agent in the complex field of nonprofit and community leadership.


Is this program right for you?

Nonprofit employers seek professionals who are not only energized to tackle complicated real-world problems, but equipped to develop and implement sustainable solutions. A Capstone Certificate in Community and Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Wisconsin–Madison prepares you to be an effective change agent in the nonprofit sector and community efforts.

The Community and Nonprofit Leadership certificate embraces a multi-disciplinary, ecological, community-centered approach that focuses on community dynamics and community-led efforts in addition to organizational management approaches. It encourages critical thinking and skill-building which acknowledges and addresses root causes, alongside the development of tactical, operational, and management skills typically associated with nonprofit leadership.

Community partner relationships and community-wisdom-centered teaching are a central feature to this program. Students can expect to benefit from the contributions of a network of local, regional, statewide, tribal, national and international guest contributors, and in–the-field observations and experiences while learning from UW–Madison-based instructional faculty. Students also benefit from a rich learning community of fellow learners who are engaged with and interested in a broad range of interest areas across different communities and types of nonprofit organizations.

Through this community-engaged program, students will also have the opportunity to customize their learning experience pairing universal nonprofit and community leadership skills development with explorations in their own area of interest (i.e. food systems, human services, youth organizations, the arts, advocacy or environmental efforts). The structure and approach are cooperative and interactive, offering flexibility for working professionals. Additionally, our instructors understand the challenges you face attending class while maintaining your current responsibilities at your job and in life. We support you throughout the program and encourage alignment of learning objectives with current professional goals and responsibilities—so you stay engaged and on track to complete your education and enhance your effectiveness as a professional, no matter your timeline or where you are in your career trajectory.

Is this program right for you?

Nonprofit employers seek professionals who are not only energized to tackle complicated real-world problems, but equipped to develop and implement sustainable solutions. A Capstone Certificate in Community and Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Wisconsin–Madison prepares you to be an effective change agent in the nonprofit sector and community efforts.

The Community and Nonprofit Leadership certificate embraces a multi-disciplinary, ecological, community-centered approach that focuses on community dynamics and community-led efforts in addition to organizational management approaches. It encourages critical thinking and skill-building which acknowledges and addresses root causes, alongside the development of tactical, operational, and management skills typically associated with nonprofit leadership.

Community partner relationships and community-wisdom-centered teaching are a central feature to this program. Students can expect to benefit from the contributions of a network of local, regional, statewide, tribal, national and international guest contributors, and in–the-field observations and experiences while learning from UW–Madison-based instructional faculty. Students also benefit from a rich learning community of fellow learners who are engaged with and interested in a broad range of interest areas across different communities and types of nonprofit organizations.

Through this community-engaged program, students will also have the opportunity to customize their learning experience pairing universal nonprofit and community leadership skills development with explorations in their own area of interest (i.e. food systems, human services, youth organizations, the arts, advocacy or environmental efforts). The structure and approach are cooperative and interactive, offering flexibility for working professionals. Additionally, our instructors understand the challenges you face attending class while maintaining your current responsibilities at your job and in life. We support you throughout the program and encourage alignment of learning objectives with current professional goals and responsibilities—so you stay engaged and on track to complete your education and enhance your effectiveness as a professional, no matter your timeline or where you are in your career trajectory.

Admissions Requirements

All applicants must:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree.
  • Submit a one-page statement of interest.
  • For applicants whose native language is not English, you must have a minimum score of 243 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) iBT or 580 on the PBT.

Program Highlights

  • A significant number of courses are offered in 4-week, 1-credit, evening-based format, which makes the program accessible for continuing learners.
  • Students can customize their program experience, pairing nonprofit and community leadership courses with their substantive area of interest (i.e. child development).
  • Students work in cooperation with employers and community partners to develop their leadership skills and maximize statewide, regional, and international relationships already established by the UW–Madison.

How You'll Learn

  • Face-to-face with some online options; most classes meet once a week in the evenings.
  • Courses begin in both fall and spring semesters.
  • 10 credits required.
  • Cohort-based with flexibility to chart your own path with part-time and tailored options.

Sample Curriculum

  • Nonprofit Sector: Overview and Foundations
  • Evaluation and Planning for Community and Nonprofit Organizations
  • Civil Society and Community Leadership
  • Community Issues and Action Capstone
  • Civic Development Across the Lifespan
  • Community Power and Collective Action
  • Community-Based Research: Theory and Practice
  • Mixed-Methods in Community-Based Research
  • Transformative Evaluation in Practice
  • Professional Skills in Management and Facilitation
  • Professional Skills in Fundraising and Revenue Models
  • Professional Skills in Culturally-Aware and Trauma-Informed Strategies
  • Professional Skills in Creative Collaboration Across Sectors and Contexts

Ready to learn more about Community and Nonprofit Leadership?
View the UW-Madison Guide

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Our friendly, knowledgeable enrollment coaches are here to answer your questions. Contact an enrollment coach to:

  • Learn how to make this program work with your life/schedule
  • Verify credit transfers
  • Get help with your application
  • Determine if financial aid is available

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