UM Announces New Certificate of Nonprofit Administration


MISSOULA – Montana is home to more than 7,400 nonprofits, a sector that has grown 20% in the last decade across the country, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Responding to the need for a pipeline of talented professionals, the University of Montana launched an undergraduate certificate in nonprofit administration this fall.

Offered by UM’s Department of Public Administration and Policy in the Baucus Institute, the certificate program helps students build leadership capacity and professional skills to manage and support nonprofit and philanthropic organizations.

“Students who earn the nonprofit certificate learn important aspects that are unique to working in the nonprofit sector, giving them a competitive edge in the job market,” said Andrea Vernon, DPAP clinical professor and nonprofit administration expert. “It is a streamlined way to upskill for work in the nonprofit sector for students who are unable to do the full nonprofit minor.”

Although DPAP has an undergraduate minor in nonprofit administration, the new certificate provides an additional opportunity to meet growing workforce needs. It consists of four, flexible classes worth 12 credits that students can take online or in person.

“Our department continues to experience tremendous enrollment growth because of our focus on student success and pathways to public service,” said Dr. Sara Rinfret, DPAP chair and professor. “Our certificate is another great example of connecting our students to public and nonprofit service opportunities.”

Employment growth in the nonprofit sector provides numerous job opportunities to graduates with nonprofit expertise. In the Big Sky state, 11.2% of working Montanans are employed by nonprofits, according to the January 2019 Montana Nonprofit Economic Impact Report. Nationally, the number of those employed by nonprofits is 10%.

Gemma Sladich, a student working toward her undergraduate nonprofit certificate in the program’s inaugural year, said she looks forward to helping those who are less fortunate.

“I see myself maybe having a career at a nonprofit such as UNICEF or a smaller non-profit,” she said.

Vernon said the both nonprofit minor and certificate provides graduates a path forward for meaningful employment.

“It is so rewarding to see graduates of our programs now leading incredibly successful nonprofit organizations in Montana and across the country,” said Vernon. “By using innovative and collaborative strategies, they are making life better for so many people.”

To find out more about undergraduate or graduate education with UM’s Department of Public Administration and Policy, visit


Contact: Sara Rinfret, professor and chair of UM Department of Public Administration and Policy, 406 243-4702,