Certified Nonprofit Professional Credential

The Certified Nonprofit Professional credential is the only national nonprofit credential preparing students (undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate) for careers in nonprofit management. The CNP is a competency based credential. Through co-curricular activities including academics, participation in the registered student organization Nonprofit Leadership Student Alliance (NLSA), and an internship, you reach the 8 competencies needed to earn your CNP.

Due to the unique combination of classroom training, practical experience and leadership activities, CNPs get hired and rise more quickly in their organizations. Plus, CNPs have access to CNP Central, a nonprofit resource hub that includes resources like mentorship programs, job postings, and nonprofit-focused discussion boards.

Program requirements

The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences offers a Public and Nonprofit Administration major to prepare undergraduate students for leadership in the nonprofit sector. The required courses for students interested in pursuing the Certified Nonprofit Professional credential include:

  • PAD 211 Introduction to Nonprofit Leadership
  • PAD 355 Nonprofit Lobbying Strategies
  • PAD 399 Internship in Nonprofit Management
  • PAD 412 Nonprofit Seminar (capstone experience)
  • PAD 521 Board Governance and Executive Leadership
  • PAD 523 Grant Writing and Management
  • PAD 375 and PAD 376 (must take 3 credits) Nonprofit Lab

The required coursework is based on a set of Certified Nonprofit Professional competencies designed to support student learning and guarantees that students receive education and training in the core competencies that nonprofit managers want when they hire new employees. Students must have a minimum of a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution to earn their CNP.


Internships are an integral part of the Public and Nonprofit Administration major. They offer unique opportunities to work closely with public and nonprofit organizations to gain the experience necessary to become effective leaders in the public sector.

After a conversation with the internship site supervisor, the student drafts the educational contract, site supervisor suggests changes/additions/deletions and student finalizes the report. There are certain educational goals and learning objectives that must be achieved through the internship.

  • Test theories, concepts and philosophies
  • Test skills in management, supervision and leadership
  • Engage in self-evaluation and assessment of the internship agency
  • Establish positive interpersonal and professional relationships
  • Observe and develop the values and ethics of nonprofit professionals
  • Develop, plan and carry through with projects
  • To gain knowledge and skills in these areas relevant to nonprofit management:

  • Communication, Marketing, and Public Relations
  • Cultural Competency and Diversity
  • Financial Resource Development and Management
  • Foundations and Management of the Nonprofit Sector
  • Governance, Leadership, and Advocacy
  • Legal and Ethical Decision Making
  • Personal and Professional Development
  • Program Development
  • Volunteer and Human Resource Management
  • Future of the Nonprofit Sector
  • Certified Nonprofit Professional exam

    During your final semester at CMU you will sit for the Certified Nonprofit Professional comprehensive exam. This exam focuses on the principle competencies of nonprofit leadership set by the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. During your course of study and time engaging in theoretical and practical work through the major, minor, co-curriculars, and experiential learning, as well as utilizing the thorough study guide provided through CNP Central and the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, you will have all the tools to complete this exam. The exam is a requirement of the program and must be completed under the supervision of the CNP Campus Director.

    Four core components of earning your Certified Nonprofit Professional credential

    • Students receive education and training in the core competencies that nonprofit managers want when they hire new employees.
    • Students completing the program must have a minimum of a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution.
    • A minimum of 300 internship hours is required.
    • Students have the opportunity to attend Elevate, a national nonprofit career development conference where they:

      1) learn from local and national nonprofit executives,

      2) participate in discussions with nonprofit professionals from across the nation, and

      3) advance practical knowledge of advocacy, leadership, equity, and innovation.

    • Students participate in a wide variety of activities that support classroom learning and prepare them for future leadership roles.
    • Students participate in the nonprofit student association on their campuses, which connects them with the national nonprofit student association. 
    • Competencies

      • Management and Leadership of the Nonprofit Sector: includes the history and roles of nonprofit organizations, nonprofit human resource planning and management, roles and responsibilities of nonprofit board of directors, etc.
      • Nonprofit Marketing and Communications: includes the function of marketing in nonprofits, purpose and content of a nonprofit marketing plan, strategies for nonprofits in advocacy and public policy processes, etc.
      • Nonprofit Fundraising and Resource Development: includes the function of fundraising and development in nonprofits, concepts and strategies related to donor motivation, cultivation, and stewardship, etc.
      • Cultural Competency and Diversity: includes organizational strategies to increase diversity of staff and volunteers, self-awareness and intercultural communication strategies to build effective organizations, etc.
      • Nonprofit Budgeting and Finance: includes terms and processes related to various types of nonprofit budgeting, board of director's role in financial management and oversight, IRS requirements and regulations, etc.
      • Nonprofit Governance and Volunteer Management: includes duties and responsibilities of a nonprofit board of directors, volunteer management basics, including recruitment, retention, performance management, and evaluation, etc.
      • Designing Nonprofit Programs for Long-Term Sustainability: includes strategies for determining community need, planning and evaluation models for program design, role of inclusivity and accessibility in program design, etc.
      • Nonprofit Trends and Innovation: includes current issues and trends important to nonprofit leaders, purposes and challenges of innovation in nonprofit organizations, similarities and differences between US-based nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations around the globe, etc.

      Employment opportunities

      The Nonprofit Leadership Alliance is a powerful network of professionals who are leading some of the country’s most successful social-impact organizations. In addition, the national and local nonprofit organizations that are part of the Alliance network hire more than 50,000 people annually. These are organizations that value the training and preparation that is core to the CNP program. Recent research completed by an independent organization shows that CNPs are seven times more likely to rise to a director level compared to non-CNP peers. 

      Degrees in Public and Nonprofit Administration emphasize the teaching of real-world management and analysis skills applicable to any sector. Employment opportunities after earning a CNP include:

      • Executive Director/CEO
      • Human Resources
      • Information Systems
      • Office Administration
      • Public Relations and Communications
      • Sales and Marketing
      • Community Outreach
      • Government Relations and Advocacy
      • Grants Administration
      • Volunteer Management
      • Alumni Affairs
      • Annual Fund
      • Capital Campaigns
      • Corporate and Foundation Relations
      • Donor Relations
      • Grant-seeking
      • Membership
      • Planned Giving
      • Prospect Research
      • Special Events
      • Contact Form