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Noncredit Certificates in Nonprofit Management: An Exploratory Study

Author: MORDECAI LEE
Published in PAM, Vol. 7 No. 3

In US colleges and universities that provide education in nonprofit
management, the central focus is invariably on credit-based degrees,
certificates and courses. Less frequently, some institutions also offer
nonprofit management education in a noncredit context. The latter is often
offered through a separate campus entity dedicated to continuing
education, outreach, extension and professional development that tends to
exist in the shadow of credit-based education. While credits measure
educational attainment, continuing education units (CEUs) are used to
measure professional development. However, little comprehensive
information is known about this parallel universe of CEU-based certificates
in nonprofit management.
This article provides the results of an exploratory survey of
noncredit certificates in nonprofit management at US colleges and
universities. It identified 33 colleges and universities offering 36
certificates. The survey found a wide disparity in the nomenclature,
curriculum, requirements, finances, duration and management of these
programs. The results of the survey indicate the absence of a pedagogic
consensus regarding what a noncredit certificate in nonprofit management
should be. The survey data suggest a need for development of basic
professional standards and curriculum to enhance the value and credibility
of noncredit certificates nonprofit management that are issued by colleges
and universities.

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