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UHD’s M.A. of Nonprofit Management Ranked No. 4 in the U.S., No. 1 in Texas

Program Rising in National Rankings


By Mike Emery

Now more than ever, people depend on the services provided by nonprofit organizations. The pandemic has increased the need for institutions providing care, service and resources to support communities during this unprecedented crisis.

Beyond COVID-19, however, nonprofits support citizens in a variety of areas. Through effective leadership, these organizations often deliver essential services not offered by government agencies. Credit the University of Houston-Downtown’s Master of Arts in Nonprofit Management Program (MNPM) for preparing those leaders who guide these organizations in meeting the needs of the public.

In a short time, the online program (based within UHD’s Department of Social Sciences) has emerged as the region’s leader in grooming nonprofit professionals. According to recent rankings from Best Value Schools, this graduate program is No. 4 in the U.S. and is Texas’ top nonprofit management program.

Best Value Schools’ rankings are based on graduation and tuition rates, but at UHD, the proof of the program’s success can be found in its product. Its graduates are applying what they learned from the program’s professors to leadership roles within regional and national nonprofits.

Julie Voss is one of many UHD MNPM success stories. As a Regional Vice President for Susan G. Komen® Houston, she oversees a number of initiatives aimed at educating the public on breast cancer and raising funds for research that may eradicate the disease.

The curriculum paired with expert instruction, she said, helped sharpen the skills necessary to not only ensure the success of her organization but to help others in need.

“Nonprofits are my calling,” she said. “I love helping people, and thanks to UHD’s nonprofit management program, I’m able to make a difference in the lives of others. For that, I am particularly grateful.”

Recent graduates also are supporting their communities with the knowledge gained from the program. Shay Tatum earned her Master of Arts in Nonprofit Management in December 2020 and now serves as Executive Director for Nixon Adult Day Center. The center provides daytime care and supervision for seniors and adults. Tatum said UHD’s MNPM program prepared her for the immense responsibility that accompanies her role.

“I didn’t expect to be placed into a management role so soon after graduating, but my degree has helped me earn a leadership position within this center,” she said. “As you might imagine, many people depend on our center. It’s one of the largest adult day care facilities in the city. UHD and the Master of Arts in Nonprofit Management Program prepared me to both serve fellow Houstonians and to oversee the day-to-day operations of this critical center within our community.”

Voss, Tatum and other MNPM students learned from both esteemed professors and prolific nonprofit leaders during their time in the program. MNPM faculty includes a who’s who of Houston nonprofit leaders including Dr. Robert Sanborn, president and CEO of Children at Risk, Houston and Brian Greene, president and CEO of the Houston Food Bank and Cynthia Nunes Colbert, President and CEO of Catholic Charities. UHD professors include Dr. David Branham, Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Department of Social Sciences and Dr. Bill Flores, Professor of Political Science and former UHD President.

These professors lead students through courses covering topics such as marketing, finance, leadership, volunteerism, management and strategic planning. Additionally, the program’s advisory council that guides the development of curriculum and offers input to help students succeed once they graduate.

“The program combines academic and experiential learning to help students develop needed skills,” Branham said. “Most importantly, they experience the rewards of careers in nonprofit leadership.”

The recognition from Best Value Schools complements other accolades received by the program, including recent rankings from College Consensus and OnlineColleges. 

Within the past seven years, the MNPM Program has grown from just over 20 students to well over 100. Students from across the nation are discovering its convenient, effective and informative online curriculum. Additionally, the program has teamed with the CenterPoint Energy to host the Power Tools for Nonprofits Conference aimed at helping nonprofits thrive and continue to serve their respective communities.

“There are approximately 23,000 nonprofits in Harris County,” Branham said. “Our program is committed to helping these organizations thrive by providing them with knowledgeable professionals. This recent ranking validates the hard work of our faculty and most importantly, our graduates who continue to make their mark on communities through their steadfast leadership and commitment to helping others.”

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.