Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) Credential

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For a dynamic career in the nonprofit sector, there is no better undergraduate education and preparation than earning the Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) credential through the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. Arizona State University is one of the leading programs in the nation that offers this preferred national certification.

It can be earned with a B.S. in Nonprofit Leadership & Management; in conjunction with the Nonprofit Administration Minor; in conjunction with a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (B.I.S.) Nonprofit Administration concentration; or in conjunction with any undergraduate major. Discover the benefits of earning the CNP credential and learn how you can be certified to change the world.

The Nonprofit Leadership Alliance's national certification and CNP credential program provides hands-on opportunities such as internships, co-curricular activities, and classroom learning to help students achieve certification competencies.

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Certification competencies

The identified skills and knowledge needed to meet the work challenges of the student's chosen career field.

The Nonprofit Leadership Alliance's competency requirements for completing the national certificate and earning the CNP credential serve as a framework for a college curriculum that meets the needs of nonprofit organizations. Upon completion of the certificate's core competencies and graduation with a bachelor's degree, students possess the skills, knowledge and experience they need for employment as a Certified Nonprofit Professional.

The Nonprofit Leadership Alliance's national certificate is based upon the following 10 competencies:

  • Communication, Marketing and Public Relations: Highlights knowledge, attitudes and activities that nonprofit organizations use to understand, inform and influence their various constituencies.
  • Cultural Competency and Diversity: Highlights the development of cultural competency preparation for professional practice in culturally diverse settings.
  • Financial Resource Development and Management: Highlights financial resource acquisition, budgeting, financial management, control and transparency in nonprofit organizations.
  • Foundations and Management of the Nonprofit Sector: Highlights the history, contributions, and unique characteristics of the nonprofit sector and its management.
  • Governance, Leadership and Advocacy: Highlights the stewardship and advocacy roles, responsibilities and leadership of the board of directors, staff and volunteers in the development of policies, procedures, and processes by which nonprofits operate and are held accountable.
  • Legal and Ethical Decision Making: Highlights basic laws, regulations and professional standards that govern nonprofit sector operations, including a basic knowledge of risk and crisis management, ethics, and decision-making.
  • Personal and Professional Development: Highlights the nature of employment in the nonprofit sector, from researching career opportunities, applying and interview for a job, to continuing professional development.
  • Program Development: Highlights program design, implementation, and evaluation strategies applicable to all nonprofits (youth services, arts, environment, health, recreation, social services, advocacy, etc.).
  • Volunteer and Human Resource Management: Highlights the knowledge, skills, and techniques for managing volunteer and paid staff.
  • Future of the Nonprofit Sector: Highlights the dynamic nature of the nonprofit sector, the importance of continuous improvement, emerging trends and innovations, and the critical role research plays in shaping best practices.

These competencies are based on comments from 2011 Competency Revalidation Survey and stakeholder feedback.


ASU's Nonprofit Leadership Alliance offers a high-impact curriculum.

Smaller classes, interaction with faculty, and individualized advisement make the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance's national certificate and CNP credential a personalized educational experience. For certification, students are required to complete 17 total credit hours: 11 required core hours and 6 hours of electives.

Core requirements

NLM 220: Introduction to Nonprofit Organizations

(Available Spring and Fall) Introduces the nonprofit sector and its role in developing the cultural, economic, and social impact in U.S. society.

3 Credit Hours

NLM 320: Professional Development Seminar

(Available Fall, Spring, (Summer online)) Repeated for a total of four semesters (1 credit hour each). Specific to the national certificate. Professional seminar featuring nonprofit executives, variable topics on leadership and management, current issues related to the sector as well as personal and professional skill building activities. Forum for exchange between students and current professionals.

Prerequisite: Instructor approval. Total of 4 Credit Hours.

NLM 420: Alliance Management Institute (AMI) (formerly American Humanics Management Institute)

(Available Fall ONLY) Specific to the national certificate. National Management Institute for preparation of nonprofit professionals. Requires out-of-state conference. May be repeated for credit.

Prerequisite: instructor approval. 2 Credit Hours

NLM 440: Nonprofit Professional Certification, including the National CNP Exam

1 Credit Hour


NLM 160: Voluntary Action and Community Leadership

3 Credit Hours

NLM 300: Fund Raising and Resource Development

(Available Spring and Fall) Theory and practice of philanthropy, resource acquisition methods through ethical fund raising, and earned income approaches for nonprofit organizations.

3 Credit Hours

NLM 310: Volunteer Management

(Available Spring and Fall) Administration of volunteer service programs. Studies and analyzes the volunteer personnel process.

3 Credit Hours

NLM 380: Financial Management for Nonprofits

3 Credit Hours

NLM 430: Managing Nonprofit Organizations

(Available Spring and Fall) Analyzes administrative structures, decision making, and program delivery within nonprofit organizations.

Prerequisites: NLM 220; senior standing. 3 Credit Hours

NLM 450: Grant Writing

3 Credit Hours

NLM 484: Internship

(Available Fall, Spring and Summer) For majors other than NLM. Supervised guided experience in selected nonprofit partner agencies. Fee.

Prerequisites: All required coursework and CFE Hours must be completed before registration. Instructor Approval. 3-6 Credit Hours

Career Field Experience (CFE) and internship

Career Field Experience (required) is comprised of at least 100 paid or unpaid leadership hours in activities that align with the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance's national certification competencies. These hours provide students with the opportunity to explore their chosen career field, to discover their unique passion and prepare for a future as nonprofit professionals. Hours are accumulated throughout the activity's planning, implementation and evaluation phases. These hours must be completed before enrolling in the internship and will be documented on the students' transcripts.

Internships (required) are full-time (40 hours per week) for 12 weeks, which equals 480 contact hours.

  • Host organizations must hold 501(c)3 status.
  • Host organizations must provide an on-site, full-time, paid staff member as mentor and supervisor.
  • Internships may not take the place of an existing position.
  • Interns are unable to have outside employment during this time, so paid internships are often a priority.
  • Internships follow the semester timeframe, Fall (Aug.-Dec.) Spring (Jan.-May) Summer (May-Aug.)

Co-curricular activities

Real-world application of classroom learning turns knowledge into skill.

Co-curricular service-learning is the hallmark of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance's national certification approach, resulting in success for graduates and the communities they serve.

Coursework is only one avenue to achieve competencies. The national certification program, with the help of our Nonprofit Leadership Alliance community partners, also includes an array of on-the-job and student association activities that provide opportunities for students to develop and strengthen their knowledge, skills, leadership abilities, and understanding of the nonprofit sector.

Participating in professional and social functions allows the students to develop organizational and networking skills that will serve them well in the years ahead. The annual Alliance Management/Leadership Institute (AMI) is an excellent opportunity for junior and senior students to network with hundreds of other nonprofit students, meet executives representing America's largest and most influential nonprofit organizations, and participate in agency simulations, workshops, job interviews and career fairs. Additional co-curricular activities include:

Fall and spring retreats

Scheduled out-of-class dates for team building, strategic planning, networking with faculty, staff and alumni, as well as community service activities.

Recruitment activities

Designed to promote the national certificate and outreach to those who have an interest in careers in the nonprofit sector.

Community service projects

Provides leadership opportunities while assisting community partners, ASU and other organizations to accomplish their missions while impacting the community in a positive way.

Fundraising projects

Provides leadership experience and skill building opportunities while developing relationships with local resources and providing funds for student association activities and supplies.

Senior recognition event

Provides the opportunity to recognize the work of our graduating seniors while acknowledging the support of our community partners, faculty, staff, alumni and donors.

Etiquette dinner

Provides a formal dinner setting to build confidence and learn from seasoned professionals the proper etiquette, demeanor and poise needed for work in the sector.

Professional development workshops

Designed to provide students with self awareness, assessment and additional knowledge regarding current issues and innovations in the sector.

Alumni networking events

Designed to provide opportunities for both students and alumni to connect on a professional level for mentoring, guidance, support, and information regarding volunteer, internship and job placement needs, thus ensuring success and future professional development for both the students and the alumni.

National and local conferences

Provides students with local and national networking opportunities, the most current information and strategies, as well as access to community leaders and innovators.

Leadership roles in the student association

Provides students with hands-on, real-world management and leadership roles that will challenge them, provide direction to other students and increase their ability to put theory into practice.

These student-developed and -implemented practicum are an example of well-organized, volunteer-operated programs that launch the new semester, introduce, orient and assimilate new students into the program, develop personal and professional skills, and involve nonprofit professionals, ASU faculty and staff.