Toronto’s Best Nonprofit MBA Options

Toronto Nonprofit MBA

It’s fair to say that the finance and consulting industries are the most popular for business school grads. But what about non-profits and social enterprises—where do they rank? While some assume that an MBA and working for a nonprofit do not go hand-in-hand, that’s not the case.

According to Fast Company, the nonprofit sector is the third-largest segment of the U.S. workforce, employing more than 13.7 million people at 1.8 million organizations, accounting for 10 percent of the country’s total workforce. The sector is the seventh-largest economy in the world—with combined assets of nearly $3 trillion, the U.S. nonprofit sector is larger than the economies of Brazil and Russia, and its neighbor to the north is taking notice.

According to Nonprofit HR, in 2015, 50 percent of nonprofits were hiring compared to just 34 percent of for-profits. Nonprofit wages have also increased by 29 percent between 2000-2010 and continue to rise, and exciting jobs in the sector are perfect for MBAs.

As the nonprofit sector continues to grow, business schools have started to create specialized degree programs tailor-made for those who want to break into the industry, including schools in the Toronto metro.

What Makes a Specialized Degree?

Nonprofit MBA programs are designed for students who are passionate about entering the industry. These programs cover core business principles featured in regular MBA programs, but also focuses on the theories, business practices, and specific needs of the nonprofit organization sector. A specialized degree would greatly enhancing a prospective MBAs ability to earn executive level compensation at a nonprofit, non-governmental organization, or social enterprises.

Toronto Nonprofit MBA Programs

Rotman School of Management – University of Toronto

Consistently ranked as one of the premiere business schools in Canada, the Rotman School of Management offers a variety of MBA formats, including a full-time MBA degree, part-time morning, evening MBA programs, a one-year executive MBA program, and an 18-month Global Executive MBA.

For MBAs looking to enter the nonprofit sector, Rotman recently introduced the Rotman Onboard—a new program that matches talented upper-year MBA candidates with Toronto-based nonprofit organizations for a 6-8 month fellowship. MBAs accepted into the program will receive unparalleled access to these organizations. Rotman Fellows act as non-voting board members, serve on advisory committees, and complete a strategic governance project based on each organization’s needs. They are paired with a board mentor, assigned a faculty advisor, and work directly with the organization’s senior management team.

According to the Rotman school of Management, 10 leading non-profit organizations were selected as host partners for the first year of the Rotman Onboard Fellowship Program. MBAs worked on Onboard projects such as:

  • Improving the nomination process for board selection for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
  • Working with SickKid’s Foundation to reach multicultural donors, improve transparency of financial reporting, and improve exposure on social media.
  • Helping the National Ballet School of Canada benchmark itself against other ballet schools around the world while documenting trends in corporate giving to cultural organizations.

Schulich School of Business – York University

Known as “Canada’s Global Business School” and ranked among the world’s leading business schools by a number of global surveys, the Schulich School of Business currently offers 19 specializations at the Master’s level and offer part-time and accelerated degree options

One of those specializations is Social Sector Management. Formally known as the Nonprofit Management and Leadership Program, the specialization delivers theories, concepts, and practices required for senior positions in the social sector in Canada and internationally.

MBAs following the Social Sector Management track gain experience in fields such as human rights, international development, social entrepreneurship, social impact investing, and microfinance. According to Schulich, coursework focuses on the structure, complexity, values, and concerns of the broad “third sector” and its role in politics, economics, and society globally.

Additionally, the specialization offers a Graduate Diploma in Nonprofit Management within the MBA program. The certificate program includes an summer work placement program. The summer work program gives students without prior experience in the nonprofit sector the hours they need to cut their teeth in the industry while rebuilding their networks and resumes.

Lazaridis School of Business & Economics – Wilfrid Laurier University (Toronto Campus)

The Lazaridis School of Business & Economics at Laurier University offers full-time and part-time Ph.D., MBA, Master’s, Economics, BBA, Bachelor’s, and additional diploma programs. The school’s downtown Toronto campus also features a part-time weekend MBA and executive-format Master of Finance programs.

A unique aspect of the Laurier MBA is that all students participate in the Not-for-Profit Practicum. This component of the program was designed so that each student can gain experience in the nonprofit industry while providing field-based community service. In the past, students have worked with organizations like Marimba Youth League Trust, a youth development charity that employs music as a mechanism to keep at-risk children in school, and Friends of the Orphans & Canada.

Additional Options

Toronto isn’t the only metro where prospective MBAs can find nonprofit MBA programs. U.S. News & World Report recently ranked the Best Business Schools for Nonprofit MBAs in 2017. The top 10 programs are:

  1. Yale University
  2. Harvard Business School
  3. Stanford University Graduate School of Business
  4. Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley
  5. Kellogg School of Business at Northwester University
  6. Duke University
  7. Colombia Business School
  8. University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross School of Business
  9. Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University
  10. Anderson School of Business at UCLA


About the Author

Max Pulcini

Max Pulcini is a Philadelphia-based writer and reporter. He has an affinity for Philly sports teams, Super Smash Bros. and cured meats and cheeses. Max has written for Philadelphia-based publications such as Spirit News, Philadelphia City Paper, and Billy Penn, as well as national news outlets like The Daily Beast.

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