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Strong Leadership Drives Missions Forward

Accelerate your impact with the Master’s Program in Social Sector Leadership and Nonprofit Management 

Students sitting in a lecture

The Social Sector Leadership and Nonprofit Management (SSL) program was developed specifically for early to mid-career social sector professionals seeking advancement into positions of leadership in mission-driven organizations—including the public, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors—in roles such as program managers, directors, and executives. The Master’s program will prepare students to lead across the social sector including the fields of health and human services, education, community organizing and development, policy implementation, and advocacy.

The SSL program offers a unique, mission-driven, perspective. It supports students to analyze the social, historical, political, economic, and organizational factors that reinforce inequity and injustice while also delivering the knowledge, tools, and resources students need to increase operational capacity for social sector organizations. Students here learn how to deploy effective leadership skills while accomplishing important, on-the-ground work.

The program is designed for students who want to accelerate their advancement, as well as those seeking to transition career paths to the social sector. All will discover how to tap into and strengthen their own capacity to influence and guide meaningful change.

Program Options

In designing the SSL, we created a program that accommodates you. We offer:

  • A full-time option (12 months)
  • A part-time option (21 months)
  • A practicum for both full-and-part-time programs
  • Day, evening, and weekend courses

Application Deadlines

Round 1: February 1, 2021
Round 2: March 15, 2021
Round 3: June 1, 2021

Application Requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • 3-5 years of experience working in a social sector organiza­tion
  • A current resume
  • Transcripts from all previous institutions
  • 2 letters of recommendation
  • 4-page candidate statement (double-spaced)

Make a difference at the University of Chicago

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Master’s Program in Social Sector Leadership and Nonprofit Management


The Master’s Program in Social Sector Leadership and Nonprofit Management

In the Master’s Degree in Social Sector Leadership and Nonprofit Management (SSL) at the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice, students will gain a deep understanding of the organizational and policy environments shaping social sector action alongside the most up-to-date skills in organizational management, governance, and analysis. This one-year program allows students the opportunity to examine the complexity of social problems while developing the capacity to more effectively drive social change.


of Master's Students Receiving Merit-and Need-Based Tuition Scholarships

Partner Agencies for Field Work in the Chicago Area

Crown Family School Alumni Across the World

Curriculum Overview

  • Conceptual core courses develop students’ foundational knowledge about the key structures and processes that shape their work in the social sector. These include classes on social sector governance, organizational theory, and policy formulation and implementation.
  • The Management Core develops skills in strategy, financial management, leadership in a diverse society, and performance measurement, preparing students for top management positions across nonprofit and social sector groups, government agencies, philanthropic foundations, and more.

Elective Opportunities

Elective courses allow students to take advantage of the wide variety of courses offered by Crown Family School and around the University of Chicago. Options that may be of particular interest to students in the SSL program include courses on community organizing, advocacy, social entrepreneurship, philanthropy, and more. We also offer a wide variety of classes focused on specific policy areas, including health, immigration, violence prevention, and youth development.


The 10-week practicum, taken in the Summer Quarter, gives students the opportunity to identify a real-world, executive-level management challenge, design a plan to address it, and present the plan to executive staff in the chosen organization. Students will have the option to design a practicum at their current place of employment, other organizations they have existing connections to, or can be placed at a practicum site. They will have the option of working individually or in teams, depending on the location.

Our core courses will prepare students for top management positions in nonprofit organizations, government agencies, philanthropic foundations, and other social sector groups.

Make a difference at the University of Chicago.