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Bradley University's master's program in Nonprofit Leadership moves to a virtual format

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Brad McMillan
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Brad McMillan, coordinator of the Master's in Nonprofit Leadership at Bradley University, with recent graduates of the program.

The nonprofit sector has seen double-digit growth over the last decade, making it a prime time to take advantage of Bradley University's Master of Arts in Nonprofit Leadership program, which is now being offered virtually beginning this fall.

The program itself has been around for 29 years. Brad McMillan, coordinator of the Nonprofit Leadership program, said it focuses on developing leadership skills that can be used in the nonprofit sector by focusing on a few key areas.

“Strategic planning, financial management, grant writing, advocacy in public policy … a lot of people don’t think about this, but the nonprofit sector is the third largest workforce in America,” said McMillan.

With so many people diving into the nonprofit workforce, McMillan said it made sense to deliver this curriculum in a virtual format, so that people with busy lives can still take advantage of the program to further their career goals while working full time.

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Brad McMillan
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Brad McMillan, coordinator of the Master's in Nonprofit Leadership program at Bradley University.

“The reality is for graduate students, they work full time, a lot of them have families, so the convenience of online graduate programs is highly desirable, and Bradley’s moving in that direction,” McMillan said.

The course currently stands at 36 credit hours, and is taking on a unique model to make it as flexible as possible for students by having synchronous and asynchronous virtual content.

“I was really pleased when we switched to virtual during the pandemic that I thought we were able to keep the quality and the substance of the instruction at a very high level, and we were still able to have a lot of personal interaction through Zoom with the students, so I think it’s the wave of the future,” said McMillan.

Students who already work full time for a nonprofit organization may be eligible for a 30% tuition reduction. McMillan says this was an effort by Bradley to try and keep the program as affordable as possible for those looking to move up the ranks in their current organization.

“The reality is today, most nonprofits are looking for a graduate degree for the higher level positions within their organizations,” said McMillan.

Thus, he says this master’s program is suitable for all types of students — from those who are looking to get that higher level promotion in an already established organization, to those who are fresh out of undergrad looking to continue their education. McMillan notes that regardless of what a student may have focused on during their undergraduate years, anyone could benefit from furthering their education in nonprofit leadership.

He says this is especially true when considering the differences in leadership styles nonprofits typically have compared corporations.

“You have to learn how to bring people together and work on a team, following your mission. It can’t be a top heavy leadership model that works in the nonprofit sector. Not only with the professional leadership team that you have but with volunteers, reaching out into the community for donations,” McMillan explains.

In addition to this personal leadership style, McMillan says there is one common thread among his graduates that drives them to nonprofit work.

“They all want to make a meaningful difference in the community. The nonprofit sector reaches so many people in need,” McMillan said.

With this program, students can jump into the community to make that difference fairly quickly. The Masters of Art in Nonprofit Leadership can be completed in just 16 months. However, students are allowed up to five years to complete the program, making it completely adjustable to the individual student’s timeline.

Students interested in more information about the program can find that on Bradley's website. McMillan also said he is happy to talk personally with any student considering applying. He can be reached at bmcmillan@fsmail.bradley.edu or (309) 677-4408.

Jody Holtz is the host of WCBU's newsmagazine All Things Peoria and WCBU's morning news podcast On Deck.