Program overview

The Master of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership (MPNL) program and the Graduate Diploma in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership (DPNL) program offer a specialized set of knowledge, skills and peer-to-peer learning for leadership track positions – as innovators and change-makers – in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector. The MPNL cohorts include both experienced and aspiring professionals in this field. The DPNL program is intended to enable working professionals to upgrade their knowledge and skills; students may be able to apply the DPNL credits towards the MPNL program.

The format allows students to study without needing to relocate.

Graduates are capable of critical, audacious thinking. They understand emerging trends and issues in the complex world of philanthropy and nonprofits, both nationally and globally — and they apply their knowledge to solve real-world problems. Graduates find advanced leadership positions with a wide range of nonprofits, foundations, governments, social enterprises and companies. You can read examples on the Alumni page of PANL Perspectives.

Program structure

The MPNL and DPNL programs begin in the summer term with a preparatory online component starting in May (with course readings, discussion forums and some pre-assignments) followed by a two-week Summer Institute at Carleton University in the summer. The rest of the programs are completed through engaged online learning, hybrid learning (combined in-class and virtual), or intensive one-week classes, and a second Summer Institute for MPNL students. MPNL and DPNL students take classes together; the only difference between the programs is length.

Entry term for both programs: summer term.
Master’s (MPNL) program length: five terms (full time); and 10 terms (part time).
Diploma (DPNL) program length: two terms (full time); and four terms (part time).

The MPNL program consists of: seven core (required) courses; four elective courses; and a Capstone Project conducted with a community organization. Four of the core courses are taken during two Summer Institutes. The DPNL consists of two core (required) courses during the Summer Institute and four electives.

Please see the MPNL and DPNL program and course requirements for more information.

A typical, full-time, five-term program cycle for the MPNL program might look like this:

Typical Fulltime MPNL Course Schedule


Carleton University’s admission requirements for both the MPNL or DPNL program provide important, general information. Further admission requirements are available on the MPNL site.



Professional entry

Experienced professionals who have at least seven years of work experience in the philanthropic and nonprofit field during which they exhibited significant leadership and increasing levels of responsibility (and who have undergraduate degrees) may quality for Professional Entry admission. This reduces program requirements to ten courses (seven core courses and three electives, for a total of 5.0 credits).

In special circumstances, mid-career applicants who don’t have an undergraduate degree but who have a minimum of five years of professional experience in the sector will be considered for admission. These candidates are considered after they demonstrate their academic potential by completing and doing very well in up to two, graduate-level courses; admission on this basis doesn’t reduce the length of the program.

Please contact us for more information: