Admissions Requirements


Applicants for admission to the master’s degree in Nonprofit Leadership Program at the School of Social Policy & Practice must meet all of the following criteria:

  • hold at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university anywhere in the world;
  • have a grade point average (GPA) that reflects strong academic ability and submit an official copy of a transcript from all colleges and universities attended (including community college and other degree programs);
  • (not required for AY 2020-2021) have competitive scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or 3+ years of experience in nonprofit or social impact organizations. The Institutional Code for reporting the GRE test scores is 2926 and the Department Code is 5001. We also accept either the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) indicating requisite analytic ability, though our preference is for applicants to take the GRE;
  • for international applicants whose first language is not English, we require you to take the TOEFL exam. TOEFL scores must be at a level appropriate for advanced graduate work. Currently, we look for TOEFL test scores of 100 or higher (highest score is 120). The Institutional Code for reporting TOEFL scores is 2926 and the Department Code is 95;
  • provide three (3) strong letters of recommendation, including preferably one professional and one academic recommendation;
  • complete the online application for admission including the application essay;
  • if seeking financial assistance, applicants should complete the appropriate information on the online application;
  • and submit payment of a nonrefundable application fee. Payment must be made with a major credit or debit card.

Admission to the NPL program will not require the GREs for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle. Applicants who do not submit GRE scores will not be at a disadvantage in the admissions process. For international students attending schools where English is not the language of instruction, we continue to require either the TOEFL or IELTS exam. Students who are able to take the GRE and wish to report them may continue with that plan.

We acknowledge the benefits and limitations built into standardized tests. Beyond the admissions process, test results help institutions guide and support enrolling students. We also know that a single examination does not capture the ability, preparation, and potential of all students in an equal way. For this reason, standardized testing has always been only one part of a larger review process that considers many factors, including professional experience, the rigor of coursework, and performance in their graduate degree. We will continue to review students, on an individual basis, consistent with our belief in a comprehensive whole-person review process.

Application Essay

All applicants to the Nonprofit Leadership Program are required to write an application essay. There are four (4) questions we expect all applicants to answer when composing the application essay. Typically, we ask that applicants respond to the questions and compose a well-constructed essay not to exceed seven pages with standard font and double spacing. This is your opportunity to explain why you want to attend graduate school and how you believe this master’s degree program will assist you in your educational and professional goals.


Applicants must submit transcripts detailing all undergraduate and postgraduate study. This includes coursework conducted at an applicant’s degree-granting institutions(s) as well as in study abroad programs and at institutions out of which an applicant may have transferred. Applicants should upload copies of their official transcripts (i.e. not screenshots from a student record or student grade system) that clearly displays their name, dates of enrollment, the names of all courses in which they enrolled, and the credits and grades for each class. Applicants should not mail hard copies of transcripts to the School for purposes of application review.

Applicants who are admitted are required to submit final, official copies of all transcripts prior to matriculation. Transcripts must provide confirmation of degrees conferred.

Attention International Applicants: Transcripts reflecting more than two semesters of study at institutions based outside of the United States must be evaluated on a course-by-course basis by a third-party evaluation service such as WES or Educational Perspectives, or another NACES accredited member. This applies even if the studies were conducted in English and even if the transcript is printed in English.

Applicants with these international transcripts should upload their university-issued transcripts into the online application and order their official, third-party evaluations sent to the School of Social Policy & Practice. Please note that these international transcripts cannot be considered official until they have been evaluated and that their respective applications cannot be reviewed until the evaluations have arrived in the Admissions Office.


Interviews are by invitation only upon a complete review of the application. Interviews are conducted by Nonprofit Leadership program staff and alumni. Interviews can be in person, here on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, or by live video. Either interview option carries equal weight in the admission process. No applicant is admitted without an interview.

Application Deadline

Highest consideration will be given to those applications completed and ready for review by February 1st. It is strongly encouraged that applicants interested in the Nonprofit Leadership Program submit their applications as early as possible due to the small number of students admitted each year for both the full-time and part-time options. The application is available online beginning in late September each year.

Applications will be accepted and considered AFTER February 1st if slots remain to be filled in the program. Admission to the Nonprofit Leadership Program is done on a rolling basis until a class of highly qualified students is admitted. Accepted students must pay a nonrefundable deposit of $300.00 to secure a seat in the incoming class.

The priority deadline for the NPL program has passed and our online and on-campus programs are already filling quickly. While SP2 is currently accepting applications on a rolling basis, applicants are strongly encouraged to submit their application by Thursday, April 15th. The Admissions Team cannot guarantee that NPL applications will be accepted after Thursdays, April 15th. Please note that in the case that a cohort is filled prior to April 15th, a waitlist will be started.

Application Fee

The application fee for the Nonprofit Leadership Program is $65.00. Applications received before December 31st will be granted a reduced fee of $25.00. Depending on circumstances, there are opportunities to request a fee waiver due to hardship. Fee waivers are considered on a case by case basis by the Admissions Office and/or the NPL Administrative Director.

The method of payment is through a major credit card as it allows us to process applications quickly.

Tuition & Fees

International Applicants

International applicants are eligible to apply for the full-time on-campus program and the online program, but due to visa restrictions, the university does not provide visa sponsorship for the part-time or online programs.

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