MS in Management - Mission Driven Organizations Courses

The MS in Managing Mission-Driven Organizations is a rigorous 36-credit program, with required courses covering project management, fundraising, outcomes & evaluation, financial management, marketing, systems thinking, personal leadership development, and teamwork & collaboration. We have designed the MDO curriculum with reference to the national standards developed by the Nonprofit Academic Centers Council. Electives in topics such as social media strategy, social enterprises, stakeholder communications, working with nonprofit boards, appreciative inquiry and organizational change management give students of varying backgrounds and interests the latitude to customize their course of study. Required, elective, and partner credit courses are listed here, followed by complete course descriptions.

Most of the required MDO classes and electives follow a "blended" model, meaning a mix of face-to-face and online learning. In a 2009 review of research by the US Department of Education, blended learning models were found to be more effective than either wholly face-to-face or wholly online models. Marlboro College Graduate and Professional Studies programs have been committed to blended delivery since the founding of our graduate school in 1997. Learn more at "Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies" (Download).

Individualized Study

Students will have the opportunity to tailor their individual course of study in three ways:

  • Choosing three 1-credit special topics elective courses which may include: boards and governance, social media for nonprofits, Google Apps for nonprofits, community organizing, and legal and ethical issues.
  • Nine credits of elective courses chosen from among our many degree offerings.
  • The 5-credit capstone project, in which students solve real-world problems in the context of a real organization.

Required Core Courses (25 Credits)

  • MBAS601 - People and Teams (3 credits)
  • MBAS610 - Needs and Wants (3 credits)
  • MBAS621 - Introduction to Systems Thinking (1 credit)
  • MDO602 - Fundraising and Philanthropy (3 credits)
  • MDO604 - Outcomes and Evaluation (3 credits)
  • MDO605 - Project Management (3 credits)
  • MDO606 - Nonprofit Financial Management for Leaders (3 credits)
  • MDO609 - Capstone I: Planning (2 credits)
  • MDO699 - Capstone II: Implementing (4 credits)

Electives (11 Credits)

The MDO program offers 1-credit elective seminars on relevant nonprofit topics, scheduled in response to student needs. In addition, students may choose elective coursework from our MBA in Managing for Sustainability or our MA in Teaching with Technology.  

MDO Seminars (choose at least 2 credits)

  • Social Media Tools (1 credit)
  • Social Media Strategy (3 credits)
  • Organizational Change Management (1 credit)
  • Working with a Nonprofit Board (1 credit)
  • Strategic Planning (1 credit)
  • Understanding the Nonprofit Sector (1 credit)
  • Appreciative Inquiry (1 credit)

Other Electives (choose 9 credits total)

  • NPM601 - Practicum in Nonprofit Management (prerequisite: Certificate in Nonprofit Management series)
  • MBAS605 - Personal Leadership Development Part I, Part II and Part III (3 x 1 credit)
  • MBAS602 - Stakeholder-Based Communication, Persuasian and Negotiation
  • MBAS607 - Caring for the Human Organization (3 credits)
  • MBAS622 - Applied Systems Thinking (2 credits)
  • MBAS624 - Social and Environmental Enterprises (3 credits)
  • MBAS606 - Managerial Economics (3 credits)
  • MBAS613 - Macroeconomics and Political Economy (3 credits)
  • MAT603 - Web Design and Media Production (3 credits)
  • MAT605 - Digital Research Technologies (3 credits)
  • MAT606 - Legal and Ethical Issues in Educational Technology (1 credit)
  • MAT614 - Facilitating Online Learning (3 credits)
  • MAT616 - Games and Simulation (3 credits)
  • EDU620 - Clear Writing Workshop (1 credit, offered every term)

Partner Courses as Electives: The Vermont Leadership Institute

The Vermont Leadership Institute  is a highly-regarded leadership development program administered by the Snelling Center for Government. Marlboro College Graduate & Professional Studies and the Snelling Center are natural partners, working together to cultivate leaders with a strong moral compass, keen emotional intelligence, tested tools for collaboration, and a smart systems-thinking perspective.

With prior approval of the MDO program chair, VLI associates may earn up to 9 graduate credits through Marlboro College. VLI is a selective cross-sector program that consists of eight overnight sessions totaling nineteen seminar days between September and June. Each in-person day requires approximately 10 hours of preparation outside of class, including readings, community interviews, journaling and other work, for a total of 342 hours of student work.

Students seeking to earn credit through completion of VLI must first be accepted into VLI, and then must complete learning portfolios for MDO631: Emotional Intelligence for Leaders (3 credits); MDO632 Public Policy and Systems Change in Vermont (3 credits); and MDO633 Community, Collaboration and Change (3 credits). These courses count as electives for the MDO program.

Prerequisites

  • A completed BA or BS degree from an accredited college or university.
  • Basic Excel and Powerpoint skills (or equivalent knowledge in Google Apps).

Marlboro College does not recognize the GRE as an indicator of likely success in professional programs and does not require it. Decisions on admission will be based on your transcripts, letters of recommendation and personal essay. The application process and details are available online.

 

Weekend Intensive Schedule

All required master's courses meet for one weekend "intensive" a month, 3 to 4 times per trimester, for a total of 10 months a year, at the Marlboro College Graduate Center in Brattleboro, Vermont. Many of our students commute from afar and choose to spend the entire class weekend in southern Vermont. Intensive weekends may begin with an elective class on Friday followed by a social gathering, a community lunch on Saturday, and advising and community circle time Saturday afternoon. Classes conclude by 4 pm on Sunday to allow for a return commute.

The intensive weekends are listed under our Academic Calendar.

Sample Study Plans

The degree chair works with each student to craft an individualized study plan reflective of the student's interests and needs. You can browse sample study plans online.

 

Course Descriptions

MS Managing Mission-Driven Organizations

Required Courses

MBAS601 - People and Teams

  • 3 credits
  • Taught in Winter
  • This is a required course

Theory and practice of how individuals and groups act and interact in an
organizational context with a focus on distributed and virtual teams in
networked organizations. Attempts to answer the questions: 1. What
makes teams and organizations effective and sustainable? 2. What are
the challenges to effective and sustainable teams and organizations? 3.
How can you understand your personal predilections as a team member and
organizational 'player'?

MBAS610 - Needs and Wants in a Sustainable Society

  • 3 credits
  • Taught in Fall
  • This is a required course

Defining needs and wants broadly - to include but not remain limited within a conventional marketing perspective - this course examines and works with the practical dimensions of designing, pricing, distributing and informing/persuading stakeholders about a product or service. Includes marketing management and strategy, brands, cause-related marketing, social marketing and critical perspectives on marketing and the consumer society in ecological and globalization contexts, including the life-cycle (LCA) view of products, the bottom-of-pyramid perspective and the notion of sustainable consumption.

Prerequisite: Proficiency in using Power Point

MBAS621 - Introduction to Systems Thinking

  • 1 credit
  • Taught in Spring
  • This is a required course

This course introduces the concepts and tools of systems thinking. Creating sustainability within organizations, businesses and the world requires paradigmatic shifts, and insights into how to effectively create change. Systems thinkers have shown that the effective levers of change are often counter-intuitive, or only become obvious when the mental model which structures them is revealed. This course uses diverse readings and models to develop competence and comfort with systems thinking analysis and prepare students for Applied Systems Thinking.

MDO602 - Fundraising and Philanthropy

  • 3 credits
  • Taught in Winter
  • This is a required course

This course assumes a basic level of understanding of fundraising methods and history, and covers the mechanics of various fundraising techniques as well as the psychological and philosophical underpinnings of the field. It assumes that giving, as well as encouraging others to give, will be an ongoing basis for sustaining work in the nonprofit sector, but will explore the implications of impending political, technological, generational and taxation change. There will be practical instruction and discussion on direct mail, grassroots, major donor, social media, event, and planned gift fundraising, with serious investigation of the human factors that make these successful. There will also be a current events' component of the course, tracking and studying potential change in the motivations for giving, as diverse as the generational transfer of wealth and proposed charitable deduction revisions. Students will be encouraged to follow a specific nonprofit and its fundraising program through the course, either of their own employment or their own charitable interests.

MDO604 - Outcomes and Evaluations

  • 3 credits
  • Taught in Spring
  • This is a required course

This course explores the rationale and methods for setting and assessing measurable outcomes in mission-driven environments. Students will examine the benefits and challenges of establishing program, organizational, and community level outcomes and using metrics to determine "what is better as a result of our efforts?" They will come away with the tools and strategies to set, assess, and use the results of measurable outcomes. The course will use a three-pronged approach: didactic learning about the purpose and techniques of outcome measurement; applied learning, with student teams each working with an organization to develop outcomes and assessment strategies; and sharing and analyzing the experience, deepening students' ability to translate learning to practice.

MDO605 - Project Management

  • 3 credits
  • Taught in Fall
  • This is a required course

Based on the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®), this course guides executive directors, event planners and others responsible for the delivery of projects through the agile application of the project management processes. Key topics include project selection and scoping, risk analysis, schedule and budget management, quality planning, team building, and project communication. We will explore methods to adapt standard practices to fit the unique requirements of delivering volunteer-based projects.

MDO606 - Nonprofit Financial Management for Leaders

  • 3 credits
  • Taught in Spring
  • This is a required course

The course will familiarize students with the nonprofit accounting cycle and equip them with knowledge of the processes, and tools necessary for nonprofit directors to manage to mission. Topics will include: financial reporting, budgeting, grant reporting, ratios and analysis, ethics, internal controls, financial policies, the federal Form 990, and financial reporting to boards.

MDO609 - Capstone I: Planning

  • 2 credits
  • Taught in Fall, Winter, Spring
  • This is a required course

Students enroll in Capstone I: Planning in their penultimate trimester. The course offers guidance and support as students plan their response to the problem or opportunity they have identified. Each student completes a project proposal in his or her own website with the support of others in the class, course faculty and their Program Director. Deliverables for this phase include: completion of a comprehensive project proposal document and the first two pages of students individual Capstone websites, and creation and delivery of an elevator pitch  a very brief statement that communicates their Capstone project.

Capstone involves both process and product. Students engage in the process of identifying a problem or opportunity, planning and carrying out a project, and reflecting on their learning. During the two-trimester process, students create products including a completed website, a project deliverable designed to solve the problem or address the opportunity, and an elevator pitch. There is a strong focus on ensuring an agile approach to planning and implementation and on clear, professional communication. Together process and product provide students with a deep learning experience during their last two trimesters at the Graduate School.

MDO699 - Capstone II: Implementing

  • 4 credits
  • Taught in Fall, Winter, Spring
  • This is a required course

Students enroll in Capstone II: Implementing in their final trimester and complete their Capstone project thereby completing a key degree requirement. Supported by an Advisor, students: create the deliverable planned in Capstone I; deliver a formal presentation of his/her project; participate in a conversation about what they have learned doing the Capstone and their course of study; and submit their completed Capstone website, which includes a written Project Summary and Retrospective on Learning. Students Capstones are assessed on a pass/fail basis.

Capstone involves both process and product. Students engage in the process of identifying a problem or opportunity, planning and carrying out a project, and reflecting on their learning. During the two-trimester process, students create products including a completed website, a project deliverable designed to solve the problem or address the opportunity, and an elevator pitch. There is a strong focus on ensuring an agile approach to planning and implementation and on clear, professional communication. Together process and product provide students with a deep learning experience during their last two trimesters at the Graduate School.

Elective Courses

EDU620 - Clear Writing Workshop

  • 1 credit
  • Taught in Fall, Winter, Spring

Writing effectively is essential in every profession. This course focuses on ways to analyze the structure of professional texts and gain practice in discipline-specific professional writing. Students will select a type of writing using a real-world writing task that incorporates all phases of the writing process.

MBAS602 - Stakeholder-Based Communication, Persuasion and Negotiation

  • 3 credits
  • Taught in Spring

The integration of sustainability into business expands the scope of communications beyond the traditional focus of shareholder primacy to encompass all relevant stakeholders. This course teaches students to communicate clearly, receive information discerningly, persuade convincingly, negotiate diplomatically, and report on sustainability in the context of ecological, social, and economic limits and thresholds. Foundational concepts and toolsets include: Stakeholder Theory as articulated by Freeman; Stakeholder Engagement based on AccountAbility 1000 Stakeholder Engagement Standard; Ury & Fishers notion of Principled Negotiation; Lakoffs concept of Cognitive Framing; and Sustainability Reporting guided by the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Reporting Framework.

MBAS605.1 - Personal Leadership Development I

  • 1 credit
  • Taught in Spring
  • Prerequisites: MBAS601 People and Teams

Personal Leadership Development is a sequence of five courses, which explore ideas and approaches for the development of personal leadership--from personal mastery to the leadership of teams and larger organizations. In the context of reflecting and learning with peers and mentors, the course is organized around the creation of a personal leadership development plan, including goal and objective setting, progress monitoring, introspection, self-honesty, justice and empowerment, and feedback skills. Students are encouraged to seek mentoring from individuals in sectors, industries, or roles they aspire to be part of or assume.

This first course in the sequence focuses on self-assessment and self-awareness in the personal leadership domain, personal ecology and sustainability, and the emotional intelligence leadership competencies. The prerequisite for this course is People & Teams, taught in winter. This four-trimester course sequence begins in Spring trimester each year, and must be taken in order.

MBAS605.2 - Personal Leadership Development II

  • 1 credit
  • Taught in Fall
  • Prerequisites: MBAS605.1 Personal Leadership Development I

The second of the five Personal Leadership Development courses explores the concept of servant leadership in relation to sustainable business practice, whether in large organizations or small, entrepreneurial businesses. It also considers the leadership domain of self-management and the related competencies of emotional self-control and transparency, hope and optimism, and adaptability and achievement. This five-trimester course sequence begins in January each year, and must be taken in order.

MBAS605.3 - Personal Leadership Development III

  • 1 credit
  • Taught in Winter
  • Prerequisites: MBAS605.2 Personal Leadership Development II

The third of the five Personal Leadership Development courses introduces the practice of becoming a fearless leader in learning how to lead change, especially when the future is not clear. It also considers the emotional intelligence domain of social awareness and the related competencies of empathy and service to others, organizational awareness, and matching personal values to organizational strategies. This five-trimester course sequence begins in January each year, and must be taken in order.

MBAS605.4 - Personal Leadership Development IV

  • 1 credit
  • Taught in Spring
  • Prerequisites: MBAS605.3 Personal Leadership Development III

During the fourth of the five Personal Leadership Development courses, the focus shifts to personal skill development clinics. It also considers the emotional intelligence domains of visioning and meaning-making, and using personal influence and collaborative leadership. Students also begin a leadership mentor relationship. This five-trimester course sequence begins in January each year, and must be taken in order.

MBAS606 - Managerial Economics

  • 3 credits
  • Taught in Fall

An introduction to the fundamentals of managerial economics, focusing on microeconomics, with three primary objectives: providing an understanding of the conventional (neoclassical) microeconomic model and how this model relates to business decision-making; providing a critique of the neoclassical model, discussing Ecological Economics, and presenting a more heterodox view of economics; and exercising a variety of analytical skills that are useful for economic analysis as well as managerial decision-making. The course will cover basic economic relationships, focusing on analysis at the margin; supply and demand theory; production theory; capital theory; profit maximization and cost minimization; firm structure; and types of markets. The critical aspect of the class will both consider how the neoclassical model becomes unrealistic, and therefore of limited value, and how the model is problematic in terms of sustainability. Substantially different economic paradigms will be explored.

Pre-requisite: Successful completion of GMAT online (http://www.gmatbusinessready.com) quantitative skills module.

MBAS607 - Caring for the Human Organization

  • 3 credits
  • Taught in Fall
  • Prerequisites: MBAS601 People and Teams

A caring human organization accepts responsibility for its sustainability impacts within the workforce, on the larger community, and on the environment. It strives to create alignment among a) organizational values, purpose, and strategy, b) the way its employees are engaged and managed, and c) the consequences of its operations for social, economic, and ecological sustainability. The emphasis in this course is on designing, measuring, and managing effective human organizational systems that motivate, engage and effectively deploy the workforce to deliver on the organizations sustainability strategy. In particular, we will explore how human resource management systems (e.g., staffing, rewards, performance appraisal, training), as well as organizational transformation strategies, can be used to support a flourishing and high performance mission-driven organization.

MBAS613 - Macroeconomics and Political Economy

  • 3 credits
  • Taught in Winter

In this course, the economics of individuals, households, firms, and other actors are considered in the context of regional, national, and global economies. The uses and limitations of conventional macroeconomic theory in these larger contexts are examined. Ecological Economic and Heterodox Economic Paradigms will be considered. Business cycles, monetary and fiscal policies, the role(s) of the governments, trade, economic globalization, and long-term sustainability are analyzed from both a practical standpoint (i.e., one of pragmatic relevance to investors, managers, and entrepreneurs) and a critical standpoint, using such alternative frames as ecological economics, political economy, critiques of globalization, and social and economic justice.

Pre-requisite: Successful completion of GMAT online (http://www.gmatbusinessready.com) quantitative skills module.

MBAS614 - New Venture Creation

  • 3 credits
  • Taught in Spring
  • Prerequisites: MBAS600 Foundations of Sustainability in Business; MBAS606 Managerial Economics; MBAS610 Needs and Wants in a Sustainable Society; MBAS607 Caring for the Human Organization; MBAS615 Finance II: Corporate Finance and Sustainable Capital Management; MBAS605.3 Personal Leadership Development III; MBAS604.3 Exploring Sustainability III; MBAS622 Applied Systems Thinking

The intent if this course is to serve as an introduction to the nature of entrepreneurial endeavor, and the skills and insight required to successfully develop and manage entrepreneurial ventures. In particular, we will look at the role of entrepreneurship as a culture changing activity, and how entrepreneurial ventures can serve as change agents for sustainability. It will also be an opportunity to explore the use of traditional entrepreneurial skills in non-traditional or innovative contexts with respect to sustainability. Entrepreneurial ventures are typically successful team efforts. The course will be organized around entrepreneurial teams, each working to develop and launch a new venture. The venture can be a for-profit, non-profit, a social enterprise or other hybrid, or a corporate venture or other form of intrapreneurship. Ideally, the organizational spark for the teams will come from ideas brought by students. Teams will develop a complete business plan and related presentation materials. In short, we will work towards forming actual businesses in the course of the trimester. We will use the tools of collaborative teamwork, business plan development and the presentation as key forums for exploring the entrepreneurial dynamic. We will also to use this as an ongoing forum to discuss the role of entrepreneurial endeavor in sustainable practice.

MBAS615 - Finance II: Corporate Finance and Sustainable Capital Management

  • 3 credits
  • Taught in Winter
  • Prerequisites: MBAS612 Finance I: Managerial Accounting for Sustainable Business

This course builds on the foundation established in Finance I. The capital management of ongoing ventures and the start-up financing of new ventures are both explored. Topics include debt and equity financing, with specific emphasis on capital investment decisions, capital structure, initial public stock offerings, dividend decisions, working capital management, financial risk management and the interface with capital markets. The relationship among sustainable performance, triple-bottom-line criteria and investor and other stakeholder expectations is thoroughly examined, with particular reference to financing alternatives, including entrepreneurial financing opportunities and their investment and return criteria. Throughout, the similarities and contrasts among financial, human, social and natural capital will be explored.

MBAS620 - Sustainable Strategy

  • 3 credits
  • Taught in Fall
  • Prerequisites: MBAS600 Foundations of Sustainability in Business; MBAS606 Managerial Economics; MBAS610 Needs and Wants in a Sustainable Society; MBAS607 Caring for the Human Organization; MBAS615 Finance II: Corporate Finance and Sustainable Capital Management; MBAS605.3 Personal Leadership Development III; MBAS604.3 Exploring Sustainability III; MBAS622 Applied Systems Thinking

The Sustainable Strategy course concerns strategic management process and the tough choices managers in for-profit, non-profit and hybrid organizations have to make about the future. It concerns strategic thinking about purpose, strategic intent and planning, as well as strategy implementation and change in times of turbulence. The course explores why and how key strategic decisions are made and implemented in organizations, within both conventional and sustainability contexts. Strategy frameworks for application in business and other organizational contexts are explored, as well as generic models used to develop and apply strategy. An application of the strategy "toolkit," especially the use of the business model canvas and strategy mapping, are combined with development of consulting skills, which are of significant importance to successful outcomes. Consulting skills are taught and then applied through assignments with real organizations to generate insights and useful recommendations on strategic projects identified by clients.

MBAS622 - Applied Systems Thinking

  • 2 credits
  • Taught in Fall

In order to make transformational, lasting change that makes a positive difference, organizations need to help steer the systems they are embedded in: they need to apply systems thinking. This course will give students the opportunity to apply the basic concepts of systems thinking through a practical project-based hands on approach. They will learn how to apply simple, yet powerful, systems thinking tools and processes to facilitate learning and steer change.

MBAS624 - Social and Environmental Enterprises

  • 3 credits
  • Taught in Winter

This course examines social and environmental enterprises that place Planet and People ahead of or on an equal footing with Profit. The first unit explores ways to design and fund strategic solutions for social and/or environmental problems. The next unit examines the legal entities that entrepreneurs can use to reach their double and triple bottom lines, such as Sec. 501(c)(3) charities, C corporations, LLCs, benefit corporations, L3Cs, and cooperatives.. The final unit examines legal and management challenges and opportunities that can arise during the course of an organizations existence. The students will examine these issues through the lens of an imaginary start-up as well as through four existing organizations1) a for-profit, 2) a nonprofit, 3) a hybrid, and 4) a cooperative or employee owned organization. They will also contemplate the advantages and disadvantages of current public policy surrounding social and environmental enterprises and contemplate ways to improve that policy.

MDO616 - Nonprofit Seminar

  • 1 credit
  • Taught in Fall, Winter, Spring

Short topic courses covering various aspects of nonprofit management and mission driven organizations.

MDO626 - Independent Study

  • Variable credits

Independent Study

NPM600 - Certificate in Nonprofit Management

  • Variable credits
  • Taught in Fall

This intensive four-month series offers nonprofit leaders and staff the opportunity to gain and refine the essential skills needed to strengthen their organizations and achieve their missions. The Certificate course provides immediately-applicable training in all the core competencies of nonprofit management. It is intended for people who want to make a serious investment in their not-for-profit careers.

NPM601 - Nonprofit Management Practicum

  • 3 credits
  • Taught in Fall
  • Prerequisites: NPM600 Certificate in Nonprofit Management

MDO students will expand on learning from the Certificate in Nonprofit Management by enrolling in a required 3-credit online class called the Nonprofit Management Practicum. Students may enroll in the practicum concurrently with the Certificate or at any time after completing the Certificate.

While enrolled in the practicum, students will create a portfolio which synthesizes learning from three of the Certificate modules. The instructor will work one-on-one with each student regarding their portfolio design. The portfolio will have three components:

* Brief annotated resource list, describing 3 useful resources for your topic (could be books, articles or websites)
* Written analysis which synthesizes learning from the face-to-face Certificate workshop and your additional resources, and considers that learning in the context of a real-world situation (for example, your own nonprofit organization). The conclusion of this paper will be an action plan describing how you will apply this learning to a real-world problem.
* A project in which the student applies the learning to a real-world problem. Each student's project will be unique and will arise out of a particular real-world situation. Examples might include: a new model for meeting facilitation, a board orientation handbook, a fundraising Youtube video or a 3-year marketing strategy.