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Undergraduate Certificate in
Fundraising and Advancement

Program summary

Gain the skills you need to help nonprofits and universities secure funding for programs and projects that improve lives and support important causes with the engaging course work in this online fundraising certificate program.

100% Online

Complete your Penn State course work at your own pace and 100% online.

Application deadline

Apply by January 1 to start January 8

Credits and costs

12 Credits $626/$671 per credit

Prepare Yourself for a Career in Fundraising or Advancement

  • Create and design texts in a variety of media and contexts relevant to philanthropy and major gift fundraising strategy.

  • Play a crucial role in enabling nonprofit organizations to achieve their goals.

  • Practice ethical and legal behavior in the fundraising and corporate giving professions.

  • Use the language of the fundraising profession and describe its foundational principles.

Fundraising and Philanthropy Online Courses

As a student in this program, you will have opportunity to learn about:

  • small and large nonprofits, as well as colleges and universities
  • a wide array of professional roles in fundraising and advancement
  • how to develop your skills and abilities and which roles might be best for you

The certificate curriculum consists of 6 credits of required courses and a list of courses you may select from to complete the other 6 credits. You may have already taken one or more of these courses, and if so, they may be counted toward the certificate.

Prescribed Courses (6 credits)

  • 3

    Focused on the fundamentals of fundraising and leadership, including communications, management of events and people, and stewardship.

  • 3

    Guides students through an introduction to the fundraising/advancement profession, including a review of the history and emergence of the profession. Touches on key issues such as professional ethics and the legal environment of the field.

Additional Courses (select 6 credits)

  • 3

    Explores the complexities of conflict to understand the forces that make conflict challenging and helps students develop a repertoire of skills for thinking about and managing conflict more effectively.

  • 3

    Provides an overview of the various media and communications methods that comprise modern integrated marketing campaigns.

  • 3

    A successful grant writer achieves confidence with hands-on practice, mastering the underlying principles of effective research and outreach; feasible and complete content-generation; and the writing of precise, clear, audience-centered prose.

    • Prerequisite

      ENGL 15 or ENGL 30 or (ENGL 137, ENGL 138) and (ENGL 202a or ENGL 202b or ENGL 202c or ENGL 202d)

  • 3

    The course examines the continuing influence of social and environmental factors in shaping leadership and leadership development.

  • 3

    Theory- and research-based communication skills for leaders dealing with work-related problems in contemporary groups and organizations.

  • 3

    Application of theories of decision-making to work-related issues in groups and organizations requiring collective resolution and action.

Start or Advance Your Career

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You can use the knowledge gained from this program and the support of Penn State career resources to pursue careers in a variety of fields, depending on your goals.

Career Services to Set You Up for Success

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From the day you're accepted as a student, you can access resources and tools provided by Penn State World Campus Career Services to further your career. These resources are beneficial whether you're searching for a job or advancing in an established career.

  • Opportunities to connect with employers
  • Career counselor/coach support
  • Occupation and salary information
  • Internships
  • Graduate school resources 

Job Titles Related to This Degree

With the knowledge acquired in pursuit of this certificate, you can be ready to seek employment as a:

  • development assistant or associate
  • alumni or donor relations staff member
  • data analyst or prospect researcher
  • annual giving staff member
  • entry-level major gift staff member
  • grants and contracts specialist
  • writer or communications officer
  • nonprofit event planner

Ready to Learn More?

Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.

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Learn more about this program

Download Program Brochure All my programs 

Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State undergraduate certificate?

Apply by January 1 to start January 8. How to Apply

Costs and Financial Aid

Learn about this program's tuition, fees, scholarship opportunities, grants, payment options, and military benefits.

Costs and Financial Aid

Undergraduate Tuition

Undergraduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register and the number of total credits you have accrued at or transferred to Penn State.

Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.

2023–24 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2023, spring 2024, and summer 2024 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester? If you have 59 or fewer credits If you have 60 or more credits
11 or fewer $626 per credit $671 per credit
12–19 $7,602 per semester $8,206 per semester

Undergraduate students taking more than 19 credits will be charged the flat tuition rate plus the regular per credit hour rate for each credit above 19. 

2024–25 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2024, spring 2025, and summer 2025 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester? If you have 59 or fewer credits If you have 60 or more credits
11 or fewer $632 per credit $678 per credit
12–19 $7,678 per semester $8,288 per semester

Undergraduate students taking more than 19 credits will be charged the flat tuition rate plus the regular per credit hour rate for each credit above 19. 

Financial Aid and Military Benefits

Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.

Paying for Your Certificate

Students pursuing a certificate are considered "nondegree," a status that is not eligible for federal student aid, including the Federal Direct Stafford Loan program. A private alternative loan may be an option to consider.

Additionally, Penn State offers many ways to pay for your education, including an installment plan and third-party payments. Penn State World Campus also offers an Employer Reimbursement and Tuition Deferment Plan. Learn more about the options for paying for your education.

Students pursuing a degree and meeting all other eligibility requirements may qualify for financial aid.

Excel in an In-Demand Field

Nonprofits and educational institutions increasingly rely on donor support to fund the programs and projects that change lives. With new fundraising positions being created and many fundraisers and donor and alumni relations professionals retiring, the job market is strong.

Who Should Apply?

Are you passionate about furthering an important cause, such as finding a cure for cancer, improving the lives of women, or ensuring equal access to education? This program is designed for upper-level undergraduate students who want to do meaningful work after graduation.

Set Your Own Pace

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Whether you are looking to finish your program as quickly as possible or balance your studies with your busy life, Penn State World Campus can help you achieve your education goals. Many students take one or two courses per semester.

Our online courses typically follow a 12- to 15-week semester cycle, and there are three semesters per year (spring, summer, and fall). If you plan to take a heavy course load, you should expect your course work to be your primary focus and discuss your schedule with your academic adviser. 

To Finish Your Certificate in One Year

  • Take 2 courses each semester 

To Finish Your Certificate in Two Years

  • Take 1 course each semester


Convenient Online Format

This program's convenient online format gives you the flexibility you need to study around your busy schedule. You can skip the lengthy commute without sacrificing the quality of your education and prepare yourself for more rewarding career opportunities without leaving your home.

A Trusted Leader in Online Education

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Penn State has a history of more than 100 years of distance education, and World Campus has been a leader in online learning for more than two decades. Our online learning environment offers the same quality education that our students experience on campus.

How to Apply to Penn State

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Apply by January 1 to start January 8

Application Instructions

Deadlines and Important Dates

Complete your application and submit all required materials by the appropriate deadline. Your deadline will depend on the semester you plan to start your courses.

  • Spring Deadline

    Apply by January 1 to start January 8
  • Summer Deadline

    Apply by May 5 to start May 13
  • Fall Deadline

    Apply by August 18, 2024, to start August 26, 2024

Steps to Apply

  1. To apply for this program, you must be a high school graduate, or have completed your GED.

    If you are already enrolled in a World Campus degree program, you can complete this certificate along with your degree program.

    If you are not enrolled in a World Campus degree program, you may still pursue this certificate as a nondegree student. Students pursuing a stand-alone certificate are classified as nondegree. (Nondegree students do receive full college credit for all courses taken in nondegree status; however, financial aid is not available to nondegree students.)

  2. 2. Complete the application.

Admissions Help

If you have questions about the admissions process, email [email protected] or call 814-865-1146.

Contact Us

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Have questions or want more information? We're happy to talk.

For questions about admissions and applications, please contact World Campus Central:

World Campus Central
Phone: 814-865-1146
[email protected]

For program comments and questions, please contact:

Bryan McDonald
0402 Weaver Building
University Park, PA 
Phone: 814-863-8949
[email protected]

Learn from the Best

One of the primary reasons Penn State is recognized around the globe as a distinguished university is its faculty. As a student in the fundraising and advancement certificate program, offered in partnership with the College of the Liberal Arts, you will enjoy the opportunity to learn from the same instructors who teach traditional, face-to-face classes on Penn State's campuses across Pennsylvania.


  • Bryan McDonald

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Social Ecology, University of California, Irvine
    • Degree
      M.A., Political Science, Virginia Tech
    • Degree
      B.A., English, Virginia Tech

    Dr. Bryan McDonald is the director of interdisciplinary programs in the College of the Liberal Arts and an associate professor of history. Dr. McDonald is a historian of modern America with research and teaching interests in food security and food systems. He is currently working on a book project that explores the history of food as a security issue in modern America. He is the author of Food Power: The Rise and Fall of the Postwar American Food System (Oxford University Press, 2017) and Food Security (Polity Press, 2010) and the co-editor of Global Environmental Change and Human Security (MIT Press, 2009) and Landmines and Human Security: International Politics and War’s Hidden Legacy (SUNY Press, 2004). He has published more than 25 articles, book chapters, reviews, and policy documents.

  • Tycely Williams

    • Degree
      M.A., Leadership, Georgetown University
    • Degree
      B.A., Communication with minor in Journalism, Wake Forest University

    Tycely Williams is a certified fundraising executive who has led teams that have raised and managed more than $580 million. She is the chief development officer at The Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C. In her career of more than 20 years, she has held C-Suite leadership positions at America’s Promise Alliance, The American Red Cross, and YWCA USA. She has extensive experience governing organizations and is an award-winning philanthropic thought leader with features in numerous publications, including The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The L.A. Times, The Nonprofit Times, and The Washington Post.

Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State undergraduate certificate?

Apply by January 1 to start January 8. How to Apply