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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.

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

Are you an upper-level undergraduate student who wants to do meaningful work after graduation? Do you have the passion required to further an important cause, such as finding a cure for cancer, improving the lives of women, or ensuring equal access to education? Penn State knows that 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. Earning a Penn State Undergraduate Certificate in Fundraising and Advancement online can help you move into nonprofit fundraising or advancement, no matter what your major.

Why Earn a Certificate in Fundraising and Advancement through Penn State World Campus?

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

  • the nonprofit sector, including small and large nonprofits and colleges and universities
  • a wide array of roles available to professionals working in fundraising and advancement
  • how to develop your skills and abilities and which roles might be a fit for you

This program will give you the opportunity to study with well-respected faculty from Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts, one of the world's premier liberal arts institutions. The online format of this program provided by Penn State World Campus allows you to practice many of the skills needed to succeed as a fundraising professional, studying with experienced faculty in a highly focused curriculum delivered via a flexible, convenient online format.


You can complete the required course work for the Undergraduate Certificate in Fundraising and Advancement in two to four semesters. 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.

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.

How to Apply

Deadlines and Important Dates

  • Spring DeadlineApply by January 1 to start January 8
  • Summer DeadlineApply by May 5 to start May 13
  • Fall DeadlineApply by August 18, 2024, to start August 26, 2024

All supporting materials should be sent following the submission of your application.

For current and future course registration deadlines, visit the Registrar's website to view the academic calendar by semester

Admissions Help

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

Admission Requirements

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

If you are already enrolled in a Penn State 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.)

Technical Requirements

Review the technical requirements for this program.

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

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

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

Contact Us

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]



  • 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