Professional Qualifications

Article modified: November 2021, Author:


Voluntary Sector Studies Network has a Courses section giving some details of those provided by its members. This may be updated quicker than our information below.

This page is for more general voluntary sector higher level courses in management, communications etc. See Professional Development page for specific topics (e.g. Community, Enterprise, Fundraising), and a section on Volunteer management courses.

Foundation degrees

Foundation degrees are employment related higher education qualifications. As experience can be as important as traditional educational qualifications, usually there are no, or flexible, set entry requirements. While not on the same level as honours degrees, they can lead on to these. See Professional Development page for such courses in specific topics.

Study online, open/distance learning

  • Open University Business School Runs a Management Certificate programme tailored to the voluntary sector, which can become part of Diploma or MBA. Various courses can be done online. Winning Resources and Support meets criteria for Institute of Fundraising’s Certificate. VolResource was (maybe still is) one of their Top 10 reference sites. Course Enquiry Services, Freepost, PO Box 625, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, phone 01908 858585.
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Enhancement (Online) awarded through the University of Bradford, and meets criteria for full corporate membership of the Institute of Leadership and Management. Modules on supervision, managing change and others. Contact Norman Borrett, phone 01274 753425, email:
  • University of Wales Lampeter MA in Voluntary Sector Studies is dormant at spring 2015.
  • Masters in Public Policy and Management or postgrad diploma/certificate from University of York.
  • Others. Some of those listed by location below now also provide open, distance or e-learning options which don’t require regular physical attendance. It is worth checking websites for updates.

Educational institute based

Listed by location.

  • University of Birmingham College of Social Sciences Public Service MPA, with specific voluntary sector management option (may have changed at autumn 09). Full or part-time options, and MSc/postgrad certificate programmes too. MBA Programme Administrator, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, phone 0121 414 5006, email:
  • Newman College of Higher Education (Birmingham) Public and Voluntary Sector Management BA; also Foundation Degree in Voluntary & Community Organisation Development, 4 year part time course.
  • Bradford College Postgraduate Certificate/Diploma/MA in Managing Change in the Community. Phone 01274 433004.
  • University of Bristol School for Policy Studies. “The MSc in Management Development and Social Responsibility fully integrates concern with social values in its content and learning processes, and is intended to equip students with the knowledge, skills and awareness necessary for them to operate as reflective, competent and socially informed managers in a changing environment.” 2 year, part-time. Phone 0117 954 6755, email:
  • Cambridge MBAJudge Business School Have a Bursary Scheme for “UK professionals in the not for profit sectors”. Phone 01223 337051, email:
  • Centre for Charity Effectiveness at Bayes Business School (previously Cass) (City University, London). Part-time postgraduate MSc or Diploma in Voluntary Sector Management; PgDip/ MSc Charity Accounting & Financial Management. Also from the Business School is the ICAEW Diploma in Charity Accounting. Occasional short courses. Contact Cass Business School, 106 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8TZ, phone 020 7040 8667.
  • University of Chichester BA in Charity Development is purely about fundraising.
  • University of Derby Foundation Degree in Voluntary Sector Management, 2 year full time course. Email:
  • Edge Hill University, in Ormskirk, Lancs, has (at 2014) a third sector pathway for its MSc Leadership and Management Development – look under Modules.
  • Leeds Beckett University (was Leeds Metropolitan).  Used to have part-time Professional Diploma, Managing in the Community and BA in Managing in Health & Social Care Organisations. No longer?
  • Charity Law and Policy Unit, Liverpool Law School, University of Liverpool. Postgraduate research opportunities. They also run regular seminars on various issues.
  • Birkbeck College, University of London courses includes Voluntary and Community Sector Studies MSc / Diploma / Certificate – search from the course index page. Completion offers pathways to research study at MPhil/PhD level.

  • Norwich City College Edexcel/BTEC Professional Development Certificate in Voluntary Sector Management, 1 day a week for 30 weeks.
  • University of Nottingham Business School Public Services MBA Programme – Voluntary Sector. Not sure that this exists still as a specific option – there is a Public Services Policy module to the MBA.
  • Robert Gordon University Part-time postgraduate Certificate/Diploma or MSc courses on Scottish Public Sector Management – not sure how much voluntary sector content. Course Leader is Kirsteen Davidson at the School of Public Administration and Law, phone 01224 263400.
  • Roehampton University, Centre for the Study of Voluntary and Community Activity link not valid at Dec. 2013, and Voluntary Action Management, MSc/Postgraduate Diploma no longer offered?
  • Voluntary Action Research Group, Sheffield Hallam University. Various charity management courses discontinued at autumn 2017? Worth checking.
  • University of Southampton may have something on the lines of Postgrad Certificate in the Management of Voluntary Organisations – try a search under social work.
  • St Mary’s University, Twickenham MA, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate in Charity Management.
  • National College of Ireland, Dublin, School of Business and Humanities. Certificate in Managing Organisations in the Voluntary and Community Sector, one year evening course.
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