Through academic study, community engagement, and applied research, Community and Nonprofit Leadership (CNPL) undergraduate students develop into competent, caring professionals interested in community-based change and the expanding nonprofit sector. In smaller, inclusive, project-based courses, CNPL students collaborate with each other and community partners, gaining practical experience and making a difference through their coursework. The CNPL bachelor of science degree prepares its graduates for careers in community and nonprofit settings, graduate school (in law, policy, community health, etc.), and post-baccalaureate service-oriented programs (such as Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, City Year, etc.), enabling them to create, lead, and support innovative community-based initiatives that change lives and make the world a better place. Their work and advanced study address human, family, and civil society issues such as: food and environmental justice, homelessness and rights to housing, health equity, gender equality, racial justice, community and leadership development, community organizing, advocacy, and more.

CNPL majors complete a required internship before graduating, allowing them to pursue their own personal interests and to develop a strong portfolio of skills and references that will propel them to launch successful careers.  

Prospective UW-Madison Students

All prospective UW–Madison students must apply through the central Office of Admissions and Recruitment.

Students who indicate interest in the community and nonprofit leadership (CNPL) major on their UW–Madison application will be admitted to the CNPL major upon admittance to the university. In addition, students may indicate interest in CNPL when registering for Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR).

Current UW–Madison Students

First-year students in good academic standing and first-semester transfer students may declare the CNPL major upon request. All other students must apply through a competitive application process.

The best way for interested students to receive advising or additional information is by attending a Becoming a SoHE Student Workshop.

Visit On-campus Student Application for application information and the October and February deadlines.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

Community and Nonprofit Leadership Requirements

A complete list of requirements is below. Students should follow the curriculum requirements in place at the time they entered the major. Curriculum checksheets from previous academic years are available online. This requirement list should be used in combination with a DARS report.

School of Human Ecology Requirements
Select one of the following:
Introduction to Statistical Methods
Statistics for Sociologists I
Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences
Basic Statistics for Psychology
Statistics: Measurement in Economics
Quantitative Methods in Geographical Analysis
Arts and Humanities
Social Science9
Physical, Biological and Natural Science9
Human Ecology Breadth6
Select six credits of Human Ecology courses from CNSR SCI, DS, HDFS, or INTER-HE.
Community and Nonprofit Leadership Major Requirements
Community and Nonprofit Leadership Core Courses
CSCS 125 Community and Social Change3
CSCS 300 Nonprofit Sector: Overview and Foundations3
CSCS 345 Evaluation and Planning for Community and Nonprofit Organizations3
CSCS 460 Civil Society and Community Leadership3
CSCS 570 Community Based Research and Evaluation3
CSCS 600 Community Issues and Action Capstone3
Community and Nonprofit Leadership Depth Courses
Complete 9 credits from any other Civil Society & Community Studies courses9
Professional Development
CSCS 254 Community & Nonprofit Leadership Symposium1
INTER-HE 202 SoHE Career & Leadership Development1
CSCS 601 Internship3
Select electives to fulfill degree requirement of 120 credits
Total Credits68-69

 University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Ecological perspectives on community and society.  Articulate and apply an ecological perspective at discrete levels of analysis (individual, group, community, and society).
  2. Civic literacy and the public sphere.  Assess the major trends in civil society recognizing the influence and interconnectedness across the major sectors of society and exhibit strong capacity for sustained, high impact participation in civic life.
  3. Identity, diversity, and social justice.  Recognize well-being and social justice as relational and position, applying these principles in community organizing and empowerment.
  4. Organizational management and professional development.  Demonstrate entry-level knowledge and skills relevant to nonprofit and community organizations and exhibit the practices of a lifelong learner.
  5. Research, analysis, and communication.  Vet and/or generate high quality data, perform relevant analyses, and share results with target audiences using oral, written, and visual communication techniques.
  6. Leadership, ethics, and well-being.  Recognize the value of being a reflective, ethical leader who cultivates others’ strengths and leadership capabilities, while exhibiting self-care and care for others.

Student Academic Affairs & Career Development

The Student Academic Affairs & Career Development Office (SAA) fosters undergraduate students' personal, academic, and professional development. Through advising, academic planning, and career education we support students as they navigate the college experience—from exploring our majors as prospective students to becoming SoHE alumni. 

Academic Advising

Each SoHE student is assigned to an academic advisor in the Student Academic Affairs & Career Development Office. SoHE academic advisors support academic and personal success by partnering with current and prospective SoHE students as they identify and clarify their educational goals, develop meaningful academic plans, and pursue their own Wisconsin Experience. 

To explore academic advising resources or schedule an appointment with a SoHE academic advisor, visit Advising in SoHE

Career Development

Active engagement in the career development process is a vital component of a student’s personal growth in college and future success as a life-long learner, professional, and global citizen. SoHE career advisors help prepare students for life post-graduation through individual and group advising and integration of career readiness throughout our curriculum.

To explore career development resources or schedule an appointment with a SoHE career advisor, visit Internship and Career Preparation.

Professors Flanagan, Jasper; Associate Professors Bakken, Christens; Assistant Professors Alexander, Gaddis, Horowitz, Sarmiento, Sparks; Faculty Associate Maguire

For more information, visit the School of Human Ecology faculty and staff directory