2023 Best Online PhD in Nonprofit Management Programs

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Earning a PhD in Nonprofit Management is a strategic choice for anyone who is interested in organizational leadership positions within the public service sector.

Best Online PhD in Nonprofit Management

You might also enjoy a nonprofit management doctoral program if you are passionate about creating change through public policy and excited by the prospect of conducting original research.

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Additionally, many nonprofit management graduates leave their program with skills in the areas of strategic planning, communication, and financial analysis. These skill sets can make you a competitive candidate for a range of professional positions.

Online PhD in Nonprofit Management Programs

Online PhD in Nonprofit Management

An online doctoral program in nonprofit management teaches the skills needed to step into leadership roles within a nonprofit setting. You may develop your abilities in areas such as management, public administration, and grant writing.

In addition to these skills, many nonprofit management degree programs typically cover topics such as:

  • Fundraising
  • Government and community funding
  • Nonprofit marketing and advocacy
  • Diversity in the workplace
  • Public service quantitative research methods

All of these courses are intended to teach you how to apply resource development, strategic planning, and finance concepts to professional work within the nonprofit sector.

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After earning your doctorate degree in nonprofit management, you can choose between a range of career options. It’s common, though, for professionals with this degree to work in the fields of nonprofit administration, research, or education.

Here are some typical careers that nonprofit management professionals with a doctorate pursue:

  • Social and community service managers
  • Public relations and fundraising managers
  • Financial managers
  • Training and development managers
  • Administrative services and facilities managers
  • Postsecondary teachers

Having the ability to lead teams of people, collaborate with stakeholders, and manage resources on a strict budget could make you a beneficial addition to any organization.

How do you know if you should pursue a PhD in Nonprofit Management? You might enjoy earning your doctoral degree in this area if you are:

  • Passionate about helping your community
  • A strong leader
  • Wanting to advance your career prospects
  • Interested in developing a wide range of skills

Earning your PhD in Nonprofit Management can pave the way toward many interesting and fulfilling career opportunities. In addition, you’ll likely have the flexibility to transition fields if you should want to in the future.

Types of Nonprofit Management Doctorate Degrees

Types of Nonprofit Management Doctorate

While all of these degrees may prepare you for work in the nonprofit sector, they each have a different focus and often lead to careers in different fields. It can be helpful to determine whether you are more interested in developing original research or in examining and applying existing theories to address challenges in the nonprofit sector.

A PhD program is research-heavy and will end with a dissertation, providing you the opportunity to conduct your own research. In comparison, DBA and DPA programs center around the application of theories and will often end with a final project.

Ph.D. in Nonprofit Management

A Doctor of Philosophy in Nonprofit Management can help prepare you for a leadership role within the nonprofit sector. In this program, you’ll cover subjects like public administration and philanthropy while conducting original research into a particular topic.

Many graduates go on to pursue careers as program directors, researchers, or educators. You may also have the option to specialize in a certain area, such as human resources, to further prepare you for a career that you are passionate about.

DPA in Nonprofit Management

DPA in Nonprofit Management

A Doctor of Public Administration in Nonprofit Management will center its coursework around policy-making. You may study challenges and problems related to public policy and learn the skills and tools needed to plan and implement creative solutions.

A DPA in Nonprofit Management is geared more toward work in public policy or government rather than nonprofit leadership roles. Graduates from this program often pursue careers as policy advisors or analysts.

DBA in Nonprofit Management

While a Doctor of Business Administration is similar to a PhD in Nonprofit Management, a DBA program focuses less on conducting research. Instead, it focuses more on using existing theories to tackle large issues in the nonprofit sector.

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After earning a DBA in Nonprofit Management, many people choose to work as policy advisors or lobbyists, working to create change at the organizational level.

Non-Profit Management Careers & Salaries

Non-Profit Management Careers & Salaries

A PhD in Nonprofit Management can help prepare you for professional opportunities that require a strong understanding of organizational strategy, management, and community development.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many professionals with a degree in nonprofit management find themselves interested in the following careers.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Chief Executives $185,950
Financial Managers $134,180
Human Resources Managers $121,220
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers $118,430
Training and Development Managers $115,640
General and Operations Managers $103,650
Administrative Services and Facilities Managers $98,890
Management Analysts $87,660
Postsecondary Teachers $80,560
Social and Community Service Managers $69,600

The specific details of any position—such as job title and annual salary—will differ depending on factors like your location, the company you work for, and your employment history.

Earning a PhD in Nonprofit Management can be a strategic way to expand your career options, but it does not mean that you are guaranteed to land a specific job or salary.

Non Profit Management PhD Curriculum & Courses

Non Profit Management PhD Curriculum

In addition to your core courses, a nonprofit management doctoral program provides the opportunity to conduct research in an area of interest, such as humanitarian assistance or civil engagement.

While your research specialty will be unique, many programs offer courses similar to those listed below:

  • Nonprofit Sector Theory: In this course, you’ll study the nonprofit sector and explore the skills needed to manage a nonprofit organization successfully.
  • Research, Design, and Evaluation of Nonprofit Practices: You’ll learn how to conduct an evaluation of a nonprofit, covering topics like data collection, evaluation, and report writing.
  • Qualitative Research: This course explores the key components involved in conducting qualitative research, including sampling, research design, and data collection.
  • Quantitative Research: This class covers the quantitative research process, exploring topics such as descriptive statistics, correlation, and probability.
  • Survey Research: This course is focused on how to utilize surveys to collect data, and it covers designing and conducting surveys as well as analyzing and presenting data.
  • Advocacy and Public Policy: This course explores the relationship between policy and nonprofits, including how nonprofits influence laws and vice versa.
  • Fundraising and Philanthropy for Nonprofits: You’ll learn how to analyze and create successful fundraising programs.
  • Collaborative Leadership and Partnership: You’ll work to define and recognize successful leadership, and you’ll learn how to build strong partnerships with stakeholders and community members .
  • Social Justice and Ethics: You’ll evaluate ethical issues related to nonprofit organizations as well as explore social justice theories and their roles in public service.
  • Metropolitan and Urban Planning: This course provides an opportunity to study how topics related to the development of cities—including land use, infrastructure, and water quality—impact residents.

Researching a program prior to applying can help ensure that you are able to take courses that align with your career goals.

How to Choose an Online Doctorate in Nonprofit Management Program

Online Doctorate in Nonprofit Management

It’s beneficial to choose a doctorate program that will provide the best experience possible for you. In order to select a program that fits your needs, you may want to consider factors like the following:

  • Cost. Online doctoral programs will vary in cost, so it helps to research the specifics of each one before applying. Even if you qualify for financial aid, it’s essential to have an understanding of how many loans you are willing to take out.
  • Program length. Doctoral programs range in length. You can determine your personal timeline to ensure that your prospective schools offer programs that align with your needs.
  • Curriculum. While many nonprofit management programs offer similar courses, there will also be opportunities to specialize in a specific area of study. You can check whether your programs of interest offer courses that fit into your future career plan.
  • Program format. Online nonprofit management degree programs often consist of a blend of synchronous and asynchronous courses. Depending on your personal learning preferences, you might want to attend a program that predominantly offers either real-time or pre-recorded lessons.

You may want to keep these factors in mind as you begin your doctoral program search in order to avoid applying to schools that do not fit your personal needs and professional goals.

Admissions Requirements

Doctorate in Nonprofit Management requirements

Much like with an online masters degree in nonprofit management, as you apply for online PhD programs in nonprofit management, you will probably come across some of these common requirements:

  • GRE or GMAT scores (only some schools require them)
  • Official transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal essay
  • Resume

Most PhD programs will require that you obtain a masters degree prior to applying, although this does vary between schools. Additionally, many programs also offer credits in exchange for work experience, so it’s helpful to check the specific policies at your schools of interest.


Doctorate in Nonprofit Management accreditation

Attending college and earning a degree can be costly. To ensure that your education is credible, it is necessary to attend a school with regional accreditation. You can visit the US Department of Education’s website to verify the accreditation status of prospective schools.

Regional accreditation is the mark of a high-quality institution. A school receives this status when a credible accrediting agency conducts a review of everything that a school has to offer and ensures that it is meeting required standards.

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Earning a degree from an accredited school also proves to employers and other institutions that you have received a strong education that’s up to industry standards.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Doctorate in Nonprofit Management financial aid

Financial aid is often a deciding factor in a prospective student’s choice to attend college. Financial aid may come in the form of:

  • Student loans
  • Grants
  • Scholarships
  • Work-study programs

With most forms of financial aid, it’s necessary to meet certain eligibility requirements. You typically do not have to pay back most forms of financial aid, but this does not apply to loans, which you’ll be expected to repay over time. You can see how much federal financial aid you qualify for by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

What Is a PhD in Nonprofit Management?

PhD in Nonprofit Management

A PhD in Nonprofit Management is a terminal degree designed to teach you leadership skills in areas like volunteer development and fundraising. At the same time, it allows you the opportunity to conduct original research.

Your research will be focused on a topic related to nonprofit management that you find particularly interesting, such as strategic planning or organizational development. A doctorate degree in nonprofit management can help prepare you for a number of managerial roles. Advanced positions in this field include director of training or community engagement, postsecondary teacher, and chief advancement officer.

Should I Earn a Nonprofit Management Doctorate Degree?

While it is true that only you can determine if a doctorate in philanthropy or nonprofit management is right for you, there are some factors you can consider to help you decide.

Nonprofit Management Doctorate Degree

Many graduates from nonprofit management degree programs go on to accept leadership roles with public service organizations. So, you might have an opportunity to have a positive impact on your community. In addition, a doctoral degree can often lead to increased earning potential and can help you advance your professional qualifications.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the annual median salary of management occupations as $109,760. Those who pursue a PhD can often qualify for positions in research and academia as well as leadership positions in the field. Whether you should earn a terminal degree in nonprofit management will likely depend on your personal goals and career aspirations.

What Can You Do with a PhD in Non Profit Management?

Nonprofit management careers integrate an understanding of the nonprofit sector with leadership skills and theory. After earning a PhD in Nonprofit Management, many professionals are qualified for executive positions in a range of organizations.

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Common positions that graduates pursue include social and community service managers, public relations and fundraising managers, and postsecondary teachers. The advanced leadership skills you can develop in a nonprofit management doctoral program can help you qualify for positions in for-profit sectors as well.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Nonprofit Management Online?

It typically takes 3 to 5 years to complete a PhD with full-time enrollment. The length of time it takes to earn a PhD can change depending on the number of credit hours required and how long it takes a student to finish their dissertation.

Doctorate programs that do not have a dissertation requirement can generally be completed in 3 years with full-time study. Because program timelines tend to vary between schools, it’s beneficial to check the program details of your prospective colleges.

Is a PhD in Nonprofit Management Worth It?

PhD in Nonprofit Management careers

Yes, a PhD in Nonprofit Management is worth it for many students. Earning a doctorate in nonprofit management can often lead to professional opportunities within community outreach programs. If you are a mission-aligned individual, this degree may help you accomplish beneficial work for others.

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In addition to the opportunity to help others, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that many nonprofit management jobs are experiencing faster than average job growth. For example, employment of social and community service managers is expected to grow 15% over the next ten years. A PhD can also help you qualify for positions in research and academia.

Universities Offering Online Doctorate in Nonprofit Management Degree Program

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Abilene Christian University

Abilene Christian University campus

Abilene Christian University offers a Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership. This faith-based program is fully online and allows students to study on their own schedules. It can typically be completed in 3 to 5 years. Concentrations are available in Positive Leadership, Higher Education, Conflict Management, and Learning with Emerging Technologies.

Abilene Christian University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

American College of Education

American College of Education campus

The American College of Education offers an online program for a Doctor of Education in Leadership. Numerous focus areas are available within the program, including Public and Nonprofit Leadership. Most courses are 10 weeks long, but some are only 5 weeks long. The program requires the completion of a dissertation.

ACE is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Colorado Technical University

Colorado Technical University campus

Colorado Technical University offers a Doctor of Management in Executive Leadership. This is an online program that includes a residency component. Multiple start dates are available each year, and scheduling is flexible. Coursework includes Management Theory, Management and Ethics, Leadership Theory and Development, and more.

Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Eastern University

Eastern University campus

Eastern University offers a PhD in Organizational Leadership with a concentration in Public Administration. Coursework includes Strategic Management of Nonprofit Organizations, Advocacy and Public Policy, Collaborative Leadership and Partnership, and more. The program uses a cohort model.

Eastern University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Liberty University

Liberty University campus

Liberty University offers a DBA in Nonprofit Leadership and Management. The program consists of 60 credit hours and takes an average of 3 years to complete. Classes are 100% online and 8 weeks long. Coursework includes Strategic Communication Campaigns for the Digital Age, Grand Acquisition and Management, Workforce Planning and Employment, and more.

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Louisiana State University – Shreveport

Louisiana State University Shreveport campus

Louisiana State University—Shreveport offers a Doctor of Education in Leadership Studies. The program is online and can potentially be finished in just 2 years. Courses are each 7 weeks long, with most students opting to take one or two at a time. Classes meet weekly, but otherwise, students can study according to their own schedules.

Louisiana State University – Shreveport is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Old Dominion University

Old Dominion University campus

Old Dominion University offers a PhD in Public Administration and Policy. The program requires the completion of 49 credit hours. Classes can be taken on campus or online. Coursework includes Policy Theory, Multi-Sector Administration, Research Design, Qualitative Research Design in Education, and more.

Old Dominion University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Texas Woman’s University

Texas Womans University campus

Texas Woman’s University offers a PhD in Education, Leadership, and Organization that can potentially be completed in just 3 years. The program is 100% online and includes three tracks: Superintendency, Higher Education, and Interdisciplinary Nonprofit. Students in the program must complete a dissertation and take courses like Organizational Behavior in Business Administration and Politics, Policy, and Ethics.

Texas Woman’s University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of San Diego

University of San Diego campus

The University of San Diego offers a PhD in Leadership Studies with a specialization in Nonprofit and Philanthropic Leadership. Coursework includes Contemporary Issues in the Third Sector, Nonprofit Sector: Theory and Practice, and more. Full-time students usually take 3 years to complete the coursework and 1 to 2 years to complete the dissertation.

USD is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Walden University

Walden University campus

Walden University offers a PhD in Human Services with a specialization in Human Services Nonprofit Administration. The program is mostly online but does include four residencies. Coursework includes Grant Writing, Data as Evidence, Social Change in Action: Prevention, Consultation, and Advocacy, and more.

Walden University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your Doctoral Degree in Nonprofit Management Online

Doctoral Degree in Nonprofit Management Online

If you have a passion for public policy and research, or if you love to fundraise and oversee large teams of people, a nonprofit management doctoral program may be a good fit.

Typically, graduates with their PhD in Nonprofit Management enter into careers that focus heavily on social justice and creating change within their communities. You may also have a diverse range of professional opportunities because of the management and data analysis skills you can develop in your doctoral program.

The sooner you start exploring online nonprofit management doctorates from accredited universities, the sooner you may find the program that best fits your needs.

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Molly holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of San Francisco and a B.A in Literature from the University of California - Santa Cruz. A Seattle-based educator, she focuses on student-centered instruction and creating culturally responsive curriculum.