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If you have a passion for helping others and the skills to lead, then you should consider an online doctorate in nonprofit management program. According to a report by the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are a total of 1.5 million nonprofits the U.S., and new organizations are created each year. Nonprofits offer a great opportunity for students who want to give back to their communities and find fulfillment in their work. Keep reading to learn about common coursework, specializations, career paths and what to look for in the best programs.

Featured Online Nonprofit Management Doctorate Programs

The Best Online Doctorate in Nonprofit Management Programs

Online Doctorate in Nonprofit Management Ranking Guidelines:
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided as well as school awards, rankings and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

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The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

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The Best Online Doctorate in Nonprofit Management Degree Programs

University of Arizona Global Campus View School Profile San Diego, CA University of Arizona Global Campus is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

University of Arizona Global Campus is an online, for-profit university which offers a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs. These programs include an online Ph.D. in human services with a nonprofit management specialization.

The online Ph.D. program requires a total of 62 credit hours for completion and consists of core courses, dissertation work and specialization courses. Students learn advanced nonprofit leadership knowledge and develop skills by engaging with key topics in the field. These topics include:

  • Financial and grant management
  • Fundraising
  • Volunteers and non-profit governance
  • Ethical issues and decision making
  • Government and community funding

The program’s students develop the necessary skills and knowledge to successfully and sustainably lead their nonprofit and achieve its goals.

In order to be admitted to this online Ph.D. program, applicants should have of a master’s degree from an approved institution.

Colorado Technical University View School Profile Colorado Springs, CO Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Colorado Technical University is a for-profit university that was established in 1966. Colorado Technical offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees that focus on career-readiness and professional success. Colorado Technical offers an online doctor of management with a nonprofit leadership specialization for students who seek advanced leadership roles in nonprofit organizations.

The online doctorate program requires 100 quarter-credit hours for completion; these credits include a blend of core coursework, dissertation research credits and 20 specialization credits. Students learn advanced knowledge and develop skills by engaging with key concepts, such as:

  • Nonprofit leadership, management theories and practices
  • Philanthropy and grant writing
  • Public administration and advocacy
  • Career strategies

In addition to coursework, the program requires students to complete a dissertation project and a brief residential symposium.

Liberty University View School Profile Lynchburg, VA Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Liberty University is a private, non-profit Christian research university which was founded in 1971 by Jerry Falwell. Liberty enrolls a massive student population of over 75,000 students in a full selection of undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Liberty offers an online doctor of business administration with a nonprofit leadership and management specialization.

The online DBA program consists of 60 credit hours; these credits include core courses, specialization courses and dissertation work. The curriculum covers key topics such as:

  • Nonprofit administration theory and practice
  • Strategic supply chain management
  • Workforce planning and employment strategic communication campaigns
  • Grant acquisition and management

Student develop the ability to lead nonprofits in a variety of settings. Students also learn how guide a nonprofit to sustainability and success through grant and personnel management.

Walden University View School Profile Minneapolis, MN Walden University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Walden University is an online, for-profit university that was established in 1970. Walden offers numerous online degree programs; these program include an online Ph.D. in public policy and administration with a nonprofit management and leadership specialization.

The online Ph.D. program requires 88 quarter-credits for completion; these credits include 53 credits of core courses, 15 of specialization courses and 20 of dissertation work. The program builds advanced knowledge and skills by covering key topics, such as:

  • The nonprofit sector, board governance, and volunteer management
  • Leadership and organizational change
  • Ethics and social justice

The program’s students learn how to effectively and sustainably lead nonprofit organizations. In addition to their coursework and dissertation project, students must complete four four-day Ph.D. residencies on-campus.

The program is open to a wide array of applicants from outside fields. However, students who have earned a master’s in public administration, public policy or nonprofit policy will automatically receive 15 credits toward their degree.

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Choosing a Doctoral Program in Nonprofit Management

When selecting a doctorate in nonprofit management program, students must consider several factors in order to find the school that best meets their needs. Many learners prioritize a program’s faculty and the availability of courses. Prospective students should look for classes offered by professors who specialize in areas that students are interested in. Common coursework typically studies advanced leadership theory, nonprofit governance and executive fundraising.

Students should also consider a school’s available concentrations. Many doctorate in nonprofit management degrees allow students to specialize in a subfield. Concentrations are specific to an individual program; some examples may include studies in international nonprofit management, public policy and governmental advocacy, and leadership development. In addition to their coursework, degree seekers must complete a comprehensive exam and write a dissertation. Dissertations often approach the length of a book and must include original research that focuses on a unique idea within the nonprofit field. Some online doctorate in nonprofit management programs also require students to visit their campus to fulfill residency requirements; learners should inquire about these requirements prior to attending.

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What Else Can I Expect from an Online Doctorate in Nonprofit Management Program?

While there are many common courses across doctorate in nonprofit management degrees, students should consult each school’s curriculum to learn about available classes and concentrations.

Online Doctoral Degree in Nonprofit Management Concentrations

  1. Public Policy & Advocacy:


    This concentration teaches students how to best interact with local, state and federal governments in order to achieve their nonprofit’s goals.
    • Concentration Careers: Any senior-level roles at nonprofits that require an understanding of how to work with and lobby governmental agencies.
  2. Global Affairs:


    This concentration prepares graduates for roles at international or multinational nonprofits. Topics may include international human rights law, finance, and effectively communicating with diverse clients and staff.
    • Concentration Careers: Any nonprofit with a presence outside the U.S.
  3. Leadership Development:


    This concentration caters to degree seekers who want to hone their leadership skills and prepare themselves for CEO or executive director roles.
    • Concentration Careers: Any nonprofit that requires someone with leadership experience and training.

Curriculum for an Online Doctoral Degree in Nonprofit Management

  • Nonprofit Management Ethics:


    This course explores common business ethics questions that frequently arise in nonprofit settings. Students learn to handle potentially unethical situations, make morally sound decisions and ensure adherence to grant and funding protocol.
  • Executive Fundraising:


    This course teaches students the necessary skills to be a nonprofit executive director that represents their organization and raises funds.
  • Volunteer Management:


    This course focuses on integrating volunteers into the nonprofit environment. Students learn how to recruit volunteers, how best to use their time and skills, and how to make connections with volunteers who wield influence in local government.
  • Diversity in the Nonprofit Workforce:


    Students in this course consider some of the issues which surround traditional workforces in the areas of diversity, acceptance, and hiring. These courses emphasize issues related to ethnocentrism and equal opportunity.
  • Creating Financially Viable Nonprofits:


    Students in this course learn to balance short-term fundraising goals with long-term financial stability by using future-oriented strategies.
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Careers with a Doctorate in Nonprofit Management

Nonprofits both champion the needs of different groups of people and provide valuable services to these people. Someone who is interested in nonprofit management has many career options. Students should spend time researching their chosen careers and the organizations that match their interests. The careers highlighted below give learners an idea of the available roles.

  1. Social & Community Service Manager:
    These managers work alongside other nonprofit professionals and both plan and organize social and community programs. They also ensure that communities can access public programs, and they create metrics to measure the effectiveness of new program offerings.
    • Median Annual Salary: $64,100
    • Projected Growth Rate: 18%
  2. Executive Director:
    Executive directors manage other employees, create strategic plans and forecasts for future growth and sustainability, communicate with the board of directors and oversee the overall organizational budget.
    • Median Annual Salary: $104,700
    • Projected Growth Rate: 8%
  3. Nonprofit Management Professor:
    Working at both public and private universities, nonprofit management professors instruct the next generation of nonprofit leaders. Besides teaching, they may also mentor students or alumni.
    • Median Annual Salary: $76,000
    • Projected Growth Rate: 15%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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