Online PhD in Management of Nonprofit Agencies

While there are a select few colleges and universities that offer a degree specifically in Nonprofit Organization Management; what is more common in schools is a degree in Public Administration and Public Affairs with a concentration or graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management. A graduate certificate is similar to a minor at the undergraduate level, as it does not represent as extensive of an academic training as a student's primary degree, but does represent substantial education in the certificate area, enough to further qualify graduates for work or research in that field. Most certificates are 18-24 credit hour concentrations, in addition to the course load of the Public Administration PhD, and are conferred upon candidates at the time of their graduation.

As the Nonprofit Management certificate is (generally) not a complete PhD degree plan, many of the typical PhD requirements to not apply to it, most notably the dissertation and general exam. Students in a Public Administration PhD program will be required to write a 250-300 page research essay after their course requirements have been met, and will also take a comprehensive examination that tests their understanding and retention of the material covered in their courses. If the student is concurrently pursuing a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management, however, that material will not be included on the test, and need not be represented in the text of the dissertation, though—as it will be a subject of great interest to the student—examples from the Nonprofit sector will probably be used.

About Online PhD Programs in Management of Nonprofit Organizations

Online PhD programs in Nonprofit Management, unlike more traditional campus-based programs, are focused solely on preparing students for research, application, and management in the nonprofit sector. As with almost any PhD program, online doctoral programs in Management of Nonprofit Organizations will take somewhere between three to six years to complete, depending largely on how quickly and how well a student is able to write her dissertation. The early part of the online Management of Nonprofit Organizations PhD is centered on coursework that develops students' knowledge of the important components of a nonprofit organization, and the management tools necessary to keep organizations alive—community involvement, volunteer recruitment and training, organizational strategy planning and implementation, finance management, and fundraising are all typically covered subjects, among several others, within online doctorate programs in Management of Nonprofit Organizations.

When working toward online PhD degrees in Management of Nonprofit Organizations, students can expect to see courses such as (from the Capella course catalog):

Year One:

  • Leadership, Governance, and Ethics. An analysis of the difference between normative theoretical claims about ethical leadership, and the challenges of leadership in the real world, with an emphasis on bringing the two as close as possible to each other, especially in the context of a complex, diverse society.
  • Strategic Fund Development. : An introductory exploration of some of the basic sources and techniques of fund raising in nonprofit organizations, highlighting the importance of keeping the mission at the forefront of fund raising, as well as innovative revenue development.
  • Financial Analysis and Reporting for Nonprofit Leaders. An overview of the critical financial knowledge leaders in nonprofit organizations must have in order to secure their organization's stability and position, including collaboration with tax and legal services.

Year Two:

  • Leading Resource Performance in Nonprofit Organizations. An analysis of the various resources available in the nonprofit sector—including human capital and volunteerism—and the ways in which those resources can and should be utilized and maintained.
  • Nonprofit Marketing, Public Policy, and Advocacy. Discusses how a nonprofit organization is viewed by sponsors, the community, and society as a whole, and methods and strategies for communicating its values, or a change in those values to the public.
  • Strategy and Performance in Nonprofit Organizations. A seminar that encourages and develops students' ability to think strategically about nonprofit organizational planning; emphasizes the impact of environment, economics, technology, culture, structure, and function on organizational performance and the policies, practices, and tactics used to support an organization's mission and objectives.

Year Three:

  • Advanced Fund Development Philosophy and Practice. Examination of the social, cultural, technological, and economic influences on fund raising, and the fund raising strategies than can be employed to account for them.
  • Collaboration, Coalitions, and Public Relations. Evaluation of the impact of relationships between businesses, government, religious, and nonprofit organizations on administering social change; students explore the ways in which collaborative governance, negotiation, and communication can be applied to the growth of the nonprofit sector in today's diverse and global environment.
  • Nonprofit Legal Issues. This course covers regulatory issues, tax implications, and ethics in the nonprofit sector. Learners analyze the historical and current influence of government on nonprofit organizations; the legal issues associated with business, diversity, technology, and globalization as they interact with the nonprofit sector; and the impact of recent and pending legislation on education, health care, and other public service entities.

Coursework for online doctoral degrees in Management of Nonprofit Organizations usually takes two years (four semesters, or eight quarters), and is followed first by a doctoral comprehensive exam—similar to the exam in a campus-based PhD programs—and then by the doctoral dissertation, which is equivalent to the same in a traditional program, both in terms of page requirement and time commitment. While still taking courses, students should be generating ideas for their dissertation and developing theses as specifically as possible; doing so will enable them to track relevant data and research points as they learn and incorporate that material into their dissertations.

In addition to the coursework, exam, and dissertation, students in the top online PhD Management of Nonprofit Organizations programs will also participate in several residencies at intervals throughout the degree—Capella University, for example, require three four day residences. At a residency for an online PhD in Management of Nonprofit Organizations, students will engage in group simulations that will allow them to put the theory they learned in the classroom into practice, and attend development seminars and coaching sessions designed to improve communication and collaborative skills.

Value and Criticisms of a PhD in Management of Nonprofit Organizations

Nonprofit organizations are the ideal platform for socially-conscious individuals dedicated to making an impact on the world around them. With that in mind, an online PhD in Management of Nonprofit Organizations is valuable insofar as it provides an introduction to nonprofit organizations as systems and what is necessary for those systems to work, and to work well. Especially with regard to legal constraints, the nonprofit sector can be a complex and sometimes frustrating field—an intricate knowledge of the relevant laws, therefore, as well as a broad knowledge of community psychology and important current events will be crucially beneficial for anyone seeking to enter into it. An online doctorate in Management of Nonprofit Organizations can provide this requisite foundational knowledge, and help better prepare incoming managers for the unique challenges of nonprofit work.

However, knowledge without experience does not support applicants well enough to secure them jobs just out of school, especially not at the managerial level. For this reason, online doctorate degrees in Management of Nonprofit Organizations may be best suited for those that already have substantial experience in the nonprofit field, and wish to make the transition into management. Most programs do not include internship or work opportunities as part of the curriculum, so experience acquisition is the student's responsibility, outside of school.

Application & Admission Requirements

As discussed above, several years of experience in the nonprofit sector is preferable—though not technically necessary for admission—if only to augment the theoretical focus of most online doctoral programs in Management of Nonprofit Organizations with previous practical application.

In order to be considered for any PhD program, whether an online Management of Nonprofit Organizations PhD or not, a student must hold a master's degree, usually in a related field of study; in this case, a master's in public administration would be appropriate, as well as in Psychology or Human Services. In addition, there are standard application materials, which can vary from school to school, but which usually includes an application form, school transcripts, up to three letters of recommendation, resume, and a statement of purpose, outlining why a student wants to pursue graduate study.

Career Options & Job Market

Students who receive an online PhD in Management of Nonprofit Agencies have several career choices. Many students who pursue PhDs in any subject often continue their research or stay in academia to teach, but Management of Nonprofit Agencies doctorate degrees online also enable graduates to manage charities, foundations, and other nonprofits. Furthermore, graduates of online doctoral programs in Management of Nonprofit Agencies will have the skills to start and manage their own nonprofit agency if they so choose. Other careers online PhD Management of Nonprofit Organizations graduates often pursue are:

  • Financial Managers Responsibilities include overall financial management of the nonprofit agency or corporation and involve skills in accounting, finances, and business management. Salaries can range from $80,000 to $130,000 annually.
  • Grant writer Grant writers can be employed with nonprofit agencies or can be independent contractors for agencies. Responsibilities include researching and writing proposals. Grant writing and other advocacy jobs are projected to increase 14% over the next decade. Salaries range from $35,000 for new grant writers to $90,000 for experienced writers.
  • State or Federal Grant Manager Public grant managers at the state or federal level oversee grant-funding opportunities for nonprofit agencies. Salaries range from $50,000 to $100,000 depending on the agency.
  • Program Evaluator Program Evaluators help nonprofit agencies manage and account for program’s impacts. Funding sources often require nonprofit agencies to have Program Evaluators to provide organization, monitoring, and reporting of grant outcomes and impacts. Salaries range from $40,000 to $90,000 and opportunities in this career continue to grow according to the American Evaluation Association.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics almost 9 million people are employed in nonprofit agencies and these numbers continue to increase making online doctoral degrees in Management of Nonprofit Agencies relevant and competitive in the current job market.

Where to Find Information

  • Nonprofit Academic Centers Council The Nonprofit Academic Centers Council is an association of academic institutions that research nonprofit organizations and advocate for centers that spread the knowledge of philanthropic work.
  • VolunteerMatch Volunteer Match is an online database of national volunteer opportunities available to members of communities all across the country. Nonprofits and other organizations can post opportunities and volunteers can enlist for events that they are interested in, all online.
  • Society for Nonprofit Organizations The Society for Nonprofit Organizations is a nonprofit management support organization dedicated to assisting nonprofit organizations and their leaders succeed in accomplishing their mission to the fullest extent possible.
  • Idealist is an online list of nonprofit organizations, as well as an informative guide to what nonprofit organizations are, how they function, and how to get one started.

How to Get Funding

Tuition costs for one semester or quarter vary from school to school, but to give a preliminary picture of what total expenses for online PhD programs in Management of Nonprofit Organizations will be, here are the tuition prices of two online universities: 1) Capella University—$4,566 per quarter, with a limit of three courses per quarter (except dissertation quarters, which are $4,062), and 2) Northcentral University—$2,200 per course. That puts total cost for Capella University somewhere between $43,644 and $51,768, and around $22,000 for Northcentral University.

Generally there are two primary categories of funding available to students pursuing an online doctorate in Management of Nonprofit Organizations: scholarships, and grants. Grants are critically important in the nonprofit sector, so some investigation into grant writing procedure and the various types of grants would be prudent.

The following websites will be instrumental in a search for funds for an online Management of Nonprofit Organizations PhD:

  • Capella Robert C. Ford Scholarship. Capella University offers several scholarships to incoming students on the basis of academic and professional merit, as well as financial need. One such scholarship is the Robert C. Ford Scholarship, which awards $16,000 cumulatively to a student with an exceptional academic and professional history, as well as demonstrated financial need.
  • Foundation Center. A complete guide to seeking grant money as an individual, or as part of a nonprofit organization. The Foundation Center is a fountainhead of knowledge about philanthropy and nonprofit work.
  • FAFSA. The Federal government disperses billions of dollars into the education system every year to fund students seeking secondary and post-secondary education. They offer scholarships, grants, and loans to any eligible student that fills out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Essential Advice

  • Especially if you are pursuing a Management of Nonprofit Organizations PhD online, supplement your degree with professional experience. Not only will this make the material more meaningful as you learn it, it will also better your chances of acceptance into any program, and later of employment as a manager with a nonprofit organization. Experience is essential, and cannot be replaced with classroom learning alone.
  • If you don't have any experience when you graduate from a master's program, consider balancing out your resume with work experience instead of moving immediately to an accredited online Management of Nonprofit Organizations doctorate. Taking a break from school will give you the opportunity it explore the professional world and decide if it is actually what you want to be doing.
  • When applying to Management of Nonprofit Organizations PhD programs online, fully investigate each school's curriculum—the best programs will include residency requirements. Without a residency requirement, you might sacrifice very vital interpersonal interaction without your peers, which could severely cripple your performance in the professional world.