Specialization in Nonprofit and Philanthropic Leadership

PhD in Leadership Studies

Department of Leadership Studies

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Our faculty and students believe in the power of dynamic leadership in the third sector.

The PhD in Leadership Studies provides multi-disciplinary perspectives on questions of leadership and management in the for-profit, governmental, and nonprofit/nongovernmental organization (NGO) sectors. Students learn how to conduct original research, apply theory to practice, and lead organizations in innovative ways.

Faculty members teaching and supervising research in the nonprofit/NGO specialization have extensive experience in domestic and international nonprofit research and practice. They are recognized experts on questions of nonprofit and philanthropic leadership, policy and practice.


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"It is my privilege to shape now the careers of future nonprofit practitioners in much the same way USD has shaped mine."
- Jennifer A. Jones '15

Jennifer is an assistant professor of nonprofit management and leadership at the University of Florida, a leading research institution.

Other alumni job titles include:

  • Assistant Professor
  • Executive Director
  • Foundation President
  • Nonprofit Organizational Consultant
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate
  • Program Director

Program Overview

The Nonprofit and Philanthropic Leadership and Management Specialization is embedded in a general Leadership Studies program.  The specialization includes 18 units of coursework, nine of which are core requirements. Students in this specialization also focus their dissertation research on aspects of the nonprofit/NGO sector. Students work with faculty members to design specific programs of study that respond to students’ needs and interests.  This specialization will enable students to: 

  • Acquire a thorough understanding of the nonprofit sector and the role the sector plays in the broader societal context in the United States and abroad;
  • Produce original, cutting-edge research on the nonprofit sector using a variety of methodologies and data sources;
  • Develop skills required to both lead nonprofit organizations and teach nonprofit and related courses in universities and colleges.  Use knowledge to solve problems in nonprofit organizations and policy arenas. 


Course Number Course Title Graduate Units
LEAD 630 Seminar: Overview of Research in Nonprofit/Philanthropic Studies 3
LEAD 579 Contemporary Issues in the Third Sector 3
LEAD 501* Nonprofit Management Fundamentals 3

*Students with an academic background in the nonprofit field may substitute another nonprofit related elective for LEAD 501 in consultation with their advisors.

The following courses are highly recommended for students seeking research careers:

Course Number Course Title Graduate Units
LEAD 613 Advanced Quantitative Research 3
LEAD 612 Advanced Qualitative Research 3
LEAD 500 Research, Design and Evaluation 4
LEAD 616 Survey Research 3
LEAD 609 Evaluation Theory and Methods 3
LEAD 614 Special Topics in Advanced Research Methods 3

Other courses may be developed. Students should consult with their advisors.


The faculty whose primary area of research is in Nonprofit and Philanthropic Leadership include:

Bob Donmoyer image of Laura Deitrick image of marcus lam hans
Robert Donmoyer Laura Deitrick Marcus Lam Hans Peter Schmitz

View all doctoral faculty biographies.


For information on how to apply to the PhD in Leadership Studies with a specialization in Nonprofit and Philanthropic Leadership, visit the main PhD program page.