Nonprofit Leadership Studies

The Nonprofit Leadership Studies (NLS) Program is designed to develop the next generation of nonprofit sector leaders, prepared to engage as highly effective and dedicated professionals committed to improving the quality of life for people around the world. The nonprofit sector is highly diverse, addressing issues and needs related to every aspect of life.

The NLS program is responding to the increased need for professionalism and leadership in the nonprofit sector. Through the NLS Program, students obtain a broad understanding of the roles and functions of nonprofit organizations and philanthropic institutions in a modern democracy also the knowledge and skills in the areas of:

  • program design,
  • volunteer and human resource management,
  • cultural competency and diversity,
  • financial resource development and management,
  • marketing and public relations,
  • organizational development and leadership,
  • strategic planning.

The NLS Program applies Service Learning strategies to connect coursework to real-world experiences, and to nurture the spirit and passion required for effective and inspired leadership.

Career Opportunities in Nonprofit Leadership

The Internal Revenue Service designates 30 categories of nonprofit organizations, including such wide-range examples as:

  • arts, culture and humanities;
  • education;
  • environment;
  • health care;
  • mental health and crisis intervention;
  • crime and legal-related;
  • food, agriculture and nutrition;
  • public safety and disaster preparedness;
  • civil rights, social action and advocacy;
  • science and technology;
  • social science; and
  • religion-related, among others.

There is steady growth in nonprofit jobs and careers. For example, in 2016 the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the Nonprofit Sector out-performed the Business Sector 3 to 1 in job creation over the past decade. Today there are in excess of 15 million Nonprofit Sector jobs and growing.

 Academic Programs


See what our alumni said about the NLS programs

Ashley Dumas, class of 2016 Gavin Posey, class of 2020 Lucy Love, class of 2019


Please use this link to find out more about the program, or you can directly contact:

Elise Lael Kieffer, Ph.D.
Program Director & Assistant Professor
Nonprofit Leadership Studies
Organizational Communication and Leadership
309A Wilson Hall
Murray, KY 42071
Robin Esau, M.S.
Organizational Communication and Leadership
320 Wilson Hall
Murray, KY 42071
Mike Gowen, M.A.
Organizational Communication and Leadership
313 Wilson Hall
Murray, KY 42071
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