PhilD, Professional Doctorate in Philanthropic Leadership

Professional Doctorate in Philanthropic Leadership

PhilD, the first professional doctorate for philanthropic and nonprofit professionals

As the world’s first school dedicated to the study and teaching of philanthropy, Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy now offers the first Professional Doctorate in Philanthropic Leadership (PhilD). As a cohort, PhilD students will wield cutting-edge leadership tools and creative applications for existing research, scholarship and data, all toward helping solve some of our global society’s most intractable problems as addressed through philanthropy, nonprofits and cross-sectoral initiatives.

If you have served as a senior leader for the public good, whether in the philanthropic, government or private sectors, already have a master’s-level or other graduate degree and wish to explore real-world solutions for current challenges through philanthropic and nonprofit solutions, the Professional Doctorate in Philanthropic Leadership may be an excellent fit for you.

2025 PhilD Cohort Applications Open

September 1, 2024

Curriculum for working professionals

Different than a traditional Ph.D. degree, which typically prepares graduates for academic positions, the Professional Doctorate in Philanthropic Leadership is for practicing professionals. Take your career to the highest levels with courses and faculty that combine your professional experience with the most sophisticated curriculum in our sector, addressing the nexus of philanthropy, leadership and applied research inquiry.

The PhilD curriculum focuses on applying new and existing research, education and real-world practice to produce actionable insights that advance the practice of philanthropy and deliver social impact. In lieu of a dissertation, students will develop a cumulative, major final applied project that translates research into actionable strategies to solve real, complex problems for an organization or aspect of the sector.

The required intensive program will be delivered in asynchronous, cohort-based, sequential six- to eight-week sessions with set coursework, taken year-round for two years, with a third year for developing, writing and presenting your final applied project. Applicants should consider the intensity and financial costs of the program prior to applying. We welcome inquiries on any aspect of the program or your application; please contact us at, and we will direct you to appropriate staff who can address your questions.

An initial residency of several days on campus will allow the cohort to meet in person at the start of the program. Optional synchronous supplemental online sessions will be offered throughout the curriculum. In addition, members of the student cohort may take advantage of optional in-person meetings, including an optional residency at the start of the second and third years, with the location to be determined.


The professional and academic prerequisites include:

  • A completed graduate degree in any field (including, but not limited to, MA, MS, MPA, MPP, JD, MBA, MSW, PhD, etc.,). If you do not yet have a graduate degree, explore our MA in Philanthropic Studies;
  • At least five years of demonstrated leadership experience; and
  • A commitment to advancing social good, as evidenced by professional or personal endeavors.
  • International applicants, in addition to the requirements above, must demonstrate English proficiency for admission into IU Indianapolis graduate and professional programs.

No GRE or other graduate entrance exam is required, although applicants may opt to submit scores as desired.