Nonprofits are a great area for PhD degree holders to discover careers that align with the skills that they have honed in graduate school and align with their interests and research. Nonprofit organizations may offer a way for you to make a greater impact with your research, collaborate with diverse fields and forge a career that has a variety of tasks.

Nonprofits focus on a multitude of issues ranging from humanitarian aid, to environmental protection, climate change, biomedical research, education, international aid and domestic issues. Advantages to working in the nonprofit world include a wide range of colleagues, opportunities for growth and flexibility in work projects.

National Council of Nonprofits

The National Council of Nonprofits is a U.S. network that tracks America's nonprofits; trends and policy issues; tools and resources; focus and impact; and everyday advocacy. For information.

Nonprofit Quarterly

Latest news and trends that apply to the nonprofit sector. For articles and home page.

Examples of NPOs that hire PhDs

  • Addgene
  • Avon Foundation
  • Society for Science and the Public 
  • Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

See also the page within this LibGuide on Think Tanks and Professional Societies.

Another handy place to search for nonprofit jobs especially in government, communication or policy roles by location and keyword (try "PhD") is using Daybook.

Professional Societies and Trade Organizations

Connect with others in your field at conferences you attend; most of these societies offer extensive professional and leadership development opportunities, award or fellowship opportunities, travel grants, links to job postings, etc. Become a member now! To search for others in your field, type in keywords for your research and add the term "association" or "society". A handy database, organized by career pathway, is maintained by Career Cafe.

AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) and AAAS Internships

AAEES (American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists)

AAI (American Association of Immunologists)

AALAS (American Association for Laboratory Animal Science)

ACEHP Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions

ACLS (American Council of Learned Societies)

ACRP (Association for Clinical Research Professionals)

ACS (American Chemical Society)

AGU (American Geophysical Union)

AHA (American Historical Association)

AIBS (American Institute of Biological Sciences)

AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers)

AIMBE (American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering)

AIPG (American Institute of Professional Geologists)

AISES (American Indian Science and Engineering Society)

AChemS (Association for Chemoreception Sciences)

AmAcad (American Academy of Arts & Sciences)

AMS (American Mathematical Society)

AMS (American Meteorological Society)

AOU (American Ornithologists' Union)

APHA (American Public Health Association)

APLU (Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities)

APS (American Physical Society)

APS (American Physiological Society)

APS (American Phytopathological Society)

ASA (American Society of Agronomy)

ASA (American Statistical Association)

ASAIO (American Society for Artificial Internal Organs)

ASAP (Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals)

ASBMB (American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)

ASCB (American Society for Cellular Biology)

ASEE (American Society for Engineering Education)

ASHG (American Society of Human Genetics)

ASHS (American Society for Horticultural Science)

ASM (American Society for Microbiology)

ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers)

ASPB (American Society of Plant Biologists)

ASPET (American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics)

American Society of Virology

AUTM (formerly Association of University Technology Managers)

AWG (Association for Women Geoscientists)

AWIS (Association for Women in Science)

AWM (Association for Women in Mathematics)

BIO (Biotechnology Industry Organization)-see also state affiliates like NYBIO, MASSBIO, NJBIO, etc.

Biophysical Society

BMES (Biomedical Engineering Society)

BSA (Botanical Society of America)

CSSA (Crop Science Society of America)

ES (Endocrine Society)

ESA (Entomological Society of America) 

FASEB (Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology)

GSA (Geological Society of America)

Health Research Alliance (a collaborative of non-profits)

IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)

IFT (Institute of Food Technologists)

ISBE (International Society for Behavioral Ecology)

ISCE (International Society of Chemical Ecology)

LES (Licensing Executives Society)

MedTech (New York Biomedical and Medical Technology trade organization)

MLA (Modern Language Association

MSLS (Medical Science Liaison Society)

NABR (National Association for Biomedical Research)

NAS (National Academies) includes the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council

NCGA (National Corn Growers Association)

NCURA (National Council of University Research Administrators)

NHA (National Humanities Alliance)

NOBCChE (National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers)

NORDP (National Organization of Research Development Professionals)

NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers)

NYAS (New York Academy of Sciences)

Optica ( formerly Optical Society of America)

oSTEM (Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) 

PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America)

PDA (Parenteral Drug Association)

PSNA (Phytochemical Association of North America)

S4SN (Society for Social Neuroscience)

SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science)

SBN (Society for Behavioral Neuroscience)

SCDM (Society for Clinical Data Management)

SDB (Society for Developmental Biology)

SETAC (Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry)

SFN (Society for Neuroscience)

SIAM (Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics)

SICB (Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology)

Sigma Xi (Scientific Research Society)

SIVB (Society for In Vitro Biology)

SMI (Society for Mucosal Immunology)

SOT (Society of Toxicology)

SPIE (International Society for Optical Engineering)

SPSP (Society for Personality and Social Psychology)

SRA (Society for Research on Adolescence)

SSR (Society for the Study of Reproduction)

SSSA (Soil Science Society of America)

SWE (Society of Women Engineers)

WSSA (Weed Science Society of America)

there are many more engineering societies...and please send us your suggestions for inclusion

Other Resources in Support of Diversity

Cornell resources and support for students through the Graduate School

Graduate and Professional Women's Groups at Cornell

What is a nonprofit?

The National Council of Nonprofits is a great resource to learn more about nonprofits and their missions. There are many examples of NPOs - charities, foundations, professional associations, service organizations, patient associations, trade unions and academic societies. They are all good career options to explore as they are looking for employees with analytical skills, great communication skills and research protocols. 

What is a think tank?

An organization that focuses on research and advocacy to shape policy and advocacy. See also the LibGuide webpage on think tanks.

Recommended Reading

How do I gain experience for a nonprofit job?

Think transferrable skills - how can you translate your research and scholarship into project management and communication skills...without jargon...into what nonprofits seek? Make an appointment with us via to use the GradSkilScan sheets to assess your own skills.

Think about how you can expand your resume with volunteerism or short work projects.  Careers Beyond Academia offers support for you to Create Your Own Activity.

Sample job titles to search for


Grants manager


Laboratory Manager

Policy Analyst

Program Manager or Director

Research Associate


Study Director

Domain specific titles: Archeologist, Toxicologist, Biologist, Chemist, etc.

Mentors with nonprofit or NGO experience

Careers Beyond Academia has a number of mentors eager to speak with PhD students and postdocs. Please contact our office at to connect with the mentor that aligns with your interests!