In recent years, people attach high attention to the energy problem owing to the energy shortage of the world. Since the price of energy resources significantly increases, it is a necessary requirement to develop new alternative sources of energy to replace non-renewable energy resources. Polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell technology is one of the promising fields of clean and sustainable power, which is based on direct conversion of fuel into electricity. However, at the present moment PEM fuel cell is unable to be successful commercialization. The main factor is the high cost of materials in catalyst layer which is a core part of PEM fuel cell. In order to reduce the overall system cost, developing active, inexpensive non-platinum group metal (non-PGM) electrode catalysts to replace currently used Platinum (Pt)- based catalysts is a necessary and essential requirement. This paper reviews several important kinds of non-PGM electrocatalysts with different elements, such as nitrogen, transition metal, and metal organic frameworks (MOF). Among these catalysts, transition metal nitrogen-containing complexes supported on carbon materials (M-N/C) are considered the most potential oxidation reduction reaction (ORR) catalysts. The main synthetic methods are high temperature heat treating (800-1000?). The mechanical and electrochemical properties of the final product will be analyzed by several characterization methods. For example, a RRDE test will be used to measure electron transfer number and ORR reactivity, which are the most important electrochemical properties of the new catalyst. And the morphology, particle size, crystal phase and specific surface area can be analyzed with SEM, TEM, XRD and BET methods. Although great improvement has been achieved in non-PGM catalyst area of research, there are still some challenges in both ORR activity and stability of non-PGM catalysts. Consequently, how to improve the ORR activity and stability are the major challenge of non-PGM catalyst research and development. Based on the results achieved in this area, our future research direction is also presented and discussed in this paper.