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Community Development Degrees by Degree Program Level

In community development programs, students learn about the economic, cultural, governmental and environmental elements of building and maintaining social communities.

Essential Information

Community development is an interdisciplinary field that incorporates politics, economics and cultural diversity. Those interested in formal education in this area can pursue a bachelor's, master's and/or doctoral degree. Online programs can also be found.

Bachelor's students learn about human services principles, community building and sustainment, economic structures and governmental policies. They also gain leadership and communication skills to work within groups and multicultural settings.

Graduate studies are more advanced, research-intensive and flexible, as pupils have specialization selections and the opportunity to design their course path based on personal interests and career goals. Curriculum covers housing/economic development plans and issues, education, law, business and communications. Concentrations options include environment, health, land use and social justice. Direct experience is gained through internships, fieldwork and a dissertation project.


Bachelor's in Community Development

Prospective enrollees must have acceptable Graduate Records Examination (GRE) scores and submit a letter of intent. Undergraduate community development curricula include general education classes and core discussion topics in:

  • Government and politics
  • Community settings and structures
  • Community development methods and theories
  • Economic development in community
  • Intercultural and interpersonal communication

Master's in Community Development

Master's applicants must hold a bachelor's degree. Master's-level courses are more in-depth and involve research skills elements. Examples of class subjects are:

  • Community development financing
  • Public policy
  • Planning methods and theories
  • Leadership and community involvement
  • Community development research methods

Ph.D. in Community Development

Ph.D. seekers need a social-science master's to be considered for admission. Those without a related degree may be accepted with relevant course credits or work experience. In addition to principles of community development, doctoral students learn about research methods, theories and strategies, and gain mathematical aptitudes. Common courses include:

  • Advanced statistics
  • Community development theories
  • Economic development
  • Advanced quantitative analysis
  • Community and civic involvement

Popular Career Options

Graduates are prepared to work for nonprofit organizations and in the public and private sectors. They're also eligible for managerial and academic positions. Some individuals gain employment as program associates, development managers and grant coordinators. Ph.D. holders often have job titles like:

  • Regional or executive director
  • Policy director
  • University professor
  • Chief development officer
  • Special events manager

Employment Career Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for social and community service managers is projected to grow at a rate of 10% between 2014 and 2024 with a mean salary of $69,430 as of May 2015.

Students interested in community development can find degree programs offered at undergraduate and graduate levels. Topics covered within these programs may include community development methods and theory as well as many related branches of the field. Depending on degree level attained, graduates of these programs can pursue work in nonprofit organizations as well as policy direction and development officiating.

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