Best Community Development Graduate Programs

Jan 25, 2019

Community development involves bringing together groups of people to promote public improvements designed to increase the quality of life. The Master of Public Administration and the Master of Public Affairs are graduate degrees that can provide a pathway into community development as a career. Read on to learn some in-depth information about three top M.P.A. programs, as well as a brief summary of some appealing components of other programs.

Indiana University - Bloomington

Indiana University - Bloomington offers a Master of Public Affairs with a focus in community and economic development. Applicants should submit transcripts, 3 recommendations, a personal statement, a resume, and a statement in response to departmental questions. GRE or GMAT scores are optional. Financial aid may be available based on academic merit, service corps participation, or teaching assistantships.

M.P.A. students at Indiana University begin with core courses, including those in local economic development, vector-based geographic information systems, urban management and sustainable development. Students participate in experiential learning through an approved internship and participate in a capstone project course.

University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

At UNC, students can pursue the Master of Public Administration with a focus upon community and economic development. To apply, students should submit transcripts and GRE scores. A 3.0 GPA and GRE results over the 50th percentile are expected. Students will be required to interview with the admissions committee, and undergraduate coursework in American government is expected.

While the M.P.A. can be pursued in an online or on-campus format, the community and economic development concentration is only available on-campus. Courses within the concentration may include community revitalization methods and managing economic development. In addition to coursework, students participate in the Professional Work Experience, or PWE. The PWE allows students to apply public administration principles to a professional setting. After completing the work experience, students are required to enroll in a reflective course.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University, in Phoenix, offers a Master of Public Administration in which students can focus upon urban management. To apply, students must hold a bachelor's degree, and a 3.0 undergraduate G.P.A. is expected. Applicants should submit transcripts, GRE results, a written statement of goals, and a resume. Those with a 3.4 undergraduate G.P.A. or who already hold another graduate degree need not submit GRE scores. Prerequisite courses in American government and statistics are expected. Various financial aid options are available, including the Sackton fellowship, in which fellows receive financial support and act as teaching assistants.

To complete the M.P.A., students take a core set of courses in public affairs and then may select a concentration. Classes within the urban management concentration may include public entrepreneurship and urban services infrastructure. Some courses involve partnerships with local governments to provide community-based solutions to policy issues such as homelessness and water use. Students can also pursue concurrent degrees in fields such as sustainability or social work. Arizona State's Center for Urban Innovation provides opportunities for research, service learning, and training in the area of urban development.

Other Community Development Graduate Programs

  • University of Washington The University of Washington offers an M.P.A. with a concentration in international community development.
  • Harvard University At Harvard University, students are encouraged to pursue their M.P.A. concurrently with a range of other professional degrees such as law, medicine or business, either at Harvard or at a range of other participating institutions.
  • Texas A&M University Texas A&M offers in-state tuition to all students enrolled in the M.P.A. program at the Bush School of Government and Public Service.
  • Rutgers University Rutgers University offers an executive M.P.A. designed for experienced professionals in the field.
  • University of Minnesota The Humphrey School of Public Affairs offers a Master of Development Practice degree focused on international community development. Students begin their program with a 400-hour international work experience.
  • Ohio State University The online M.P.A. at Ohio State University requires skills courses in topics such as contract management and survey design.
  • Pennsylvania State University At Penn State, students can earn a Master of Professional Studies (M.P.S.) focused upon community and economic development through the university's online World Campus.

Students with a thorough knowledge of community development might access positions in governmental agencies, non-profits, and research centers to improve the quality of life. Earning an M.P.A. focused in community development could demonstrate a student's commitment and understanding of this field.

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