Community Development and Planning (CDP)

Tackling the Challenges and Struggles Facing Urban Areas

The Community Development and Planning (CDP) program prepares current and future community development practitioners, activists, and scholars to take on the challenges and struggles facing urban areas in the United States. In the program, students learn alternative ways of thinking and transforming communities to achieve greater equity and social justice.

We believe that preparing graduate students to become effective community development practitioners requires three main forms of teaching, learning, and training. First, students need to understand community development's policy legacy and theoretical and conceptual debates in the field. Second, they need to acquire a diverse range of skills in areas such as theory application, community organizing, finance, geographic information systems, planning and zoning, and non-profit management. Finally, students must engage in critical thinking about power, racial, and economic privilege.

CDP students receive a strong foundation based on theory, skill development, and practice. Building on that foundation, students can either design their own area of specialization, or focus their studies on one of the following areas:

  • Community Planning
  • Enterprise Management and Economic Development
  • Community-Based Development and Social Change

Click here to view the CDP downloadable program brochure.

New Collaborations with the Clark University Graduate School Of Management


Students enrolled and planning to enroll in the CDP program are now able to declare a new specialization in Enterprise Management based on a partnership with Clark’s Graduate School of Management (GSOM). CDP students will take a selection of skill and elective courses at both IDCE and GSOM to earn the specialization as part of their graduate degree.


Beginning in Fall 2009, IDCE and GSOM are piloting an CDP/GSOM Dual Degree Pilot Program, an opportunity to earn two degrees to a small, but determined group of CDP students. Students in the dual degree program will earn two degrees at the end of three years of graduate school—a M.A. in CDP and a M.B.A. from GSOM. Only a few highly qualified students will be admitted to this program and then be guided individually by faculty members in the IDCE and GSOM departments.

Get more information about this unique graduate school collaboration.

The CDP Experience

Through the CDP program, students will:

  • understand social, economic, and political forces that shape places,
  • view communities in a regional and international context,
  • gain rigorous analytical training to explore and research complex social issues,
  • gain strong, writing, and public communication skills,
  • develop professional practices that trigger social change to improve quality of life, and
  • be prepared to be leaders in a diverse range of community development and planning arenas.

The CDP program integrates theory, practice, and reflection through high-quality internships, studio and practicum courses, and by incorporating the insightful participation of practitioners and community leaders in small seminar style courses.

Sample courses include:

  • People and Places: Theories of Community Development and Planning
  • Community Development Finance
  • Negotiations in Community Development
  • Grant Writing for Community Developers
  • Planning and Zoning for Community Developers
  • International and Comparative Analysis of Community Development
  • Nonprofit and NGO Management Issues
  • Social Policy, Immigration and Poverty
  • Urban Transportation: Problems and Prospects
  • Youth and Community Development

[ Spotlight Profile ]

Amar Azucena Cid
(CDP '08)

As a CDP student, Amar Azucena Cid challenged herself to take a wide range of courses, work part-time, and participate in many extra curricular activities. "The courses I took helped to strengthen my ability to look at how community planning needs a holistic approach, bringing housing, transportation, nutrition, and diverse populations to the table."

Read more | Other profiles

Admissions Calendar

Late Applications:
Contact the Admissions Office at 508-793-7373
or idce@clarku.edu