Accelerated Master of Arts in Community Development and Planning program information


The CDP program provides up-and-coming community development practitioners with a strong foundation—based on theory, skill development, and practice—to take on the challenges of urban neighborhood revitalization. Through course work, field work, and internships, the CDP program also enables students to better understand the complex linkages between local action and the processes of policymaking at a variety of levels.Students learn to critically examine the roles and effectiveness of informal neighborhood organizations, banks, private developers, local nonprofits, and government agencies in community development. CDP also graduates gain the expertise to channel private and public community development funds and programs to address local needs.

The program offers concrete skills and hands-on training in areas such as geographic information systems, environmental impact assessment, census data analysis, community development finance, nonprofit management, project analysis and evaluation.

The CDP Program offers courses in Community Development and Planning Theory, Community Development Finance, Planning and Zoning for Community Developers, History and Strategy of Community Organizing, Youth and Community Development, Non-Profit Management, Research and Project Evaluation Methods, and Fundraising and Grant Writing for Non-Profits. In addition, CDP students participate in field research and internships that allow them to learn directly from community members about their needs, resources, and priorities and how best to mobilize local action to improve neighborhood quality of life.

Students gain practical skills through the following four activities:

  1. Individual student research on issues of interest to local organizations
  2. Graduate student internships that assist local organizations in ongoing work and projects
  3. The semester-long CDP Practicum, in which a team of graduate students, guided by a faculty member, work with a local organization to design and implement a project of interest to that organization, and
  4. Ongoing independent research on local issues, conducted by CDP students and faculty. For instance, CDP graduate students work on the Worcester Education Partnership, a multi-year project funded by a Carnegie grant to implement systemic education reform in the city's secondary schools.

Students benefit from a unique interdisciplinary approach to community development that integrates the perspectives of the other IDCE programs: Environmental Science & Policy, Geographical Information Sciences for Development and Environment, and International Development and Social Change.