Graduate Admissions - Accelerated Degrees More

Community Development and Planning


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.

Departmental eligibility requirements

With careful planning, qualified Clark undergraduates may apply to the Accelerated Degree Program with the fifth year tuition free. To be considered for admission, students must first meet the University's requirements (see guidelines from the Graduate School) and have demonstrated before senior year an interest in community development by taking four courses that are central to the CDP Program, such as Urban Development and Social Changes courses: one at 100-level and three at 200-level.

Program of Study

The master's degree in Community Development and Planning requires a minimum of 12 graduate course units. These include five core courses in community development and two skills courses. CDP BA/MA students are required to take two internship credits. The CDP program culminates in a final research paper or consultancy project.

CDP Required Core Courses (5)

Research Design and Methods in Geography- covers problem definition, research strategies, measurement, sampling, data collection, and proposal writing.

Advanced Topics in Development Theory - explores traditional and emerging theories, debates, and strategies about development of urban communities. Local community development practitioners present a "field perspective."

Practicum in Community Development and Planning – builds skills in field research, applied qualitative and quantitative data analysis, negotiation, and professional report writing as students work as a team on a critical community development project.

Community Development Finance- explores the financing roles of developers, community-based community development corporations, nonprofits, businesses, banks, and local governments in community development; addresses financial analysis, strategies to fill the gaps, and ways to sustain projects.

Community Development Decision Making and Negotiation – covers decision options, multiple-criteria analysis, value prioritization, information collection and weighing of its quality and relevance.

CDP Skill Courses-(2)

A sampling: Introduction to Geographic Information Science; Intermediate Quantitative Methods in Geography; Introduction to quantitative Methods; Risk Analysis: Policy and Methods; Environmental and Social Impacts Assessment; Research Seminar in Dynamic Environmental Modeling; Decision Methods for Environmental Management and Policy; Research Seminar in Dynamic Environmental Modeling; Quantititative Environmental Modeling; GIS and Locak Planning; Participation and Environmental Management; Advanced Topics in GIS; Field Research in Youth Development and High School Transformation; Community Development Finance; Planning and Zoning for Community Developers.

BA/MA Timetable for Community, Development, and Planning

  • In the senior year, students take two 300-level courses approved by the Community Development and Planning Coordinator. These courses must be eligible for CDP graduate credit and will be credited as two of the 12 courses required for an MA degree.
  • Two credits are earned for year-long internships or approved research projects (post-BA).
  • In the graduate year, Accelerated Degree students take eight additional courses, including the five required courses: IDCE 314 Research Proposal Writing in Geography, IDCE 344 Going Local: Community Development and Planning, IDCE 30289 Community Development Finance, IDCE 30218 Community Development Decision Making and Negotiation; and IDCE 346 Practicum in Community Development and Planning.

Also required are three electives, such as conflict negotiation, participatory research methods, qualitative research design and methods, community development finance, environmental and social impacts assessment; gender and development, or GIS.

Program Fees

Students entering the fifth year are required to pay a one-time Program Fee of $1,000. This fee is assessed on the student's bill in the first semester of graduate study.

In addition, all graduate students pay a $15.00 activity fee from the Graduate School and a $25.00 activity fee in IDCE in the fall and spring semesters and a one-time Enrollment Fee of $100 in the first semester of graduate study.

Program Advisor

Professor Laurie Ross
IDCE Department
10 Hawthorne Street

Student profiles

  • Jessica Cook ( BA/MA ) researched artisan enterprises in Madagascar for a year as a recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship.
  • Sam Stratton (CDP/BA/MA) works with Investar Redevelopment of Worcester to assist site owners, investors, and service providers to clean up, package, and invest in redevelopment sites throughout New England.
  • Jennifer McGowan (BA/MA) has followed up on her undergraduate position with a Vermont Historical Society by working with AmeriCorps in Burlington, Vermont.