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Master’s in Community Development and Planning


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Driving social, political, and economic change requires not only a broad range of critical and analytical skills, but also a keen understanding of the diverse perspectives that shape our world.

The M.A. in Community Development and Planning (CDP) trains you to identify, analyze, and tackle major challenges facing urban areas in the United States and internationally — ranging from social justice and economic development to planning and zoning issues, and environmental sustainability.

Through a core curriculum taught by noted scholars and practitioners, experiential opportunities such as internships, studio, and practicum courses, and a final Capstone project, you will emerge prepared to be an effective agent of change.

Why Study at Clark?

  • Ranked #15 in the world for development studies by QS World University Rankings
  • Work closely and collaboratively with world-class researchers and community partners on real-life problems affecting diverse populations.
  • Receive superior preparation from a program ranked by Planetizen as 14th in the nation for Urban Planning Programs without a doctoral program.
  • Benefit from the resources and expertise in Clark’s renowned International Development, Community, and Environment Department.

Breaking the cycle

Samantha Arsenault, who capped her undergraduate degree in economics with an M.A. in CDP, researched whether boys who witness or are victims of crimes in childhood are later drawn to violence.

I was able to take what I learned as an undergraduate — quantitative analysis and data sets — and put it to use in another field to help break the cycle of violence.

The Essentials

Program Overview

The M.A. in Community Development and Planning requires a minimum of 12 graduate course units, a combination of skills/methods and elective courses that links theory with practice. Through your coursework, you will learn alternative ways of thinking and strategies for achieving greater equity and social justice.

Courses cover such critical topics as community development and planning theory, planning techniques, community development finance, land use, decision-making and negotiation, nonprofit management, youth and community development, geographic information systems, and research and project evaluation methods. Our unique transdisciplinary curriculum integrates the perspectives and ideas of other departmental programs as well, including Environmental Science and Policy, Geographic Information Sciences for Development and Environment, and International Development and Social Change.

  • Quantitative and qualitative analytic skills
  • Organizational and managerial skills
  • Spatial analysis
  • Needs assessment and evaluation
  • Program design
  • Nonprofit Management
  • Planning and Zoning for Community Developers
  • Community Needs and Resources Analysis
  • Strategies for Community Organizing
  • Grant Writing for Community Developers


12 course units

  • 3 core courses
  • 6 electives*
  • 2 methods/skills courses
  • 1 thesis, an M.A. paper, a Practitioner paper, or an IDCE Capstone course

For accelerated master’s degree students, two electives are internship units.

Course Catalog

Explore the Department of International Development, Community, and Environment.