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Build more resilient and equitable urban communities by confronting social and economic injustice.

Poverty and structural racism undermine the quality of life in urban areas in the United States, and the societal costs can last for generations. The complexity of these problems demands an approach that goes beyond social work or urban planning or design. We developed the M.A. in Community Development and Planning because we believe social and economic justice are possible through the practice of engaged and future focused community development.

In Clark’s Community Development and Planning program, students learn about the relations between power and capital that produce inequity, and how to use this knowledge to build partnerships and capacity in people, places, organizations, and institutions in order to promote structural change. Our curriculum is strategic and future-oriented, informed by an understanding of historic political-economic trends and current affairs. The curriculum has depth in areas such as youth justice, economic development, food security, and managing neighborhood transformation through community engagement, planning, and non-profit leadership.

Our faculty are engaged scholars and practitioners who work with, and for, state and city governments as well as community development corporations and other non-profits on a range of initiatives aimed at addressing urban challenges. They bring their skills and experience into the classroom, working closely with students to chart career paths. As mentors, the faculty introduce students to internships and a broad professional network.

Why a Master’s in Community Development and Planning at Clark University

  • Accelerated degree options – earn a master’s degree in 12 to 15 months. Two other degree tracks are available to earn your degree in 12 to 24 months.
  • Gain a versatile tool kit that immediately augments your professional contributions, complemented by knowledge that will last throughout your career.
  • Work closely and collaboratively with world-class faculty, researchers, and community partners on problems affecting diverse urban populations, with a shared commitment to equitable solutions.
  • Put your classroom knowledge to work in real-world situations during field-based projects and courses.
  • Draw from nine areas of concentration to tackle projects that cross geographic and cultural boundaries, working with planners, and community developers, as well as anthropologists, geographers, environmental scientists, and geo-scientists.
  • Gain a competitive professional edge in a department that has been ranked #15 in the world for development studies (based on academic reputation) by QS World University Rankings.
  • Pursue your master’s degree on your terms with options for part-time and full-time study. Start dates for the program are in Spring and Fall.
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Connecting Academy Work to Practical Work in the Community

Ramón Borges-Mendéz is devoted to helping IDCE graduate students return to the world to do what they have been doing — and to do it even better.

I devote a good part of my time to really connect my academic work to my practical work. This is what we emphasize at Clark.

The Essentials

Program Overview

The M.A. in Community Development and Planning requires a minimum of 10 graduate course units, combining skills/methods courses and elective courses that link theory with practice. You can pursue one of our transdisciplinary concentrations or create your own.

Our pedagogy is community-engaged. We incorporate internships, case studies, instructor-practitioners, and field-based courses. The projects in our field-based courses are situated within highly effective and impactful cross-sector partnerships forged by our faculty over many years. These include the Worcester Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, food systems work with Worcester Public Schools, housing and neighborhood plans with local community development corporations, and reconstruction efforts in Puerto Rico.

Courses reflect our community-engaged educational focus. Classroom discussions and applied projects tackle the implications of community development and planning theory, planning techniques, decision-making and negotiation, spatial analysis, and research and project evaluation methods.

Located within Clark University’s renowned International Development, Community, and Environment (IDCE) department, students interact with other students and faculty on complex topics that blur the lines between disciplines.   Our unique transdisciplinary curriculum integrates the perspectives and ideas of other departmental programs, including Environmental Science and Policy, Geographic Information Sciences for Development and Environment, Community and Global Health, and International Development.

You have the flexibility to complete your degree at your own pace — either as a full-time or part-time student, beginning in Spring, Summer (online only), or Fall.

Three separate degree tracks provide students with options for completion of an advanced degree.

  • 10 Unit Degree Option – 12 to 15 months –- 10-unit curriculum consisting of three units of core courses, two units of methods and skills courses, four units of concentration courses, and one completion unit.
  • Prior Experience/Service Option – 12 months –- This option gives academic credit for prior professional work or service experience which would allow qualified students to complete an IDCE degree in eight units, which could take nine to 12 months. This pathway lets those students focus on building the skills they need to advance their careers and to maximize their impact in the world.
  • Research Track Option – 20 to 24 months — IDCE recognizes that a traditional, two-year residential master’s degree remains attractive to those students interested in conducting independent research as preparation for further graduate study. A research degree track will require 12 units for completion. Under this track, students will complete nine units of work across their first three terms (12 to 15 months). This option differs from the 10-unit Degree Option in that students are required to take a third method or skills course and engage in two units of substantial research in their final term.
  • Quantitative and qualitative analysis
  • Organizational leadership, management, and negotiation
  • Program evaluation, design, and development
  • GIS and spatial analysis
  • Finance
  • Tools and approaches for youth work, urban planning, and economic development
  • Community Needs and Resources Analysis
  • Planning and Zoning for Community Developers
  • Strategies for Community Organizing
  • Nonprofit Negotiation
  • Housing Policy and Practice
  • Youth Work: Everyday Practice and Social Justice


10 course units

  • 3 core courses within Community Development and Planning
  • 2 methods/skills courses
  • 4 electives within your concentration
  • 1 completion unit

Course Catalog

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