2010-2011 Academic Catalog 
    Nov 28, 2023  
2010-2011 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Community Development and Planning, MA

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Graduate Program

The Community Development and Planning program provides current and future community development practitioners, activists, and scholars with a strong foundation—based on theory, skill development, and practice—to take on the challenges of urban revitalization in the United States. Our program links theory to practice through insightful participation of practitioners in seminars, high quality internships, and studio and practicum courses that allow students to learn directly from residents and community-based organizations about their resources, priorities, and strategies. Students in the Community Development and Planning Program learn alternative ways of thinking and transforming communities to achieve greater equity and social justice.

The CDP Program offers core courses and hands-on skill development in critical areas such as: community development and planning theory, planning techniques, community organizing, community development finance, grant writing, land use, decision-making and negotiation, non-profit management, youth and community development, geographic information systems, and research and project evaluation methods. CDP students also benefit from a unique interdisciplinary approach to community development that integrates the perspectives and ideas of the other departmental programs: Environmental Science and Policy, Geographic Information Sciences for Development and Environment, and International Development and Social Change.

The CDP Experience

Through the CDP program, students will:

  • Understand social, economic, and political forces that shape places
  • Understand communities in a regional and international context
  • Gain rigorous analytical training—the ability to explore and research complex social issues, solid quantitative and qualitative skills, and strong writing and public communication skills
  • Challenge existing structures of power from within or outside transitional development organizations
  • Develop professional practices that trigger social change to improve quality of life
  • Prepare students to be leaders in a diverse range of community development and planning roles.

“The world needs more intelligent passionate people who can think and act quickly on the complex issues facing our communities. CDP gives students who are passionate about serving their community a great foundation of knowledge to build upon.” Jimmy Royster (CDP/M.A. ‘06)

See www.clarku.edu/departments/idce/academicsGradCDP.cfm for details about the Community Development and Planning program.

Department Instructors

Dodi Swope


Local Partnerships: Putting Theory into Action

The collaborative research projects of IDCE graduate students and faculty reflect their interdisciplinary approach to issues of environment and development. Many projects build upon partnerships between IDCE and community or governmental organizations around the United States and the globe, including in Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Somalia, Ghana, India and Senegal.

Locally, environmental and community groups often invite IDCE to undertake key community building projects, as well as data gathering and analysis. This allows IDCE faculty and students to put theory into practice right in the neighborhood. By helping to facilitate participatory sessions and building collaborations, students see Worcester neighbors taking action, setting priorities, and maximizing into their human capital and governmental resources. Students hone their analytical skills through GIS mapping of land parcels for development or preservation and through monitoring water quality.

For more information about current Research Activities going on at IDCE, visit www.clarku.edu/departments/idce/researchActivities.cfm.

Graduate Requirements

Community Development and Planning Course of Study

The Master’s program in CDP requires a minimum of 12 graduate course units. These include five one-unit core CDP courses (including the final M.A. project), two half-unit required core courses, two units of skills courses, and three units of electives.

We recommend students do an internship with a community organization to provide training in practical skills. As part of your elective credits, you have the option of doing a directed reading/research with any faculty member. You can take a total of two internship and/or directed study/research credits over the course of your CDP studies.

Find information here about the Course of Study for students participating in the anticipated GSOM dual degree program.

Required Core Courses (7 units)





  • Research Design and Methods (One Unit) – Students choose one of the following three courses (other methods courses may be substituted with permission from your advisor). One research design and methods course should be taken during year one of the program:

  • - covers major topics in empirical social research design and methodology: problem definition, research strategies, measurement, sampling, data collection techniques and procedures, and proposal writing.







  • A final M.A. project (One Unit). The final requirement for a CDP M.A. degree is the successful completion of a final M.A. project, which is either a research paper, practitioner project, or a thesis. Students register for a final M.A. project credit with their first reader.


Please view Clark’s official Academic Catalog for a complete listing of course offerings. Remember that each IDCE program offers flexibility so students can take classes across programs and within other departments at Clark University, including the Graduate School of Geography and the Graduate School of Management.

Students enrolled in the Community Development and Planning (CDP) program within the International Development, Community, and Environment (IDCE) department are now able to declare a new concentration in Enterprise Management based on a partnership with Clark University’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 concentration as part of their graduate degree. Because student interests are diverse, and the offerings from IDCE are broad, this concentration will be tailored to each student, with specific courses to be determined with guidance from advisors in each department.

Beginning in Fall 2008, IDCE and GSOM are piloting an opportunity to earn two degrees to a small, select group of CDP students. Students in the joint degree program will earn two degrees at the end of three years of graduate school—an MA in CDP and an MBA from GSOM. Only a few highly qualified students will be admitted to this pilot program. The admitted students will be guided individually by the faculty members in the IDCE and GSOM departments.

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