2022-2023 Academic Catalog 
    Jul 21, 2024  
2022-2023 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Community Development & Planning, BA/MA

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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.

The CDP Experience

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.

Departmental Eligibility Requirements

This program is open to all majors and concentrations in the social and natural sciences, and humanities, especially International Development, Urban Studies, Geography, Environmental Science, Management/Business, Economics, Sociology, Political Science, and Community, Youth, and Education Studies (CYES).  

Students are required to meet with the Community Development and Planning Accelerated Degree Program advisor as a formal part of the admissions process. This meeting is intended to assist prospective students in assessing the appropriateness of the degree to their professional aspirations. The student applies to the MA program by completing the Online Application no later than May 1 of the junior year. Please note that application deadlines differ for students who are graduating off cycle (either a semester early or late) or who have advanced standing; such students should contact Graduate Admissions for alternative dates.

Program of Study

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. One completion unit is the final requirement. Students in the CDP BA/MA program are required to take one internship unit that will also fulfills a methods/skill or concentration requirement.

Program Requirements

Prior to Senior Year:

Students must demonstrate before their senior year an interest in community development by taking four courses that are central to the CDP Program. One of these courses should be at the 100-level and three at the 200-level. Because multiple majors are eligible to apply, there isn’t a master list of courses. Check with the CDP Program Adviser to determine course eligibility.

Senior Year:

Two 300-level courses approved by the Community Development and Planning Program Adviser. 

Graduate Year:

During the fifth year of study, the remaining required course work is completed, including an internships equal to one unit.

Students also must complete one Final Project (I unit); there are several options for the Final Project:

  1. Research Paper (one Reader) - Typically based on secondary data analysis.
  2. Practitioner Paper (one Reader) - A deliverable based on the student’s professional experience (e.g. consultancy).
  3. Collaborative Final Project- (led by faculty) - Tackling larger problems and issues, and providing students with team-based experience that reflects the professional setting.
  4. 3rd Methods/Skills focus via extra one Unit/Course and related to the student’s concentration or self-designed course of study/

Students in this program may take longer than the fifth year to complete the culminating requirement. Students must register as a non-resident if they do not complete the requirements in time for August degree conferral. Students have up to one year of non-­residency status (fall and spring) to complete all requirements for the master’s degree.


Students will pay a one-time program fee of $1,000 in the first semester of graduate study.  Students also pay a $20 graduate activity fee and a $25 IDCE student activity fee in the fall and spring semesters as well as a one-time enrollment fee of $100.  Students are responsible for paying for housing, food, books, and other personal items.

Students in the Accelerated Degree Program are allowed two semesters of non-residency status (fall and spring) after the fifth year presumably to complete research and the practitioners report or master’s paper. Please note there is a $200 fee (per semester) associated with the non-residency status registration.

Program Adviser

Students are required to meet with the designated program adviser before starting their application. The adviser will sign the Accelerated Degree Program Adviser Form through the Graduate Slate system.The signed form confirms the student and program adviser have discussed the requirements of the program. 

The designated program adviser is:
Professor Laurie Ross
IDCE Department

Any students considering applying to the Accelerated Degree Program should read and understand the Accelerated Degree Program Policies and Procedures  .

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