Community and Economic Development Graduate Credit Certificate Program

Person-in-ChargeLaszlo Kulcsar
Program CodeCEDEV
Campus(es)World Campus

The Graduate Certificate program in Community and Economic Development prepares student to confront the multidimensional challenges faced by community development practitioners. The main objective of the certificate program is to educate professionals who will assume leadership roles in helping establish and maintain viable communities. Recipients of the certificate will become deeply involved in assisting localities with a variety of issues, including: developing new organizations and new industries; growth management; protecting the environment; revitalizing downtown areas; enhancing the local quality of life; assisting educational, social, health and human service systems; and developing vital infrastructure--in short, working with communities to help them shape their own futures. The certificate program will teach the theory, skills and tools that allow practitioners to address the important issues in community and economic development. The certificate program emphasizes topical problems, drawing from the experiences of both students and the faculty. Students in Community and Economic Development gain a broad understanding of the dynamics of communities and their social, economic and political systems. With this training, recipients will have a wide range of career opportunities in an expanding job market. Some work for local or regional governments, industrial development authorities and chambers of commerce, major corporations, non-governmental organizations, or consulting firms. Others may work for development authorities, housing authorities, planning commissions or environmental planning and development agencies.

Effective Semester: Spring 2022
Ending Semester: Spring 2027

Admission Requirements

Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission. Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-300 Admissions Policies. International applicants may be required to satisfy an English proficiency requirement; see GCAC-305 Admission Requirements for International Students for more information.

Students with a 3.00 average (on a 4.00 scale) for the most recent two years of college/university education, or with an advanced degree, and with appropriate course and experiential backgrounds will be considered for admission.

Certificate Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements listed in Graduate Council policy GCAC-212 Postbaccalaureate Credit Certificate Programs.

The Graduate Certificate in Community and Economic Development (CEDEV Certificate) requires 15 credits, consisting of five 3-credit courses. The CEDEV Graduate Certificate is designed to build a basic level of knowledge and skills required for practitioners to address the important issues in community and economic development.

The certificate program is designed primarily for professionals in the field who wish to expand their existing knowledge and for those who wish to learn about community and economic development, including those working in or interested in dealing with the variety of development issues in America's towns, boroughs, small cities and rural areas. All courses are delivered online through the Penn State World Campus.

The five required courses introduce students to the field and cover the topics of Principles of Community and Economic Development and Leadership, Rural Organization, Economic Development Planning, Population, Land Use and Municipal Finance, and Methods and Techniques of Community and Economic Development. Courses taken in the certificate program may be applied toward a graduate degree in Community and Economic Development, subject to restrictions outlined in GCAC-309 Transfer Credit. Certificate students who wish to have certificate courses applied towards a graduate degree in Community and Economic Development must apply and be admitted to that degree program. Admission to the Community and Economic Development graduate degree program is a separate step and is not guaranteed.

Required Courses
CEDEV 430Principles of Local Economic Development3
CEDEV 452Community Structure, Processes and Capacity3
CEDEV 500Community and Economic Development: Theory and Practice3
CEDEV 509Population, Land Use, and Municipal Finance3
CEDEV 575Methods and Techniques for Community and Economic Development3
Total Credits15


Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

Learning Outcomes

Students will demonstrate an understanding of:

  1. LOCAL COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PLANNING: Concepts, strategies and techniques of local economic analysis, planning, and development.
  2. SOCIAL PROCESSES: The social organization, processes and changes that define a community.
  3. PROBLEM SOLVING STRATEGIES: Application of sociological and economic principles and strategies to problem solving in the community context.
  4. THEORIES AND PROCESSES: Theories, concepts and framework of community and economic development within the framework of community decision-making models.
  5. GOVERNMENT FINANCING: The interaction of population characteristics, land use, municipal funds and taxation and how they impact the management of local government jurisdictions.
  6. ANALYTICAL TECHNIQUES AND METHODS: Application of research methodologies and data collecting, techniques to analyze and recommend solutions to community and economic development issues and problems.


Campus World Campus
Graduate Program Head Laszlo Kulcsar
Program Contact

Patricia Jo Spears-Taff
305 Armsby
University Park PA 16802

Program Website View