Community and Economic Development

Graduate Program HeadLaszlo Kulcsar
Program CodeCEDEV
Campus(es)World Campus
Degrees ConferredMaster of Professional Studies (M.P.S.)
The Graduate Faculty


The Master of Professional Studies in Community and Economic Development (M.P.S. CEDEV) is a 30-credit terminal master's degree program that emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to community and economic development. The program balances theory and practice. Courses are taught in M.P.S. CEDEV use a blend of web technology, print, and other media to provide an effective balance of flexibility and interaction. Individuals who currently work with, or are interested in working with communities, community organizations and stakeholders, or on a range of community and economic development issues at the state or national levels would benefit from this program.

Instruction in the MPS CEDEV program emphasizes key themes that include:

  • economic planning and development,
  • municipal finance, land use and population change,
  • community structure, organization and process,
  • leadership,
  • tools and techniques in community development, and
  • community decision-making and capacity building

Students in Community and Economic Development gain a broad understanding of the dynamics of communities and their social, economic, and political systems. The program emphasizes teaching the theory, skills, and tools that allow practitioners to address the important issues in development practice.

Graduates of the Community and Economic Development program have a wide range of career opportunities, including:

  • local and state government,
  • planning commissions,
  • major corporations,
  • non-governmental organizations, and
  • consulting firms.

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.

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. Exceptions to the minimum 3.00 grade-point average may be made for students with special backgrounds, experience, abilities, and interests, at the discretion of the program. The best-qualified applicants will be accepted to the graduate program.

Admission requirements include the following:

The language of instruction at Penn State is English. English proficiency test scores (TOEFL/IELTS) may be required for international applicants. See GCAC-305 Admission Requirements for International Students for more information.

Scores from the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) are not required for admission to the M.P.S. CEDEV program.

Prerequisites for the master's program include 12 credits in rural sociology, sociology, agricultural economics, or other social and behavioral sciences at the discretion of the graduate program. If the entering student does not have these prerequisites, they must be made up at the University during the early part of the master's program.  Credits obtained to fulfill entry and pre-program requirements cannot be applied towards requirements for the degree.

Degree Requirements

Master of Professional Studies (M.P.S.)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-700 Professional Degree Policies.

The MPS CEDEV program requires the completion of seven core courses (21 credits) in which students learn and apply sociological and economic concepts to issues in community and economic development. The courses offer examples and opportunities to apply these concepts to real issues facing communities and rural regions. Two of the core courses (6 credits) emphasize statistical methods and tools and techniques useful to practitioners in community and economic development, or to work toward additional certifications. All students are required to satisfy one of two requirements: (1) completion of a Master's paper (at least 3 credits) that integrates theory and practice, or (2) completion of a series of Comprehensive Exam essays on questions from each of the required courses.

The M.P.S. degree requires a minimum of 30 credits at the 400, 500, or 800 level, with a minimum of 18 credits at the 500 or 800 level, and at least 6 credits at the 500 level. All students complete the required M.P.S. CEDEV core program of 15 credits of community and economic development courses, statistics, and methods.

Required Courses
CEDEV 430Principles of Local Economic Development3
CEDEV 452Community Structure, Processes and Capacity3
CEDEV 500Community and Economic Development: Theory and Practice3
CEDEV 505Leadership Development3
CEDEV 509Population, Land Use, and Municipal Finance3
STAT 500Applied Statistics (or equivalent)3
CEDEV 575Methods and Techniques for Community and Economic Development3
CEDEV 580Community and Economic Development Research Application and Practice3
Electives 13
Culminating Experience
CEDEV 596Individual Studies 23
Total Credits30

Choice of electives will be based on a plan of study worked out between the student and faculty adviser.


A Master's paper is required where the student demonstrates the capability to integrate and apply concepts, principles, analytical techniques, and interpretation skills learned in the program to a real problem faced by a community or community organization. The Master’s paper is completed while the student is enrolled in CEDEV 596. In place of the Master’s Paper, students may choose to complete a series of Comprehensive Exam essays on questions relevant to each required course. Students choosing to complete the Comprehensive Exam also enroll in CEDEV 596.

There is no foreign language requirement for the degree; however, students planning to work in multi-cultural or international settings are encouraged to gain competency in an appropriate language(s).


A graduate minor is available in any approved graduate major or dual-title program. The default requirements for a graduate minor are stated in Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies and GCAC-700 Professional Degree Policies, depending on the type of degree the student is pursuing:

Student Aid

World Campus students in graduate degree programs may be eligible for financial aid. Refer to the Tuition and Financial Aid section of the World Campus website for more information.


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.

Community and Economic Development (CEDEV) Course List

Learning Outcomes

  1. KNOW: Graduates will demonstrate an understanding of basic economic and sociological theory, data collection and analytical techniques, and research methodologies at a level sufficient to work to solve problems and issues in their region or local community.  They will also demonstrate an understanding of the systems and processes that define a region and community.
  2. APPLY/CREATE: Graduates will be able to develop a research methodology and study in detail a problem or issue experienced by their region or local community.  They will be able to make recommendations for specific programs and policies to address both economic and social issues and in an effort to improve the quality of life in their region or community.
  3. COMMUNICATE: Graduates will be able to effectively convey to others the basic theories and research in community and economic development and related fields through oral and written communications.
  4. THINK: Graduates will be able to review and critically analyze studies and work from multiple disciplines and apply this work to problems and issues in their region or local community.  They will be able to differentiate between economic and social systems within their regions and communities.
  5. PROF. PRACTICE: Nearly all of our students already have jobs in a profession directly related to community and economic development.  Our graduates will demonstrate that they have developed sufficient skills to continue to contribute to their profession.  They will be able to interact productively in an ethical manner with other professionals and community leaders and demonstrate a commitment to active citizenship within their community.


Campus World Campus
Graduate Program Head Laszlo Kulcsar
Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or Professor-in-Charge (PIC) Mary Kate Berardi
Program Contact

Julie Lynn Stringfellow
305 Armsby Building
University Park PA 16802
(814) 865-6223

Program Website View