Masters of Education in Community Development and Action


Program Description

The Masters of Education program in Community Development & Action is a two-year practitioner-focused degree in the HOD department, preparing students for professional leadership as change agents in local communities. The program combines theory, research, and practice to equip students with the tools to study, design, and sustain change in the context of organizations, communities, and policy that support positive human development.

As a student of communities and human development, you are expected to make a strong commitment to your education by recognizing the intention behind program goals and making an effort to learn and grow beyond the minimum degree requirements. You are expected to commit to your best work and maintain your personal integrity as well as the integrity of the program. Coursework entails a minimum of 30 hours of required and elective classes in content areas. Course selection may vary according to career objectives of the student and recommendations made by his or her major advisor.

Sample Program of Studies

Fall 2014

  • Professional Seminar – Becoming a Change Agent*
  • Community Inquiry*
  • Community Development Theory*

Spring 2015

  • Consulting
  • Pre-Practicum*
  • Community Intervention & Change

Fall 2015

  • Theories of Inequality
  • Program Evaluation

Spring 2016

  • Community Organizing
  • Global Dimensions of Community Development

*Denotes required course

A student may also choose to take an additional 6 hours and complete a concentration in an area of his or her choosing. Examples of areas of concentration include topics such as Leadership and Management, International Development, Education, Public Policy, Community Health and Wellness, and Program Evaluation.


Supervised field experience is a critical component for the learning and development of each CDA student. The purpose of the practicum experience is to allow each student the opportunity to apply foundational community development principles and coursework and to build professional skill sets in meaningful settings. Most frequently, these experiences take place in off-campus organizational or public agency settings, but they may also take other forms. Over some summers, the Department of Human and Organizational Development offers opportunities to participate in a Fieldschool of Intercultural Education, which can also be counted toward practicum requirements with prior approval.

Final Assessment Options

CDA students are required to complete, at a minimum, 30 hours of coursework, 300 hours of practicum work and one of the following three final assessment options:

  1. Master's Thesis - This is an experience in independent scholarly research which is intended to contribute to the field of community development. Click here to see examples of past theses.
  2. Final Project - This opportunity allows students to integrate CDA core philosophy, coursework, and field experience. The student will communicate meaningfully how these three elements are related and how they have contributed to their personal and professional growth during the project's lifespan. Click here to see examples of past student projects.
  3. Comprehensive Exam - This is an in-depth writing experience intended to display the student's full understanding of the material covered by the CDA degree program and to encourage the student to think critically about this material.

Each final assessment option provides the student with a different method of expressing what they have learned and how to apply it. Each student should speak with their major advisor upon matriculation to discuss which assessment option is appropriate. Because the thesis and final project options require a great deal of preparation, a student must plan to stay in the program for four semesters; LINK students and those graduating in three semesters must choose the comprehensive exam option.

Last updated November 2017

About the School

Peabody College of education and human development makes a difference in the lives of thousands of people by creating new knowledge.

Peabody College of education and human development makes a difference in the lives of thousands of people by creating new knowledge. Read less