Online Master of Applied Science Community Development

Online and Distance Education Program Specialization

Community development mosaic
GPIDEA Community Development Program

The online Master of Applied Science Community Development Specialization, a part of the Master of Applied Science (MAS) program, equips students with the tools and experiences to contribute to positive changes in communities and regions. The coursework is designed to teach critical and creative thinking, ethical consideration and the value of careful planning for all stakeholders. The Community Development Specialization in the MAS is a flexible and personalized practitioner degree program that provides students with opportunities to:

  • Engage citizens in the decision-making process
  • Think globally and consider the big picture from a systems perspective to address challenges and find solutions within changing communities.
  • Gain diverse perspectives on the field through the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GP IDEA) -- you enroll in courses at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln though some courses may be taught by other Great Plains IDEA member institutions.

Note: The degree is from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (even though courses may be from GP IDEA).

Why choose the MAS - Community Development program?

The program offers:

  • A professional degree in agricultural science, community development and natural resources at the master’s level
  • Flexibility that allows you to design an area of study that addresses your educational goals
  • Online courses allowing you to earn the degree remotely

As a college-wide degree program, there is flexibility in the selection of course work to create a personalized program built around the specialization. You will work with an advisor and examining committee to customize a program of study best fitting your educational objective(s). The degree project is intended for you to gain immediate value to apply to your workplace or for career advancement

Degree requirements include 36 credit hours of course work. This can be accomplished through Option B (no minor).

In addition to the completion of 36 credit-hours, students are required to successfully complete a coursework-only written examination which focuses on the application of knowledge gained through community development issues and ideas, or a capstone project which allows students to take on an independent project focused on a specific area of professional interest.

Community Development Online Curriculum and Requirements

Total: 36 credit hours

Required (18 credits)

  • CDEV 810 - Foundations of Community Development (3 credits)
  • CDEV 811 - Community and Natural Resource Management (3 credits)
  • CDEV 812 - Principles and Strategies of Community Change (3 credits)
  • CDEV 813 - Organizing for Community Change (3 credits)
  • CDEV 814- Community and Regional Economic Policy and Analysis (3 credits)
  • CDEV 815 - Community Analysis: Introduction to Methods (3 credits)

Electives (18 credits)

  • CDEV 830 – Grant Development and Management (3 credits)
  • CDEV * - Land Development Planning (3 credits)
  • CDEV * - International Development (3 credits)
  • CDEV * - Introduction to GIS (3 credits)
  • CDEV 855 - Dynamics of Effective Leadership in Groups and Teams
  • CDEV 834 - Community Engagement (3 credits)
  • CDEV 832 - Community Leadership and Capacity Building (3 credits)
  • CDEV 820 - Economic Development, Strategies and Programs (3 credits)
  • CDEV 833 - Evaluation of Organizations & Programs (3 credits)
  • CDEV 835 - Government, Politics and Community Development (3 credits)
  • CDEV 823 - Housing and Development Programs
  • CDEV 850 - Immigrants in Communities (3 credits)
  • CDEV 885 - Sustainable Communities (3 credits)
  • CDEV 831 - Nonprofit Management (3 credits)
  • CDEV 840 - Intro to Native Community Development (3 credits)
  • CDEV 822 - Building Native Community Economic Capacity (3 credits)
  • CDEV 894 - Creative Component/Project Development (3 credits)

* special topics

Option B

  • Minimum 36 cr.
  • No thesis required.
  • No minor available.
  • At least 18 of the 36 cr must be in graduate-only courses.


Studying through Great Plains IDEA

The Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (Great Plains IDEA) is a consortium of renowned public universities from across the United States, offering online, flexible, and affordable degree and certificate programs across a range of subjects in human services and agriculture.

Great Plains IDEA provides educational freedom, creating rewarding pathways for lifelong learning, career advancement, and community growth in an ever-changing society.

This program is 100% online.

Tuition and Fees How to Apply Contact Us

Clicking "How to Apply" takes you to the Graduate Studies website for additional program and application information.

What can you do with a Community Development master’s degree?

A master’s degree or graduate certificate in community development is ideal for current and aspiring professionals in areas such as:

  • Community, regional and local planning departments
  • Economic development organizations
  • Community health and wellness
  • Cooperative extension services
  • Housing and infrastructure agencies
  • Natural resource management
  • Parks & Recreation Offices
  • Tribal Programs
  • Non-profit organizations focused on community enhancement

This program lets you learn from peers across the country and world. Each student brings a unique perspective to community development based on their experiences...I would highly recommend this program because it works well with busy full-time schedules and you get to learn from peers and experts across the country. The program covers the basics of community development along with how different elements build on and interact with one another. It allows you to explore different topics pertaining to your specific interests.

Taylor Hart, student

Service you expect from a leading University

  • Access the same student services available to on-campus students
  • An academic adviser will guide you along your journey
  • Career services are available when you are ready to take your next step


  • Combine a number of disciplines to create a unique degree
  • Choose more than 50% of the courses you take as electives
  • Complete coursework during the time of day that works best for you within a select timeframe

Quality learning experience

  • The University of Nebraska has offered distance education courses for more than 100 years
  • Interact with faculty and students through e-mail, discussion forums and chat groups
  • Direct access to world-class faculty – researchers who are experts in their fields or practitioners with real-world experience

Admissions Requirements

Note: The degree is from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (even though courses may be from GP IDEA).

  1. A bachelor's degree
  2. 3.00 GPA or above on a 4.0 scale
  3. Taken the TOEFL or IELTS
    (Only required if English is not your native language)
  4. A written personal statement
  5. 3 letters of recommendation
  6. Official/Unofficial transcripts from all previous schools

NOTE: This program is authorized, exempt, or not subject to state regulatory compliance and may enroll students from all 50 states

How to Apply

Application Deadlines

Rolling admissions. Application review will begin upon receipt of all required application materials.


Matthew Douglass

Assistant Professor of Practice / Chair, Master of Applied Science Graduate Committee

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