Master of Professional Studies in Community and Economic Development

View of the city from the river

Make a Difference in Your Community

Gain the skills needed to address the social, environmental, and economic issues in communities, towns, small cities, and urban neighborhoods. Community and economic development professionals help people build community capacity; develop sustainable communities; enhance the local economy, infrastructure, and services; and work with the community members to build shared visions of the future. 

With Penn State’s online MPS in community and economic development, you can gain the knowledge you need to navigate the complexities of communities and community organizations and inspire positive changes on a local, regional, and national level.

Gain Expertise and Proficiency

This Penn State World Campus online program enables you to more effectively implement community and economic development by building on the knowledge and skills you need to assist regions, communities, and community organizations with:

  • making effective and informed decisions
  • retaining jobs, creating and expanding job opportunities, encouraging entrepreneurship
  • encouraging effective citizen participation and involvement
  • understanding community institutions and processes that affect development and well-being
  • including diverse public, private, and nonprofit interests in local and regional decision making and capacity building
  • implementing land-use decisions and sustainable development
  • understanding the causes and consequences of economic, social, and population changes
  • using research and information to understand and shape economic and social change in communities and regions
  • adapting programs and practices to fit local situations and needs

Why a Master's Degree Online at Penn State

Unique Perspectives — This 30-credit interdisciplinary master of professional studies program draws on the community and economic development expertise of faculty in Penn State’s Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education. It was developed in response to a request from community development professionals for advanced training in theory, practice, and techniques in a community setting.

Stepping Stones — The 15-credit community and economic development graduate certificate program provides graduate-level courses if you are an entry or midcareer professional who wishes to expand your abilities to positively influence the quality-of-life and development issues in urban neighborhoods, towns, small cities, and rural regions. The certificate program can also meet your needs if you are considering a career in community and economic development and want to find out if this profession is right for you. The credits you earn in the graduate certificate program can be applied to the Master of Professional Studies in Community and Economic Development.

Who Should Apply?

If you are a professional in community and economic development, or if you work with, or in, nonprofit organizations or government agencies, the MPS in community and economic development offers you the opportunity to expand your knowledge and skills. The program is also appropriate if you are new to community and economic development and wish to learn about community and economic development issues and practices in towns, small cities, neighborhoods, and rural regions.

This program is targeted to those who work with and/or volunteer in neighborhoods, towns, small cities, and rural regions. Among the professionals who could benefit from this program are:

  • community development directors
  • county administrators, professional staff, and local government managers
  • elected officials
  • nonprofit organization professionals
  • local government planners
  • adult educators
  • economic development professionals
  • cooperative extension director or educators
  • members of a planning commissions or related authorities, boards, or commissions
  • citizens interested in government involvement and civic affairs
  • students in related graduate programs

Career Opportunities for Graduates

Community and economic development graduates often go on to work for state and local governments, industrial development authorities, chambers of commerce, major corporations, utilities, nongovernmental organizations, or consulting firms as:

  • directors
  • community service coordinators
  • extension educators
  • development specialists
  • research and project managers

Online Education at Penn State

Penn State has a history of 100+ years of distance education and more than a decade of experience in online learning. We create an online learning environment that offers you the same quality education our residential students experience in a face-to-face setting. Learn more about Penn State World Campus.