Program Summary

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Changing Communities, Changing Lives

The quality of life in communities around the world depends on well-trained, highly educated leaders and professionals who understand the theory and practice of community and economic development. If you 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 local, regional, or national levels, this program is for you.

Penn State Can Help

The community and economic development certificate program provides graduate-level courses for entry and midcareer professionals who wish to expand their knowledge and skills for dealing with quality-of-life and development issues in neighborhoods, towns, small cities, and rural regions. The program also meets the needs of those who are considering a career in community and economic development and want to find out if this profession is right for them.

Choose the Program That Suits Your Needs

Penn State offers two online programs in community and economic development for professionals seeking to expand their knowledge and skills, and for those interested in a new career in community and economic development:

The Graduate Certificate in Community and Economic Development introduces key concepts and practical strategies useful to those who are new to the field and those who have experience working with communities or development-related institutions. The 15 credits in the certificate program can be applied to the Master of Professional Studies in Community and Economic Development.

The Master of Professional Studies in Community and Economic Development explores theoretical concepts and their practical application in the real world. This program is targeted to those who work and/or volunteer in neighborhoods, towns, small cities, and rural regions. 

Advantages of the online certificate program:

  • flexible 15-credit course schedule
  • interactive online setting
  • access to Penn State's vast academic resources
  • practical approach to theory-based methods
  • credits can apply to the Penn State master of professional studies in community and economic development

Enrolling in the online certificate program allows you to earn a graduate certificate without having to relocate to Penn State. The program provides knowledge and methods that practitioners need for addressing issues such as:

  • citizen participation
  • effective decision making in communities
  • evaluating causes and consequences of economic and population change
  • job creation, retention and expansion, and entrepreneurship
  • land use and sustainable development
  • community structure and processes that affect development and well-being

The program will provide a strong framework from which to think critically about development and change, to identify and understand interconnections that exist within a community and the forces affecting the community from outside, and to use this knowledge in professional practice to achieve desired development goals.

The five courses required for the certificate also are required courses in Penn State's Master of Professional Studies in Community and Economic Development. Students interested in the master's degree program should contact [email protected].

A Certificate of Distinction

Since its founding in 1855, Penn State has established itself as one of the nation's most respected universities. Penn State is a pioneer in distance education, with a support system designed specifically for students who are not located on physical campuses.

The graduate certificate is part of Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. Colleges of agriculture have been leaders in serving the economic and community development needs of rural communities and regions for more than 100 years. Through its Cooperative Extension services and Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, Penn State contributes to theory development, research, and practice of community and economic development.

From Your Desktop to the World

Become part of a superior academic community at Penn State, network with the professionals, and form lasting relationships with like-minded peers.

All courses are accessible from any Internet connection, and you can fit your studies around your busy personal and professional schedules. Learn at your own pace through interactive settings on the web, focus on projects or issues that interest you, and gain experience through hands-on interaction.

You will be guided by faculty with years of experience in different aspects of community and economic development, and you can gain valuable insight from a diverse peer group.