Skip to main content
Park with trees and a city in the background
Master of Professional Studies in
Community and Economic Development


Penn State's 30-credit online Master of Professional Studies in Community and Economic Development emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to economic and community development. The program balances theory and practice and offers examples and opportunities for you to consider  in application of these concepts to real issues facing communities and regions.

The course topics include:

  • perspectives on development, democracy, and decision-making
  • economic development planning
  • structures and processes of communities and community organizations
  • land use, population change, and municipal finance
  • leadership in communities and nonprofit organizations
  • methods and techniques of community and economic development

Collaborative Experience, Practical Applications

The community and economic development curriculum uses a blend of web technology, print, and other media to provide an effective balance of flexibility and interaction.

Students communicate with faculty and each other through discussion forums, chat rooms, and email. The learning environment is collaborative and designed so that students can share their knowledge and experiences and learn from each other. The curriculum and course format offer theoretical understanding of sociological and economic development concepts and application of those concepts to effective community and economic development practice. Students have noted that they can immediately apply what they have learned in the courses to their jobs or elected positions.

In addition, please contact [email protected] for information about optional webinars we are designing that focus on applications and practices for community and economic development, giving students an opportunity to interact with faculty members, fellow students, alumni of the program, and other practicing community development professionals in a virtual environment outside of the "classroom" setting.

Credit Requirements

The program requires:

  • completion of 8 core courses (24 credits)
  • 3 credits of elective course work
  • 3 credits to complete a culminating experience (may be based on a project or internship) that integrates theory and practice on an issue or topic of your choice

Course List — Master of Professional Studies in Community and Economic Development 

Required Courses (24 credits)*
Title Abbreviation Description Credits
Principles of Local Economic Development CEDEV 430 Concepts, strategies, and techniques of local economic analysis, planning, and development; decision-making exercises.

Prerequisite: introductory course in economics
3 credits
Community Structure, Processes, and Capacity CEDEV 452 Social organization and change in communities; use of sociological principles in analysis of community problems and development.

Prerequisite: 6 credits in rural sociology, sociology, or psychology
3 credits
Community and Economic Development: Theory and Practice CEDEV 500 Understanding theories, concepts, and frameworks of community and economic development and community decision-making models in application to community development practice and issues. 3 credits
Leadership Development CEDEV 505 Exploration, understanding, and application of leadership roles, strategies, and principles in group and community settings. 3 credits
Population, Land Use, and Municipal Finance CEDEV 509 Understanding the interaction of population characteristics, land use, municipal funds, and taxation in a locality and how they impact the operation and management of government jurisdictions. 3 credits
Methods and Techniques for Community and Economic Development CEDEV 575 Understanding and applying methods and hands-on experience with techniques used in community and economic development. 3 credits
Community and Economic Development Research Application and Practice CEDEV 580 Course outlines the steps for students to apply CEDEV theories and methods to a topic in writing their master's paper.
(CEDEV students should complete all of the other required courses before enrolling in CEDEV 580.)
3 credits
Applied Statistics STAT 500 Descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing, power, estimation, confidence intervals, regression, one- and 2-way ANOVA, Chi-square tests, diagnostics. 3 credits
Culminating Experience (3 credits)
Title Abbreviation Description Credits
Individual Studies CEDEV 596
Creative projects, including nonthesis research, that are supervised on an individual basis and that fall outside the scope of formal courses.
CEDEV 596 is intended to provide a structure to allow CEDEV MPS students to work on their final paper or project. (CEDEV students need to complete CEDEV 580 before being enrolled in CEDEV 596.)

MPS students can be registered in this course for 1, 2, 3, or 6 credits to work on and/or complete their final project report or paper. (CEDEV students need to be enrolled in at least 1 credit of CEDEV 596 during the semester in which they plan to graduate.)
3 credits

Electives (3 credits) are not limited to these courses and may include resident courses and graduate courses from other accredited institutions. Other possible elective courses require approval from the CEDEV graduate program coordinator or your MPS program faculty adviser.

Elective Courses (3 credits)
Title Abbreviation Description Credits
Principles and Practices of Planning CEDEV 550 This course is an overview of the field of planning. It examines the history of planning and the theories behind it, and the corresponding roles that planners can play in their communities. It establishes the legal framework for planning as a profession, and examines landmark legal cases involving planning and its tools. 3 credits
Regional Development: Principles, Policy, and Practice CEDEV 560 Regional growth and development, focusing on challenges to theory, policy, and practice, emphasizing change in metropolitan, micropolitan, and rural areas.

Prerequisites: CEDEV 430 and CEDEV 500
3 credits
Resilient Communities and Environments CEDEV 567 Understanding connections between communities and surrounding ecosystems; exploration of management techniques for building adaptive, resilient, and sustainable communities and environments.

Prerequisites: please contact the CEDEV program manager and academic adviser at [email protected].
3 credits
Entrepreneurship in the Community CEDEV 597A Entrepreneurship in the Community, empirically and conceptually examines the relationship between entrepreneurs, small businesses, and local economic development. The course examines the multiple definitions of "entrepreneurship," and how these individuals affect — and are affected by — the social and economic dynamics of their community. The course develops a rich understanding of the entrepreneurship process from a community-based view rather than a traditional firm-based view, illustrating the many ways that entrepreneurs and their local society interact. The course begins by examining the role of the firm in society, and the ways that local life enhances and contains opportunity and opportunistic action. Students will also learn ways to measure small business dynamics locally and develop an understanding of how different community development approaches may affect different types of entrepreneurship.

Prerequisites: CEDEV 430
3 credits
Topics in Economic Development CEDEV 597B Topics in Economic Development provides an overview of modern approaches to developing places and regions, including policy options and limitations; fundamental reasons for the worldwide decline of some rural areas and the growth of cities are also explored.

Prerequisites: CEDEV 430 and STAT 500 or STAT 800
3 credits
Launching Community Ventures, Nonprofits, and Organizations CEDEV 597C Launching ideas from socially and environmentally conscious for-profit businesses, to nonprofits, to spin-offs of existing models.

Prerequisites: CEDEV 430
3 credits
Theories, Principles, and Institutions of International Development CEDEV 597E Provides a strong foundation in theories and concepts of international development that inform practice. Addresses issues of how economic growth and disparity are spatially distributed and differentiated, and what causes these patterns to occur.  3 credits

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.

Penn State World Campus Student

Ready to Learn More?

Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.

* required 1/3

I agree to be contacted via phone, email, and text by Penn State World Campus and affiliates. Privacy Policy. reCAPTCHA protected. Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.