Credits and costs
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 and 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-level and mid-career 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
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, identify and understand interconnections that exist within a community and the forces affecting the community from outside, and use this knowledge in professional practice to achieve desired development goals.
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.
The curriculum for the community and economic development graduate certificate consists of five 3-credit courses. The certificate program can deliver the knowledge and skills you need to address important issues in community and economic development. If you want to go on to complete a master's degree, you can roll these credits into Penn State's online Master of Professional Studies in Community and Economic Development.
The five core courses introduce the field and cover the following topics:
- principles of community and economic development
- community organization and decision-making
- economic development and planning
- population, land use, and municipal finance
- techniques and methods of community and economic development
The delivery method for the core courses in this program is online group, which means that students progress together through each course. The courses are offered in a time frame comparable to a traditional semester schedule, with fixed start and end dates. The course content and activities are available in electronic format, and access to the internet is required in order to complete this program.
Required Courses (15 credits)
If you are interested in entering the graduate degree program, visit the Master of Professional Studies in Community and Economic Development program page.
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.
Costs and Financial Aid
Graduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register. Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.
|How many credits do you plan to take per semester?||Cost|
|11 or fewer||$1,007 per credit|
|12 or more||$12,082 per semester|
Financial Aid and Military Benefits
Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.
Paying for Your Certificate
Students pursuing a certificate are considered "nondegree," a status that is not eligible for federal student aid, including the Federal Direct Stafford Loan program. A private alternative loan may be an option to consider.
Additionally, Penn State offers many ways to pay for your education, including an installment plan and third-party payments. Penn State World Campus also offers an Employer Reimbursement and Tuition Deferment Plan. Learn more about the options for paying for your education.
Students pursuing a degree and meeting all other eligibility requirements may qualify for financial aid.
How to Apply
Deadlines and Important Dates
Your degree application, including receipt of all transcripts, should be received by the following deadlines to be considered complete.
- Fall Deadline: Apply by June 30 to start August 21
- Spring Deadline: Apply by November 1 to start January 8
- Summer Deadline: Apply by April 1, 2024, to start May 13, 2024
*If summer courses are not offered, admission will be deferred to a future semester.
If you have questions about the admissions process, contact our admissions counselors.
Our administrative coordinator is available to discuss with you your educational goals, certificate curriculum, application deadlines, and questions about the community and economic development certificate and/or the master's degree in community and economic development. Contact us at [email protected], call 814-863-5884, or visit our program page.
For admission to the Graduate School, an applicant must hold either (1) a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or (2) a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates.
You are expected to have completed 6 credits in social sciences — preferably 3 in economics and 3 in sociology — in your undergraduate program.
What You Need
Applications are submitted electronically and include a nonrefundable application fee. You will need to upload the following items as part of your application:
Official transcripts from each institution attended, regardless of the number of credits or semesters completed. Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Penn State alumni do not need to request transcripts for credits earned at Penn State, but must list Penn State as part of your academic history. If you are admitted, you will be asked to send an additional official transcript. You will receive instructions at that time.
One set of unofficial transcripts for all graduate and undergraduate course work completed at an accredited institution, regardless of the number of credits or semesters completed. Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Penn State alumni do not need to request transcripts for credits earned at Penn State, but must list Penn State as part of your academic history. Mail transcripts to:
CEDEV Graduate Program
The Pennsylvania State University
305 Armsby Building
University Park, PA 16802
Email to [email protected]
English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. With some exceptions, international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Proficiency section on the Graduate School's "Requirements for Graduate Admission" page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.
Statement of Interest — The online application contains an area to write this statement, which may address your reasons for pursuing the certificate program, why you feel you are a good candidate for the program, and any information you would like the admissions committee to know about you personally/professionally.
Start Your Application
You can begin your online application at any time. Your progress within the online application system will be saved as you go, allowing you to return at any point as you gather additional information and required materials.
Begin the graduate school application
- Choose Enrollment Type: "Degree Admission" or "Certificate Admission"
- Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus
- Choose "Community and Economic Development" as the certificate
Checking Your Status
You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form.
Review the technical requirements for this program.
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.
Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State graduate certificate?
Start or Advance Your Career
Start or Advance Your Career
You can use the knowledge gained from this program and the support of Penn State career resources to pursue careers in a variety of fields, depending on your goals.
A Head Start toward a Master’s Degree
A Head Start toward a Master’s Degree
Not only can this program help create opportunities in your career, it can also give you a solid head start toward a full master’s degree.
To learn more about the Graduate Certificate in Community and Economic Development, offered in partnership with the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, please contact:
World Campus Admissions Counselors
Email: [email protected]
Community and Economic Development Graduate Program
305 Armsby Building
University Park PA 16802
Email: [email protected]
Community and Economic Development Graduate Programs website
Benefit from Faculty Expertise
Penn State is recognized around the globe as a distinguished university because of the sterling caliber of its faculty. As a World Campus student in the community and economic development program, you can learn from the same faculty who teach traditional, face-to-face classes on the Penn State University Park campus.
Faculty involved in the CEDEV graduate program have active research projects such as:
- entrepreneurship success
- implications of Marcellus shale development for families and communities
- land-use change and implications for communities
- rural youth out-migration and youth educational, occupational, and residential aspirations
- sustainable farming in rural-urban transition areas
- sustainable forests and forestry
- telecommunications and rural development
- the role of social capital in successful economic development
- the role of the informal economy in rural livelihoods
- energy conservation and low-income assistance programs
Graduate Faculty and Instructors
John Shingler, Ph.D. (Penn State) Research Associate, Co-Director of State Weatherization program Evaluation Project, CEDEV Graduate Program Coordinator and CEDEV Instructor
Charles W. Abdalla, Ph.D. (Michigan State) Professor of Agricultural and Environmental Economics
Theodore R. Alter; Ph.D. (Michigan State) Professor of Agricultural, Environmental, and Regional Economics
Daniel Azzara, Ph.D. (Penn State) Professor of Agribusiness
David Blandford, Ph.D. (Manchester) Professor of Agricultural Economics
Kathryn Brasier, Ph.D. (Wisconsin-Madison) Associate Professor of Rural Sociology
Mark Brennan, Ph.D. (Penn State) Professor of Agricultural and Extension Education and Rural Sociology
Jeffrey Bridger, Ph.D. (Penn State) Senior Scientist and CEDEV Instructor
Judy Chambers (Penn State) Extension Educator and CEDEV Instructor
Michael Fortunato, Ph.D. (Penn State) CEDEV Instructor
Leland l. Glenna, Ph.D. (Missouri) Associate Professor of Rural Sociology and Science, Technology, and Society
Stephan J. Goetz, Ph.D. (Michigan State) Professor of Agricultural and Regional Economics
Clare Hinrichs, Ph.D. (Cornell) Associate Professor of Rural Sociology
Amanda Hope, Ph.D. (West Virginia University) CEDEV Instructor
Jeffrey Hyde, Ph.D. (Purdue) Professor of Agricultural Economics
Leif Jensen, Ph.D. (Wisconsin) Professor of Rural Sociology, Demography, and Sociology
Timothy W. Kelsey, Ph.D. (Michigan) Professor of Agricultural Economics
Diane K. McLaughlin, Ph.D. (Penn State) Retired Professor of Rural Sociology and Demography
Terence Milstead, Ph.D. (Florida State University) CEDEV Instructor
Frans Padt, Ph.D. (Radboud) Senior Lecturer and CEDEV Instructor
Carolyn Sachs, Ph.D. (Kentucky) Professor of Rural Sociology
Ann R. Tickamyer, Ph.D. (North Carolina-Chapel Hill) Professor of Rural Sociology
Bradley R. Woods, Ph.D. (Penn State) CEDEV Instructor and Education Specialist