Applied Science, MAS (Community Development)

Master of Applied Science Degree with a Specialization in Community Development

University of Nebraska - Lincoln

  • Fully Online
  • 36
  • $590.00
  • $590.00

Program Overview

The online 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. 

Choose this program because: 

  • You are interested in working towards positive change by engaging citizens in the decision-making process. 
  • You want to be challenged to think globally and consider the big picture from a systems perspective to address challenges and find solutions within changing communities. 
  • The degree project, which replaces a traditional master's thesis, is of immediate value in your workplace for career advancement.  
  • As part of the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GPIDEA), this program provides you with diverse perspectives on the field. You enroll in courses at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln even though courses may be taught by other Great Plains IDEA member institutions. You will receive your degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The requirements for this program include 36 credit hours of community development coursework including a 3-6 credit hour degree project.

This program is designed for students who:

  • Enjoy working with others to find solutions to local problems. 
  • Are passionate about working in urban communities, rural areas or tribal communities. 
  • Work with communities and want to enhance their skills, knowledge and credentials. 
  • Volunteer in their community and want to be even more effective in community development.

This program is ideal for professionals working 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

Admissions and Requirements

To be accepted to this program, you must have:

  1. A Bachelor's degree

  2. 3 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 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

To apply to this program:

  1. Complete and submit the online application for Graduate Studies
  2. Pay $50 application fees
  3. Submit one set of official transcripts from each college or university you have attended to the Office of Graduate Studies

Courses You’ll Take

Course Information

Students will also select five 3-credit hour courses from at least two specialized tracks: Native Communities, Building Economic Capacity or Natural Resource Management.

Core Courses

Course NumberCourse NameCredits
CDEV 813Community Development II: Organizing for Community Change3
This course will examine the role of civil society in community planning efforts and offer students a comparative approach to planning theories and approaches. It will also focus on change within communities and the roles of government, planners, and citizens in reacting to or shaping change. Students will have an opportunity to explore current issues related to planning and dealing with change by examining controversial practices such as covenants and land trusts, as well as by studying various community responses to change. Students will understand how citizens, firms and governments act to improve their community and region; the structure and implications of power; the relation between social relationships and economic activity, coalition building, concepts of inclusiveness (class, gender, ethnicity, geography), voice and conflict and its management in communities and regions. The course will cover dimensions of social capital and the context of change. Students will learn to use this knowledge to promote equitable change at the community and regional level. They will study the implications of economic and demographic shifts on strategies and tactics for change and explore various resources for supporting these efforts. Course will be taught by Iowa State and will be offered summer semester.
CDEV 810Community Development Orientation1
Seminar will serve as an orientation to online learning and communities of practice as well as an introduction to the courses, faculty and curriculum. Course is taught by faculty from South Dakota State University, and will be offered every semester. To enroll, students must be enrolled in the Community Development Masters Degree program or obtain permission.
CDEV 815Community Analysis3
Provides an introduction to research methods relevant to community development. Course topics include how to formulate and begin a research effort, methods of data collection and how conceptual frameworks are used to develop the questions and analyze data. Also included are strategies for reporting findings and applying findings in community action. The course will also look at methods of evaluating the entire research process. Significant attention is paid to issues of research ethics and inclusiveness throughout the course. Course will be taught by South Dakota State and will be offered spring semester. To enroll, students must be enrolled in the Community Development Master’s Degree program or obtain permission.
CDEV 811Community Natural Resource Management3
Community and Natural Resource Management -- Introduction to factors involved in community resource management. Included in the course are theoretical frameworks, methodological investigation and applied practices to enhance the ability of community development professionals to work with their communities to plan, develop, and monitor the conversation and development of natural resources with multiple functions. Course is taught by faculty from South Dakota State University or Iowa State, and will be offered fall semester. To enroll, students must be enrolled in the Community Development Master’s Degree program or obtain permission.
CDEV 814Community and Economic Policy Analysis3
A firm grounding in the reality of the local economy is necessary for successful programs in community economic development and for designing successful state and local policy and programs in economic development. The course introduces concepts of communities and regions, theories of economic growth, drivers of economic growth, the economic base of a community sources of growth or decline in the community, roles of local government and institutions, analytical tools, and strategies for local economic development. Course will be taught by Nebraska and will be offered fall semester.
CDEV 812Community Development I: Principle and Strategies of Community Change3
Analyzes principles and practices of community change and development, beginning with definitions of community role of communities in social and economic change. Using case studies and the students’ communities of reference, the course will relate Community Development approaches to conceptual models from diverse disciplines. Conceptual models include conflict, neo-classical economic growth, participatory democracy, and others. Students will be exposed to professional practice principles and will leave the course having constructed their personal framework for the practice of community development. Course will be taught by North Dakota State and Iowa and will be offered fall semester. To enroll, students must be enrolled in the Community Development Master’s Degree program or obtain permission.

Tuition & Fees

Nebraska Residents

Per Credit Hour


3 Credit Hours


Out of State Residents

Per Credit Hour


3 Credit Hours

Daniela Mattos, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Practice

Daniela Mattos is a faculty member in the Department of Agricultural Economics. Her teaching interests include courses such as Rural Community Economics.

Application Deadlines

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