Applied Science, MAS (Community Development)

Master of Applied Science Degree with a Specialization in Community Development

University of Nebraska - Lincoln

  • Fully Online
  • 36
  • $580.00
  • $580.00

Program Overview

The online Master of Applied Science (MAS) with a specialization in Community Development degree program is designed to equip students with the tools and experiences to contribute to positive changes in communities and regions.

Students choose the Applied Science, MAS (Community Development) program because of:

  • An interest in working towards positive change by engaging citizens in the decision-making process.
  • Flexibility in course selection which allows students to customize their learning experience specific to their needs and interests.
  • A desire 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), a national consortium of universities that offer programs and courses in agriculture dispclines, this program provides students with diverse perspectives on the field. Students are enrolled in courses at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln even though courses may be taught by other Great Plains IDEA member institutions. The degree is offered by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Career Outlook: Employment of urban and regional planners is projected to grow 7 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations, while employment of social and community service managers is projected to grow 15 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations. About 3,700 openings for urban and regional planners are projected each year, on average, over the decade. In addition, about 18,300 openings for social and community service managers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

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

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.

Specializations: Community Development is a specialization area of the Master of Applied Science program. Students have the option to declare a specialization when applying for admission to the Master of Applied Science, or when establishing a plan of study. The specialization is reported on the student’s transcript.

Specialization areas in the Master of Applied Science program:

  • Community Development (36 credit hours)
  • Science for Educators (30 credit hours)
  • Beef Cattle Production (30 credit hours)

Why choose the MAS program?

The program offers:

  • A professional degree in agricultural science, community development and natural resources at the master’s level
  • Flexibility that allows the student to design an area of study that addresses your educational goals
  • 100% online, flexible courses allowing students to complete courses while continuing to work in their profession

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

    Students should submit a written personal statement explaining why they want to pursue a Master of Applied Science degree. In addition, the student should describe how obtaining this degree will help your personal, career, and/or professional goals, as well as their level of commitment to the successful completion of this degree.

  5. 3 letters of recommendation

  6. Official/Unoffical transcripts from all previous schools

NOTE: If you reside in state(s) KY contact a program adviser before applying.

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

Core Courses

Course NumberCourse NameCredits
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.
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.
CDEV 810 Foundations of Community Development 3
The seminar will serve as an orientation to on-line learning and communities of practice to provide students with the foundations for community development as an academic discipline; a science-based profession; and a skills and knowledge-based practice.
CDEV 815 Community Analysis (Introduction to Methods) 3
This course introduces 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.
CDEV 811Community Natural Resource Management3
An 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.
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.

Elective Courses

Course NumberCourse NameCredits
CDEV 830 Grant Development & Management 3
This course will focus on the intricacies of grantsmanship. Topics covered will include identification of funding sources, procedure for proposal preparation, composition of grants, and the effects of organizational and personal linkages. Assignments include proposal preparation, grant application based upon an RFP or a continuous funding sources, addendum or market analysis, and an on-line presentation.
CDEV 855Dynamics of Effective Leadership in Groups & Teams3
Explore foundational knowledge of team and group dynamics theory and its relationship to the practice of leadership in organizations and communities. Development of leadership, followership, and teamwork skills in small groups and teams. Focus on team and group decision making, problem solving, and creativity, peer assessment, and evaluation using real-world situations and contexts. Critically apply team and group dynamic theories and research to leadership in organizations and communities.
CDEV 834 Community Engagement for Civic Change 3
Designed to help students add to their knowledge base and build their confidence in community engagement so that dialogue and deliberations leading to public decision making can be more productive and positive for everyone involved.
CDEV 832 Community Leadership & Capacity Building 3
This course will explore the various approaches to leadership and leadership development, evaluation of leadership projects, and the relationship of leadership to community capacity building. Topics include defining leadership, challenges and opportunities related to leadership, designing and development leadership, impact of leadership training on community development, and evaluation of leadership development programs.
CDEV 820 Economic Development Strategies and Programs 3
The course will cover the most widely used strategies and programs for economic development within an action planning process. Retention and expansion of business and industry, retail development and downtown revitalization, incubating new firm creation, industrial attraction, and tourism development all will be covered. These are both strategies and programs that utilize all forms of capital from all sources, the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. Students will study the organized efforts to plan, build, and manage each program.
CDEV 833 Evaluation of Organizations and Programs 3
Introduction to philosophy, techniques, and methodologies of organizational and program evaluation. Topics covered include overview of program evaluation and theory, techniques to evaluate program processes and performance, evaluation designs, assessing program efficiency, models to diagnose organizations, and methods to assess organizational performance.
CDEV 835 Government, Politics and Community Development 3
Introduction to classical and contemporary concepts of federalism, public administration, public policy, and politics with an emphasis on their bearing on community development activities and outcomes.
CDEV 823 Housing and Development Programs 3
Review and evaluation of historical and current housing issues, production, and financial systems, including consideration of racial, ethnic, income, and gender issues as they relate to the role of housing developments and programs in community development.
CDEV 850 Immigrants in Communities 3
Course work will address the considerable demand across the region for such a course from individuals working in communities with new immigrant populations. Many areas in the US experience an increasing immigrant population who represent an important economic engine but may also be a source of concerns about community continuity and change. This course will be available to practitioners who are facing these issues in their communities and want to frame positive community action. Populations are aging in all of the OECD countries, especially in rural areas. Lower fertility and out-migration of young people is off-set in many counties are off-set by new immigrants. While welcomed by economic interests, they are seen as putting pressure on social services, of questionable legal status, and of being different. The course will take a comparative approach to how different countries and different communities have responded to new immigrants, based on literature from Australia, Europe, Canada, and the U.S., with reference to Japan and New Zealand. Class members will carry out case studies of the inclusion of immigrants in their own community and an action plan for increasing inclusion to contribute to the economic vitality of that place.
CDEV 885 Sustainable Communities 3
Links the management of natural capital to other community-based actions around resource allocation and the impacts on quality of life. The literature on community-based natural resource management will be examined and alternative ways of valuing natural capital will be assessed. Contrasting theories of the role of natural capital in communities and human society will be linked to their implications for community sustainability in terms of economic vitality, social well-being, and ecosystem health.
CDEV 831 Not for Profit Management 3
This course provides an overview of non-profit management with a consideration of the appropriate role of non-profit organizations as agents of community development in addressing various social problems. It focuses on the growth of the nonprofit sector as a major part of economy of the U.S. and the impact of the sector on the community as a source of citizen empowerment. This course will focus on the structure of the non-profit sector, its tax status, fundraising, volunteer and Board management, the relationship with government and private counterparts, and issues and challenges in nonprofit management.
CDEV 840 Introduction to Native Community Development 3
Base knowledge course for students currently working within or in partnership with Native communities or considering working in this area. Students will develop a basic understanding within the context of community development of the diversity of tribal structures and cultures and the unique history and jurisdictional considerations of these nations. Course topics will include working with tribes, Federal and Indian relations, and governance and cultural issues. Students taking this course will complete a holistic analysis and conceptual mapping of a tribe.
CDEV 822 Building Native Community & Economic Capacity 3
Non-western approaches to helping Native communities build their capacity. Students will learn to take a participatory, culture-centered, and strength-based approach to development.
CDEV 894Practicum/Creative Component/Thesis in Community Development 3
The Community Development On-line Master’s Program has a research element in addition to the required number of credit hours. Because of the variety of career and academic opportunities that may result from this degree program, students have considerable leeway in choosing projects that suit their programs of study and fit their future professional or academic goals.

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.