Program of Study

Students earning a MS in Community Development must complete graded courses that total 51 Bannerquarter units (thesis option) or 55 quarter units (examination option). In addition, most students fill their schedules with non-graded units for internships, independent study, and thesis/exam preparation. Students can complete the degree in two years if they select the exam option or begin their thesis research early in their second year.  However, some students finish their writing during the summer following their second year  or take an extra quarter.

The feature most appreciated by students in the UC Davis Community Development degree program is its flexibility to accommodate virtually any student's interests and specialization. The program of study consists of a core of only 20 units that are required, and even these include multiple choices. Students take additional courses in Community and Regional Development and from other departments. This allows students to design - with appropriate input from faculty members - program of study that is relevant to their particular interests.

Core courses

The Community Development graduate program requires 20 units of core courses. These include two 4-unit courses and four 1-unit seminar courses that all students must take:

CRD 240 Community Development Theory (Staff)  
CRD 200  Professional Skills for Community Development (Brinkley)  
CRD 290 Doing Development Seminar (1 unit/quarter - total 4 required) (Staff)  
CRD 260  Thesis Seminar (2 units).  Workshop to help finalize thesis proposals and complete thesis.  May be repeated for credit.  Not required but highly recommended.   

Choose 1 course from the following to complete the research design requirement:

LDA 202 or  Methods in Design & Landscape Research (Staff)
GEO 200DN  Qualitative Methods in Geography (Staff)

In addition, all students must select two substantive 4-unit courses from those offered by the core faculty:

CRD 171 Housing and Social Policy (Wiener)
CRD 241 The Economics of Community Development (Kenney)
CRD 243 Critical Environmental Justice Studies (London)
CRD 244 Political Ecology of Community Development (Galt)
CRD 245

Political Economy of Urban Regional Development 

CRD 247 Transformation of Work (Visser)
CRD 249 Media Innovation and Community Development (Drew)
ESP 174 Environmental Justice Policy and Practice (Barajas)
HDE 200C

Development in Adulthood (Miller)

HDE 252

Family Research Programs and Policy (Falbe)

IAD 103 Social Change and Agricultural Development (Crump)
IAD 170 Program Development for International Agriculture (Crump)
IAD 200N Philosophy and Practice of Agricultural Development (Crump)
IAD 203N Project Planning and Evaluation (Crump)
LDA 201 Theory and Philosophy of the Designed Environment (Napawan)
LDA 205 Urban Planning and Design (Wheeler)
LDA 215 Ecologies of Infrastructure (Milligan)
LDA 216 Food and the City (Napawan)
PLS 240 Extension, Outreach and Science Communication (Crump)
TTP 289 Transportation Equity and Justice (Barajas)

Electives: 20 elective units (thesis) or 24 elective units (exam) are required.  Courses must be letter graded and at least half of the electives must be 200 level or higher.  One course must be a methods course appropriate to areas of specialization.

To view the current schedule of core courses, check out the CRD courses page.


Potential Second Methods Courses

CRD 230 Spatial Methods in Community Research (Brazil)
GEO 200CN Quantitative Geography
HDE 220

Research Methods in Human Growth and Development (Hernandez)

Courses in field of specialization

Students have the opportunity to supplement their core classes with electives in their field of specialization The number of units required depends on whether the student selects to do a thesis (20 units) or to take a comprehensive written and oral examination (24 units). The courses in the specialization field are selected by the student to meet their particular needs and interests, and the only restriction on the course selection is that half or more of the units must be at the graduate level (200 or higher). Courses may be drawn from any relevant department on campus; students frequently select courses taught by members of the graduate group. Courses must be letter graded.

First-year students are initially matched with an advisor from among the faculty members in the graduate group. Their advisor helps them select courses, identify potential internships and jobs, define thesis/exam topics, and complete all requirements. Students may change advisors at any time as their interests develop. By early in their second year students should be putting together a three-member thesis or exam committee (see below); the chair of this committee, who must be a member of the CDGG, then handles advising tasks during the second year.

Thesis Option

Students who choose to complete a thesis option typically do so based on their internship, field research, surveys, or other analysis. The MS Degree thesis is a study or research project that demonstrates knowledge and application of scholarship in community development. The thesis meets the standards and practices of scholarly investigation for the topic being studied and can utilize any appropriate methodology. Thesis presentation must conform to Graduate Studies format requirements and must be printed on special paper so that the thesis can be bound and filed in the UC Davis Library.

The student completes the thesis under the guidance of a Thesis Committee consisting of three faculty chosen by the student. The committee will meet with the student for an oral defense of the thesis, which will involve the student presenting a brief overview of the main theme of the thesis and answering questions concerning the research and analysis.

The thesis is not a dissertation (e.g., for a PhD) and ideally is no more than 60 pages. Students are encouraged to start their thesis early but every effort is made to enable students to complete their thesis and graduate at the end of their second year. To help students complete their thesis in a timely manner the faculty provide considerable assistance including a generic outline, tips for completing a thesis, and writing skill seminars as part of CRD 200, NS  second-year tow-unit CRD 260 Thesis Seminar in Winter Quarter intended to help students focus and complete their thesis work..

Exam Option

Students choosing to complete their degree with the examination option take both a written comprehensive examination and an oral examination under the guidance of the student's Exam Committee (consisting of three faculty). Prior to the written examination, the committee members and the candidate agree on a minimum list of literature and areas of knowledge likely to be covered in the written and oral exam.

Each member of the student's examination committee formulates questions for the written exam based on the student's topic areas and reading list. Students are given 72 hours to work on the exam which is then read by the entire committee. Students typically write 10-15 page answers to each of the three questions they are given. Based on their reading of the exam, the committee conducts an oral examination based on the written exam as well as other questions to determine if the student has a comprehensive understanding of the field.

Internship Requirement

Students are required to complete a 200 hour professional internship in a community development organization (which, along with a written evalutation, is counted as 7 units of CRD 292 credit). This is highly valued by students who view it as a way to network, gain practical skills, and develop substantive expertise. Internship placement assistance is provided by the Department and External Advisory Committee.

For information regarding recent student internships, please visit the Internships & Careers page

Additional Information

To view the official Master of Science in Community Development Program of Study, click on this link. The Program of Study gives a convenient overview of the information provided on this webpage, and can be viewed/printed using Adobe Reader.

This link lists the undergraduate Community and Regional Development courses currently offered at UC Davis, some of which have been taken by Community Development graduate students to supplement their studies.

UC Extension

Students may also want to explore options of courses that are taught at UC Davis Extension. A total of 12 units can be counted from UC Davis Extension courses, as part of the elective course (Courses in Field of Specialization) component of the MS degree. Programs that may be of particular interest to Community Development Students include:

Green Building and Sustainable Design

Green Building and Renewable Energy

Land Use and Environmental Planning