Program Overview

Community Development Graduate Degree

Two womenThe Community Development graduate program at the University of California, Davis, is a two-year multi-disciplinary applied social science program that leads to a Master of Science degree. The course of study provides a strong theoretical background in Community Development derived from a multi-disciplinary approach that includes Sociology, Anthropology, Political Economy, Geography, Environmental Science, Landscape Architecture, and other social sciences, combining both their theoretical as well as applied aspects.

The program helps students link conceptual knowledge with cutting-edge practical experience so they can influence the social, economic, cultural, and political forces that affect the well-being of people living in community settings whether small towns or large cities, whether in the United States or elsewhere in the world. The combination of theoretical knowledge and applied practical skills are specifically geared towards community development interventions that most effectively can help under-served populations. The current research and teaching areas in which the Community Development Graduate Group has particular strengths are:

  • Community economic developmentGroup of people
  • Community organizing and organizations in under-served communities
  • Local impacts of globalization and trans-nationalism
  • Urban political development and change
  • Rural development
  • Community design and planning
  • Public health and welfare of communities
  • Environmental conservation and planning
  • Community based agriculture and gardens, sustainable agriculture
  • Gender and development

Program History

The UC Davis Master of Science program in Community Development was founded in the early 1970s and is one of the oldest Community Development graduate programs in the United States. The program at Davis embraces the notion that those affected by community change ought to be involved in its conceptualization and implementation. The founding of the Davis degree program initially was in response to the mandate of land grant universities to assist rural communities, but the program's emphasis has broadened over the years to encompass the improvement of both urban and rural communities as well as understanding community change in its wider regional and global context.

The UC Davis graduate program in Community Development has become a leader in this broader approach to community development. Students emphasize the practical skills that link social research to community development in the contemporary information age. A related strength of the Community Development graduate program is in Community Design and Planning that is provided by close links to the Landscape Architecture program.

Community Development Graduate Group

Graduate programs at University of California Davis operate through an innovative and effective interdisciplinary graduate group structure, which in the case of Community Development includes faculty from many different departments. The Community Development Graduate Group is housed in the Department of Human Ecology but students take classes and conduct research with faculty from diverse departments and programs across campus, including Landscape Architecture, Agricultural & Resource Economics, Environmental Science and Policy, Geography, Law, Management, Education, Sociology, Native American Studies, and other campus ethnic studies programs.

The advantage of the graduate group structure at UC Davis for students is that each Community Development graduate student has access to classes throughout the whole campus. Similarly, classes taught in Community Development have graduate students from Sociology, Anthropology, Geography, Native American Studies, Cultural Studies, Management, Environmental Science and Policy, and many other fields. This interdisciplinary course environment enriches the graduate student experience across the campus. Click for more information.

Some students also participate in interdisciplinary research programs on campus such as the Center for Regional Change, the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, the Agricultural Issues Center, Cooperative Extension, and John Muir Institute on the Environment:

What Our Alumni Do

Among the many organizations CDGG alumni have worked for in recent years are the following: Alameda County Resource Conservation District; AmeriCorps VISTA; BRB Architecture & Planning; CA Air Resources Board; CA Department of Housing and Community Development; CA Department of Social Services; CA Institute for Rural Studies; CA State Assembly; Central Valley Air Quality Coalition; Cities of Sacramento, West Sacramento, Davis, Hillsboro, Oakland, San Francisco, and Chicago; CivicMakers; CivicWell (formerly the Local Government Commission); Climate Mayors; Code for America; Colorado State University; Community Action Marin; County of San Diego; Decarcerate Sacramento; Delta Stewardship Council; Eagle County CO; Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco; GHD Group; Google; Harwood Art Center; Mercy Housing; Ogilvy; National Renewable Energy Laboratory; Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group; Northwest Cooperative Development Center; People Assisting the Homeless; Portland Metro; Portland State University; Sacramento Air Quality Management District; St. Bonaventure University; Strategic Growth Commission (California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research); SACOG; SMUD; Tahoe Regional Planning Agency; UC Cooperative Extension; UC Davis; UC Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program; Valley Vision; Visionary Home Builders of California