Master of Arts in Community Economic Development
Empowering Communities. Building For Their Good.
What does it take to sustainably transform a community? It begins with its people. People who deeply understand the history, context, and nuanced challenges their community is facing. Often, for changes to be sustainable, we need to do systems-level work to ensure our interventions have the desired impact. Lasting change happens from within—when its members are equipped and empowered to do great things.
The Master of Arts in Community Economic Development (CED) is designed to give experienced and aspiring leaders the knowledge, tools, and practical skills to bring lasting solutions to local communities. CED is a sister program to our popular master’s degree in International Community Development (ICD), which has been training leaders to tackle similar challenges globally for 15 years.
Program Quick Facts
- Next start: May 4, 2023
- 36 credits
- $738 per credit
- $13,284 annual tuition costs (2023–24)
- 24 months
- 5–7 credits per semester
- Includes a one-week trip to a U.S. city
- Fully accredited university
The CED program will challenge your assumptions about socioeconomic context, transform your perception of yourself as a leader and prepare you to collaborate with communities and systems to realize ambitious goals.
Student Testimonial From Our Community Development Program
I loved my time in Northwest University’s Community Development program. Since graduation, I’ve gotten to work on international trade policy as the executive director of a state level nonprofit and now the organizing director for a larger national nonprofit. I’m excited to bring some of this expertise back to community development students and learn together how we can do better advocacy work!
View Course Descriptions
|Community Development||This course explores the broad practice of community development, the economic and political systems in which that development takes place, and the various ways the field is defined and expressed in both global and local contexts. Students will examine both the dominant and competing paradigms to development and poverty alleviation, the shift in these paradigms over time, and recurrent themes of social change. The course also explores theological and philosophical underpinnings of social change, the practices of transformational leadership in contexts of development, and the value of collaborative, mutually-empowering approaches to working with individuals and communities.||3 credits|
|Culture and Diversity||This course will consider issues of culture and diversity as they impact contexts of community development, advocacy, and civics. Students will learn to respect and work with the diversity of cultures and worldviews in an increasingly globalized world.||2 credits|
|Children, Poverty, & Development||Prevention and advocacy for children at risk and the creation of healthy environments and communities for children are the two main foci of this course. Students will explore a child-focused perspective on poverty and development, including a consideration of the cultural, social, political and spiritual determinants that impact children, and transformative, community-based approaches to improving child well-being.||2 credits|
|Social and Environmental Justice in Development||This course considers issues of justice between people, and between people and the rest of creation. Students explore the politics of transformation, and grapple with core areas of injustice such as sexual slavery, economic inequality, globalization, political oppression, war and peace issues, indigenous rights, and gender inequality. The course also considers the historical roots of environmental problems, some contemporary approaches to ecological challenges, and the ways in which environmental justice values must influence the practices of community development. These issues are positioned in the larger context of global systems–economic, cultural, and geopolitical—and students are challenged to examine the ethical and spiritual foundations of their own roles as responsible global citizens.||3 credits|
|Macroeconomics and Economic Development||A living wage job is a critical component of almost all development strategies, in both urban and rural settings. A good job is either the goal of a development project, or a required component to make other outcomes sustainable. Students learn the practical and philosophical terms related to national and global economic systems. This includes the ongoing effects of globalization and its impact on work and jobs in local, national, and global economies. Students also learn best practices in regional economic development and public/private partnerships.||3 credits|
|Research for Social Change||This course assumes that community development practitioners must first learn from and about context before imposing predetermined programs and processes. To that end, students learn practical inquiry skills grounded in principles of humility, curiosity, and respect for local wisdom and resources. The course focuses primarily on the design and implementation of multiple forms of qualitative or mixed method (qualitative and quantitative) studies. Students will create a proposal for their own future fieldwork and thesis research.||3 credits|
|Advocacy and Policy for Development||This course explores best practices in building relationships between community leaders and elected officials to achieve outcomes with maximum benefits and minimal unintended consequences in communities.||3 credits|
|Fieldwork||In this course, students complete their individualized fieldwork requirements, engaging primarily in an online format with the cohort community from diverse sites around the world. This typically includes specialized research and service with one or more organizations germane to the student’s interests. The goals of the course include preparation for the upcoming thesis, exploration of vocational possibilities, and formation of leadership skills relevant to development work.||3 credits|
|Funding and Grant Writing||This course equips students with strategies for sustainable resource development for nonprofits and social businesses. Students explore spiritual foundations and practical strategies for resource development, and apply their skills to the needs of actual organizations.||2 credits|
|Communication and Storytelling||This course explores best practices in storytelling, writing narratives, and using digital tools for ethical marketing and communication.||1 credit|
|Peacemaking and Reconciliation||This course assumes that peace-making is often a core aspect of community development, and will focus on strategies for bringing conflicting parties into agreement through nonviolent means. Students engage some of the underlying causes of hostility—such as racism, sexism, oppression, economic disparity, ethnic animosity, and ethnocentrism—and consider both faith-based and secular approaches to fostering individual healing, reconciliation, and social justice. Students are encouraged to explore their own personal, spiritual, and theological/philosophical foundations for service and social justice work.||3 credits|
|Thesis||This course supports the student in completing their final integrative project or thesis. It also provides opportunities for the comprehensive review of CED principles and practices, and for the affirmation of individual vocational strengths and goals.||3 credits|
|Social Entrepreneurship & Design Thinking||In this course students consider and engage in collaborative, innovative approaches to addressing social need. This course assumes that anyone interested in challenging the status quo practices of development must learn to think like an entrepreneur, and must learn to cultivate collaborative creativity in the communities where they work.||3 credits|
|Project Management for Development||This course provides an introduction to the paradigm of Project Management, with a specific focus on the community development environment. Students learn by designing projects for actual organizations, and acquire skills for the initiation, planning, and presentation of project designs. In this course students earn a Certificate in Project Management for Development Professionals (PMD Pro).||2 credits|
|Thesis Presentation||In this course, students present and defend their thesis project work before an audience of peers, professors, and practitioners. (Grade Pass/No credit)||0 credits|
With this degree, you won’t just learn justice solutions that are passive or performative. You’ll learn to inspire the kind of actionable, tangible change that can grow deep roots.
As a graduate of this program, you will have the skills to:
Build trust with communities and execute high impact projects.
We focus on learning context and we emphasize collaboration with communities. We believe influence and trust are critical to achieve relevant and sustainable impact. We pursue ambitious goals but embrace failure as an opportunity to learn and build more trust. We also emphasize hard skills such as project management, program evaluation, entrepreneurship, nonprofit management, and financial literacy.
Understand how the economy is changing and how to maximize economic opportunity for low-income communities.
This program exists at the intersection of theory and practice. We are not traditional economists, nor are we passive community development practitioners. We are proactive and forward-thinking, “looking around corners” in order to best equip communities to thrive in a complex economy.
Engage in mutually-beneficial advocacy work that emphasizes community.
CED professionals who have the privilege to do this work understand that almost everyone wants the opportunity to be educated, to attain a dignified job, and to provide the best opportunities for their children. In many cases it is not difficult to bring seemingly opposing stakeholders together to find actionable common ground, as long as there are leaders willing to do the uncomfortable work of getting started.
Why Choose the MACED program?
Grow your career. Expand your influence.
Many organizations require a master’s degree of those who want to advance into positions of leadership. Our program is designed for those who’d like to move their career to the next level and help others on a larger scale.
Highest accreditation possible.
Our CED program represents the gold standard in accreditation. You’ll strengthen your professional credibility and graduate knowing that your degree is widely recognized and deeply respected. You’ll have professional credibility the minute you step into the field.
Address root causes.
Learn to see how global economic trends affect local communities. You can then design local solutions that maximize impact and sustainability.
Learn through hands-on experience.
The CED program integrates head knowledge with action. Through intensive, hands-on engagement with real-world challenges, you will learn to think critically and integrate the tools of project management, sustainable funding and grant writing, advocacy, and communication.
Build a stronger spiritual foundation.
CED professors seek to incorporate components of spiritual growth alongside academic learning. Our premise? All truly effective service flows out of a sense of spiritual purpose and theological grounding.
Focus on your passion.
Our program is unique in that it allows you to tailor your fieldwork, coursework, and thesis project to your specific interests. It’s an approach that fosters true mastery of a particular area of praxis.
Which Program is Right for Me?
Master of Arts in International Community Development
This program predominately focuses on global community development—often in overseas contexts—by:
- Emphasizing intercultural competencies and context.
- Emphasizing environmental sustainability and resilience.
Master of Arts in Community Economic Development
This program predominately focuses on domestic and local community development.
- Emphasizing economics and economic development.
- Emphasizing advocacy and policy work.
Questions about this program?
I would love to answer any questions about the Master of Arts in Community Economic Development program that you may have.
Lisa San Martin, M.A.
Director of Student Services