College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Master of Arts in International Community Development (Online)

Program Also Offered On-Campus ›

It takes more than good intentions to create real change in the world. It takes preparation. It takes knowledge. And it takes humility to learn from those we seek to help.

The Master of Arts in International Community Development degree will equip you to work with communities to create sustainable, community-owned and community-honoring change.

The MAICD curriculum has a practical emphasis and includes qualitative research skills, a six-credit certificate in Outcomes-Oriented Program Management, and opportunities to collaborate with existing nonprofit organizations. You’ll gain a big-picture view of community development and social justice issues, and an understanding of how they are interrelated. You will also be challenged to focus on a particular cause that you care about, and create a project or thesis around this theme.

Program Details

  • 36 credits
  • $12,582 annual tuition costs (2020–21)
  • 20–24 months
  • Choice of 6–8 credits per semester
  • All online except two one-week international trips
  • Fully accredited university

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Webinar: Community Development in Covid Days

Join us for a webinar with Stephanie Robinson of Konbit Haiti, Medard Ngueita of World Relief Seattle, Alex Miller of Not Abandoned, and Dr. Forrest Inslee, our MAICD program chair. We’ll be discussing the impact of Covid on their operations and strategies in their various spheres of community development. How can we adapt our community development approaches and strategies to this crisis, while honoring the communities we work with? There will be time for Q&A.

Saturday, June 13, at 10:00 am Pacific Time

Register Here

Make your community development work as effective as possible.

You may know Robert Katende as the inspiring chess coach behind the Disney film Queen of Katwe. The creative community development work he began through chess was already making a difference in Uganda and around Africa, but he knew he wanted to do more. He chose the MA in International Community Development to help him evaluate and expand his work.

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MAICD Application Information


  • December 1st with an acceptance decision before Christmas
  • March 1st with an acceptance decision in late March
  • May 1st with an acceptance decision in late May
  • June–August applications reviewed as space is available


  • No GRE required
  • No application fee
  • Begin studying in late August
  • FAFSA eligible
  • Military benefits available

Hear From Our Graduates

Many of our International Community Development graduates have gone on to make the world a better place. Some have worked with local governments. Others have been employed by existing relief organizations. Still others have started their own organizations. All have been equipped for success.

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Student Focus Areas

Our students’ areas of focus vary widely, including both local and international issues and settings. Students create thesis projects around their chosen topics, and very often put these projects into practice—either in their current professional roles, or soon after graduation. These topics have included:

  • localized community development
  • human trafficking prevention/solutions
  • employment for vulnerable populations
  • social enterprise
  • technology/design for developing contexts
  • empowering trauma survivors
  • healthy church/community partnerships
  • holistic missions
  • orphan or elder care
  • environmental justice and sustainability
  • refugee/immigrant assistance
  • contextualized nutrition
  • educational issues for developing contexts
  • race relations and equality
  • peacemaking/ peacebuilding
  • empowering women and children
  • land rights and water access

Make a Living. Make a Difference.

After graduating from the International Community Development program, the Peace Corps selected Brian Humphreys to direct a national youth initiative in the Dominican Republic. Next, he worked for the Department of Labor to stimulate economic development. "The ICD program taught me how to be a trust-builder between people and organizations. The Department of Labor saw this skill set and hired me to apply it to their project."

Common Career Paths

Relief and Development Nonprofits

Whether you are a current seasoned professional or just starting out, we can help you take your career in relief and development to the next level. Our practical classes can be applied to many roles, including project manager, program evaluator, fundraiser, and country director.

Your Own Organization

Make your own social enterprise, nonprofit organization, business, or network more purposeful, sustainable, and effective. Some of our alumni begin the program having already launched an organization, and have used the MAICD degree to become more effective, credible, and sustainable. Others go on to start their own initiatives after graduation.

Local Government and Advocacy

Work for the department of labor, health and human services, tribal relations, city planning, advocacy and policy groups influencing the government, or nonprofits in partnerships with local government. Direct, facilitate, or serve as a consultant.

Schools and Education Systems

Start a school for a disadvantaged population, advocate on behalf of immigrant students, advise multicultural programs, organize an educational program, or teach students of all ages. Our graduates serve in all levels of education.

Church Ministries and Missions

Serve as a missions director, an urban outreach coordinator, or a missionary; transform your context through a holistic approach to intercultural work, and create healthy partnerships in your community and around the world.

Healthcare Organizations

Become a cultural communications consultant or a minority rights advocate, start a clinic, or facilitate the sustainable growth of improved healthcare in a particular context. Medical professionals often take our program as a way to orient their skillset around issues of community health and/or cross-cultural praxis.

Businesses and Foundations

Work in the corporate relations department of a business, or in a philanthropic foundation. Found your own social purpose business. Become a grant coordinator or a community impact researcher. Ensure that organizations doing great work are truly sustainable.

Plan your thesis project in Oxford

And return to another international city to defend your thesis project (most recently, to Prague). With our online global hybrid program, you will not only have the opportunity to travel for your fieldwork (if desired), but you will also have two one-week trips with your cohort, as you first process and plan your fieldwork and thesis or thesis project, and later defend and present your final work to your cohort, family, and friends. For the cohort beginning in August of 2020, these trips are scheduled for summer 2021 and summer 2022. More than just a chance to study together, these week-long trips will allow you and your peers to become both friends and central figures in each other's emerging professional networks. It's an important program feature that will enrich your online learning experience.

Why Choose Northwest University for your MA in International Community Development Degree?

Learn through hands-on experience.

Our practical skills classes comprise the Graduate Certificate in Outcomes-Oriented Program Management, which you will earn as a part of your MAICD degree, and feature opportunities for intensive hands-on engagement with organizations in the field.

Study in a diverse, close-knit cohort.

Our students live and work all over the world. Uniquely among Christian International Community Development programs, the MAICD does not require students to embrace a particular faith statement, so you can expect to engage a real-world variety of perspectives. And with our built-in trips, and the consistent community resulting from a retention rate of 95%, you will know your cohort well. 

Maximize your cross-cultural influence.

We equip you to understand the culture of a given service context by teaching an ethos of listening well in the spirit of mutual empowerment. Our core belief? You must know a culture deeply—and surrender yourself to the wisdom of those whom you serve—if you want your efforts to have maximum impact. 

Focus on your passion.

Our program allows you to tailor your fieldwork, coursework focus, and thesis project to your specific interests, while still equipping you with a global view of the field. 

Understand and embrace your calling at a Christian university.

ICD professors seek to incorporate components of spiritual growth, personal transformation, and vocational exploration alongside academic learning. Our premise? The most effective service flows out of a well-developed sense of one’s core values. 

Receive the highest accreditation possible.

We represent the gold standard in accreditation. You'll strengthen your professional credibility and graduate knowing that your degree is widely recognized and deeply respected.

Experienced Faculty

At Northwest University, we have over 80 years of experience in creating and teaching curriculum, and over 12 years teaching the MA in International Community Development. Our faculty have invested that experience—as well as their own development practitioner experience and the collaborative input of alumni and nonprofit representatives—into every one of the 36 credits that make up our Master of Arts in International Community Development degree.

Program Faculty

View Courses

View program details and course descriptions.

Go to the Catalog

Next Steps

Ready to get started? Begin the admission process now by completing our online application form. Or fill out the Request Info form, and a member of our Admissions team will contact you soon.

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