Program details

Create and contribute to community betterment with Iowa State’s 30-credit online Master of Community Development (MCD) program.

Global conditions, socioeconomic inequities and environmental changes are creating challenges for rural and urban communities. The practice of community development has become integral to the livability, resilience and sustainability of communities as our lives have become more complex and unpredictable.

Community developers:

  • Identify and address local issues and opportunities
  • Activate residents in community decision-making
  • Build economically and socially diverse communities
  • Advance and expand local leadership


Designed for the nontraditional student, the professional Master of Community Development can be completed at your own pace or as quickly as one year. Unlike many online programs, the MCD promotes student engagement, collaboration and ties to a brick-and-mortar university. The 30-credit program consists of 15 required course credits and 15 credits of elective courses. This is a non-thesis degree with a capstone practicum experience.

The curriculum offers latitude in selection of electives to allow you to design your plan of study to fit your career goals. Students learn history, theory and methods of community development, but have access to electives to explore avenues of learning in fields such as economic development, sustainable development, housing and local leadership development. The capstone experience allows you put into practice what you learned and make contacts and references to further your career upon graduation.

Application requirements

Anyone applying for admission to the Online Master of Community and Regional Planning program must complete the Iowa State University Graduate College online application. As part of the application, you will be asked to provide:

  • Official academic transcripts indicating a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent in any field, and a 3.0/4.0 minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA)
  • Three letters of recommendation from individuals from your educational or professional background who can most directly speak about your ability to complete graduate level course work and teaching duties
    • You will be asked within the application to provide the names and email addresses for your three references; when you submit the application, the three individuals will receive an email notification from ISU Admissions with a link to the recommendation form
  • English Proficiency Exam (international applicants only)
  • Financial statement (international applicants only)

Departmental financial assistance is not available for this program; please view the cost of attendance before applying.

Consideration date

Open to students of all backgrounds, applications to the Master of Community Development are reviewed on a rolling basis with no deadline to apply.

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