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Bachelor of General Studies in Community Development

As a Community Development Program graduate you can look forward to employment in places such as nonprofit organizations, community development corporations, housing organizations, municipalities and other public agencies, for-profit social enterprises and organizing and social justice organizations. Other fields where you could apply your skills are law enforcement, public administration, public health, education, banking/finance and even environmental sciences.

Program Description

The Community Development program provides current and prospective community development practitioners with a foundation based on theory, skill development, and practice to address the challenges of today’s urban and rural neighborhoods. Through course work, fieldwork, and internships, you will learn how Community Development is the intersection of public health, public safety, education, economic development and housing, and how they all work in concert. The Community Development program will teach you how theory connects to practice and how policy drives systems change. You will learn to critically examine the roles and effectiveness of informal community groups, financial institutions, private developers, local nonprofits, and government agencies in community development. You will gain the expertise to become an agent of change to positively impact your neighborhood and beyond.

The Community Development program offers concrete skills and hands-on training in areas such as nonprofit management, research and data analysis, geographic information systems, environmental impact assessment, housing and economic development.

Program Objectives

The objectives of the Community Development program are:

  • To provide you with the mastery of skills in the field that include community organizing, empowerment of others, organizational leadership and management
  • To create systems change by inducing collaborative partnerships.
  • To provide you with the foundation and knowledge to apply these skills in a variety of fields that support sustainable and healthy communities.



Total Major Credits (24 credits)

Required Courses: (15 credits)

CD 220 Elements and Issues in Community Development
CD 350 Housing and Development Skills
CD 351 Sustainable Economic and Community Development
CD 352 Non-Profit Management
CD 440 Public Administration Practicum

The practicum may be satisfied through either the documentation of community development employment or experience or through learning experiences acquired by placement.

Major Electives (9 credits)
Select three courses from the areas of leadership and nonprofit management, housing, planning and development skills, and community economic and social development, with advisor approval.

Core Curriculum (30 credits)
Includes two writing courses (including Expository Writing or the equivalent); a Mathematics skills course; and at least one approved course from each of the following categories: Natural Science, Humanities, Fine Arts, Social Science, and speech; and additional liberal arts electives for a total of 30 credits.

Electives (66 credits)

Total Credits required to graduate (120 credits)


Community Development at Roger Williams University by showing mastery in the following seven areas:

  • Know and Understand the Community. A community developer can critically analyze the social determinants impacting a community while also identifying its needs, assets and opportunities. They can express effective and transactional listening to holistically understand community needs by applying theory, historical context and qualitative field experience.
  • Organizational Leadership and Management. A community developer can effectively manage and lead an organization in the public or private sector that promotes equality and economic prosperity. Community Developers successfully facilitate fundraising, social enterprising and entrepreneurship opportunities in community organizations as leaders in the effort.
  • Providing Learning and Development Opportunities. A community developer can identify community issues, learning and skills gaps, and identify solutions and resources to address those needs. Community developers take initiative to address community needs and intend on long-term impact by providing opportunities for personal/professional development that have long-term impacts on community members and provide opportunities for social mobility.
  • Building and Maintaining Relationships. A community developer can effectively build and maintain relationships across all community members, key public/private leaders, developers, employers and various other community stakeholders. Community developers build relationships in ways that promote healthy and sustainable communities.
  • Promote and Facilitate Community Empowerment. Community developers create spaces and opportunities for community members to become active agents of change through engagement in opportunities of actual decision-making. By identifying and managing community assets, community developers campaign for change and organize community members around issues to empower others to campaign for change.
  • Operate Across Multiple Systems to Work Collaboratively. A community developer facilitates the effective collaboration of multiple critical social systems to address community needs. By utilizing the assets and opportunities from aligning resources in efficient ways, a community developer can solve complex community issues by rethinking how systems work and operate in concert with one another for the benefit of the broader community.
  • Evaluate and Inform Best Practices. A community developer can understand and analyze a community’s needs and craft a response to those needs that involve working across multiple systems to create change. Community developers assess and evaluate their practice for effectiveness and sustainable impact in order to educate stakeholders on how to replicate and bring to scale.