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Bachelors of Science in Community Development

The Bachelors of Science degree in Community Development (CD) takes a deep dive into the field by requiring 36 Major credits (12 courses) with numerous opportunities for field-based practice. Studying theory and skills development. As the field of Community Development continues to grow, the Bachelors of Science degree reiterates to employers the rigor students endure to develop the skills, aptitude and competencies required to be a change agent.

As a CD 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 Required Credits: 36 (12 courses)

Required Courses: (36 credits)
(CD) Course Descriptions Link

CD 220 Elements and Issues in Community Development
IDS 300 Professional Presentations
CD 350 Housing & Development Skills
CD 351 Sustainable Economic & Community Development
CD 352 Non-Profit Management
PA 360 Organizational Communication
CD 401 Research Methods in Community-Based Practice
PA 411 Grant Writing

and, Four (4) Electives chosen by the student with approval from the Program Director.

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)

Course Descriptions

CD 220 – Elements and Issues in Community Development
Overview of the concepts, theories, and applications in the field of community development. This is the foundation course for the Community Development program, but it is appropriate for all students interested in a comprehensive look at the elements required to understand what makes for successful communities, from housing to education, to social services and infrastructure. (3 credits) Fall, Summer

IDS 300 – Professional Presentations
Prerequisites: COMM 210 or IDS 210 This course offers practical applications to enhance understanding of the communication practices in the business world, and specifically provide students with the ability to create professional presentations to inform or persuade various internal and external business audiences. Students will build on previous communication/writing courses to develop professional presentations using visual, spoken and written communication based on standard communication and persuasion theories and using traditional and trending presentation software. (3 Credits) Summer I

CD 350 – Housing and Development
Skills Blends the academic framework of theory and analysis of housing policy with skills-oriented instruction. Using readings, class discussions, guest speakers, lecturers, and class journals, the course explores key subject areas related to housing and development, including housing theory, planning, data analysis, assessment of housing needs, community participation, stakeholders, roles, negotiation, codes, construction procurement, homelessness, financing, foreclosures, tenant and management issues, sustainable design, regionalism and other issues. (3 credits)

CD 351 – Sustainable Economic and Community Development
Explores key subject areas related to sustainable economic development, including business creation and retention, microenterprises, co-ops, job creation, asset development, sector analysis, the connection between economic development and social health. Examines the role that community development professionals can and should play in ensuring that economic development occurs in a sustainable manner. (3 credits)

CD 352/MGMT 352 – Non-Profit Management
Cross-listed as MGMT 352 The course provides students with an overview of the role of the nonprofit sector in the United States, as well as comprehensive exposure to the various elements of managing a non-profit organization. Governance, personnel, finance, planning and service delivery will be examined and best practices located. Students emerge from this course better able to face the challenges of working in and managing a non-profit organization. (3 credits) Spring

PA 360 – Communication in Organizations
Prerequisite: POLSC 100 or PA 201 or PA 202 or consent of instructor A study of the nature and importance of communications in complex organizations such as corporations and agencies. Topics include communication theory, theory of organizations, managing communications in organizations, and effects of communication on behavior and attitudes. (3 credits)

CD 401 – Research Methods in Community Based Practice
Prerequisites: CD 351, CD 352
This course will provide an introduction to research methods used in the social sciences and their application to community based practice. This will include case studies, experiments, and surveys; Students will have the opportunity to learn specific research skills and how to develop empirically sound conclusions about social phenomena that they observe. Specific emphasis will be placed on how community practitioners investigate program and project outcomes. Students will apply this knowledge to a field-based project. (3 credits)

PA 411/SHS 411 – Grant Writing
Cross-listed as SHS 411 Provides a working knowledge of the various sources of funds available to the grant writer as well as the terminology and the components (problem statements, objectives, methodology, evaluation, budget) of various funding applications and instruments. At the conclusion of the course the student will have the skills to do basic research for a grant proposal and to write a proposal. (3 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 an 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.