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Community Development program offers options for a variety of learners

The School of Psychology, Sociology and Rural Studies, formed in July 2021, offers a variety of majors to fit the lifestyle of different students. One of those programs, the master’s in sociology with a specialization in community development, is offered completely online.

The master’s program is in partnership with the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GPIDEA). This is a group of public universities across the nation offering online degree and certificate programs in subjects from human services to agriculture. A student in a degree program offered through the GPIDEA is admitted to one university but completes courses offered by other universities in the program alongside their home institution. Each undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs are developed in collaboration with the public universities in the alliance.

Nicole Lounsbery, director of the Graduate School, explained this program provides flexibility to a variety of a learners. “The online M.S. in sociology - community development specialization provides an opportunity for graduate students, especially nontraditional students and working professionals, to complete a degree on their own time, in their own way, allowing the flexibility to work around career and personal obligations while providing a rich educational experience through SDSU’s partnership with the GPIDEA.”

SDSU has been a partner in GPIDEA since 2000. Partners for the master’s in sociology - community development specialization include Kansas State University, North Dakota State University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Diagram with four orange circles intersecting

Community development is an interdisciplinary practice that includes study in sociology, economics, planning and governance. Meredith Redlin, professor in the School of Psychology, Sociology and Rural Studies, said the program is organized around six core courses: foundational theory, community-based natural resource management, economic development, applied research methods, principles and strategies for community development and community organizing for change.

Students in the program come from a variety of backgrounds and professions. Past students have come from fields such as banking, finance, extension services, nonprofits and parks and recreation. With a fully online, asynchronous program, many are able to work full-time. Students are also able to tailor their courses and degree programs to their own lifestyles and educational goals.

“This type of unique degree program is applicable to students who intend to work or who are already working in a wide variety of career positions, including nonprofit organizations, public administration, community, regional and local planning departments, community extension and tribal programs,” said Lounsbery.

The field of community development is rapidly growing. “Whether the goals for their home communities and regions include development in the arts, immigrant programs, economic revival or building strong community connections across racial and ethnic diversity, the field of community development offers strategies for building these opportunities,” stated Redlin.

Currently, the master’s in community development is the only graduate degree in sociology offered at SDSU. Applications to the program are processed through the Graduate School.

Looking for more information on the graduate program in sociology with a specialization in community development? Contact Meredith Redlin.