Master of Community Development

Masters of Community Development

The Master of Community Development program is a unique masters program that was designed by an interdisciplinary faculty at Detroit Mercy to create a holistic approach to the theory and practice of community development with a foundation rooted in service, social justice, and sustainability. The program integrates human, organizational, physical and economic (HOPE Model) aspects of community development for a comprehensive approach to the renewal of communities. The MCD program includes faculty from a number of different academic departments as well as professionals in community development to provide a broad, interdisciplinary foundation resulting in a program that combines theory with practical application.

The Master of Community Development is a one-of-a-kind program not found anywhere else in the United States. While other degree programs focus on one aspect of community development, our integrated program emphasizes a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach.

Students have collaborated with over 100 local organizations in support of class assignments, Capstone projects, research, internships, and fellowships.

Start a Great Career

Job Opportunities in Community Development include:

  • Social service agencies
  • Municipal or state government departments
  • Philanthropic organizations
  • Community development organizations
  • Community engagement or organizing consulting
  • Real estate development organizations
  • Social entrepreneurship or social impact enterprises

Program Highlights

  • Core curriculum courses explore complex issues in contemporary community development: diversity, social justice, regional, and global issues
  • Unique interdisciplinary and holistic studies
  • Collaborative teaching methods
  • Access to community development leaders and professionals
  • Experience faculty expertise from departments across campus
  • Participate in Detroit's community development culture
  • Team-focused course work
  • Urban-centered outreach and social justice focus
  • Opportunity to study in Havana, Cuba

Program Mission

The Master of Community Development program prepares and empowers students to engage and collaborate with communities striving to improve their quality of life. Through an interdisciplinary approach rooted in service, social justice, and sustainability, the program integrates human, organizational, physical, and economic aspects of community development in the urban context.


The Master of Community Development is a 36-credit-hour program. Full-time and part-time students are welcome to apply. The core curriculum is taught in an evening, weekend, or intensive format geared toward working adults. The program prepares graduates for a variety of leadership roles in community development, including municipal government, non-profit organizations, social service agencies, and real estate development.


The Capstone project culminates the Master of Community Development program. The project involves the creation of a comprehensive community development proposal for a real situation in a specific community that integrates human, organizational, economic, and physical concerns. The project is developed by a team of students and is pursue in collaboration with a local municipality, community development corporation, or sponsoring entity.


Application requirements for the Master of Community Development program are listed below. Apply online here.

  • Official transcripts from previous degree programs (A 3.0 undergraduate GPA is required for admission.)
  • Letter of Intent including why you want to be in the MCD program, how your experiences have prepared you for the program, and what aspects of the HOPE Model interest you
  • Resume
  • Two Letters of Recommendation, preferably one from an employer and one from a previous faculty member, including contact information of referees
  • Interview

Financial Assistance

The Master of Community Development program offers a few options for financial assistance. Detroit Mercy recently announced an adjustment in tuition for the Master of Community Development. Tuition will be $825 per credit hour for the 2021-22 academic year. Additionally, Detroit Mercy offers financial aid to MCD students in the form of loans. Please contact the Office of Financial Aid for assistance. A Fellowship position at our award-winning Detroit Collaborative Design Center may also be available.


The MCD curriculum has five elements: an intensive introduction, a core curriculum, a skills-building workshop series, a program of concentrations, and a Capstone project. "Introduction to Community Development" provides an overview of the four concentrations, while the remaining core curriculum explores more complex issues in contemporary community development, including diversity, social justice, regional and global issues and trends. The total credit hour requirement is 36 credit hours.

  1. Introduction to Community Development
  2. Core curriculum
  3. Skills Workshops
  4. Concentrations/Electives
  5. Capstone Project

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    Curriculum Plan

    The following is the suggested schedule for students starting the MCD program in Fall 2021:

    Fall 2021

    • MCD 5010: Introduction to Community Development – 2 credits
    • MCD 5060: Introduction to Physical Development – 3 credits 

    Winter 2022

    • MCD 5080: Introduction to Organizational Development – 3 credits
    • MCD 5120: Social, Environmental, and Economic Justice – 2 credits

    Summer 2022

    • MCD 5020: Introduction to Economic Development – 3 credits
    • MCD 5140: Regional Development & Sustainability – 2 credits                  

    Fall 2022

    • MCD 5040: Introduction to Human Development – 3 credits 
    • Elective – 3 credits

    Winter 2023

    • MCD 5100: Diversity and Multiculturalism – 2 credits
    • Elective – 3 credits

    Summer 2023

    • MCD 5900: Capstone I – 2 credits
    • Elective – 3 credits

    Fall 2023

    • MCD 5950: Capstone II – 4 credits
    • MCD 5200: Skills Workshop – 1 credit

    Introduction to community development, 2 cr. hours

    MCD 5010 : Introduction to Community Development, 2 cr
    This course introduces students to Detroit Mercy, the MCD Program, and Community Development in regional Detroit. The course provides students with an introduction to the MCD concentrations and core courses. Course format will feature case studies, guest lectures by community leaders, local tours and exposure to Community Development techniques and resources. The course structure will emphasize community building including team work, service and social opportunities.

    Core curriculum, 18 credit hours

    MCD 5020 : Introduction to Economic Development, 3 cr.
    (Prerequisite: MCD 5010: Introduction to Community Development). The objective of this course is to study the conditions that will strengthen the viability and vitality of enterprise and increase employment in the community. Topics include: principles of economic development and growth (community history and community growth potential, the role of business, labor and jobs, building sustainable systems, social capital); the role of community-based institutions (community support organizations, sources of funding); economic development planning (local economic development incentives, building public/private collaborative); the economic influence of neighborhood and building design; and measuring economic growth (data sources, methodology).

    MCD 5040 : Introduction to Human Development, 3 cr.
    (Prerequisite: MCD 5010: Introduction to Community Development) This course applies human development principles and methods to define the interaction between the social, natural, and built environments and to study the behavioral and attitudinal reaction of the human inhabitant in terms of mutual and ongoing transactions. The course integrates theory, research, and practice in human ecology and ecofeminism; reviews critical factors affecting people in their environment; and offers a basis to assist community developers in the design and planning of the human environment in terms of social sustainability. Special emphasis will be given to neighborhood and residential environments.

    MCD 5060 : Introduction to Physical Development, 3 cr.
    (Prerequisite: MCD 5010: Introduction to Community Development) This course is an introduction to the physical aspects of community development. The course focuses on the relationship between physical conditions (built and natural environments) and the economic, social and environmental sustainability of communities. Subject matter includes the role of physical place in the historical and contemporary development of communities, the role of the built environment as an integral component of sustainable communities, and concepts related to real estate development and capital projects. The course is taught by an inter-disciplinary team of instructors, and incorporates real world examples and project based learning.

    MCD 5080 : Introduction to Organizational Development, 3 cr.
    (Prerequisite: MCD 5010: Introduction to Community Development) This course is an introduction to the organizational development concentration. It will survey topics of transformational leadership, organizational management, and financial management. Primary emphasis will be on understanding 1) how to create, inspire and sustain a shared vision for community-based or agency-based initiatives; 2) the theories, dynamics, and life cycles of community development; and 3) how to utilize strategic planning, action planning and financial management strategies to create sustainable community change initiatives. The course will utilize open systems theory as the theoretical framework in which community assessment and organizing, organizational design and development, interpersonal and team dynamics, and organizational funding and financial management are studied. Theory and practice are integrated.

    MCD 5100 : Role of Diversity and Multiculturalism in Community Development, 2 cr.
    This course is designed to explore the role of diversity and multiculturalism on community development. Cultural identity and cultural institutions provide the foundation for an in-depth exploration of various aspects of diversity related to individuals, organizations, communities, and physical environments. Culturally based needs assessment is used to increase understanding related to community design and the influence of diversity in community development, specifically focusing on human services, community organizations, businesses and the arts. Case studies are utilized to assess the various dimensions of cultural identity and to illustrate the influence of such on community development. Various awareness-raising experiences will be utilized in order to further promote cultural awareness and sensitivity.

    MCD 5120 : Environmental, Social and Economic Justice, 2 cr.
    This course examines the contested meanings of social justice in the U.S. Questions are raised about the ethical adequacy of existing social, political, and economic norms (legal and ethical) by examining concrete economic and environmental issues related to the dehumanizing conditions that shape urban communities of marginalized people, disproportionately persons of color, women and children. This course will intentionally introduce contesting knowledge from marginalized voices and focus on the reality of Detroit. Throughout this process, the principles involved in doing social ethics will be explored.

    MCD 5140 : Regional Development + Sustainability, 2 cr.
    This seminar course will introduce students to ideas about the form of metropolitan regions and how they begin, grow, decline and grow again. We will investigate the ways in which we define "Region" - the natural, political, economic, social, cultural, technological and temporal boundaries that we assign to regions, and the way in which they function and play increasingly important roles in the United States, North America and throughout the world. The pedagogic approach will be case study methodology. We have identified regional Detroit as our "laboratory", and will include comparative case studies of other national, North American, and international regional efforts in regional planning and development. Students will be required to analyze case materials utilizing the following regional themes: catalyst, development, choice+consequence, governance, and assessment. The seminar will include readings, discussions, site visits, team and individual written and graphic assignment.


    Workshop Series, 1 credit hour

    MCD 5200: Skills Workshops, 1 cr.
    During the course of the MCD program, students must complete three MCD workshops of their choice focused on useful skills for working in a community development setting, Topics may vary, such as  community needs assessment, grant writing, presentation skills, geographic information systems (GIS), interpreting statistical data or community organizing.

    Concentrations, 9 credit hours

    Note: Not all courses are offered each academic year.

    Human Development
    This area of study emphasizes the relationship between people and their social and physical environment. Students study human interactions, by people of all ages that take place in community settings such as the home, the school and the neighborhood. Community needs assessment and social service requirements are part of this concentration. Courses include:

    • CNS 5360 Counseling Services: Organization & Administration (3 cr.)
    • EDU 5140 Society and Education (3 cr.) 
    • EDU 5820 School/Community Relations (3 cr.)
    • HLH 5320 Health Promotion and Risk Reduction (3 cr.)
    • HLH 5700 Health Care Delivery & Policy Issues (3 cr.)
    • PYC 5020 Lifespan Development (3 cr.)
    • RELS 5480 Justice: Contemporary Issues and Theories (3 cr.)
    • MCD 5027 Visual Sociology (3 cr.)
    • MCD 5028 Civic Engagement and the Participatory Process in Community Development (3 cr.)

    Organizational Development
    This area of study emphasizes how communities can organize to address their human, economic and physical conditions. Students study organizational funding and financing, transformational leadership, organizing volunteer services and working with governmental agencies to create community change. Courses include:

    • MBA 5210 Personal Development & Social Responsibility (3 cr.)
    • MBA 5250 Organizational Process and Leadership (3 cr.)
    • MBA 5680 Diversity in Management and Marketing (3 cr.)
    • MBA 5850 Organizational Development and Change (3 cr.)
    • PYC 5700 Issues in Industrial/Organizational Psychology (3 cr.)
    • PYC 5740 Training and Development (3 cr.)
    • PYC 5760 Multi-Cultural Issues & Race Relations in Work (3 cr.)
    • MCD 5028 Civic Engagement and the Participatory Process in Community Development (3 cr.)

    Physical Development
    This area of study emphasizes the man-made environment and its importance to the creation of community. Students study planning and design issues, ecological criteria of design, real estate development and the physical elements that help create a sense of place and identity in the community. Courses include:

    • ARCH 5920 Theory of Urban Form (3 cr.)
    • ARCH 5970 Teaching and Learning the City (3 cr.)
    • SEC 5240 Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (3 cr.)
    • MCD 5025 Financing Safety and Beautification to Enhance Commercial Corridors (3 cr.)
    • MCD 5026 Transit as a Critical Element to Community Development (3 cr.)
    • MCD 5028 Civic Engagement and the Participatory Process in Community Development (3 cr.)
    • MCD 5290 Architect/Community Developer as Real Estate Developer (3 cr.)
    • MCD 5295 Fundamentals of Finance (3 cr.)
    • MCD 5720 Historic Preservation (3 cr.)
    • MCD 5910 Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Community Development (3 cr.)

    Economic Development
    This area of study emphasizes the complex role of economics in community development. Students study an array of issues including job creation, business development and entrepreneurship and their impact on communities. Courses include:

    • ECN 5100 Economic Analysis (3 cr.)
    • ECN 5220 The Economics of Cities in Metropolitan Areas (3 cr.)
    • ECN 5450 Economics of the Public Sector (3 cr.)
    • ECN 5790 Economic Development (3 cr.)
    • MBA 5160 Foundations of Marketing (3 cr.)
    • MBA 5620 Entrepreneurship (3 cr.)
    • RELS 5430 Ethics & Economic Theories (3 cr.)
    • MCD 5025 Financing Safety and Beautification to Enhance Commercial Corridors (3 cr.)
    • MCD 5026 Transit as a Critical Element to Community Development (3 cr.)
    • MCD 5028 Civic Engagement and the Participatory Process in Community Development (3 cr.)
    • MCD 5290 Architect/Community Developer as Real Estate Developer (3 cr.)
    • MCD 5295 Fundamentals of Finance (3 cr.)
    • MCD 5720 Historic Preservation (3 cr.)

    Capstone project, 6 credit hours

    MCD 5900: Capstone I, 2 cr.
    (Prerequisite: advanced status in the MCD program) Capstone Preparation is a seminar course intended to prepare student teams for the successful completion of the capstone project. This course will outline research methods and project expectations. It will also serve as a vehicle to establish student project teams, faculty advisory committees and project abstracts. All three elements should be completed and approved by the program chair prior to beginning the capstone project. Abstracts must also be submitted to the selected sponsoring agency for approval. The Capstone Preparation course will be assessed on a pass/fail basis.

    MCD 5950: Capstone II, 4 cr.
    (Prerequisite: MCD 5900: Capstone I) The final step of the Master's of Community Development program is the creation of a comprehensive community development project. The project must make a proposal for a real situation in a specific community that integrates human, organizational, physical and economic (HOPE model) concerns. The project is to be developed by a team of students and must be pursued in collaboration with a local municipality, community development corporation, or other non-profit sponsoring entity. Each student team will be advised by a primary Faculty Advisor as well as a Faculty Advisory Committee. Although actual realization of the project is not expected, the project should be framed with that future possibility in mind.

MCD Faculty

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Toni Henry
Designer and Project Manager
Adjunct Professor

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Christina Heximer
Co-Executive Director Detroit Collaborative Design Center
Adjunct Professor

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Erika Lindsay
Associate Professor of Architecture and Community Development

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Ceara O'Leary
Co-Executive Director, Detroit Collaborative Design Center
Professor of Practice

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Madhavi Reddy
Interim Director, Master of Community Development Program
Adjunct Professor

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Linda Slowik
Associate Professor of Psychology
* Department Chair, Psychology

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Virginia Stanard
Associate Professor of Architecture and Community Development

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Stephen Vogel
Distinguished Professor
Dean Emeritus

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Lara Wasner
Director of Language and Cultural Training
Study Abroad Coordinator
Fulbright Student Advisor

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Alex Zamalin
Associate Professor of Political Science
Director of the African American Studies Program