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Applications are now being accepted for the fall 2018 semester. Apply online

The Ph.D. in community engagement is a unique social lab designed for working professionals who want to improve their effectiveness as leaders while gaining a broad understanding of public policy, program development and social entrepreneurship.

The community engagement program prepares leaders for outreach and partnership work in civic, business and community organizations. Students can complete this 54-credit program in three academic years (attending class one night per week), and possibly less depending on whether they are transferring any post-master's credits.

Ph.D. students volunteer at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank

Ph.D. students volunteer at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank

Program Details

The Ph.D. program is comprised of four blocks of study:

  • Block 1: Community Engagement core (18 credit hours taken at the start of the program);
  • Block 2: Research and Practicum core (12 credit hours);
  • Block 3: Proseminars/Electives (choose 12 credit hours, taken during the summers. Up to 12 credits may be transferred into this block pending approval of the program director.); and
  • Block 4: Dissertation & Collaborative Community Engagement Report (12 credit hours).

Fall 2017 tuition rate: The cost per credit in the Ph.D. in community engagement program is $812.

Fall 2018 tuition rate: to be be determined in January 2018.

The following options can help you afford your Ph.D.:

Learn more about tuition and fees

* With its already affordable cost, the Ph.D. program is not eligible for tuition discount programs.

Other key benefits of the program include:

  • Option to transfer in up to 12 post-master's degree credits
  • A mentor-led practicum experience completing a community engagement project
  • An integrated community engagement report where students form a collective report based on their individual dissertations
  • Courses based on interdisciplinary framework
  • Opportunities for networking, professional research projects and presentations
  • Feedback provided by faculty throughout the dissertation process

Upon completion of your Ph.D. in community engagement, you will be able to:

  • Analyze the connections among the sectors of society from both a theoretical and practical perspective.
  • Explore sociological, business, communication and environmental factors that contribute to a community's success.
  • Understand the differences between private, public, and non-profit organizational systems and the way they relate to one another.
  • Apply ethical leadership principles to community-based issues.
  • Develop and evaluate programs for use in business, government or non-profit sectors.
  • Demonstrate the ability to utilize advocacy and public policy to bring about social change.
  • Demonstrate the ability to form innovate solutions to social problems.
  • Illustrate the role of research in guiding change and progress and utilize theory and research.
  • Lead the development of collaborative relationships between civic, business and non-profit entities in order to create a more socially just, equitable and dynamic world.

Take a look at our three-year program schedule. Courses in the Ph.D. program run year-round and are divided into eight-week sessions. Students will typically take one course each eight weeks, earning you 15-21 credits per year for a total of 54 credits.

Most courses are offered in the evening, allowing working professionals to balance family, personal and career commitments while finishing all required courses - as well as a dissertation - in two to three years, depending on transfer credit.

Residency Requirements

Residency is met by completing three consecutive semesters of study in the program with a minimum of six hours of course work per semester. Summer, fall and spring semesters are counted toward residency.

Important Dates

Admission Interviews (invitation only)

  • March 24, 2018: Interview and Writing Session I, 9 a.m.-noon in 210 Thayer Hall.
  • April 5, 2018: Interview and Writing Session II, 5-8 p.m. in 210 Thayer Hall.

Candidates are required to attend the entire three-hour session.

Application Deadline & Admission Decision

  • March 23, 2018: Application deadline.
  • April 10, 2018: Applications are to be complete and ready for admission review.
  • April 25, 2018: Applicants will be contacted regarding an admission decision.
  • May 25, 2018: Admitted students must commit to the program and are free to register for coursework.

Learn More

For additional information, contact Kathy Ballas, director of the Office of Graduate Admission, at or 412-392-3812.

Faculty bring industry experience to the classroom

Point Park faculty members bring academic and work experience into the classroom.

Pictured is Heather Starr Fiedler
  • Chair, Department of Community Engagement
  • Professor of multimedia 
  • Director, Wood Street Communications