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Students in the Ph.D. in community engagement program partnered with the Pittsburgh Food Bank. Photo | Sarah Collins

Beginning fall 2015, Point Park University is offering the region's first interdisciplinary Ph.D. in community engagement program. The program is designed to give current and future leaders the tools necessary to become agents of change in diverse community settings.

The 54-credit doctoral program can be completed in three years (less if post-masters credits are transferred in), attending class one night per week. The cost of the program is expected to be similar to Point Park's Ed.D. in leadership and administration program (estimated $13,500 per year).

"This program will be a true social lab, with students working throughout their courses with community partners on real-world projects," said Heather Starr Fiedler, Ph.D., associate professor in Point Park's School of Communication. "This format will allow the students to come together as a team, bringing their collective wisdom and skill sets to help better serve the community."

For students, work with outside community organizations begins early in the program. Small groups will partner with local organizations in various classes to tackle problems or opportunities. Individual dissertations then will be combined to create a community report that will be presented publicly to ensure maximum benefit.

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).

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 15-21 credits per year. Most courses are offered in the evening, allowing working professionals to balance family, personal and career commitments while finishing all required courses and a dissertation.

Learn More

For more information, contact the Office of Graduate and Online Admissions at 412-392-3808, 1-800-321-0129 or

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