Ph.D. in Community Resources & Development

The Ph.D. program is a university-wide interdisciplinary degree. The core faculty engaged in this program is housed in the School of Community Resources and Development (SCRD) at the Downtown Phoenix campus. The faculty is comprised of diverse individuals with a broad range of scholarly expertise and leadership abilities in the primary areas of study.

About the Ph.D. program:

There are many aspects of the Ph.D. in Community Resources and Development that make this degree unique among its peers.

ASU is located in the Phoenix Arizona metropolitan area, one of the fastest growing and most dynamic areas in the United States. Our location in the heart of the fifth largest city in the U.S. and capital of Arizona provides unprecedented access to a host of organizations, agencies, and businesses. It also provides a living laboratory for the study of issues facing communities today. ASU has the vision to be a New American University, promoting excellence in its research and among its students and faculty, increasing access to its educational resources and working with communities to positively impact social and economic development. This New American University is a single, unified institution comprising four differentiated campuses that positively impact the economic, social, cultural and environmental health of the communities it serves. Its research is inspired by real world application, blurring the boundaries that traditionally separate academic disciplines. ASU serves more than 69,000 students and welcomes students from all fifty states and more than one hundred nations.

The Ph.D. builds on current collaborations with faculty with related research interests from existing ASU departments, schools and centers with expertise in public administration, urban planning, community development, communication, gerontology, geography, exercise and wellness, human evolution and social change, family studies and human development, marketing, economics, sustainability, social work, criminal justice and criminology, sociology, and life sciences. The program builds on the current mission of SCRD where the concept of building sustainable and healthy communities is the unifying principle in the focus areas of parks and recreation management, tourism development and management, nonprofit leadership and management, and community studies. Although students will select one specific track, their scholarship will be interdisciplinary and collaborative. Research generally occurs within two thematic areas.

Sustainable communities:

Sustainability is a university-wide strategic initiative at ASU rather than the province of any single unit, and our School makes unique contributions to sustainability scholarship and education. This theme focuses on work that empowers communities to develop pathways for transformation to a sustainable future. Researchers investigate the individuals, institutions, and policies that define and promote healthy communities and explore fundamental social scientific questions about human-environment interactions. Focus is placed on producing knowledge that informs strategies for community capacity building and maintaining social, cultural, economic, and environmental values. Research empowers communities to utilize natural and cultural resources in a manner that promotes quality of life through economic growth, environmental protection and social equity, including causes and consequences of quality of life. Such a research program examines individual and collective meanings of natural, cultural, and economic environments at multiple scales and including the role of public, private, and nonprofit institutions in sustainable community development.

Community and economic development for the public good:

Research and education in this theme focus on understanding and promoting sustainable community and economic development activities to promote well-being, happiness, enhanced quality of life, and social equity for all residents. Specific projects examine the role of the nonprofit and philanthropic sector; parks, recreation, and tourism activities; and community organizations in promoting resilience, empowerment, and adaptive capacity for individuals and communities. This theme also focuses on improving organizational competence, enhancing professional development, and developing research-based knowledge for nonprofit, public and private sector organizations that provide tourism, parks and leisure, nonprofit, and community programs and services. These community resources are essential components to the quality of life for residents and visitors alike. In particular, the development of entrepreneurial approaches to social enterprise is a growing area of opportunity as communities seek to find new organizational forms that improve the human and community condition.

Ph.D. program details:

The degree program is organized around a set of integrative experiences for student cohorts that provide knowledge and analytical skills to understand and address contemporary challenges related to building sustainable and healthy communities. These experiences encompass interdisciplinary course work, mentoring by faculty, and community involvement. Students are mentored individually and in cohorts by close associations with faculty in teaching and research. Community-based research projects overseen by faculty and professionals are primary experiences for all students throughout their program of study. Consistent with our underlying principle and themes, students demonstrate relevance through linkages made between science and community challenges. Students are expected to work with faculty mentors to devise unique programs of study that focus on important community challenges.

The Ph.D. consists of a minimum of 54 credit hours beyond the Master degree. Students are required to take 24 credits of core coursework, 15 of which are with the cohort during their first year and 6 with their cohort during the second year. A faculty mentor is assigned the first year. A supervisory committee is formed at the end of the first year of study and reflects the interests of the student and faculty. Each student develops her/his program of study in consultation with the Ph.D. Program Director, faculty mentor, and supervisory committee.

Students complete at least 12 credits of elective coursework, including courses from contributing disciplines, selected in consultation with their advisors, to foster the interdisciplinary nature of the degree. Students also complete at least 6 credits of CRD 792 (Research) and 12 credits of CRD 799 (Dissertation).

Core courses (24 credits)

Five of the required first-year core classes bring students in the degree program together as a cohort in an integrated learning environment. A sixth class in advanced statistics or research methods is selected from current University offerings.

  • CRD 610 Sustainable Communities (Fall)
  • CRD 620 Community Research Methods (Fall)
  • CRD 502 Statistical and Data Analysis (Fall)
  • CRD 555 Theoretical Perspectives in Community Development (Spring)
  • CRD 683 Field Work (Spring)
  • Advanced statistics or research methods class to be chosen in consultation with advisor (Spring)

Two seminars that focus on professional development and research are required in the second year of study.

  • CRD 640 Research Seminar in Community Resources and Development I (Fall)
  • CRD 650 Research Seminar II (Spring)

Elective courses (minimum 12 credits) and Research (minimum 6 credits)
Students choose from a range of electives relating to the thematic areas and problem foci they have chosen for their degree program. Courses are selected in consultation with a faculty mentor and supervisory committee. These may include, but are not limited to, graduate courses offered within the School. CRD 792, Research may include work with a specific faculty member on a research project designed to enhance students’ research skills. Projects may also be conducted within units such as Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation, the Partnership for Community Development, and the Center for Sustainable Tourism.

Dissertation (12 credits)
CRD 799 Dissertation (12 hours) is required of all students. Nontraditional dissertation formats are an option. (Note: students may not take more than 12 credits of Dissertation.)

Comprehensive exams
When the majority of course work has been completed and before dissertation research, students must complete a written exam followed by an oral exam. Exams must be completed within five years of admission.

Ph.D. admission requirements and application process

Applicants are expected to meet the admission requirements of ASU's Graduate College. Students applying to the program are expected to have a Master's degree from an accredited institution. They are expected to have taken at least one master's level research methods and/or statistics class, and have a strong research foundation and interest.

Applications are accepted once a year in the spring semester (due by February 1st) and students are granted admission for fall semester only. The Ph.D. in Community Resources and Development is designed as a full-time, research-intensive program. Students are admitted once a year as a cohort and are generally expected to complete the degree in three to four years. A small number of part-time students on a longer completion time frame may be admitted when space is available. The School does not provide funding for part-time students.

Applicants are encouraged to contact the Ph.D. program director prior to application submission to discuss interests and fit with the program and faculty. They are also encouraged to contact faculty with similar interests to discuss their fit with the program.

Students must submit the following online to ASU's Graduate College by February 1:

  • Application to the Graduate College. This is completed online and requires an application fee of $70 (non-U.S. Citizen fee is $115). You will receive an e-mailed acknowledgment letter from the Graduate College that will include an ID number and information on how to access your My ASU page. You may check your application status on My ASU.
  • One copy of official transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate work. Transcripts must be sent in sealed envelopes, stamped and verified by the issuing institutions. A grade point average of at least a “B” (3.0) or equivalent is expected in all undergraduate and graduate work.

Send transcripts to:

If sending by stamped mail:

Arizona State University
Graduate Admission Services
PO Box 871004
Tempe, AZ 85287-1004

If sending by FedEx, DHL or UPS:

Arizona State University
Graduate Admission Services
1150 East University Drive Building C, Room 226
Tempe, AZ 85281

Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores [http://www.ets.org/gre] taken within the past five years. ASU's GRE Institutional Code is 4007.

GRE minimum requirements (new scoring system after August 2011):

  • Combined score of at least 300 (old system 1000);
  • Verbal minimum of 146 (old system 400);
  • Quantitative minimum of 140 (old system 400);
  • Writing 3.5. ( same for new and old systems).
  • A written statement of personal academic and professional goals. The statement should provide sufficient detail to indicate compatibility with the educational objectives and capabilities of the Ph.D. program (approximately 3 pages single spaced and submitted online with application). Please explain your research interests and indicate the faculty member with whom you would like to work. Please review faculty profiles (https://scrd.asu.edu/faculty_directory) to learn their research expertise. You should also contact individual faculty members to discuss your interests. Successful letters should make it clear why you have chosen to do a Ph.D. in Community Resources & Development and how this program will fulfill your career goals.
  • Curriculum vitae or resume.
  • Three letters of recommendation. During the online application process, you will be asked to provide the email addresses for three references who can write about your personal qualities and qualifications for graduate studies, such as career history, credentials, leadership strengths, communication skills and ability to plan and conduct research. Letters from family or personal friends are inappropriate. Recommendations from previous academic professors or supervisors are acceptable. There should be at least two references who are academic professors.
  • You are also encouraged to provide a copy of your scholarly writing (e.g., thesis abstract, a journal article, seminar paper) that shows your research competence. This can be sent via email to the Ph.D. Program Director.
  • International applicants, whose native language is not English, must provide TOEFL or IELTS scores. ASU's institutional code is 4007. The minimum TOEFL requirement is 550 (PBT) or 80 (iBT). The minimum IELTS requirement is an overall band score of 6.5 (no individual band below a 6.0). The TOEFL or IELTS must have been taken within the last two years. If you have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited university in the United States you do not need to submit evidence of English proficiency.
  • You must provide proof of Measles Immunization before attending classes.

If you are seeking an assistantship, please visit here.

The Graduate College application evaluation process takes approximately four weeks before a file is processed and forwarded to the Ph.D. Program Director. You will be notified of the decision by the middle of March. All of the data points will be evaluated as a whole to determine admission. Only complete application files will be reviewed and considered for admission.

Please note: Because ASU receives applications from many highly qualified students, some applicants may be denied admission for reasons not related to their academic performance (e.g., program capacity, mentor availability, program match).

You may start your application now by going to the Graduate College website (https://admission.asu.edu/graduate/apply).

For more information about the Ph.D. program and requirements, please access the Ph.D. Handbook.

Contact information:

For general questions about Ph.D. in Community Resources and Development contact us at:
(602) 496-0550 or e-mail at scrd@asu.edu.

You may also contact the Ph.D. Program Director, Dr. Lili Wang, about a particular interest or to schedule a consultation. Contact Dr. Wang at (602) 496-2022 or by e-mail at Lili.Wang@asu.edu.