Global Community Development

Applications are no longer being accepted for this program. If you have questions, please call Graduate Studies 423.236.2694.

All graduate degrees

We are here to equip students who sense a personal calling to mission service and who want to help others live an abundant life.

You'll learn to . . .

  • Lead community-based global projects that focus on building sustainable relationships.
  • Improve the lives of at-risk populations by collaborating with indigenous and non-indigenous groups in sharing information, resources, and vision.
  • Train local communities to be able to plan, implement, and assess their own projects.

You'll get hands-on experience

Our program incorporates a strong research component with hands-on experience. We prepare you for employment in a variety of organizations or to direct your own self-supporting ministry. You’ll gain experience in projects involving micro-finance, agriculture, literacy and health education, environmental preservation, artisan crafts, and more.

    • View samples of interest sectors and employer/career options »

    Possible Interest Sectors
    Agriculture Environment and climate change Media relations
    Artisan development Families Nutrition resources 
    Child development Fundraising Peace-building
    Christian witness Food security Shelter
    Civil society Global entrepreneurship Technology
    Community assessment  Health Training and capacity building
    Disability HIV and AIDS Urban development
    Disaster mitigation Human migration Water and sanitation
    Education Literacy  
    Emergency response  Microenterprise  
    Potential Employers and Careers
    Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) HelpAge Canada
    Adventist-Laymen’s Services & Industries (ASI) International Rescue Committee
    Africare Operation Blessing International
    American Red Cross Outpost Centers International
    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Pathfinder International
    CARE REACH International
    Christian Community Development Association Save the Children
    Doctors Without Borders Fintrac United Nations
    Global Hand World Concern
    Gospel for Asia World Relief
    Habitat for Humanity World Vision International
    GCD Career/job postings
    • The program equips you with nine specific competencies. View the list  »
    1. Christian Witness & Professionalism
      • Ethical behavior
      • Development values (personal mission)
      • Integration of faith and practice
      • Professional decorum 

    2. Advanced Communication
      • Oral speaking/presenting
      • Technical writing (proposals and reports)
      • Cross-cultural sensitivity
      • Productivity (meeting minutes, emails, etc.) 

    3. Use of Technology
      • Social media communication 
      • Geographical information systems
      • Data processing of statistics
      • ePortfolio  

    4. Safety (Personal and Team)
      • Security 
      • Self-care 
      • Health and wellness

    5. Community Empowerment
    • Engagement
    • Organization
    • Civil society building
    • Advocacy
    • Governance building
    • Policy analysis
    • Social marketing
    • Training, planning, and implementation
    • Activity innovation, design, execution, and budgeting
    • Sustainable transition
    6. Leadership
      • Strategic visioning/planning
      • HR management
      • Volunteer management
      • Team building
      • Time management and work organization
      • Conflict mediation
      • Ensuring strategies for empowering vulnerable and special populations
      • Critical and independent thinking

    7. Evidence-based Practice
      • Research methodology (quantitative and qualitative)
      • Assessment and capacity mapping
      • Monitoring
      • Evaluation
      • Standards and best practices

    8. Networking
      • Government relations 
      • Partnerships (public/private)
      • Donor relations

    9. Innovative Entrepreneurship
      • Business enterprise
      • Social enterprise (crowdfunding/fundraising)
      • Resource acquisition
      • Value chain mobilization
      • Supply chain and logistics

How the program works

Most full-time students take five semesters to complete the MSGCD degree. Part-time options are also available. A typical full-time program looks like this:

  • First semester:  Online courses provide the foundation of practical proficiencies such as fundraising, field-based research, and other professional skills. This is Rotation 1—Knowledge Building.

  • Second semester:  Travel to a field-service site for a three-week, hands-on learning opportunity working and studying with a local community. This is Rotation 2—Experiential Learning.

  • Third and fourth semesters:  An internship at a carefully selected learning site solidifies your experiential learning and expands your career opportunities and network. You may intern at your place of employment or at a non-governmental organization. These two semesters constitute Rotation 3—Extended Internship.

  • Fifth semester:  Prepare and defend your learning with an ePortfolio. This is Rotation 4—Learning Defense.



  • Bachelor's degree:  Bachelor’s degree from an accredited program
  • GPA requirement:  Minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0

Admission process

Applications are no longer being accepted for this program. If you have questions, please call Graduate Studies 423.236.2694.

International students

Applicants who are not citizens or permanent residents of the United States are considered international students and must meet additional requirements for admission.

  1. Applicants from non-English institutions must submit certified English translations and evaluations of official university records, including demonstration of the equivalency of a bachelor's degree.
    Transcript evaluations must be submitted directly to Southern from one of the following agencies:
  2. Applicants from non-English-speaking countries must demonstrate English proficiency.
    Unless an applicant is a native English speaker or received the college/university degree from an English-medium institution, s/he must have a minimum TOEFL score of 100. TOEFL scores are valid for two years from the test date. Learn more at »

International students enrolling in Global Community Development are not required to travel to the United States, so they are not required to obtain the Form I-20 or F-1 Student Visa, and they do not have to submit the Declaration of Finances.

Course guide

All courses in each rotation are to be completed before advancing to the next rotation.

  GCDP 505 Foundations of Christian Values and Witness in Development/Relief  2
  GCDP 510 Theories of Global Community Development/Relief 2
  GCDP 515 Principles of Development Entrepreneurship 2
  GCDP 520 Techniques for Project Planning and Capacity Building 2
  GCDP 525 Methods of Scholarship in Development/Relief 2
  GCDP 528

Preparation for Global Service

Knowledge Building Total   11
  GCDP 535 Sector Review of Best Practices in Development 2
  GCDP 550 Community Training and Assessment 2
  GCDP 560 Politics and Legal Issues in Community Development 2
  GCDP 570 Community Organizing and Mobilization 2
  GCDP 575 Community-owned Project Management 2
  GCDP 580 Evidence-based Project Monitoring and Evaluation 2
Experiential Learning Total   12
  GCDP 565 Special Topics Seminar (1 hour each) 2
  GCDP 589 Rotation Transition 1
  GCDP 592 Field Practice Internship (1-6 hours) 1-6
Extended Internship Total   9
  GCDP 599 Learning Documentation and Defense 1
Learning Defense Total   1
  MSGCD Total   32


Braam Oberholster
Braam Oberholster


Alan Parker
Alan Parker


Get started

Welcome! I'm delighted that you have decided to explore the exciting, fulfilling, and life-changing world of global community development. If you have any questions about the program or potential careers, please don't hesitate to call or email me today. It would be my pleasure to help you take the next step in pursuing your educational and professional goals.

Karon Powell

Assistant Professor