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How to Apply

Students and Faculty


Apply online here


Our Applicants 

The doctoral program in Community Research & Action (CRA) at Peabody College  draws its students from several undergraduate majors including psychology, human and organizational development, sociology, political science, economics, geography, urban planning, and environmental studies.

CRA also draws students from graduate programs in the HOD department, both of which are at the terminal master's level and emphasize practical, as opposed to research-based, training: one is the Human Development Counseling program (including community counseling); the other is the Community Development Action program. The CRA program welcomes applications from students completing these or other master's degrees, as long as applicants clearly desire more intensive research training. Such transfer students would still be required to fulfill all requirements of the doctoral program, although many of their master's-level course credits could satisfy some Ph.D. requirements. Students in CRA will receive an M.Ed upon completion of a master's thesis, which is not required in the terminal M.Ed. programs.

Student Support 

All entering doctoral students receive financial support covering tuition, a stipend, and health insurance for up to five years, depending on their degree level (Bachelor's or Master's) when starting doctoral studies.

Applying Online 

Online applications are encouraged.  Apply online here.  For those wishing to apply by mail, you will find contact information below.

The application deadline for the Ph.D. program in Community Research & Action (CRA) is December 1. If your application is not completed by the deadline, you risk not being considered for admission. Applicants are responsible for making sure all materials are in by the deadline. 

Since applications for admission must be made to the Vanderbilt University Graduate School, it is important to clearly identify all of your materials and to mark your application as follows:

  • The department should be listed as: EHD (Education and Human Development)
  • The major is: Community Research & Action
  • Ph.D. The area of specialization is: HOD - Community Research and Action

For purposes of the application to the Graduate School, do not list the Department as "Human and Organizational Development" or "Peabody College."

Top applicants being considered for acceptance are invited to an on-campus weekend in mid-February as guests of the university.


Our admissions process is prior to, and independent of, initial faculty advising assignments. Faculty do not individually select students to admit or advise. Admission to the program is based on your fit and qualifications. Therefore, students admitted will be assigned an initial adviser [we try to match interests]. Starting in January of the first year, students may switch to whatever adviser they choose who is willing to advise them.


Scan and attach your unofficial transcript(s) from prior undergraduate and graduate work on page 2 of the application. Official transcripts are required only AFTER an offer of admission is made and accepted. If you cannot upload an unofficial transcript, official paper transcripts may be submitted by mail.

Standardized Tests 

Note: An official copy of your Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores is required as part of the application process. The GRE is one factor among many, including the statement of research interests, GPA, letters, research experience, and community engagement, that we consider. Although there is no definite minimum GRE score, most accepted applicants have a verbal + quantitative total above 313. You may also take the GRE Advanced Test in your undergraduate major, but it is not required. Please use the Vanderbilt code (1871) when indicating where your scores should be sent. 

Official scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) are required for all foreign applicants whose native language is not English as well as for those who have not received their education at an English-speaking university. Foreign applicants also must take the GRE.

For either exam, a photocopy of your student report of test scores is acceptable until the official copy arrives from ETS. No student will be admitted, however, unless Vanderbilt is in receipt of official scores.

Interests and Goals Statement 

A statement of research interests and professional goals is required. This is crucial in providing information about your personal background, intellectual interests, career goals, ability to take advantage of unique opportunities offered by the program, academic and research experiences, and relevant work or practical experience. Be as specific as you can regarding your interests and goals. Although the application materials include a form for the "letter of intent," you may send up to three additional pages if necessary. Please do not send lengthy examples of your work, but abstracts or short descriptions are sometimes helpful. The department considers each student's ability to contribute to the ethnic and cultural diversity of the program. Members of minority groups are particularly encouraged to apply.

Recommendation Letters 

You should submit at least three letters of recommendation from professors, research supervisors, or others who can assess your potential for advanced graduate work.

Fee waivers

Fee waivers are considered on request for U.S. citizens and permanent residents.  For more information see: 

Profile of accepted applicants

Last year we had 138 applicants and admitted 11 (for a final class of 5) with strong academic backgrounds and extensive and varied research experience. Nine of the 11 had master’s degrees. Admitted students come from diverse backgrounds. Two were international students; of the nine Americans, four identified as racial/ethnic minorities.  Among admitted students, the most recent degrees included psychology, public health and development planning, education, engineering, political science, public administration, social work, and sociology. (Faculty have degrees in psychology, sociology, geography, anthropology, health policy, human development & family studies, human resource development, counselor education, leadership & policy studies, and community research & action.) Current students and faculty have diverse racial, ethnic, disability and religious backgrounds and sexual identities.



For further information on application procedures, write, call, or email:
Graduate Secretary
Department of Human and Organizational Development
Vanderbilt University
Box 90, Peabody College
Nashville, Tennessee 37203
(615) 322-8484, FAX (615) 322-1141