The program is 72 credit hours structured in five sections:
- Community Core (15 semester hrs)
- Research Methods (15 semester hrs)
- Thesis/Grant Development (6 semester hrs)
- Advanced Content/Specialization Areas (21 semester hrs)
- Community Development
- Evaluation Methods
- Individual Projects: master's thesis, Internship, Dissertation (15 semester hrs)
The first three sections are required for all students. The fourth designates the areas of study that are elective to the students and that provide the areas of specialization in preparation for the individual projects in section five. The community psychology and community development and policy courses are to be taken the first year. The entire core curriculum covers the theoretical and empirical bases of community research and action.
The required research methods courses include both qualitative and quantitative approaches and emphasize an applied, field research orientation, including program evaluation, policy analysis, needs assessment, quasi-experimental as well as more phenomenological designs. As ecological theory deserves commensurate methodology, multiple methods (e.g., survey, systematic and participant observation, existing records, social indicators, ethnography and content analysis) and multiple levels of analysis (e.g., individual, family/group, organization/community, policy jurisdiction) are encouraged.
The program's interdisciplinary aims are reflected in the core curriculum, the required qualitative and quantitative methods courses, and the list of electives and possible minors. Minors are possible in virtually any field related to CRA, including (but not limited to) quantitative psychology, human development counseling, leadership and organizations, sociology, political science, religion, and economic development.
A total of 45 semester hours in required courses (including internship) are necessary. The remaining 27 hours are electives that are selected by the students in consultation with their advisor. In addition, each student must pass all required core and methods courses, write a master's thesis by the fifth semester, submit a fundable-quality grant proposal by the end of the third year, and complete a doctoral dissertation. The grant proposal will generally be focused on the dissertation topic and may elect to be submitted to one or more funding agencies to support the dissertation research.
Relationship to Other Programs at Vanderbilt University
The doctoral program in CRA both benefits and benefits from courses, faculty, and other students at Peabody College and across Vanderbilt University. Key relationships within Peabody are with the Departments of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations and Psychology and Human Development. Key relationships elsewhere at Vanderbilt include those with the Departments of Sociology, Political Science, Economics (Program in Economic Development), Religion (Divinity), and the Joint Program in Social Psychology. The Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies will also be a core resource and possible site for assistantships, internships, and job placements.
See the CRA Student Handbook (PDF) for details about courses and program requirements.