Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs

Building A Career in Community and Economic Development

Career Opportunities

Jobs in the field are diverse. Community and economic developers work in community-based organizations; city, state, and federal government agencies; foundations; social service agencies; banks; utilities; think tanks; investment firms; and universities. Current postings include:

To view more job postings visit  Planetizen.

Program Goals and Learning Objectives

The Master of Community and Economic Development Degree Program focuses on enhancement of skills in  5 categories.

Program Goal: Category #1 - Community Development Skills

A graduate will learn to:

  • Implement Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) Programs
  • Conduct strategic visioning, appreciative inquiry, and other community engagement programs
  • Build grassroots community support for initiatives
  • Apply systems thinking to community development
Program Goal: Category #2 - Economic Development Skills

A graduate will learn to:

  • Market and recruit for businesses
  • Respond to request for proposal (RFP) for a business location project
  • Construct a complex financing package for a project
  • Utilize state and federal incentive programs
Program Goal: Category #3 - Knowledge of Community and Economic Development

A graduate will understand:

  • Factors that impact a small economy, models of how a small economy works
  • Approaches to CED, including self-help, technical assistance, and conflict
  • Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) Districts, Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), government bonds, and other financing instruments
  • Zoning, land use, and comprehensive planning
Program Goal: Category #4 - Analytical and Research Skills

A graduate will learn to:


  • Conduct analyses, including workforce, demographic, retail, and economic impact
  • Analyze a community's power structure
  • Interpret and analyze financial statements
  • Design and implement an evaluation process to measure the success of initiatives
Program Goal: Category #5 - Communication Skills

A graduate will learn to:

  • Communicate skillfully in oral and online presentations and conversations
  • Network and interact effectively with community leaders, other development professionals, and business leaders
  • Work effectively with communities organized around social media and social networks
  • Think critically and holistically about the impact of projects

"Community engagement requires a lot of passion, dedication, commitment, and working well beyond the call of the clock." - Joseph Francis