College of Community and Public Affairs

Community and Public Affairs PhD

The PhD program in Community and Public Affairs (CPA) prepares students for public scholarship focused on addressing critical issues facing communities, such as educational inequality, racism and gender-based violence. Our curriculum draws from varied disciplines, including but not limited to anthropology, demography, criminology, geography, sociology and psychology to research the dynamic interplay among individuals, the organizations serving them, as well as the communities and societies in which they are embedded. Students entering our program typically have several years of practice experience in a variety of fields such as education, counseling, human services, public health, public administration, social work or student affairs administration. Most importantly, students should hold a commitment to health and wellbeing, social justice, human rights, public service, social welfare and/or community transformation.

Degree Offered

  • PhD in Community and Public Affairs

Professional Development

The ecological systems framework of human development organizes our program, guiding students to conceptualize their research topics across multiple levels of analysis (individual, organizational, community and societal) and disciplines, for studying issues impacting communities such as healthcare policy for aging populations, substance abuse prevention and development of sustainable communities. Within this work, our students are encouraged to specifically focus on issues of race, class, sexuality, faith tradition, ethnicity, gender, and physical ableness. Another unique emphasis within our program is training in community-based research methods like social network analysis, critical ethnography and youth-led participatory action research that incorporates contextual information and allows for exploring complex processes among individuals, the organizations serving them, as well as the communities and societies in which they are embedded.

Our doctoral program focuses training in three primary areas:

  1.  community theory and research methods
  2.  critical theories and social justice
  3.  linking research and policy for social change

Each of these areas integrates theories and/or methods across disciplines to create more holistic understandings of complex issues. Across our curriculum, we emphasize the importance of academics as public scholars working in collaboration with communities as we seek understanding and solutions.

Students are encouraged to collaborate with faculty to develop research studies grounded in principles of social justice that promote individual, organizational and/or community health and wellness. Justice-related issues in different sociocultural, political, and policy contexts are explored using a variety of research approaches. Working alongside faculty in schools, organizations, communities and college campuses, students in our program are researching issues such as disproportionalities in student discipline, local housing and community development and evidence-based brief alcohol interventions with college students who drink heavily.

After You Graduate

Graduates of our program are trained for careers as public scholars in a variety of settings including academia, research institutions, nonprofit organizations, and public policy. 

Admissions Requirements

To be eligible for graduate study, you must provide a complete set of your undergraduate (and, if applicable, graduate) transcripts showing one of the following:

  • You have earned a bachelor's degree (or its equivalent) from a nationally or regionally accredited college or university
  • You are within one academic year of earning a bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent) from a nationally or regionally accredited college or university
  • You are eligible to apply as part of a memorandum of understanding between your current institution and Binghamton University
  • Have earned, at minimum, one of the following:
    • A 3.0 GPA over your entire undergraduate career
    • A 3.0 GPA during your last 60 semester credits or 90 quarter credits of your undergraduate degree, with most courses graded regularly (not as "pass/fail")
    • A 3.0 GPA in a graduate degree, with most courses graded regularly (not as "pass/fail")

In consideration of the different grading scales used around the world, each academic department evaluates international transcripts to determine on a case-by-case basis whether they demonstrate one of the above requirements.

To apply, you must submit the following materials. For general guidelines for these materials, see the Admission Requirements website.

  • Online graduate degree application with graduate degree application fee
  • Transcripts from each college or university that you have attended
  • A master's degree in counseling, human development, psychology, public administration, social work, sociology, political science, student affairs, education or another related social science discipline or profession is expected.
  • Personal statement
  • The personal statement should be a well-substantiated written statement of approximately 2 to 3 single-spaced pages that describe:
    • your training and professional background, as well as your interest in public scholarship on issues impacting communities;
    • your research interests and associated relationship(s) to health and wellbeing, social justice, human rights, public service, social welfare, and/or community transformation;
    • your career goals (academic, research, or policy-related) associated with pursing a research degree; and (d) two or three faculty members in the College of Community and Public Affairs (CCPA) who could be potential advisors and why.
  • Résumé or curriculum vitae
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • The letters should come from individuals who are familiar with your academic background and record and should address potential for advanced graduate study.
  • Writing sample (from academic or professional work)

International Student Requirements

International Student Financial Statement (ISFS) form

Supporting financial documentation (such as bank statements, scholarship or sponsor letters, etc.)

Proof of English proficiency (such as official TOEFL/IELTS/PTE Academic scores)

  • CPA PhD minimum TOEFL score: 100 on the iBT
  • CPA PhD minimum IELTS score: 7.0
  • CPA PhD minimum PTE Academic score: 68

*Scores must be submitted from a test taken in the last 18 months.

For more information about these materials, see the International Students section of the Admission Requirements website.

Class Profile

  • Total Enrollment: 27
  • International / Non-Citizen Enrollment: 13%

Last Updated: 4/3/17