Community Research and Action (PHD)

Program Overview

The PhD program in Community Research and Action prepares students for academic or policy-related careers as public scholars focused on addressing critical issues facing communities.

Our curriculum draws from varied disciplines (e.g., anthropology, criminology, geography, sociology and psychology) to research the dynamic interplay among individuals, the organizations serving them, and the communities (including schools and college campuses) in which they are embedded.

Students entering our program typically have several years of practice experience in a variety of fields (e.g., education, counseling, human services, public health, public administration, social work or student affairs administration). Most importantly, students should hold a commitment to social justice, health and well-being, human rights, public service, social welfare and/or community transformation. Questions about the Community Research and Action PhD program should be directed to

Degrees Offered

  • PHD in Community Research and Action

Internships, Research Opportunities and More

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), emphasizing the importance of interdisciplinary and engaged approaches for studying community and social issues such as healthcare policy for aging populations, substance abuse prevention and development of sustainable communities. Another unique focus within our program is ecological systems research that utilizes a variety of emerging methods like social network analysis, critical ethnography and youth-led participatory action research that bridges theory and research to address community and social issues. Our courses emphasize the importance of academics as public scholars working in collaboration with communities as we seek understanding and solutions.

Doctoral students are encouraged to collaborate with faculty through courses, develop research studies that advance individual, organizational, and/or community health and wellness, build empowerment and seek social justice, dissertation work, and consult on projects and other endeavors. Working alongside faculty in schools and communities, as well as on college campuses, students in the program are researching issues such as local food insecurity, college-student drinking, and mental health for refugees.

After You Graduate

Graduates are trained for careers as researchers in a variety of settings including academia, research institutions, and policy institutes.

Admissions Requirements

To be eligible for graduate study in the Community Research and Action PhD program, you must:

  • Provide a complete set of your undergraduate and graduate transcripts showing one of the following:
    • You have earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree (or their equivalents) from a nationally or regionally accredited college or university
    • You are within one academic year of earning a master'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 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 one of the following fields is expected.
      • Counseling
      • Human development
      • Psychology
      • Public administration
      • Social work
      • Sociology
      • Political science
      • Student affairs
      • Education
      • Another related social science discipline
  • Personal statement
    • The personal statement should be a well-substantiated written statement of approximately 2 to 3 single-spaced pages that describe: (a) your training and professional background, as well as your interest in public scholarship on community and social issues; (b) your research interests and associated relationship(s) to social justice, human rights, public service, social welfare, and/or community transformation; (c) 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.

International students must also submit the following materials. For more information about these materials, see the International Students section of the Admission Requirements website.

  • 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/Duolingo* scores)
    • CRA PhD minimum TOEFL score: 100 on the iBT
    • CRA PhD minimum IELTS score: 7.0
    • CRA PhD minimum PTE Academic score: 68
    • CRA PhD minimum Duolingo score: 120
    • Scores must be submitted from a test taken in the last 18 months.
    • *In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Graduate School at Binghamton University has temporarily approved the use of the Duolingo English Test as proof of English proficiency through the 2023 application cycle.

This information is subject to change. While we make every effort to update these program pages, we recommend you contact the department with questions about program-specific requirements.

Class Profile

Total Enrollment: 42
International / Non-Citizen Enrollment: 19%


Degree Fall Spring
Community Research and Action (PHD)January 15 (Funding) / March 15N/A

For more information, visit the Community Research and Action website.