Community Research and Action (PHD)

Program Overview

The PhD program in Community Research and Action, formerly known as the PhD in Community and Public Affairs, prepares students for public scholarship focused on addressing critical social and community issues, such as educational inequality, racism and gender-based violence both near and far. 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 social justice, human rights, public service, social welfare and/or community transformation.

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 wtihin 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.

Students are encouraged to collaborate with faculty to develop research studies that build empowerment and social justice as well as promote individual, organizational and/or community health and wellness. 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, and policy organizations.

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.
  • Writing sample (from academic or professional work)

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 scores)
    • CRA PhD minimum TOEFL score: 100 on the iBT
    • CRA PhD minimum IELTS score: 7.0
    • CRA PhD minimum PTE Academic score: 68
    • Scores must be submitted from a test taken in the last 18 months.

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: 27
International / Non-Citizen Enrollment: 13%


Degree Fall Spring
PHD in Community Research and ActionJanuary 15N/A

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