Civil Society and Community Research

Graduate Students


Graduate students are the heart of the Civil Society and Community Studies department. Their dynamic ideas, experiences, and research enhance the department’s distinctive and exceptional qualities.

Each of the featured sections above contain data relevant to Civil Society and Community Research graduate students. Below you can explore topics ranging from research resources to professional development opportunities. Additional School of Human Ecology policies can be found on the Academic Policies, Forms & Deadlines page.

UW-Madison’s Graduate School also offers a variety of resources to help plan your path to Graduate School success.

The Department of Civil Society and Community Studies offers exciting opportunities for graduate studies in Human Ecology. Our new graduate curriculum allows students to specialize in Civil Society and Community Research. Through interdisciplinary coursework and research in community settings – often in collaboration with community organizations or coalitions – students have opportunities to become participant-scholars in change processes, and learn human ecological theory and participatory and application-focused research methods in the process.

SoHE’s Philosophy

Our philosophy is that human development and well-being are promoted through the interactions between people and the ecological settings (organizations, social networks, communities) of which they are a part. Through many different avenues, our research, teaching, and outreach are directed toward positively impacting these settings and the patterns of human behavior within them.

Ranging Topics of Study within Civil Society

Topics of study that can be pursued by graduate students in the Civil Society and Community Studies department include community leadership, community organizing, program evaluation, voluntary associations, youth civic development, adult learning, community development, social change, and related topics. Students apply their research to support community planning, organizational learning, and program development.

Rewarding Career Opportunities for Graduates

Graduates of Human Ecology: Civil Society and Community Research are well prepared for careers in academic settings, as well as in non-profit organizations and government agencies. There is a high demand for action-oriented researchers who are able to use analytic and writing skills to help build a civil society. Students who receive a doctoral degree are competitive for positions in a range of disciplines including human ecology, community research and action, human and organizational development, adult education, and community leadership. This specialization also prepares students who aspire to be program officers in foundations, senior staff in foundations and national nonprofit organizations, and senior scholars in national research and demonstration organizations. Students who receive a master’s degree (offered as a non-transcripted specialization) are well prepared as action researchers and program planners who are able to apply their knowledge and skills to leadership positions within local associations and nonprofit, consulting, and technical assistance organizations.

Excellent Resources

Graduate students in the School of Human Ecology (SoHE) have access to many resources and opportunities within SoHE and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and throughout the city of Madison and the state of Wisconsin. Campus-wide centers that are closely affiliated with SoHE include the Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies, the Center for Financial Security, and the Morgridge Center for Public Service. Civil Society and Community Studies faculty also have research projects that involve community partnerships, interdisciplinary collaborations, and connections with the work of the University of Wisconsin-Extension.

An Outstanding Education at a Dynamic Institution

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is well known for its dynamic research environment and graduate education. Graduate students in Human Ecology can benefit from coursework and other formal and informal interactions with leading scholars across a range of social science disciplines. Furthermore, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has a longstanding commitment to research, teaching, and outreach that improves people’s lives beyond the campus. The Civil Society and Community Studies department and the School of Human Ecology are constantly working to put this idea into action.