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Becoming a Golden Hawk means more than just cheering on our (really good) varsity teams – it means being a student who cares about your community, who works hard in the classroom, and who takes advantage of all the learning opportunities that can happen outside the classroom, too.

Community psychology is a critical and applied social science that pursues action-oriented social justice research from a perspective of understanding human behaviour in its social and historical contexts. Community psychologists recognize the communities they work with as experts on their own situations and as integral partners in designing and implementing culturally appropriate interventions that foster sustainable wellbeing. Community psychologists base their interventions on theory and evidence and use action-oriented research to promote positive change.

Community psychology takes a holistic approach to promoting social justice and wellbeing by focusing on the community, environment, and larger influencing factors that affect people’s daily lives (culture, society, politics, economics, etc.). It's characterized by an ecological approach to social problems that considers the conditions which give rise to them, such as experiences of poverty, oppression, marginalization and stigma. It links research and evaluation with direct action and service, and its practitioners partner with community members and social institutions to promote change.

Having a community psychology degree demonstrates that you have a professional commitment to lasting social change, an understanding of the origins of socially constructed problems, and the training to help others face those issues completely and successfully.

Program Overview

The objectives of the PhD program are for doctoral students to develop:

  • A) Critical thinking, knowledge, and ethical sensitivity in relation to social systems analysis and intervention, community research and evaluation, and human service policy, programs, and practice.
  • B) Skills for catalyzing social action and social policy initiatives related to community psychology, for conducting community research and evaluation, and for providing education and training both in university settings and in the community.

You'll gain teaching experience either by serving as a teaching assistant or by being an instructor or co-instructor for a course. The PhD program is geared to prepare graduates as scholars in universities, as policy researchers/analysts in governmental and non-governmental settings, as community researchers and program evaluators, and as managers of human service organizations.

Required courses:

  • PS801: Multi-level Modeling
  • PS802: Program Evaluation
  • PS805: Qualitative Research Methods
  • PS880: Theories and Ethics of Social Analysis and Intervention
  • PS886: Community-Based Participatory Research Theory
  • PS887: Application of Social Science Theories to Community Issues
  • PS891: Comprehensive Research Experience I
  • PS899: Dissertation

Choose an elective:

To provide greater breadth of perspective in students’ dissertation areas, students must complete one elective course, which can be an additional comprehensive research experience (PS892), or an elective content course from another field in the PhD program, or from other graduate course offerings at Laurier or graduate programs at other institutions.

Faculty with Supervisory Status

There are currently six faculty members who are available to supervise Community Psychology graduate students:

They offer very diverse interests and areas of expertise, including:

  • Community-based participatory research and stakeholder engagement.
  • Indigenous rights and governance.
  • The social exclusion of LGBT individuals and communities.
  • Environmental justice and sustainability.
  • Social innovation and social change.
  • Youth engagement.
  • Health equity and policy.
  • Early childhood education and care.
  • Community and education.
  • Program development and evaluation.
  • Social determinants of HIV/AIDS.
  • Population and public health.

If you're thinking of applying to the Community Psychology field, we encourage you to contact the faculty members whose interests align with your own.

Contact Us:

For more information about community psychology, as well as admissions-related inquiries, please email Manuel Riemer (


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