Community Organization, Planning & Administration

Strong communities are the foundation of a healthy society. This is why, throughout the country and around the world, there are social workers taking action in support of communities and the individuals and families who depend on them.

With the Community Organization, Planning and Administration (COPA) concentration, you can take on a leadership role by helping people take collective action to change their communities. This concentration is designed to train you in collective problem solving so that you can lead individuals — working as a unit — toward a common goal. From community organizing to advocacy, you will explore strategies for tackling issues affecting groups of people, improving quality of life and bringing people together to fight for a political cause. We also will help you develop skills in areas, such as financial management, fundraising, grant writing, marketing, policy analysis, program development and evaluation and working with boards and volunteers.

The COPA concentration will prepare you to:

  • Become an administrator, planner or community organizer in high-need settings
  • Focus on holistic improvement and policy changes that enhance the well-being of communities
  • Promote social action and change at the community level
  • Coordinate and facilitate activities to improve social conditions, policy and quality of life

Social workers trained in community organizing may take on a range of positions, including:

  • Community organizer
  • Community-based policy advocate
  • Policy and planning specialist
  • Campaign director
  • Research director
  • State or national agency executive

With the COPA concentration, you can effect change at the community level.

"I learned that policy affects everything that we do. It’s important that we know what’s happening around us because in the end it really matters."

Cathy Sanchez
MSW@USC Graduate

Concentration Requirements

  • Evaluation of Research: Community Organization, Planning and Administration
    Research for macro-practice, emphasizing qualitative methods, participatory action research, program evaluation, needs assessment, mapping and GIS to understand urban environments.
  • Social Policy for Managers, Planners and Community Organizers
    Analysis of efforts to improve local human services organizations and agencies with consideration of political, social, demographic and organizational contexts.
  • Management for Community and Social Services
    Methods and principles of management in urban settings with primary emphasis on strategic management, finance analysis and innovative project development.

Field Placement

As a student in the COPA concentration, you will complete one of your field placement requirements at a site in, or near, your community that supports your concentration choice and your career goals. You can learn more about field placement here.


You may choose to supplement your Community Organization, Planning and Administration concentration with a sub-concentration in Military Social Work.

Traditional Curriculum | Advanced Standing Curriculum

Learn More About Community Planning