Community Semester

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Be a leader. Put your passion for social justice to work inside and outside the classroom. Earn credits and financial support toward your educational expenses.

Community Semester is a full-time, intensive academic and service learning program that provides students with an opportunity to put their passion for social justice to work.  Students learn first-hand how community-based organizations fight for environmental justice, housing rights, immigrant rights, tenants’ rights, economic justice, youth engagement, neighborhood resilience, civic justice, and community empowerment by contributing to the movement themselves.  Students analyze the experience they gain in the field by studying community organizing, community development, government, and non-profit leadership, and by sharing their work experiences with fellow Community Semester students and with students in the Murphy Institute's sister program, Union Semester.

As part of the program, students receive a $7,000 financial award toward educational expenses. Upon completion of the program, undergraduate students earn 16 credits and are awarded a Certificate in Community Leadership, and graduate students earn 12 credits and are awarded an Advanced Certificate in Community Leadership.  These credits can be applied toward the BA in Urban and Community Studies and the MA in Urban Studies, if admitted to either program.

Students participate in Community Semester to:

  • Develop a deeper understanding of social movements
  • Gain experience working for a community-based organization
  • Sharpen their analytic skills in order to be more effective in their studies or on the job
  • Obtain professional experience that can help build a career path in social justice
  • Develop leadership skills
  • Begin building a lifelong professional network
  • Earn credits that may apply towards a baccalaureate or graduate degree
  • Receive financial support toward educational expenses.

At the beginning of the semester, students meet with mentors from several organizations to determine the best placement for them.

Service Learning Timeline

Applications for Fall 2018 are due July 19, 2018.  Community Semester NYC accepts applicants for Fall and Spring semester ONLY.  Each semester consists of a one-week orientation, fifteen weeks of a service learning experience and classes, and a finals week.


The program welcomes undergraduate, recent college graduates, and graduate students from New York State.  Community Semester is a 17-week, full-time commitment.  Community Semester students will not have time for additional classes and/or a second job.

In order to qualify for admission to Community Semester, undergraduate applicants must have earned at least 24 credits at an accredited college or university; maintained a minimum cumulative GPA of at least 2.0; and met the University's College Readiness Requirements in reading, writing, and mathematics. Graduate applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and at least a 2.5 GPA or higher from an accredited undergraduate institution.

Nominating a student for Community Semester

If you are a CUNY professor, academic advisor, or program coordinator, you may nominate a student who would be an ideal Community Semester program candidate. 

If you are a Community Semester advocate or Community group partner, you may also nominate a student who you think would be an ideal program candidate.

*All Nominators, please download and complete the Recommendation Form.

Please make sure you provide the name(s) and email addresses(s) of your nominee(s) so that the student(s) may be contacted by the Program Coordinator. 

Contact Us

To speak with the Community Semester NYC Coordinator, Crystal Joseph, call (212) 857-1966 or email