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MSc in Capacity Development and Extension (Thesis/Research)

Improve life through communication, learning and innovation.

The MSc in Capacity Development and Extension is offered through our School of Environmental Design and Rural Development (SEDRD) and focuses on processes of learning, advocacy, leadership, communication and capacity development  in Canada and around the world. Learn to tackle real-world challenges through communication, education, community engagement, leadership, technology and innovative partnerships.


Join a community grounded in practice-based theories where shared decision-making, open communication, respect for difference, and commitment to conflict management are valued and upheld.

 World-class mentorship 

Tap into the knowledge of expert faculty and realize your academic potential while engaged with communities, at home and around the world.

 Interdisciplinary research

Combine different disciplines and a variety of subject areas to become an applied researcher who responds to community needs in a comprehensive and thoughtful manner.



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More information on courses and admission requirements can be found here.

Helen in pink sweater and pink and orange scarf
I do research in the area of knowledge mobilization and communication for agriculture, environment and rural development. Internationally, I work with organizations like the United Nations and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research to focus on community based food security and poverty alleviation.

Dr. Helen Hambly, Faculty
Professor, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development
Hear more from Dr. Hambly

Ataharul in purple checkered dress shirt
My research seeks to advance understanding about processes, mechanisms and the conditions that work for communities who live in resource-poor and remotes and those complex context.

Dr. Ataharul Chowdhury, Faculty
Professor, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development
Hear more from Dr. Chowdhury

How to Apply

Full details are available on the U of G graduate program application webpage.

As part of the application requirements, you are not required to secure a faculty advisor to supervise your program. You will be assigned a temporary advisor upon acceptance to the program.

  • A four year honours degree or equivalent, with an average standing of at least second class honours (B-) in the last four semesters of full-time study or two years of professional work in a related field. 
  • The CDE program also participates in a shared collaborative program option with International Development Studies (IDS). Please consult the International Development Studies listing in the Graduate Calendar for a detailed description of the collaborative program including the special additional requirements for each participating Department.

Applicants must complete and submit:

  • Statement of Interest: Your statement of research interest (separate from the one requested within the on-line application form) should outline:
    • your career goals
    • the particular area of research you wish to pursue at the University of Guelph (what is it you want to research?)
  • CV / Resume
    • Please provide a current resume that provides basic information about your academic background and professional interests and experience.
    • Work experience in a related setting is considered especially useful in applying theory to practice and to identify research needs and topics.

Your application is not considered complete until all of these documents have been submitted. Please be aware that any material collected towards a graduate application, (for example transcripts, reference letters, etc.) must be dated within the past year.  Any material dated prior to a year from the application date will not be accepted.

  • March 1st each year (international students)
  • May 30th each year (domestic students)

Note: Only Fall semester entry is available for this program. More details on the U of G graduate program application process here.

  • Securing a Study Permit: 

    • To study in Canada, all students must apply for a Study Permit at the nearest Canadian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. A student authorization is commonly called a student visa. For you to be considered for a student visa, the Canadian immigration officer will need to see your letter of acceptance from the University of Guelph, proof of citizenship and proof of funds for one academic year. The University of Guelph and Immigration Canada expect international students to have enough funds for the duration of their study in Canada, and especially during their first year. The issuance of a student visa is strongly based on your ability to finance your education. The student visa is usually issued for the duration of your academic program. Please note that you will not be allowed to register at the University of Guelph if you do not have a valid Study Permit.
  • English Proficiency:

  • Funding

  • More resources for international applicants are available on the U of G Graduate & Postdoctoral website.

Additional Study Options

You may also be interested in the MSc in Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics, or the MSc in Rural Planning and Development. 


For questions on applying and admissions: 

Lorena Barker
School of Environmental Design and Rural Development
519-824-4120, Ext. 56780 

For questions on program options:

Leigh West
Ontario Agricultural College (OAC)
519-824-4120 Ext. 52101

Serena smiles in orange collared jacket
When I was looking at the CDE program, I reached out to a couple of graduated students in different fields to talk about their experience in the program. This information was very valuable and helped me to make a confident choice. 

Serena Viola, Graduate Student
MSc in Capacity Development and Extension
Hear more from Serena

Austin stands in front of a grey brick wall with ivy on it
My graduate experience has many parallels to my undergraduate experience, however, my favorite difference is that the research I’m doing now allows me to target what aspect of rural development I find most impactful. 

Austin Brown, Graduate Student
MSc in Capacity Development and Extension
Hear more from Austin

The relationship between me and my supervisor was very positive. She is one of the best professors I have ever had. She provided constant support from the beginning of my graduate program, and she guided me in each stage of my research. She was always an inspiration.

Faria Rashid
2017 MSc in Capacity Development and Extension