Portland State University

Department of Psychology

Portland State University Academic Program logo

Community Psychology Program 

Degrees Offered: Undergraduate CertificateMaster's (Terminal), Doctorate

Program Concentrations: Doctoral students complete Community Psychology major area concentration & minor in research methods, social psychology, developmental psychology, organizational psychology, public health, education, social work, sociology or any other field at the university. 

Website: https://www.pdx.edu/psy/graduate-study-in-community-psychology

At A Glance

Full-time Faculty: 22

Full-time Faculty Identifying as Community Psychologists: 3

# of Students Admitted Each Year: 3

Available Student Assistantships: Full tuition waiver with graduate assistantship for teaching and research 

The Program

Portland State University Academic Program group photoCommunity Psychology faculty and graduate students share an interest in Urban Health and Community Well-being. We define health broadly to encompass work promoting mental and physical health, as well as healthy social outcomes and remediating negative influences like discrimination. Specifically, our research promotes healthy relationship, group, and community functioning and well-being, with many projects addressing issues relevant to underrepresented and disadvantaged groups. We conduct research in diverse communities and across international contexts that translates into theory development, practical solutions and effective social policy. Our program provides leadership in the national movement of academic-community partnerships, whereby graduate students work together in teams with community partners, faculty members and other collaborators on research projects. In many cases, given the complex nature of social issues we study, our collaborations are interdisciplinary in approach. Through close or collaborative work with diverse community partners, we develop theoretically-based social science intervention research to address important social issues.

We share a commitment to research that makes a difference in the world and that situates findings in the context of lived experience. This research examines individuals in their varied social and cultural contexts and settings (i.e., dyads and social groups, organizations, communities, and institutions including their historical practices and current social or legal policies). Such psychological phenomena span multiple levels of analysis and thus require the use of methodologies appropriate to such challenges (e.g., HLM of within and between person changes over time and of individuals embedded in groups; intervention programs or other settings; field experimentation; geographic information systems and mapping; qualitative analysis of individual and community narratives). Thus, our graduate program provides training in a creative mix of research methods, both qualitative and quantitative, and theories of the person-in-context.

Research and training in Community Psychology is aligned with PSU's Community partnerships, Diversity, Internationalization, and Sustainability Initiatives, and the Social Determinants of Health Initiative.

Program Alumni Information

The program focuses on training researchers Graduates from the program are typically employed in government, education, healthcare and/or the nonprofit sector. 

Specialization Tracks within Area

Graduate students in the area specialize in Community Psychology. Coursework and additional readings are developed to prepare students for deepening their knowledge in the respective field of specialization. At the same time, area students engage in cross-area coursework, brownbags, social events, and an invited speaker series to cultivate the broader perspective afforded by the area as a whole.


Our curriculum was developed to provide students with strong theoretical and methodological perspectives. In particular, the purpose of our substantive courses is to examine contemporary social issues, as they occur in their varied social contexts, while considering the appropriateness and relevance of social and community psychological theory. We consider theoretical approaches from a multilevel perspective, incorporating theory related to self (intrapersonal), interpersonal relationships, intergroup relationships and phenomena, community-level phenomena and their reciprocal influences. We simultaneously highlight successful examples of applied psychology in health, environment, and legal and criminal justice systems, to name a few. Integrative to our coursework is an appreciation and thoughtful engagement of diversity.

From a methodological standpoint, our aim as an area is to deepen students’ knowledge beyond the required quantitative methods sequence that our first year graduate students take in univariate and multivariate statistics and applied research design. Our specific focus is on working with students to cultivate a broad range of methodological tools upon which to draw in their community-based work. Area students take methodology courses offered both inside and outside our area/department.

Practica and Internships

Graduate students may complete an internship as part of their course of study. This offers an opportunity for graduate students to tailor their training to particular areas of interest and to enhance their applied skills and expertise. Some students also choose to complete a practicum. The practicum experience may be satisfied by either completing a research apprenticeship with a Psychology Departmental faculty member or by working with a local community agency. In the case of practicum experiences in community agencies, students benefit from supervision provided by both a PSU faculty member and an agency supervisor. Internships are taken later in the program, following the completion of formal coursework and the granting of the student's Masters degree. Internships reflect an eight credit experience in a field placement or as part of an off-campus research experience related to the student's areas of interest or program of study.

Internships are designed to provide in-depth training and practical, "hands-on" opportunities. Internship projects often involve work in core skills areas including: program conceptualization and development; research planning and implementation; and/or program evaluation. Our graduate students have worked with a broad array of local community partners including those in the areas of public health, health research, criminal justice, social welfare, rehabilitation, and disability services. For example, they have interned with the American Psychological Association, Rand Corporation, Oregon Department of Justice, the Oregon Health Sciences University's Center for Community Accessibility and School of Nursing, Vera Institute of Justice, Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, RMC Research Corporation, the Northwest Education Training and Assessment, Clackamas County Department of Juvenile Justice, the Center for Partnership Evaluation (University of Nevada, Reno), Psychologists for Social Responsibility (Washington, D.C.), the Arc of Multnomah/Clackamas Counties, L'Arche Nehalem, and Incight. Graduate students select internship settings as well as practicum sites in consultation with their advisor and in an effort to maximize professional development opportunities.

Community Psychology Faculty and Research Interests

Greg Townley

Dr. Townley specializes in Community Psychology with particular interests in the following:

  • The impact of social, psychological, and environmental factors on community participation and inclusion of individuals with psychiatric disabilities
  • Community mental health and recovery from psychiatric disability
  • Homelessness and housing interventions 
  • Sense of community theory and measurement 
  • The interplay of culture, sense of community, and well-being 
  • Social-environmental research methods, including Geographic Information Systems (GIS), neighborhood assessments, and qualitative/ethnographic approaches.

Central to Dr. Townley's work is the promotion of positive, reciprocal relationships between academic and community stakeholders. He has collaborated with numerous community agencies to address and evaluate issues surrounding homelessness, supported housing, and mental health service delivery.

Keith Kaufman 

Dr. Kaufman's research has focuses on the prevention of child sexual abuse and enhancing the treatment of adult and juvenile sexual offenders. His work has identified sex offenders’ patterns of perpetration (or “modus operandi”) as a foundation for prevention as well as more effective offender assessment and treatment.

He is currently completing a national child sexual abuse prevention study funded by the Centers for Disease Control. This project examines risk factors related to offender modus operandi and parental supervision across three ethnic cultural groups and within a public health framework.

Eric Mankowski

Dr. Mankowski is a community and social psychologist, broadly interested in the relationship between individual, group, and community functioning, especially in area of mental health. In particular, he focuses on understanding how masculinity is socially constructed and its connection to violence, substance abuse and other health and social problems.

His work involves collaborative research and action projects with social service agencies, community based organizations, and government bodies. A range of methods including surveys, interviews, focus groups, and group observations are used together with quantitative and qualitative analytic techniques.

Current projects include studies examining changes in identity, beliefs, and abusive behavior among men court-mandated to domestic violence intervention programs and their intimate partners; an experimental program evaluation of a strength-based intervention program for male youth in schools, community centers and juvenile justice facilities; a study of organizational growth and dynamics in a men’s self-help community; an evaluation of the impact of men’s self-help groups on masculinity and mental health; evaluation of the impact of statewide standards on batterer intervention program practices; and a research and action project focused on the sociocultural context of intimate partner violence in workplace settings.