Graduate School Info

Graduate School Information for International Development Studies Majors


The International Development Studies major is designed to introduce students to the broad array of disciplines that study the developing world. Pursuing an advanced degree specifically in development studies is certainly one option for IDS graduates, you may also pursue a Master of Arts (M.A.) or doctoral degree (Ph.D.) in a related field, such as political science, economics, public health, geography, urban/regional planning, education, sociology, anthropology, or public policy, while focusing their own research on specific development issues within that field.

Many governmental, non-governmental, and inter-governmental development agencies that interest IDS graduates look to hire individuals with advanced degrees in fields directly related to the programs the agencies are undertaking. For this reason, IDS graduates should consider carefully the qualifications required for the types of jobs that interest them most, then pursue a graduate degree in accordance with these requirements. At present, it is rare to see a job announcement requiring candidates to have an advanced degree specifically in international development studies. On the other hand, a M.A. in urban planning, public health, political science, economics, public policy, etc., presents a wide range of career options, among these are careers in international development.

Below are some examples of development careers that interest many IDS students, and the educational qualifications required for these positions:



Required Qualifications

United Nations Development Program

Junior Professional Officer

Master's degree (or equivalent) in a development-related discipline

United Nations Development Program

Coordinator / Planner in Management Development

Advanced degree in Public Administration, Urban/Regional Planning or equivalent

Oxfam Great Britain

Education Program Manager

Advanced degree in education, with a strong focus on planning and management or teacher development

Oxfam Washington D.C.

Deputy Director of Policy and Advocacy

Advanced degree in relevant social sciences (e.g. political science, law)

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

Economic Affairs Officer

Advanced degree in Economics / International Relations / Political Science / Law

International Fund for Agriculture Development

Country Portfolio Manager, Africa Division

Advanced degree in Rural Development / Economics / Finance

Los Angeles County Community Development Commission

Development Specialist, Housing Development & Preservation Division

Master's degree in real estate development, urban planning, business administration, architecture, or economics

This is not to say that you won't be able to work in the field of international development without obtaining an M.A. or Ph.D., in fact, many entry-level jobs do not require an advanced degree at all. However, if you are seeking a career position in the area of development, an advanced degree may be required.

Because a background specifically in development studies is not a common requirement for career positions at present, IDS students may want to consider pursuing graduate degrees in related fields instead, such as geography, urban/regional planning, public health, education, sociology, anthropology, economics, public policy and administration, political science, geography, etc.

One way for you to narrow your interests to a particular field of study is to peruse job descriptions at institutions where you might like to work in the future. Take note of which jobs interest you and what their academics qualifications are. For example, if you are considering working on a micro-finance project in Africa, you may want to pursue graduate study in the field of economics, focusing on finance or applied economics. If you want to work as a policy advocate in Washington D.C., a graduate degree in political science or law may be necessary.

Here are some websites that focus on job listings for non-profit organizations. See for yourself what academic qualifications employers are seeking:

Graduate Programs in International Development Studies

If you would like to pursue an interdisciplinary graduate degree in Development Studies, there are a number of programs offered, some of which are listed below. Note that some programs even offer joint degrees, such as M.A./ J.D. and M.A./M.B.A.

United States of America


Sample of Degrees offered

American University: School of International Service

M.A., International Development
M.A., International Peace and Conflict Resolution
M.A., Global Environmental Policy
Ph.D., International Relations

Boston University: Global Development

M.A., Global Development Policy
M.A., Global Development Economics

Claremont Graduate University: International Studies Programs  MA, MS and Ph.D. Programs

Clark University: Department of International Development, Community, and Environment

M.A., International Development and Social Change
M.A., Geographic Information Sciences for Development and Environment
M.A., Community Development and Planning
M.A., Environmental Science and Policy

Columbia University: School of International and Public Affairs

Master of International Affairs
Master of Public Administration
Ph.D. in Sustainable Development

Fordham University

M.A., International Political Economy and Development

George Washington University: Elliott School of International Affairs

M.A., International Development Studies
M.A., International Affairs

Georgetown University: Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service

Master of Science in Foreign Service

Harvard University: Kennedy School of Government

Master in Public Administration/International Development

Johns Hopkins University: Nitze School of Advanced International Studies

M.A., International Relations

Rutgers University: Division of Global Affairs

M.A., Global Affairs
Ph.D., Global Affairs

Monterey Institute of International Studies: Graduate School of International Policy Studies

M.A., International Policy Studies
M.A., International Environmental Policy
M.A., International Trade Policy
Master of Public Administration in International Management

School for International Training

M.A., Sustainable Development
M.A., Social Justice in Intercultural Relations

Tufts University: The Fletcher School

Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (MALD)

Tulane University: Payson Center for International Development

M.S., International Development
PhD, International Development

University of California, San Diego: School of International Relations and Pacific Studies

Master of Pacific International Affairs (MPIA)

University of Denver: Josef Korbel School of International Studies

M.A., International Development

University of Wisconsin, Madison

Ph.D., Development Studies



Institute of Development Studies, United Kingdom

MA Development Studies
MA Poverty and Development
MA Gender and Development
MA Governance and Development
MA Globalisation and Development
MA Participation, Power and Social Change
MA Science, Society and Development
MSc Climate Change and Development
PhD by Research

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva

Masters in Development Studies
Masters in International Affairs

University of Warwick: Department of Politics and International Studies

M.A., International Political Economy
M.A., Globalisation and Development

Institute of Social Studies in the Hague

M.A., Development Studies
Ph.D., Development Studies


Development Programs Around the World (list provided by IDS alumna, Maddy G.)

Peterson's Online Guide.


As this list is a work-in-progress, your feedback is most welcome. Please e-mail us at with your comments and/or additions.

Graduate Programs in Related Fields

Note that the above list may be extensive, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. Be sure to do an Internet search for other universities which might yield much more in your particular area of interest, especially for programs hidden within larger departments. For example, while UCLA does not offer a graduate program specifically in International Development Studies, you might want to inquire with related programs such as the UCLA School of Public Affairs, the UCLA Political Science Department, or the UCLA Geography Department to see what kind of research is being done on international development issues.

Below are listed some of the keywords / specializations that you might want to search for in a department or its faculty, for a number of different fields:


Socio-cultural, Nutritional, International Development, Sustainable Agriculture, Globalization


International Economics, Finance, Development / Transitional Economies


Environmental policy, Third World development, Land use, Environmental quality and sustainable use of natural resources, Tourism policy, Economic / Human / Urban, Agrarian Development, Industrial, Sustainability

Political Science

Comparative / International Politics, International Development, Political Economy, Democratic Transitions, Area Studies

Public Health

International / Global Health, Health Policy and Management (international focus), Socio-medical Sciences

Public Policy & Administration

Comparative and International Policy and Administration, Modernization and Political Development

Urban/Regional Planning

International and Comparative Planning, Housing in Developing Countries, Sustainable Development, Community and Economic Development, Environmental Planning / Land use, Infrastructure Development


Economic Sociology, Comparative Ethnicity, Nationalism, International Migration, Political Sociology

Please also refer to the Applying to Graduate School page for general information on The Application Process, Making Yourself a Competitive Candidate, Statement of Purpose, and Funding Graduate School.