Expand AU Menu

School of International Service

  • RSS
  • Print

MA in International Development

The MAID is designed for students whose professional interests require a broad, multidisciplinary approach to international development theories, issues, and programs. It is particularly useful preparation for those involved in policy analysis, development and global education, and research. The program provides the opportunity for students to examine critically the most current international development theories and policies, and to gain an inside view on the Washington development community by serving as interns with development organizations. Students also have the opportunity to choose an area of concentration from a wide range of options, or to fashion an individually designed specialization relevant to their needs and interests.


Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor’s degree with a cumulative grade point average of at least a B+ (3.30 or higher on a 4.00 scale) and should have had at least 24 credit hours of social science course work relevant to international studies. Work experience, especially but not only, in fields relevant to development is given serious consideration.

The application deadline for fall admission is January 15; for spring admission October 1 (September 15 for international students). Admitted students may defer matriculation for no longer than two semesters provided that a written request for deferment is submitted to and approved by the SIS Graduate Admissions Office. 

All applicants whose native language is English or those whose degrees are from an accredited institution where the language of instruction is English are required to submit results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Non-native English speakers are required to submit results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) unless they hold a degree from a US-accredited institution (before enrollment at SIS). The minimum TOEFL score for full admissions consideration is 100 on the Internet-based test (IBT), 250 on the computer-based test, or 600 on the paper-based test. (250 on the computer version). The minimum IELTS score is 7.0. Fall applicants should plan to take the appropriate test no later than December to ensure full admissions consideration of the application by the January deadline.

All applicants must submit two letters of reference evaluating undergraduate academic performance and suitability for graduate study in international affairs, at least one of which should be from an academic source. A resume should be included in the application. Applicants must submit transcripts from all institutions attended. Cultural factors are considered in evaluating transcripts and examination results.

Requests for the transfer of a maximum of 6 graduate credit hours from other accredited institutions to be applied to a master’s degree are considered after successful completion of 9 graduate credit hours at American University. A minimum grade of B in each course is required for transfer. Transfer courses must have been completed within seven years of admission and must fulfill stated requirements of the degree.

Degree Requirements

  • 39–42 credit hours of approved graduate course work with a cumulative grade point average of 3.00, including a minimum of 12 credit hours in the core, 15 credit hours in a concentration/related field selected from offerings in SIS or other teaching units of the university, 6 credit hours in research and professional methods, 3 elective credit hours, and a 3-credit capstone. 
  • Completion of a capstone through one of the following three options: a master's thesis (original research project intended for students planning to pursue doctoral work), a substantial research paper (research or policy paper: scope and topic vary by program), or a practicum.
    • Thesis: 6 credit hours (3 credit hours of thesis credit and 3 elective credit hours) and submission of the thesis.
    • Substantial research paper requirement: 3 credit hours
    • Practicum: 3 credit hours
  • Evidence of professional experience in the field. Relevant work or internship experience must be certified.
  • Proficiency in a modern foreign language:
    • Research competence in English and another language relevant to the student’s career objectives must be certified. 

Course Requirements

Core (12–15 credit hours)

  • ECON-603 Introduction to Economic Theory (3) (may be waived by the program director based on the student having taken an equivalent set of economics courses before coming to AU. This reduces the total required credit hours to 39 and the core course credit hours to 12)
  • ECON-661 Survey of Economic Development (3)
  • SIS-636 Micropolitics of Development (3) 
  • SIS-637 International Development (3) 
  • One of the following:
    • SIS-533 Population, Migration, and Development (3)
    • SIS-624 Children in International Development (3)
    • SIS-626 Social Policy and Development (3)
    • SIS-650 Global Economy and Sustainable Development (3)
    • SIS-635 Advanced Topics in Development Management:
      • Community Development (3)
      • Rural Development (3)
      • Urban Development (3)

Concentration (15 credit hours)

Courses approved by the student’s faculty advisor selected from one concentration. A maximum of 6 credit hours from SIS-633 Selected Topics in International Communication, SIS-638 Selected Topics in International Development Skills, and SIS-639 Selected Topics in International Conflict Resolution Skills may be included. Students may design their own concentration with the approval of the faculty advisor. Examples of concentrations include:

  • Community Development and Basic Needs 
  • Development Finance and Banking 
  • Development Education 
  • Development Management 
  • Development Policy 
  • Economics and Finance and International Economic Policy 
  • Entrepreneurship and Small Business 
  • Environment and Development 
  • Gender Studies and Development 
  • NGOs and Development

Elective (3 credit hours)

  • 3 credit hours selected from skills workshops, internship for credit, master's thesis requirement, or other elective courses

Research and Professional Methods (6 credit hours)

  • SIS-600 Statistics, Research Design, and Research Methods for International Affairs (3)
  • or
  • SIS-619 Special Studies in International Politics: Advanced Statistics, Research Design, and Research Methods for International Affairs (3)
  • Methodology or professional skill course work appropriate to the student's research and career interests (3)

Capstone Experience (3 credit hours)

  • SIS-797 Master’s Thesis Supervision (3-6) (may include 3 elective credit hours)
  • or 
  • Substantial research paper or practicum requirement


M.A. in International Development and Master of Theological Studies

A dual master’s degree is offered by the School of International Service and Wesley Theological Seminary. Graduates receive both the M.A. in International Develop¬ment and the Master of Theological Studies.

Admission and Requirements

  • Applications are submitted to both SIS and Wesley. Students must be admitted separately to each program.
  • Students may count up to 9 credit hours from Wesley toward the concentration requirement for the M.A. in International Development, and an additional 3 credit hours toward the research requirement if they select the thesis option. Please consult both the SIS Graduate Admissions Office at 202-885-1646 and the Wesley Theological Seminary Admissions Office at 202-885-8659 for application requirements.

Please refer to the Wesley Theological Seminary catalog for a description of the degree requirements for the Master of Theo¬logical Studies, or call the Admissions Office at 202-885 -8659.