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MS in Development Management

The MSDM combines the fields of development and public administration to provide state of the art education, training, and practice in development management. The program is designed both for practitioners and students with prior field experience who plan to work on development programs and projects either within the United States or in developing countries. It provides an opportunity to focus on innovative approaches to development management that are presently being developed both in the United States and in the Third World, with particular attention to the issues of self-reliance, sustainability, and poverty alleviation. The approach emphasizes social learning, action research, institutional development, and social development management, with the objective of increasing the responsiveness of organizations to the publics they are designed to serve and enhance the capacity of these communities to further their own development.

The program also is concerned with such issues as improving management effectiveness in donor and locally funded projects and programs, public service reform, the role of non-governmental organizations, and management of both national level and decentralized institutions.

Offered by the School of International Service, the Master of Science in Development Management combines the fields of development and public administration to provide state-of-the-art education, training, and practice in development management. The program is designed both for practitioners and students with prior field experience who plan to work on development programs and projects either within the United States or in developing countries. It provides an opportunity to focus on innovative approaches to development management that are presently being developed both in the United States and in the Third World, with particular attention to the issues of self-reliance, sustainability, and poverty alleviation.

Admission to the Program

Applicants must have at least two years field experience working on development problems or projects in the United States, Western Europe, or in developing countries.

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 coursework relevant to international studies. Students who do not meet these minimum requirements, if otherwise admissible, may be assigned additional coursework in excess of degree requirements specified at the time of admission.

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) or 600 on the paper-based test (PBT). The minimum IELTS score is 7.0. Applicants should plan to take the appropriate test no later than December to ensure full 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 credit hours in the graduate program at American University. A minimum grade of B in each course is required for transfer. Transfer courses must have been completed within five years of admission and must fulfill stated requirements of the degree program.

Degree Requirements

  • 39-42 credit hours of approved graduate coursework with a cumulative grade point average of 3.00, including a minimum of 15-18 credit hours in the core, 12 credit hours in a related field selected from offerings in SIS or other teaching units of the university, 6 credit hours in social science methodology, and 6 credit hours of research.
    • A mid-level professional who has performed successfully in a technical or managerial role before admission to the program may apply through the director of the MS in Development Management program to the dean of SIS to have the total program requirements reduced by up to 6 credit hours. This application may be made after completion of 9 credit hours and must make reference to a number of areas in which the student has acquired basic competence. Credit earned as part of an internship program does not count in this provision.
  • Research requirement: 6 credit hours of practicum research with grades of B or better
  • Comprehensive examination requirement completed in conjunction with practicum research
    • To be eligible to take a comprehensive examination, students must have maintained at least a 3.00 grade point average (on a 4.00 scale) in all graduate coursework. The comprehensive examination requirement includes research group meetings plus an oral research presentation in conjunction with a thesis, substantial research paper, or practicum.
  • 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 (15-18 credit hours)

Required

One of the following:

Concentration (12 credit hours)

Development Management and Information Systems

Entrepreneurship and Small Business

Program and Project Management

Social Science Research Methodology (6 credit hours)

Required

Methodology Course

  • Approved methodology course appropriate to the student's research interests (3)

Research and Writing Requirement (6 credit hours)