You are here: Master of Arts in International Development

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Improving the lives of the world's poor and disenfranchised

For more than 40 years, the MA in International Development (MAID) has trained graduates to create opportunities for those in need of change, to search for solutions to the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges, and to address complex global issues. MAID is one of the best-established development programs in the United States and prepares students to participate effectively in driving socio-economic, political, and environmental development throughout the world. MAID is unique in its ethical-technical, practice-theory, generalist-specialist, global-local, action-research focus and emphasis on building skills required for graduates to become effective agents of change.

The MA in International Development (MAID) program requires 39–42 credit hours of graduate coursework, including your choice of capstone: substantial research paper, applied substantial research paper, practicum, or master’s thesis. Students can complete the MAID in two years (full-time) or up to six years (part-time).

MAID’s core curriculum includes courses on alternative theories and definitions of international development, key social categories that affect development politics, micro and macro levels of economic development, economic theory, and various international affairs research methods. Students will build on their core curriculum by forging a concentration tailored to their career and development interests.

Explore degree flexibility options

Full degree and admission requirements

The MA in International Development boasts one of the largest concentrations of faculty both teaching and researching international development. The development faculty is distinguished by its scholarly reputation, its diversity, its combination of theory and field experience, its commitment to teaching, and its maintenance of a strong collegial relationship with the students in the program. Students will benefit from the faculty’s robust research and practical experience.  

Meet the MAID and IDP faculty

There is no better place to study international affairs and development than in Washington, DC. Situated nearby Embassy Row, MAID offers students access to governmental, non-profit, and private institutions that work with and in developing countries. The city is a learning laboratory that enables students to participate in internships and practicum experiences that combine research and action with an integrated, problem-solving approach to development challenges.

The MAID program is part of the International Development Program (IDP) at the School of International Service. Students in MAID will collaborate with their cohort and will work closely with students in the MS in Development Management program, MAID’s sister program within IDP.

We Know Success

% of Graduates are now Working, Grad School, or Both

Improving opportunities for all

I’m working toward a more gender equitable society.

I’m helping people understand how transforming gender norms can benefit men, women, and communities writ large. My work focuses on women’s education and empowerment and men’s engagement—getting fathers, brothers, and community leaders on board with women’s empowerment. This is important for development work to become gender equitable and for it to be successful overall. Read more about my work.

Frequently Asked Questions

When you should apply to the program depends on what semester you want to start taking classes and whether you are a domestic or international student.

Application deadlines for an MA in International Development are as follows:

  • Fall semester (all applicants): January 15
  • Spring semester (domestic applicants): October 1
  • Spring semester (international applicants): September 15

View required application materials

Missed a deadline but still interested in applying? Email the SIS Graduate Admissions office.

Our graduates go into careers that make positive impact on our world. With a customizable concentration, students develop the hard and soft skills needed to pursue their individual interests in the international development field.

Our alumni have gone on to build education programs in Sub-Saharan Africa; create new ways of making monitoring, evaluation, and learning useful for grass root organizations; feed and assist refugees; and enter the Foreign Service.

Employers that hire MAID graduates include: World Bank, Save the Children, Chemonics, OXFAM, UN Agency for International Development, Global Fund for Women, World Vision, and more.

Looking for more information or help? SIS has a dedicated career development center to assist current students and alumni.

The School of International Service offers merit-based aid in the form of scholarships and fellowships at the time of admission.

Financial aid information for prospective students

Current students pursuing their MA in International Development have several fellowships and awards available for them to help offset the cost of their education and take advantage of additional academic opportunities.

Need-based aid is available through AU Central Office and generally takes the form of a federal low-interest loan package.

Federal loan and work study information for graduate students

The difference between the MA in International Development and the MS in Development Management is each degree’s focus on facilitating and managing change versus its focus on theories and definitions of international development. The MA provides professional preparation in development politics, research, economics, and theories, while the MS—the only of its kind at SIS—provides applied and innovative management skills and requires a minimum of two years professional experience to apply.

Still have questions? Send us an email at idpsis@american.edu