You are here: American University School of International Service Master of Arts in International Development

hands holding a small globe

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 meaningfully participate in driving socio-economic, political, and environmental development throughout the world. MAID is unique in its balance of practice and theory, its emphasis on the links between the global and local, and its dedication to equipping graduates to become effective and ethical agents of change.

The MA in International Development (MAID) degree 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 pursuing a professional track tailored to their career and development interests.

Explore degree flexibility options

Full degree and admission requirements

The International Development program boasts one of the largest concentrations of faculty both teaching and researching international development. Members of the development faculty are distinguished by their scholarly reputation, their combination of theory and field experience, their commitment to teaching, and the lasting relationships they build with students in the program. Students will benefit from the faculty’s robust research and practical experience.  

Meet the MAID faculty

There is no better place to study international affairs and development than in Washington, DC. Situated near Embassy Row, the International Development program 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 practica that combine research with an integrated, problem-solving approach to the world's development challenges.

Students in MAID, together with students pursuing the MS in Development Management, make up the larger International Development program. The ID program is a diverse community consisting of international students, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, and more experienced development professionals. ID and DM students collaborate and work closely with one another in classes and in the International Development Program Student Association (IDPSA).

We Know Success

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

Discovering a Passion for Research

Having this research experience at SIS has been life-changing.

When I began my degree, I had absolutely no idea that research would be such an important part of my graduate experience. My research with Professor Nina Yamanis has allowed me the privilege to speak with Latinx immigrants in DC and learn from their stories of hardship and resilience. Throughout the process, I became a qualitative researcher, which gave me the skills I needed and fueled my passion to ultimately win several awards at SIS and continue the work. Learn more about this research.

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 a positive impact on the world. With a customizable professional track, 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 grassroot organizations, feed and assist refugees, and enter the Foreign Service.

Employers that hire MAID graduates include: the World Bank, Save the Children, Chemonics, OXFAM, US 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 to them to help offset the cost of their education and take advantage of additional academic and professional 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

Though the two programs share many core requirements, the MS in Development Management is a more specialized degree focusing on the applied skills needed to facilitate and manage change. The MA in International Development provides professional preparation in development politics, economics, and theories, while the MS—the only of its kind at SIS—offers technical and innovative management skills to those looking to take their development careers to the next level. For this reason the MS requires a minimum of two years of relevant professional experience to apply.

Still have questions? Send us an email with program-specific questions at idpsis@american.edu