You are here: American University School of International Service 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 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.

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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

Forging a Career in International Development

Gaining a strong foundation in international development opened doors for me.

My experience working in global development and my understanding of the issues made my work in marketing and communications stronger—I was able to put complex issues into context and communicate them better to audiences. Learn more about Vivero's career and work at GoodWeave International.

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 (all applicants): October 1

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

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

Both MAID and MSDM require the completion of a capstone project. MAID students may choose to pursue a Practicum in International Affairs, Thesis, or Substantial Research Project (SRP). MSDM students complete a 6-credit self-designed Management Practicum that gives students hands-on management experience in a real-world setting.

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