MA in Global Development Policy (GDP)

The following program listing applies to students admitted before September 1, 2017. 

The Master of Arts in Global Development Policy (GDP) is a rigorous year and a half program that provides students with breadth of training in the various facets of sustainable international development as well as in-depth training in a chosen sub-field (Governance and Political Economy, Environment and Development, or International Public Health).

In addition to coursework in their chosen sub-field, students complete a set of universal requirements, including core courses surveying the essentials of each sub-field and the workings of the global economy, training in research design, and a capstone seminar in which research teams design and carry out an interdisciplinary policy analysis comparable to those performed for a government or nonprofit agency.

The Global Development Policy MA is a joint offering of the Pardee School of Global Studies, the School of Public Health, and the Department of Earth & Environment.

Students with a strong Economics background may wish to consider the related MA in Global Development Economics.

The MA in Global Development Policy requires a total of 48 credits divided among core development policy courses (16 credits), a final capstone course (4 credits), track coursework (minimum of 20 credits), and sufficient elective coursework to bring the student’s credit total to at least 48 (typically 8 credits).

Development Policy Core (16 credits)
  • GRS GE 600 Environment & Development: A Political Ecology Approach
  • GRS IR 701 Fundamentals of International Relations
  • GRS IR 704 Global Economic and Development Policy
  • SPH GH 770 Poverty, Health, and Development
Track (20 credits)

Students choose to concentrate in one of three tracks, listed below. Each track consists of a methods course (3 – 4 credits), 2 required courses (7 – 8 credits), and sufficient additional coursework to bring the credits in the track to at least 20.


Students take sufficient elective coursework to bring their total credit count to at least 48 credits. For students in the Governance and Political Economy track and the Environment and Development track, this typically equates to two courses (8 credits). Because the School of Public Health offers coursework worth varying credits, the number of courses taken by students in the International Public Health track varies considerably.

Elective coursework may be chosen from the track courses of any of the three tracks. Students are welcome to take coursework from outside of their own track, but they must satisfy any prerequisites for the courses that they take.

Elective coursework can also be selected from the graduate-level regional studies offerings of a variety of departments at BU. An extensive listing of regional studies course offerings can be found in the course listings for the various regional tracks of the Pardee School’s MA in International Affairs degree. Students can take any of the regional studies courses listed there and may also petition for approval to take a regional studies course not listed.

Students may also talk with the coordinator for their track about the possibility of taking other coursework to fulfill the elective requirement, if that other coursework fits with the intent of the degree program and contributes to preparation of students for their intended career paths.

Students are required to demonstrate graduate-level reading proficiency in a foreign language prior to completion of the degree. Graduate-level proficiency is the ability to understand newspaper and professional journal articles in the field of foreign relations accurately, using standard reference materials. Language proficiency can be demonstrated either through a language examination or successful completion of one of the non-credit graduate-level foreign language reading courses offered by Boston University.

In the case of non-native English speakers who were required to submit a TOEFL score report as part of their application for admission, knowledge of English fulfills this requirement.

Students take a 4-credit capstone course in the fall of their second year, GRS IR/GE 798, Global Development Capstone. This is a project-based course in which students, working in groups, design and carry out an interdisciplinary policy analysis comparable to those performed for a government or nonprofit agency. Projects are typically done for real-world clients.