MA in Global Development Policy

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The need to improve living standards, health, and quality of life for people throughout the developing world in an environmentally sound manner is increasingly being recognized as a top priority by the global community. Heightened attention to addressing this challenge has in turn created a burgeoning need for professionals who can bring a varied combination of knowledge, skills, and practices to work in relief operations and development programs administered by NGOs, governments, and international aid and policy organizations, including in positions requiring economic analysis and quantitative research skills.

The Master of Arts in Global Development Policy (GDP) degree program is designed for students who want to work as development policy practitioners. The GDP is a joint project of the International Relations, Geography, and International Health departments. In addition to universal requirements of coursework in research design/statistics and reading proficiency in a second language, the GDP requires that students pursue one of three possible concentration tracks: Governance and Political Economy, International Public Health, or Infrastructure and Environment. Elective coursework can be flexibly applied toward greater depth in the area of concentration, expansion of the student’s general knowledge base, or specialization in a particular geographic region.

To see a progress report for the GDP program, go to the forms page.

More information about Global Development at BU can be found on the BU Global Development website. Students seeking a more economically grounded program may wish to consider the MA in Global Development Economics (GDE), the sister program to the GDP.  The GDE program is described on the BU Global Development website.

Requirements of the Program

  • Three core courses in global development policy
  • One course in economics
  • One statistics/methods course (varies with chosen track)
  • A final capstone course
  • Sixteen credit hours of coursework in a chosen track
  • Eight credit hours of elective coursework
  • Passing grade on Foreign Language examination

Required Courses

Development Policy Core Requirements

  • GRS GE 600 Environment & Development:  A Political Ecology Approach
  • GRS IR 701 Fundamentals of International Relations
  • SPH IH 770 Poverty, Health, and Development

Economics Course

  • GRS IR 704 Global Economic and Development Policy

Statistics/Methods Course

All students take a statistics/methods course. The specific course taken will depend on the track chosen by the student. See the section below on track courses for details.

Capstone Course

All students in both the Global Development Policy and the Global Development Economics programs take a capstone course in their second year, GRS IR 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.

Track Courses

Students in the GDP program choose to concentrate in one of three tracks: Governance and Political Economy, Infrastructure and Environment, or International Public Health. Each track includes a required statistics/methods class, two or more required track courses, and one or more optional track courses. Students take the required courses for their track and then select sufficient optional track coursework to bring their total credits in the track, excluding the methods course, up to at least 16 credit hours.

Click on the title of the track to see detailed information on the requirements and course options for that track.

Governance & Political Economy

Environment & Development

International Public Health

Elective Courses

Students take sufficient elective coursework to bring their total credit count up to 48 credits. For students in the Governance and Political Economy track and the Infrastructure and Environment track, this will mean two regular courses. Because the School of Public Health offers coursework with varying credits, the number of courses taken by students in the International Public Health Track will vary, but students must take sufficient elective coursework to bring their total credit count up to at least 48 credit hours.

Elective coursework may be chosen from the optional 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 class offerings can be found by perusing the course listings for the various IR Department regional tracks. Students may take any of the regional studies courses listed there and can also petition the IR Director of Graduate Studies for approval to take a regional studies class that is not on one of those lists.

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

Students should note that while 500 level classes in the Geography and International Relations departments are graduate level courses, 500 level classes in the School of Public Health are undergraduate level courses and as such can not be taken towards the GDP degree.

Language Requirement

All students in the GDP program must fulfill the IR Department’s Foreign Language Requirement. More information about this requirement can be found here.

Study Abroad Programs

We offer GDP students a range of high quality development related study abroad programs.  All students are encouraged (though not required) to do one or more of these programs.  Details can be found here.

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