Development Studies Degree

Development Studies Courses in the USA

Introduction to studying a development studies degree

Development studies is an interconnected field of social science that provides various aspects of social, economic, political, and cultural development at both global and local levels. Students who pursue development studies often find the field compelling due to its holistic approach to understanding the challenges and opportunities associated with societal progress. The diverse subjects within development studies allow students to explore their interests in various areas, such as alleviating poverty, promoting human rights, addressing environmental concerns, and fostering inclusive economic growth.

Development Studies alumni from US universities often find fulfilling roles with organizations such as the United Nations, World Bank, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and multinational corporations involved in sustainable business practices. Additionally, government agencies at various levels may seek professionals with expertise in international development to contribute to policy formulation and implementation. The diverse skill set acquired during the program, including research, analysis, and cross-cultural communication, enhances the employability of graduates in an increasingly interconnected global landscape.

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Types of Degree

Bachelor’s Degree in Development Studies

A Bachelor's Degree in Development Studies, either a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS), offers a diverse curriculum that covers economic development, social issues, and global perspectives. Development studies also equip international students with a holistic understanding of the challenges and opportunities in today's global landscape. Students delve into foundational principles shaping global development throughout this four-year undergraduate program. The program equips students with deep understanding, preparing them to contribute meaningfully to the dynamic field of international development upon graduation.

Master's Degree in Development Studies

In a Master of Arts (MA) in Development Studies program, students will study various subjects encompassing social sciences, history, and politics. Core coursework typically includes development theories, economic and political structures, globalization, cultural perspectives, and the historical evolution of societies. Specializations allow students to focus on international development, sustainable development, or global health, tailoring their studies to specific areas of interest. This degree equips students with critical analytical skills, an understanding of global issues, and the ability to navigate the complexities of development challenges.

PhD Degree in Developmental Studies

Pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Development Studies offers international students a unique opportunity to delve deeply into the domain of social sciences, history, and politics that underpin global development. The research-focused doctoral program empowers students to conduct original, impactful research, contributing substantially to the academic discourse surrounding crucial development issues. The PhD journey allows them to specialize in areas of personal interest, fostering expertise and innovation.


Several universities in the USA offer scholarships to international students pursuing a degree in Development Studies. Here are a few universities and their scholarship programs:

The Harvard Kennedy School provides various scholarships and fellowships, such as the Belfer Fellowship, Mason Fellowship, and Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellowship, offering different values and covering tuition fees and living expenses.

Georgetown University's Walsh School of Foreign Service offers scholarships like the Global Human Development Scholarship, providing funding covering full or partial tuition.

SAIS offers scholarships, including the Global Leaders Fellowship, providing full tuition and a stipend for international students.

Columbia SIPA offers various scholarships, such as the SIPA Fellowship and the Economic and Political Development Concentration Scholarship, offering different award values and covering tuition expenses.

UC Berkeley's Goldman School offers scholarships like the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fellowship and the IGS Fellowship, providing financial support covering tuition and living expenses.

Jobs and Careers

Students with degrees in developmental studies have various career opportunities in multiple sectors. Here are some jobs and careers for students in Developmental Psychology or Human Development and Family Studies


Salaries for individuals with development studies degrees are based on job role, industry, and experience. For entry-level positions, like social workers or research assistants, the average annual salary is $64,103. In the dynamic field of development studies, professionals contribute to positive change and social justice across diverse roles. Monitoring and Evaluation Officers play a pivotal role in assessing the impact of development programs, earning an average salary of $60,073. Advocacy Officers, advocating for social causes and policy changes, command an average wage of $50,106.

These salaries reflect the rewarding nature of careers in development studies, where professionals actively contribute to making a meaningful and positive impact on societal well-being and human rights.

Top Universities for Development Studies in the USA

To learn more about the best development studies courses in the USA, find details on the top ten ranking Development Studies universities in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023 below:

  1. Harvard University
  2. University of California, Berkeley
  3. Stanford University
  4. Columbia University
  5. Princeton University
  6. University of Chicago
  7. University of California, Los Angeles
  8. Cornell University
  9. Boston University
  10. Johns Hopkins University

Study Development Studies in the USA

If you want to learn more about studying a development studies course in the USA, arrange a free consultation with SI-USA today.

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What career paths can I pursue with a degree in development studies?

With a degree in development studies, students can pursue careers in international development, policy analysis, humanitarian aid, project management, social research, and advocacy. Opportunities exist in NGOs, government agencies, international organizations, and research institutions.

Are there opportunities for research in development studies?

Yes, research is a significant component of Development Studies. Graduates can engage in academic research, policy analysis, or fieldwork, contributing to understanding and improving global development issues.

How long does it typically take to complete a development studies course?

Completing a development studies course typically takes 3 to 4 years for an undergraduate degree and 1 to 2 years for a master's program, depending on the level of study and the institution.

What specializations are available within development studies programs?

Specializations within development studies programs include environmental sustainability, gender and development, global health, conflict resolution, economic development, and human rights, allowing students to focus on specific areas aligning with their interests and career goals.

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