The International Development Studies program grounds international development practitioners in the theories, policies, and skills necessary for operating at the forefront of the field. Graduates of the program are prepared to address global development challenges in the most disadvantaged regions and among the most marginalized populations. The program takes a multidisciplinary and intellectually rigorous approach, paying particular attention to cultural context, ethics, field-based applied research, and innovative practices. Developing marketable skills and broadening professional experience are a central part of the program. All students complete a real-world consultancy for an international development organization as their final project.
The IDS Program is a cohort-based program which fosters student-to-student intellectual exchange, social engagement, and networking opportunities. Our students take core courses together and interact in and out of class with program faculty and alumni. Most IDS students have some development experience, or at least experience in the developing world, and are seeking career advancement.
Students must fulfill 18 hours of coursework for a self-designed area of specialization, developed in coordination with their advisor when they meet to discuss their Plan of Study.
When you're ready to apply to the program, you will need to follow the graduate admissions process, including completing and submitting the online application with all of the required materials
There are also certain prerequisites that applicants must meet to be able to apply to the program.
Academic proficiency in a foreign language, which will prepare students to complete the program’s language requirement*. Proficiency can be demonstrated by study (four semesters of university-level coursework or an equivalent), an in-country experience where the language is spoken (ex. Peace Corps, JET, etc.), or growing up in a household where the language is spoken.
*Students need to have a strong foundation in a foreign language before enrolling to be successful in completing the language requirement during the program.
Course background in economics (micro- and macroeconomics) is a prerequisite to help prepare students to complete the graduate-level economics course(s) required within the M.A. in International Development Studies curriculum. Course(s) must be successfully completed through an accredited institution in:
In some cases, a student may be admitted who has not fulfilled the economics requirement*; in which case, the student is required to take course(s) at an accredited college/university prior to enrollment at the Elliott School.
*Spring applicants are expected to have fulfilled this prerequisite at the time of application.
The Elliott School's prime location in the heart of Washington DC attracts a wide variety of highly qualified and experienced development practitioners who act as professorial lecturers in the International Development Studies Program.
A group of students from the Elliott School International Development Studies (IDS) program recently participated in the first-ever U.S-based intercollegiate Model G20 Summit that took place at American University’s School of International Service.
In the Agriculture and Sustainable Development graduate seminar, taught by Prof. Samuel
Alumna Mariam Adil was sitting in a graduate development economics class in 2013 when she found herself zoning out of the lecture. But it turned out to be a productive daydream. Now, in addition to being on the staff of the World Bank, she runs a social venture called GRID, Gaming Revolution Inspiring Development.
Did you know you can make a direct donation to the IDS Program? We have established an IDS capstone travel fund to help defray costs for student groups each year. Your donations will go towards supporting capstone travel. Thank you for your support!
Our graduates continue to pursue a wide variety of exciting careers in diplomacy and public service, business, security, conflict resolution, development
While you study with us and even once you leave, we'll provide you with resources and support to help you get the job you've always wanted post-graduation. From career counseling, workshops, site visits
Education Specialist at World Bank & Founder of GRID
"You are not waiting to graduate to actually begin to make social change. What was really inspiring to me was that the professors we had and my classmates were already deep in development when we were going through the IDS Program."