Our Master in Development Studies offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the policies and processes of international development. The programme combines training in quantitative and qualitative research methods with courses that provide development perspectives from the Institute’s core disciplines, including Anthropology, Economics, History, Law and Political Science.

The programme also includes applied research seminars and capstone projects that enable students to conduct local fieldwork. It also offers skills workshops that provide them with the professional tools necessary for effective analysis and decision-making.

If you are currently studying at the Graduate Institute, check the 2016-2017 Course Catalogue.


In the fall of 2017, the Graduate Institute will introduce an updated Master in Development Studies.

The new programme is organized around introduction courses, major and minor specialization tracks and free electives. It will also offer courses aimed at developing professional skills, including workshops, a capstone project and an internship, as well as a thesis..

To earn a Master in Development Studies, students must complete a total of 120 credits over four semesters.

Studentes have to complete a total of 30 credits of compulsory introductory core courses.

Before the second semester, students will choose a major and minor out of three specialization tracks: Power, Conflict & Development; Cities, Spaces & Mobilities; Environment, Resources & Sustainability. For the major, students must take one core course and 18 credits worth of electives. For the minor, students have to take one  core course and six credits worth of electives.




The Master in Development Studies is an ambitious study programme composed of a number of courses, seminars, workshops and a thesis. The curriculum consists of the following.


  1. Core introductory courses

    Compulsory core courses  include two method courses  (one on quantitative and one of qualitative research methods), one course on Development Economics, and two-out-of-three courses on History, Theory and Practice of Development; Poverty and Inequality; and Gender and Development. These courses lay the groundwork in terms of concepts, theories and methods that form the basis for the subsequent specializations. They must be completed during the first and second semesters and account for six credits each – 30 in total.
  2. Specialization Track Courses

    In their second semester students choose among three specialization tracks, which include Power, Conflict & DevelopmentCities, Spaces & Mobilities, and Environment, Resources & Sustainability The last track is offered in both the Master in International Affairs and the Master in Development programmes, which reflects the Graduate Institute’s unique resources in these areas. The specialization tracks consist of a core course, and a number of disciplinary and interdisciplinary electives specific to the specialization track. Students must achieve 24 credits in the major and 12 credits in the minor.
  3. Free Electives

    Students are required to choose courses from a wide range of free electives, which are either specific to one of the subject areas taught in the interdisciplinary Master programmes or offered by the five disciplinary departments. Students must achieve a total of 6 credits of free electives.
  4. Professional Skills

    Courses aimed at developing professional skills include workshops, an internship and a capstone project. The skills workshops are highly interactive modules that immerse students in real-life decision-making, crisis management and negotiation situations. These experiences provide them with the practical and professional tools they need to become effective decision-makers. Each skills workshop accounts for three credits.  

    The capstone projects are applied research seminars that enable students to work closely with one of the Graduate Institute’s partner institutions and become exposed to real-world development issues. This experience also enables them to build networks within International Geneva. The capstone projects extend over the second and third semesters and are completed in the fall semester of the second year. Capstone projects account for nine credits.

    Students also have the opportunity to complete an internship in between their second and third semesters, working with an institution or company whose mission and activities are relevant to the curriculum. Students must work at least 100 hours and submit a final report at the end of the internship. The internship will appear on the transcript of results and replace one three-credit elective class.
  5. Thesis

    The Master thesis is a piece of independent and original research carried under faculty supervision. Students are expected to demonstrate command of the literature related to their research question, as well as of the relevant theories, concepts and methods. The thesis is the culmination of the two-year Master in Development Studies programme and can be of use in students' forthcoming academic and/or professional activities.