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Manage programs to reduce poverty & vulnerability

Improving the lives of the world's poor and disenfranchised requires those who can facilitate and lead change. The Master of Science in Development Management (MSDM) at the School of International Service prepares graduates to work directly with communities, organizations, programs, and individuals on the logistical aspects of international development. The MSDM offers a unique combination of applied skills found in a traditional MS degree—such as project management, organizational strengthening, and monitoring and evaluation—and a broad, multidisciplinary approach to international development theories, issues, and programs. The MSDM provides graduates with both relevant management skills and a top 10 education in international affairs.

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The MS in Development Management (MSDM) is the only master of science degree offered by the School of International Service. The degree requires 39–42 credit hours of graduate coursework, including a required 6-credit individual capstone, Management Practicum, which is a distinct component of the degree. The capstone may be carried out in the US or abroad, with flexible arrangements and timing offered to meet varying needs of MSDM students. The MSDM degree can be completed in two years (full-time) or up to six years (part-time).

The curriculum is uniquely designed for those with a minimum of two years’ prior field experience, though many have more, who wish to gain applied and innovative management skills in the context of international development. Students will build their own concentration that focuses on a sector of their choice—such as environment, global health, gender, and social enterprise—to gain a combination of skills necessary to work directly with people, organizations, communities, and programs that seek to improve the lives of the poor and disenfranchised.

Explore degree flexibility options

Full degree and admission requirements

The MS in Development Management, as part of the International Development Program (IDP) at SIS, benefits from one of the largest concentrations of faculty both teaching and researching international development. Faculty are distinguished by their scholarly reputation, diversity, and combination of theory and field experience. Students will benefit from their commitment to teaching and from access to faculty in American University’s Kogod School of Business, College of Arts and Sciences, and School of Public Affairs, who have unparalleled expertise in economics, management, and public administration.

Meet the MAID and IDP faculty.

There is no better place to study international affairs and development than in Washington, DC. Situated nearby Embassy Row, MAID offers students access to governmental, non-profit, and private institutions that work with an in developing countries. The city is a learning laboratory that enables students to participate in internships and practicum experiences that combine research and action with an integrated, problem-solving approach to development challenges.

The Master of Science in Development Management (MSDM) degree is housed within the International Development Program at the School of International Service. Students pursuing their MS in Development Management collaborate and work closely with students pursuing the MA in International Development, MSDM’s sister degree.

We Know Success

% of Graduates are now Working, Grad School, or Both

Monitoring and Evaluating Development Projects

Sarah Cantos Kline, SIS/MS ‘16

I wanted to enhance my skills as a program manager.

After serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Northern Thailand, I pursued a degree in Development Management to continue my education as an international development professional. Under the MSDM program, I worked with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights on a practicum that focused on budget management and project evaluation. I now support grants management and contract administration activities for the US Trade and Development Agency’s Office of Program Monitoring and Evaluation.

On average, MSDM has a cohort size of 13


Top employers: Booz Allen Hamilton, Chemonics International, Global Fairness Initiative, and ICMA

More than $4,000

of funding available to IDP students for research & fellowships

Frequently Asked Questions

When you should apply to the program depends on what semester you want to start taking classes in and whether you are a domestic or international student.

Application deadlines for an MA in International Development are as follows:

  • Fall semester: January 15
  • Spring semester: October 1

View required application materials

Missed a deadline but still interested in applying? Email the SIS Graduate Admissions office.

Graduates of the MS in Development Management go on to careers that utilize facilitation and management skills to improve lives. They become project managers for global businesses and NGOs, conduct monitoring and evaluation for private and government agencies, and work directly with individuals to improve communities around the world.

Looking for more information or help? SIS has a dedicated career development center to assist current students and alumni.

The School of International Service offers merit-based aid in the form of scholarships and fellowships at the time of admission.

Financial aid information for prospective students

Currents students pursuing their MA have several fellowships and awards available to them to help offset the cost of their education and take advantage of additional academic opportunities.

Need-based aid is available through AU Central Office and generally takes the form of a federal low-interest loan package.

Federal loan and work study information for graduate students

The difference between the MA in International Development (MAID) and the MS in Development Management (MSDM) is each degree’s focus on facilitating and managing change versus its focus on theories and definitions of international development. The MAID provides professional preparation in development politics, research, economics, and theories, while the MSDM—the only MS at SIS—provides applied and innovative management skills and requires a minimum of two years professional experience to apply. 

Both MAID and MSDM require the completion of a capstone project. MAID students may choose to pursue a Practicum in International Affairs, Thesis, or Substantial Research Project (SRP). MSDM students complete a 6-credit self-designed Management Practicum that gives students hands-on management experience in a real-world setting.

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