International Development

Need to know

International development is without doubt the single most popular choice for British students looking to go abroad (excluding medicine, dentistry etc.).

International development is a highly competitive sector with far fewer jobs that there are applicants so a burning passion and determination is essential in this line of work. It’s important to be flexible as there are very few linear career paths in international development. Be prepared to take every opportunity to add to your skills-set and experiences wherever possible.

Why should I study international development at postgraduate level?

There are many benefits to studying a Master’s in International Development, but it’s worth knowing that it’s not the only, or even always the best pathway for getting a job in international development. However, it can also be argued that further study can help you reach your potential and find your niche.

Employers are looking for candidates with the core skills set of problem solving, analytical, good negotiation, financial and management skills, cultural awareness and sensitivity, and a strong ability to implement in challenging environments. A Master’s qualification could well provide you with this skills-set and give you a head-start when looking for your first job.

To avoid getting stuck in an administrative role graduates need to have the technical expertise and a Master’s course can give you that expertise depending on what area you want to focus on. That could be education, economics, health, law, or finance.

Recruiters in the sector are also interested to see what practical experience you have gained so it’s important to ensure that the Master’s you choose gives you the hands-on opportunities to work on real life projects.

Does it make sense to study international development abroad?

Without a doubt. It shows potential employers that you have the confidence, commitment, motivation and sense of adventure required for a career in global development.

Examples postgraduate opportunities in international development

Wageningen University in the Netherlands offers a MSc in International Development Studies

The University of Copenhagen is the strongest Danish research and education institution in respect to activities related to developing countries. The university has a number of internationally recognised research groups that have contributed significantly to solving the challenges of developing countries.

The expertise of the university ranges from social, economic and political conditions of the individual to global issues regarding culture, governance, human health, natural resources, environment, trade and stability.

The University of Copenhagen offers 26 English-taught master’s programmes that deal with developmental issues including Global Health, Global Development, Disaster Management, Economics, Environmental Chemistry and Health, and Agricultural Development.

University of Copenhagen even have a free online course An Introduction to Global Health and a Global Health Students blog.

What grades do I need to get in?

First class or 2:1 honours degree, as well as a proven passion and portfolio of practical experiences working on different development projects

Will my Master’s degree be recognised?

Within the European Union all Masters degrees should be recognized equally. It is certainly the case that international organisations will have multinational staff who fully understand the quality of degrees from many countries.

Useful resources

Development studies student resources – The Guardian

12 tips for getting a job in international development – Guardian August 2014

A master’s could help you to get ahead in international development – Guardian March 2014

How to go from 'getting in' to 'getting ahead' in development – Guardian June 2013