Academics / Programs

Master of International Development

Promoting human dignity, well-being, and rights worldwide.

Our Master in International Development (MID)one of the oldest programs of its kind in the countryis dedicated to achieving social, economic, and political progress in countries worldwide, through means that fundamentally promote human dignity, well-being, empowerment, and rights. Distinguished by a multidisciplinary and comprehensive approach, our degree program combines cutting-edge knowledge and an essential balance of theory and practice.

We offer a flexible curriculum including six major concentration options and numerous minor concentrations, valuable capstone and internship experiences, and joint degree and regional certificate options. Students gain essential development skills and insights, with emphasis on application to vulnerable and discriminated groups and to critical world problems such as impoverishment, climate change, ill health and disease, gender inequality, racial and ethnic discrimination, education gaps, migration, and urbanization.

This program enables students to follow their passions and to develop effective and collaborative responses to critical issues and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Graduates go on to pursue valuable careers and participate in meaningful processes of social change in diverse local contexts and at global levels.

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International Development Careers  

Whether you seek to live abroad or remain in the United States, a degree in International Development will prepare you to make an impact on people’s lives and the development of nations around the world. Our graduates go on to pursue careers in prominent nongovernmental organizations, research groups, governments, intergovernmental organizations, and the private sector.

Many of our program’s internationally diverse and cosmopolitan graduate students return to their home countries to become leaders in government, business, and nongovernmental organizations. Many other graduates go on to influence international development from within the United States or to work abroad in any number of impactful local, national, or international organizations. Our alumni are a testament to the value and manifold uses of the International Development degree, and additionally provide powerful professional networking opportunities through their careers in such organizations as:    

  • The US Agency for International Development
  • The United Nations Development Program
  • The Organization of American States
  • The Firelight Foundation (grants-making for community-based African initiatives on HIV/AIDS)
  • Church World Service (overseas relief and development agency of the US National Council of Churches)
  • The Peace Corps
  • PYXERA Global (“The New Frontier of Global Engagement”)
  • Verité (committed to fair labor worldwide)
  • The US Government Accountability Office
  • Amnesty International, International Secretariat, London
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • Freedom House
  • World Wildlife Fund
  • Citizens for Global Solutions (devoted to issues of global interdependence)
  • Global Links (brings surplus medical materials from U.S. hospitals to developing countries)
  • Brother's Brother Foundation (provides relief and development work in 121 countries).

If you are passionate about improving the lives of others, if you seek a unique approach to the study of international development, or if you are eager to acquire the specialized expertise that will help to shape the future of global change, we invite you to explore our curriculum and concentrations and to reach out and contact Danae Williams, Director of Recruitment & Admissions, at

A forward-thinking curriculum

Our curriculum prepares students with essential skills including development planning and administration, economic and social development, policy analysis, program evaluation, and research methods, as well as a range of diverse course options in six areas of concentration:

  • Our legacy NGOs and civil society concentration seeks to make development participatory and empowering, focusing especially on vulnerable and excluded groups, and provides the management and organizational skills needed for careers in nongovernmental social change organizations.
  • The cutting-edge human security concentration addresses links between development, human rights, and security issues in order to maximize impact and address neglected topics. It emphasizes influential collaborative approaches to development issues.
  • Our innovative energy & environment concentration integrates expertise in development sustainability with the study of global energy industries and alternatives.
  • The comparative concentration in governance & international public management explores governance models alongside wide-ranging collaboration and management issues, which are critical to pursuing development in politically, economically, and socially diverse countries worldwide.
  • Our social policy and urban affairs & planning concentrations offer comparative and regional expertise on urgent topics for development policies and services, such as health, identity, discrimination, employment, transportation, and urbanization.

Our flexible curriculum design gives students essential and cutting-edge skills which prepare them as future researchers, analysts, and practitioners able to solve diverse development challenges. For example, students can learn to harness the forces of nongovernmental social change and civil society participation; address government and private sector collaboration and management challenges; develop human rights-based policies and programs across UN Sustainable Development Goals; integrate gender and intersectional analysis and tackle inequality; utilize micro and macro economic development tools and confront multifaceted causes of poverty; advance environmental sustainability and urban resilience planning; master policy analysis, program design, project evaluation, and data analytics; and innovate multisectoral responses that center development in wider human security problems that involve human rights violations and humanitarian issues.

Alongside traditional development topics and Sustainable Development Goals, students can therefore study inter-related issues such as human trafficking, gender and ethnic violence, climate change and global warming. We empower MID students to choose their own path, pursuing the issues that drive their passion for advancing the well-being, dignity, and empowerment of people worldwide.

Students also complete a Capstone course or project on a topic of importance to them, and an approved internship locally or abroad. You can access the full concentration descriptions including customized MID plans of study.

Our multidisciplinary course offerings are built on MID faculty expertise and bridge GSPIA’s renowned programs in public administration and international affairs. Students also utilize GSPIA’s path-breaking Centers on social innovation, governance and markets, human security, responsible leadership, and international security studies. Given MID student interests in promoting the well-being of peoples in diverse contexts worldwide, we also are especially well served by the University Center for International Studies which offers access to numerous elective courses on world regions through its National Resource Centers on Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, Russia and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, and Global Studies.

Master of International Development Internships

In pursuit of a better understanding of the political environments and social change processes that influence development, we encourage our students to gain international experience through internships and specialized expertise in such areas as policy analysis, advocacy, service delivery, or project monitoring.

Pittsburgh offers a wealth of internationally-minded NGOs that provide jobs and internships outside the traditional East Coast corridor. MID students can gain direct experience through GSPIA’s high-impact local development initiatives with the Congress of Neighboring Communities (CONNECT), or benefit from GSPIA's Washington Center for study and internships, with formal access to D.C.'s plethora of national and international organizations. And, MID students can coordinate internships abroad while accessing GSPIA’s international programs in Colombia, Japan, Korea, China, Spain, and France, in addition to numerous Pitt-wide study abroad opportunities.

GSPIA offers dedicated support for student placement in meaningful internships locally and globally. For example, MID students have interned with local refugee organizations in Pittsburgh, federal environmental agencies, national and international development and rights organizations in D.C., and a wide range of international, governmental, and nongovernmental organizations in developing countries in all regions of the world.

Joint Degrees

Joint degree programs allow students to enhance their MID degree with additional studies in disciplines such as information sciences, public health, social work, and law. Through joint specializations, students might for example participate in an AIDS research project or study the impact of American consumption patterns on the economy of developing countries. When you graduate, you will have distinguished yourself to employers in an increasingly competitive job market.

Employment Data – Class of 2020
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The Pitt Experience

Meet Amanda Janczak (MID '13). The professors she met at the University of Pittsburgh were an unforgettable part of her graduate experience and helped guide her to her current career as a senior project manager for Management Systems International in the DC Metro area.