Students in class

M.A. in International Development

The Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota Master of Arts in International Development program provides the ideal foundation to promote social change in communities around the world. 

Our M.A. in International Development program is designed for practitioners who want to work in the field in order to engage communities, promote social welfare, and craft global solutions to the world’s most complex problems. Blending theory and real-world application, our online M.A. in International Development program helps you develop the management and social skills to channel your passion and create sustainable solutions to improve human and social conditions. Upon graduation, you’ll be ready to create change on a global scale.

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the Saint Mary’s online M.A. in International Development program, you will be able to:

  • Integrate knowledge and theory from multiple disciplines to articulate and address problems in the international environment.
  • Create sustainable solutions pertaining to international problems or social challenges.
  • Approach problems with the consideration of ethics, cultural inclusivity, and sustainability.
  • Engage resources, stakeholders, and organizations to break down barriers and achieve sustainable growth.
  • Lead, communicate, and think critically and entrepreneurially within an intercultural context.
  • Analyze and utilize the flow of information from evolving media.
  • Embrace ambiguity and ethics in global problem-solving endeavors.

Post Degree Opportunities

The skills and theory taught in the program are applicable to a number of industries in the global development sector, such as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), nonprofits, humanitarian activities, sustainability, international relief and development, public administration, trade offices, and many more. 

From Start to Finish

The online M.A. in International Development program consists of 39 credit hours, or 13 courses of 3 credit hours each. The program typically takes about two and a half years to complete.


This program is offered online.

Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements

Foundation Courses 12 cr.
Required Core 15 cr.
Management Course 3 cr.
Summative Activities 6 cr.
Electives 3 cr.
Total 39 cr.

Foundation Courses: 12 cr.

GM623 Academic Research and Writing (3 cr.)

This course focuses on graduate academic writing skills, including voice and style, writing that incorporates source material, ethical use of source material, APA writing guidelines, and revising writing.  Students learn to locate and evaluate resources relevant to the research and writing process.

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Develop a research question, delineating the complexity in an issue.
  2. Use information from a variety of sources relevant to a question.
  3. Evaluate information for relevance and credibility.
  4. Analyze and synthesize scholarly articles.
  5. Integrate source material into academic writing, including correct use of summary, paraphrase, and quotation, along with proper citation.
  6. Incorporate different points of view on an issue.
  7. Write clearly and concisely.
  8. Demonstrate skills in rewriting, editing, and proofreading.

MID600 International Development Environments (3 cr.)

This course introduces the fundamentals of international development and analyzes the global environments in which this pursuit is conducted. It explores the history, evolving definitions, theories, management, and synergies of international development. The course also explores tools of information, policy, and sustainability. Additionally, an overview of legal, ethical, and cultural competency issues in international development are provided.

Upon completion of this course, students should be able to do the following:

  1. Analyze the ways in which international development theory and practice have evolved.
  2. Evaluate the elements of the global economy which affect international development.
  3. Compare and contrast various economic theories.
  4. Assess how economic, political, and socio-cultural factors shape and influence international development objectives.
  5. Develop strategies to address the barriers to successful international development.
  6. Identify the ethical issues inherent in international development.
  7. Locate and assess the quality of relevant information, studies, and resources.

MID605 Global Religions and Belief Systems (3 cr.)

This course examines beliefs and practices of religious traditions around the world and their effect on culture, geopolitics, and business. Students examine and analyze the major religions of the world--Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Confucianism--their differences, similarities, and how the practice of these religions impacts today's world.

Upon completion of the course students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Apply the methods used to study religions and belief systems.
  2. Analyze the traditional ways that human beings have been religious.
  3. Characterize the modes of human awareness used to express meaning.
  4. Compare the major religions and belief systems of the world.
  5. Analyze the similarities and differences between culture and religious traditions.
  6. Design international business strategies that incorporate the ways in which global religions and belief systems impact the conduct of international business.

MID610 International Political Economy (3 cr.)

This course identifies the international political and economic elements shaping international development, including domestic economies; regional economic integration; demographic trends; and social, cultural, religious, ethnic, and related tensions. The course also identifies political forces affecting the economic choices of states, non-state actors, enterprises, and individuals involved in international trade, investment, monetary, and development affairs.

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Analyze how political and economic factors interact to shape the global marketplace and international development environment, including as they relate to states, non-state actors, and patterns of cooperation and conflict in the international system.
  2. Evaluate strategies regarding the impact of international political economy on global trade and investment, international development, and regional economic integration.
  3. Synthesize in a balanced manner the individual, organizational, and systemic issues in conflicting situations.
  4. Analyze the viewpoint of another culture to gain new knowledge and insights.

Required Core: 15 cr.

MID615 Global Trends & Solutions in International Development (3 cr.)

This course analyzes global trends and issues of current significance to which international development tools offer creative solutions. Topics range from emergency assistance, humanitarian intervention, refugee management, and poverty reduction to sustainable economic and social development, human rights, health, education, and the environment.

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1.  Analyze the significance of topics in the global context of the moment.
  2.  Locate and analyze current information and research materials on ways in which international business and development can work together to create solutions to current problem areas.
  3. Analyze problem-solving approaches to issues from a variety of cultural, legal, ethical, economic, political, and other perspectives.


MID620 International Financing Mechanisms (3 cr.)

This course explores the fundamentals of international development finance policy and practice. It examines the potential of government contracts and such donor sources as multilateral development banks, bonds, loan guarantees, tax increment, tax credits, seed and venture capital, public finance, and microfinance.  Funding opportunities through private foundations, corporations, and government, including federal, state, incentive, and grants programs are covered.

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of finance policy and sources of capital.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to mobilize and manage financial and other sources of support from relevant constituencies. 
  3. Research and identify diverse and relevant sources of international development funding.
  4. Develop a program funding plan.
  5. Create an effective rationale for project funding.

MID625 International Development Project Management (3 cr.)

This course overviews project management elements specifically related to international development. Aspects of developing and managing projects from planning and estimating to dealing with risk and uncertainty to monitoring and evaluation are included. Culturally competent communications, dealing with unknown variables and ambiguity, and the politics and bureaucracy encountered in the international development arena are emphasized.

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Analyze project stakeholder needs and expectations.
  2. Create measurable project objectives to guide a project and its evaluation.
  3. Integrate the elements of project management into a detailed project plan.
  4. Strategize how to address project variables, risks, uncertainties, and the political realities inherent in international development projects.
  5. Apply cultural competence in communications with all stakeholders.

MID635 Social Entrepreneurship (3 cr.)

This course explores the skills and resources which enable entrepreneurs to respond to complex social needs by providing practical and innovative solutions to social, economic, environmental, and other problems locally and worldwide. It also introduces the theory and practice of organizational mission, strategy, management, marketing, finance, decision making, organizational behavior, and evaluation within an ethical framework.

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Distinguish social service providers from social activists from social entrepreneurs.
  2. Demonstrate social entrepreneurs' techniques such as leadership, team building, negotiation, and working in complex social and cultural environments.
  3. Assess potential sources of funding for social enterprises, including philanthropy, government and regenerative financing, and self-sustaining social enterprises.
  4. Plan an enterprise with an organizational mission focused on social improvement.
  5. Develop assessment tools to measure social outcomes.
  6. Analyze the viewpoint of another culture to gain new knowledge and insights.
  7. Question one's own purposes, evidence, conclusions, assumptions, concepts, and point of view.

MID640 Social Marketing for International Development (3 cr.)

This course examines how marketing concepts and techniques can be utilized to address social problems and to influence individual and group behavior. Strategies and campaigns to promote international development projects designed for social and economic improvement are studied. Optimization of both traditional and online/social media for the intended purpose and audience is considered.

Upon completion of the course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Apply development communication theory.
  2. Analyze how social marketing practices can be utilized to promote social change and development.
  3. Evaluate the effectiveness of social marketing and communication strategies that have been implemented by a variety of international development organizations.
  4. Align communications strategies with political, cultural, and social expectations.
  5. Develop a social marketing strategy that addresses a specific development related issue.

Management Course: 3 cr.

GM630 Quantitative Methods (3 cr.)

This course focuses on statistical analysis of data for professional applications or research with an emphasis on quantitative methodologies. The course covers populations, sample selection, and descriptive and inferential statistics. Significance, Chi Square, correlations, analysis of variance and simple regression, and concepts of reliability, validity, and levels of measurement are addressed.

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Apply statistical ideas and practicalities to real-world quantitative situations within organizations.
  2. Read and interpret the statistical content of literature relating to management of people and resources.
  3. Analyze statistics through performing basic computation both by hand and with computer software.
  4. Determine and apply the appropriate inferential analysis for different types of data and derive correct conclusions.

Summative Activities: 6 cr.

MID680 International Development Organizational Strategy (3 cr.)

This course surveys the broad spectrum of international development through the lens of organizational strategy. It examines the diverse tools, strategies, and best practices of today's international development organizations in implementing long-term sustainable solutions in developing countries. The course pays particular attention to strategic organizational management, theories and methods of program monitoring and evaluation, recent innovations in organizational approaches to empowering women, building local economies, and caring for the environment.

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Evaluate the management challenges faced by today's international development organizations.
  2. Implement strategic planning skills to ethically and practically effect outcomes.
  3. Identify and use ethical, culturally inclusive, and sustainable approaches to problem solving.
  4. Apply multidisciplinary research methods to diagnose the key drivers and relevant obstacles of a situation.
  5. Analyze the leading theories and methods of program monitoring and evaluation.
  6. Create innovative solutions to international development problems in pattern-breaking, sustainable, and scalable ways.

MID690 International Development Field Project (3 cr.)

In this course, students apply learning in the field through individually designed projects focused on international development. Projects may include exploration trips abroad, internships, or other practical opportunities for students to discover how concepts, theories, and strategies play out in real-world applications and organizations.

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Outline a coherent international development project or experience for practical learning application.
  2. Apply skills in project management, research, communications, media and/or planning to an international development situation.
  3. Evaluate the project or experience.

Electives: 3 cr.

GM600 Management Principles (3 cr.)

This course provides an overview of key organizational and behavioral concepts, which underlie effective management practice in private and public sector organizations. Management strategies are examined and compared. Special attention is given to defining and interpreting cross-cultural differences and influences. The course gives attention to the local and global trends, both existing and emerging, that influence organizational structure, behavior, and change.

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Synthesize and build creatively on concepts about management roles in planning, organizing, leading, and oversight in the 21st century.
  2. Analyze the management challenges of organizations in today's global marketplace.
  3. Evaluate and apply management strategies to rea- world problems.
  4. Outline a rationale for integrating corporate responsibility and social justice into the organization.
  5. Identify personal management skills and competencies.

GM643 Multicultural Perspectives (3 cr.)

This course focuses on how diversity of all kinds influences both organizational behavior and client outcomes. The place of culture in society, the marketplace, and the workplace is examined. The importance of cultural competence is explored along with the knowledge and skills needed to work with, manage, and serve diverse groups of workers and clients.

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Identify the wide spectrum of differences included in the definitions of diversity and multiculturalism.
  2. Demonstrate an awareness of their own cultural identity, background and biases, and forces that shape(d) them.
  3. Analyze how these shaping forces and biases may influence their interactions with people from diverse backgrounds and organizational behavior and productivity.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to articulate, in supportive ways, the needs and concerns of diverse groups of people with marginalized identities in the workplace.
  5. Analyze opportunities for applying cultural competencies to create greater inclusion in the workplace.
  6. Plan for the evaluation of cultural competence initiatives and the resulting effect on organizational behavior, work productivity, and products.

GM675 Managerial Ethics and Issues (3 cr.)

This course examines philosophical theories and ethical practices that can be used to resolve organizational dilemmas.  The course emphasizes the role of managers to strengthen the ethical culture of the organization.  Application of ethical principles and models to deal with complex ethical issues facing domestic and global organizations is studied.  Students develop skills in values-based decision making built upon integrity and accountability.

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Identify and assess the extent of ethical issues that face organizations, communities, and stakeholder groups.
  2. Recognize how ethical theories, principles, and models provide options for examining complex ethical issues.
  3. Analyze how organizational and cultural norms affect the ability of people within it to act ethically.
  4. Consider value-based decision making to select options that are congruent with business.
  5. Develop a framework for resolving complex ethical dilemmas.
  6. Apply ethical theories, models, and principles.


GM680 Leadership and Strategic Management (3 cr.)

This course introduces selected models and practices in the exploration of what effective leadership is, including understanding one's own leadership style.  The course also examines both the theory and application of strategic management tasks of leaders, including conducting a strategic analysis, developing a strategic plan, and implementing strategic change.

Upon completion of this course students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Analyze their own leadership style in order to adapt and develop effective leadership behaviors. 
  2. Apply the foundations of leadership and decision-making required when dealing with situations marked by change and transition.
  3. Apply one or more processes for developing a strategic plan.
  4. Identify the distinct challenges of strategic planning and strategic management.
  5. Evaluate an organization's business model and develop of a set of action steps for improving its strategy and effectiveness.
  6. Identify and apply the steps required to lead change effectively.

Online Program ›

Read more about how to complete the M.A. in International Development online.

Professor smiling with students

Apply ›

Learn about the necessary steps to complete the application process and get started today.

Students smiling in class

Request More Info ›

Learn more about the convenient programs that Saint Mary’s offers to help advance you in your career.