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Master’s in International Development and Social Change

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Our society faces complex, deep-seated challenges, from economic inequality to systemic injustice. We’ll give you the tools you need to overcome them – and help set you on the path to building a better tomorrow.

Our M.A. in International Development and Social Change (IDSC) is offered through Clark’s renowned International Development, Community, and Environment department (IDCE). Our program brings together leading researchers, practitioners, and educators to develop collaborative responses to pressing global issues. Our uniquely transdisciplinary approach will ensure you gain a multifaceted perspective and deep understanding of the many factors affecting cultures, communities, and economies at the local and international scale – ranging from education and development, climate change adaptation and urban regeneration to forced migration, health equity, and gender analysis and identity.

As an IDSC graduate student, you will explore new ways to analyze, engage with, and understand all the major forces of change: grassroots initiatives, social movements, government policy, market approaches, technological innovation, individual action, and education. Our strong emphasis on critical analysis and hands-on practice will ensure you can translate those skills in the field, helping you become an effective, successful driver of social change.

Why Study at Clark?

  • Build knowledge through a combination of rigorous academics and practical experiences developing on-the-ground applications.
  • Benefit from the expertise of passionate scholar-practitioner professors with decades of field experience.
  • Ranked #15 in the world for development studies by QS World University Rankings
  • Explore opportunities to work collaboratively with disadvantaged communities in rural areas, small towns, and large cities across the globe.

From Afghanistan to Clark University, Qudratullah is Thankful for the Fulbright Program

Qudratullah Jahid, a master’s in international development and social change student, gets to focus his concentration on current issues that match market demand and impact the world. Working alongside his fellow international peers in IDCE, he feels at home and supported by the IDCE community.

I like the fact that we get concentrations that match the market demand and the current issues that the world is facing.

The Essentials

Program Overview

The M.A. in IDSC pairs a foundational academic core – consisting of theory and skill-building courses focused on research methods, project management, and economic development – with the opportunity to apply your learning toward a specialized area of interest through compelling elective courses and research. You can choose to pursue one of the 10 transdisciplinary concentrations, such as youth development, climate change impact, and geographic information science, or create your own.

Our program in IDSC is designed to facilitate transdisciplinary collaboration with other programs and academic specialties within the IDCE department and across other graduate programs at Clark. We take a problem-based approach rather than a conventional solution-based approach, identifying pressing social or environmental challenges and bringing together a diverse team of researchers and practitioners with the collective expertise to effectively address them. The challenges we work to address exist across domestic and international contexts and social and environmental arenas, including topics such as climate change policy, educational policy and advocacy, conservation and development, and human migration.

As a result, the projects our students and faculty undertake don’t fit comfortably within a single disciplinary silo. Some of the provocative questions we pursue include:

  • How can we build resilience for populations experiencing economic, environmental, and political stressors?
  • How can we develop climate-smart agricultural efforts that speak to the needs and desires of farmers?
  • How can we implement intersectional framings of identity in the design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of development projects?
  • How can we create robust self-sustaining programs that help women drive gender-transformative change at the grassroots level?
  • How can we empower youth to lead meaningful efforts to address the issues that affect them the most directly?
  • The ability to address complex societal challenges on every level – from a single village to the global policy arena
  • Knowledge of how to build a healthy community while managing resources sustainably and responsibly
  • Skills related to problem-solving, evaluation and analysis, logic, communication, organization, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, and learning
  • Experience drafting policy analyses and grant proposals
  • An understanding of how to effectively partner with local community organizations and nonprofit organizations in order to efficiently effect meaningful change
  • Nongovernment Organizations: Catalysts for Development
  • Strategies for Community Organizing
  • Displacement and Development in the Contemporary World
  • Trafficking: Globalization and Its Illicit Commodities
  • Applied Ecology
  • Utopian Visions, Urban Realities: Planning Cities for the 21st Century


12 course units

  • 3 core courses
  • 6 electives from one of IDCE’s 10 concentrations
  • 2 skills or methods courses
  • 1 Capstone project or course

Course Catalog

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