Master in International Development Studies


Read more about this program on the institution's website

Program Description

The world is rapidly changing; so is International Development Studies. After 15 years, the MDG-era (Millennium Development Goals) came to an end in 2015. A larger set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were introduced to guide long-term development policies and end global poverty. Development is no longer considered as a problem ‘out there’ in the global south. Our contemporary world faces new global concerns, such as the 'migration crisis', food security, climate change, and energy crises.

We also witness massive changes in the relative power structure in our world system. Africa, Asia, and Latin America are experiencing rapid transformations, turning traditional North-South relations upside down. Giants like India and China are strengthening their role in international development cooperation. These ‘new’ donors emphasise that ‘South-South cooperation’ is different from the Western notion of donors helping clients. While development has been traditionally defined by the donor community in the North/West, governments in Africa, Asia, and Latin America have come up with their own versions of ‘development’.

Over the past decade, the number of actors active in the development domain has multiplied. In addition to the traditional donors, new ‘players’ have entered the scene, including foundations and diaspora-organisations. Furthermore, individual migrants and socially-engaged entrepreneurs are acknowledging their role in societal changes; many are taking responsibility for the social and environmental impacts of production activities and/or consumption.

The multidisciplinary Master's programme in International Development Studies addresses current development challenges and engages with these highly important and urgent issues. In particular, the programme focuses on topics surrounding migration/mobilities, climate change, land governance, urbanisation, and corporate social responsibility. You will study in an international environment, with peers and staff from diverse disciplinary and cultural backgrounds. A research-oriented internship abroad is a core component of the programme. International Development Studies takes prides in its large, expanding, and active alumni and friends network.

Programme Objective

The central objective of the Master's in International Development Studies programme is to equip you with conceptual and empirical knowledge as well as research skills necessary to understand and analyse contemporary issues pertaining to international development in broad geographical contexts (local, regional, and international levels).

Upon completion of the programme, you will have acquired theoretical, methodological and practical competency. These skills will be useful for your career in further academic research, development policy, and practice sector, as well as other work fields. You will gain an understanding of world affairs and international experiences as well as analytical, communication and project implementation skills.

Career Outlook

IDS graduates thrive in work fields that require an understanding of global affairs, international experiences as well as analytical, communication, and project implementation skills. Following recent policy changes at a national and international level, IDS graduates have increasingly found employment in non-traditional development fields such as the private sector.

Possible Prospects

The programme trains students for careers in public, non-profit (e.g. academic), and the private sectors. Job opportunities include:

  • Research positions: conducting academic and applied research into development issues in the Netherlands and abroad.
  • Policy positions: preparing and coordinating policy, advising on, and planning international development cooperation (e.g. in UNDP, FAO, Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
  • Implementation positions: serving as local project managers and coordinators (in NGOs or the private sector, e.g. as corporate social responsibility or sustainability advisors).
  • PR/communication positions related to development issues.
  • Following recent policy changes at a national and international level, the number and size of organisations involved in international cooperation have increased considerably. Consequently, there is a growing need for professionals who are able to integrate elements from various disciplines into the analysis of complex development-related issues.

Academic Careers

The MSc in International Development Studies programme prepares students adequately for Ph.D. research. Many of our graduates were successful in attaining competitive Ph.D. positions and research fellowships.

Professional Careers

Our graduates have been successful in finding challenging and interesting jobs. Here are some inspiring examples:

  • Ama van Dantzig (2006; co-founder Dr.Monk (international innovation agency), with headquarters in Amsterdam, Netherlands and Accra, Ghana
  • Maartje ten Brummelaar (graduated 2007), Policy Advisor - Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands
  • Eliska Gerthnerova (graduated 2012), EU Development and Humanitarian Aid Policy Officer, Office of the Government of the Czech Republic
  • Thijs Rutgers (graduated 2010), Business Developer, Enviu – we start world-changing companies.
  • Ilse Zeemeijer (graduated 2012), Editor and journalist, Het Financieele Dagblad

Facts and Figures

Corresponding with overall labour market trends, the labour market position of IDS-graduates was affected by the economic crisis during the last years. Research of the STOGO Labour Market Monitor (2012/2015) among graduates of The Department of Human Geography and Planning shows that 62% of the 2012-2015 IDS cohort had found a job within 6 months after graduation. Often, this job matches well with their educational background: two-thirds of the IDSM graduates (cohort 2007-2015) is of the opinion that the knowledge they acquired during the programme corresponds well with their current job position and that the theoretical knowledge, in particular, prepared them well for the labour market.

A pilot survey was conducted among IDS alumni early 2013, in which 68 alumni (hence only a minor share of our graduates) took part. Among the respondents, 79% had a job, 7% were self-employed, 6% were doing a second internship, 3% were studying, and 4% were unemployed, all from the last cohort (2011 – 2012). Most important sectors are that of development cooperation (24%), academia/education (21%), and government (16%). The majority of the alumni works in the Netherlands (69%), 10% works in Europe, and the remaining 21% works outside Europe.

Last updated May 2020

About the School

Founded in 1636, Utrecht University is an esteemed international research university, consistently positioned number one in The Netherlands, 14th in continental Europe and the worldwide top 100 of int ... Read More

Founded in 1636, Utrecht University is an esteemed international research university, consistently positioned number one in The Netherlands, 14th in continental Europe and the worldwide top 100 of international rankings, and member of the renowned European League of Research Universities. Read less