The Master of Global Human Development is an innovative, academically rigorous skills-based graduate program that is designed to prepare the next generation of development professionals to work with public sector agencies, private businesses, and non-profit organizations involved in the sector. Through coursework, extra-curricular activity and a practical fieldwork experience students understand the challenges of development and develop the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary to become leaders in their field and make a difference in our global community.
About the Program
One billion people today still live in extreme poverty. Reducing world poverty and promoting growth and development in poor countries are among the major challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. Bringing about this change has never been more urgent or more prominent in public discourse on international relations, or in the priorities of graduate students considering their future careers.
Since the early 1990s, development practitioners and policymakers have significantly evolved in their views of what constitutes "development" -- from an exclusive focus on metrics of economic growth and poverty reduction to a more holistic sense of "human development." Nobel laureate Amartya Sen is best known for his pioneering work on the need for a more inclusive framework that promotes human flourishing in the fullest sense, including broadening people's choices, allowing them the freedom to achieve what they value and the development of their individual capacities to achieve human dignity.
The goal of the Master of Global Human Development is to prepare students - through coursework, extra-curricular activity, and a practical fieldwork experience - to understand the challenges of development and provide them with the tools and experience to address those challenges as successful professionals.
Experts and seasoned practitioners in development today confirm that the field of international development requires professionals with a basic knowledge of development, strong analytic skills, specialized knowledge of particular areas of development and relevant skills that come from direct experience working in development.
Successful professionals in development must be trained in a variety of relevant disciplines. They must have basic quantitative and analytical skills. They must have a familiarity with one or more specialized areas of development, such as health, private enterprise or environment/climate change. They must be flexible and able to work in a variety of types of organizations, which is what they will surely do in the course of their careers. And they must understand, both through their studies and their practical experience in development realities, the complexities and the challenges - as well as the rewards - of operating as a development professional. This degree seeks to provide its graduates with all of these competencies and more.
The Capstone Project is the culmination of the student’s two years of coursework and experiences at Georgetown. It is an integral part of the core curriculum taken during the second year of the Global Human Development Program, the Management, Analysis & Practice in Development I & II (GHDP598 & GHDP599). GHDP598 & 599 are designed to provide support and direction to students writing their Capstone project. Working in pairs, the Project is designed to provide students with the opportunity to bring together the knowledge and skills they have acquired throughout the program and apply them to a real-world challenge identified jointly with an organization working in the development field (the client). The client could be a government, donor agency, NGO, business, foundation, or other organization working in development.
Summer Field Project
Since the establishment of the GHD Program in 2012, students have spent the summer between their two years of study working as interns at overseas field sites for 10-12 weeks with a variety of development organizations, including NGOs, aid agencies, development consulting firms, social enterprises, multinational corporations, and foundations. In 2016, students were placed with host agencies in 15 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Their assignments ranged from the designing of randomized control trials (RCT) research to evaluation of humanitarian assistance programs, to advisory roles in government ministries. From these summer field projects, students gain hands-on professional development experience, as well as an opportunity to practice and extend what they have learned in the classroom. Summer field projects both deepen the technical specialization of the students and allow them to reflect on effective and ethical development practice.
Summer field projects are an essential feature of the Global Human Development Program and are supported by students' regular coursework. For example, the core course "Monitoring and Evaluation of Projects and Programs", which all students will take in the second semester of their first year, is designed to prepare the students for their summer projects. In the fall semester of their second year, posters summarizing summer field projects are the first required assignment in the "Management Analysis & Practice" course, and student experiences provide a basis for discussion on the management and leadership challenges that development practitioners encounter during their professional careers. Students are also able to draw upon their summer field experience in papers and reports submitted for other courses, potentially including the Capstone project that is a core requirement for the GHD Masters degree.
Funding for travel expenses and a modest stipend are provided by the GHD Program, or in certain instances by host agencies where the students are placed for the summer.
Safety and security protocols for travel and arrangements are coordinated with OGS.
Interning in Washington, DC while enrolled in the GHD program provides an invaluable opportunity for professional growth and expanding students’ professional networks. Students who intern are able to develop professional skills, enhance their resumes, refine their career objectives, and build on lessons learned in academic coursework. GHD students are required to have at least one internship during their course of study that builds skills and knowledge in their area of specialization. If a student is pursuing more than one thematic area or a regional focus, the department will determine if more than one internship is required to address all aspects of the specialization.
Internships can be:
for a semester or a year
with one organization or multiple, depending on a student's area of specialization, thematic focus, and regional interests
paid or unpaid
GHD Internship organizations have included:
Save the Children
Inter-American Development Bank
United Nations Foundation
Center for Disaster Philanthropy
International Medical Corps
John Snow Inc.
United Nations Foundation
U.S. Department of State
Specializations and Certificate Programs
One of the strengths of the Global Human Development Program is the access to graduate-level courses across a wide range of colleges disciplines within Georgetown University. We provide the opportunity for students to use some of their elective courses to acquire a specialization while pursuing their degree, which requires the completion of 9 credits on a focused topic such as Global Health or Education and Human Capital.
The most popular specializations are listed in greater detail in the menu. There are also a variety of course offerings related to gender, humanitarian assistance, conflict, science and technology, and regional studies.
Many students choose to use their elective courses to pursue a more formal Certificate offered through other Georgetown University degree programs instead of a specialization.
Career advising is an integral part of each student's experience. The goal of the Master's in Global Human Development is to give students an excellent grounding in development practice and to help them take the next steps toward a challenging and rewarding career after graduation. Through career advising, mentorships, skills clinics, meeting with development professionals and internships, the program will equip students with the skills, experiences, and contacts to be the change-makers in development in the 21st century. In addition, the School of Foreign Service's Graduate Career Development Center provides a full range of career services and hosts career-related events.
The Global Human Development Program hosts an off-campus Ethics Retreat weekend during the first month of the program. This weekend is designed to introduce a dialogue between the student cohort, faculty, and staff about what ethical dilemmas and situations can occur in the field, and what kinds of frameworks can be used to address them.
Many of our students cite the Ethics Retreat as a bonding experience that sets the tone for their peer and faculty interactions throughout the two-year program.
Development practitioners work to improve the condition of humanity around the globe and face the ethical quandaries posed by engagement in complex, vibrant, and often unstable environments. Marion Jehane Abboud, GHD '17, and Kyle Goeckner-Wald, GHD '17, spent the weekend with their classmates and faculty, tackling these questions and, here, offer their thoughts.