Master of Arts in Sustainable Development:
International Policy and Management, Washington, DC


Cutting Edge Development Theory. Real-World Experience. Critical Leadership Skills.

Advance Your Professional Competencies In The International Hub Of Washington, DC

Degree Sequence:
12 Months, Three Semesters, 40 Credits

Semester: Washington, DC (16 credits)
  • Coursework combines facilitated discussions, simulations, and other methods of experiential learning through which students acquire theoretical knowledge and professional competencies essential for their career development.
Semester: Professional Practicum and Research (9 credits)
  • A full-time placement within a relevant development organization involves completion of a professional project identified as a priority by the sponsoring organization. Placement organizations have included UNICEF, the World Bank, BRAC-Bangladesh, the Institute of Popular Education-Mali, and other NGOs and development agencies.
Semester: Washington, DC (15 credits)
  • Additional coursework, research, and writing allow students to deepen and integrate their knowledge and skills, culminating in a capstone paper and seminar.
  • The capstone seminar lasts one week and provides an environment in which students demonstrate, assess, and synthesize learning.

This program provides foundational and advanced coursework, as well as extensive professional experience, in development, from the strategic international setting of Washington, DC. For prospective graduate students seeking to gain academic expertise and practical experience through professional work on development projects, there are few places in the world that offer so many opportunities for active experiential and practical learning. 

The program is rooted in SIT’s commitment to the principles of sustainability and social justice. Students are prepared to become hands-on professionals equipped with critical leadership skills necessary for success in intercultural environments.

Theory-Practice Integration
Through three interlinked semesters, students acquire essential theoretical and foundational knowledge (see full course listing below); practical, hands-on experience by working in a relevant professional setting; and a sophisticated capacity to assess, initiative, run, and manage development projects.

Particularly during the program’s practicum period, students can expect to learn or advance their knowledge and skills in the following areas:

  • Ability to connect and learn from local contexts, culture, and communities
  • Ability to analyze experience using definable frameworks, and to use one’s experience to critique and expand those frameworks
  • Ability to define and answer practice-centered questions using rigorous reflection on one’s own experience and other inquiry methods and sources
  • Ability to make a professional contribution to a specific project/organization
  • Ability to make a professional contribution to a community of practice
  • Enhanced critical thinking skills
  • Enhanced self-expression, communication, and networking skills

Review information on the program’s field component, including sample practicum placements.

Courses will typically incorporate required readings, individual and group assignments, workshops, onsite visits at development organizations, and occasional panels with development experts. In addition to theoretical knowledge, students will grapple with individual case studies and real-world examples.

Below is a list of the required courses for the 2013-2014 academic year. Courses are subject to change.

Term I

  • Foundations: Leadership and Management for Civil Society and Governance (2 credits)
  • Practitioner Inquiry: Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods (3 credits)
  • Economics (3 credits)
  • Issues in Sustainable Development: Capacity Building, Country Ownership, and Gender (3 credits)
  • Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development (3 credits)
  • Program Planning and Management (2 credits)

Term II

  • Professional Practicum and Research (9 credits)

Term III

Core Courses (9 credits)

  • Foundations: Leadership and Management for Civil Society and Governance (2 credits) 
  • Program Monitoring and Evaluation (2 credits)
  • Capstone Paper and Seminar (2 credits)
  • Issues in Sustainable Development: Environment, Climate Change, and Food Security (3 credits)

Elective Courses (6 credits)

  • International Organization Development (3 credits)
  • Policy Advocacy (3 credits) 
  • For Profit, For Good: The Intersection Between Business and Development (3 credits)

All courses fall into one of four interrelated modules.

Personal to Global Transformation
The program challenges students to examine and assess a multitude of factors and issues shaping the development field from several vantage points (see below). Under the guidance of leading academics, as well as experts and practitioners in the field, students will dive deeply into development issues utilizing the following key frameworks:

  • Global: Macro analysis of globalization and global forces impacting countries and communities with a focus on international development theory, practice, politics, and issues. Topics include the role of foreign aid and international institutions, players, and networks; geo-political power shifts and transformations.
  • National: Analysis of the impact of civil society organizations in national governance and policy through the lens of macro and applied economic theory and models. This context will include the study of social entrepreneurship and change makers in government, as well as the private and civil society sectors.
  • Local: Culture and context specificity in development, including community development approaches across health, livelihoods, natural resource management, education, and environment. Examination of youth, women, and indigenous community leadership in grassroots movements, stakeholder participation, and social innovations.
  • Institutional: The structure and role of civil society, government, and private sector institutions in development. Areas of inquiry will include organizational development case studies and analysis; individual and institutional leadership styles and approaches; and team building and communications strategies in a culturally diverse and global world.
  • Project Management: Proposal and project development implementation and impact evaluation. Study of quantitative and qualitative research methods; donor specific networking and project partnerships; tools and training. Students will undertake a field-based practicum to enhance project management experience.
  • Individual: Self-reflection, personal growth, and transformation. Students will be part of a global cohort within a diverse group learning environment. Students will undertake experiential learning that draws on country and cultural specific knowledge, understandings, and skills. Students will explore global and local networking as well as the importance of team building.

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