5 Best Online Master of Science in Development Administration Graduate Schools

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Updated: March 13, 2024, Reading time: 12 minutes

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A country’s culture is closely linked to its administration, and administrative operations are governed by culture.

If you have the heart to help the general public and have taken an undergraduate study related to the administration fields, enrolling in an online master’s in Development Administration, Development Studies, or Development Management should be right up your alley.

With a master’s degree in this field, you become better equipped for this job. Completing this academic program qualifies you for numerous positions, including as a development planner, evaluation specialist, researcher, professor, development consultant, program coordinator, program officer, and development manager.

Quick audio summary:


In Development Administration, “development” is a core concept. This discipline aims to develop strategies to help alleviate poverty and focus on social policy. It requires the most skilled, committed, and actively involved citizens in carrying out the tasks for effective development administration work.

Prospective students must learn about application deadlines and must complete prerequisite courses. Current students enrolled in this program must also learn about funding opportunities for their graduate studies.

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An online MSc equips students for research-focused career tracks, which Master of Science in Development Administration graduates are expected to be adept at! If this career path is in your plans, be mindful of the program and graduate school that you choose.

Our list consists of outstanding master’s and MS programs in Development Administration, Development Management, and Development Studies that are in a league of their own, owing to these program features:

Visit our Methodology page to know more about our graduate program or graduate school ranking process.

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

The Best Online Master of Science in Development Administration Graduate Schools and Programs

Western Michigan University

Online Master of Science in Development Administration

Designed for public administrators from developing countries who want to enter careers in international development, the Master of Development Administration (MDA) program prepares candidates for jobs in development fields.

As part of this master’s program, students will study the political dimensions of development and democratization and perform research in areas including public administration, economics, computer science, business and management, social work, human resource management, and health systems.

Students in the program include public officials and administrators from developing countries who require additional training to meet new or increased responsibilities, as well as recent graduates from both developed and developing nations who want to pursue careers in government and international organizations.

Standout Features of Western Michigan University – Online Ms in Development Administration: 

American University

Online Master of Science in Development Management

The School of International Service under American University offers one master of science degree, the MSDM in Development Management. It also provides a unique opportunity to gain innovative management skills in the context of international development.

Students with at least two years of experience in the field are particularly well suited for the program. 

As part of building their own concentration, students will choose a topic that interests them, including environmental issues, global health, gender issues, and social entrepreneurship, to develop skills appropriate to working directly with the poor and disenfranchised.

Standout Features of American University – Online MS in Development Management:

Columbia University

Online Master’s in Development Studies

Columbia University offers an online master’s in development studies, a 21-month, STEM-designated degree program that combines practice-based learning with skills development, experience, and networking to make the world a better place.

Standout Features of Columbia University- Online Master’s in Development Studies:

This online graduate program prepares you for a career in traditional development institutions. Upon graduation, you will gain numerous offers from diverse sectors and industries. These include giant private companies. 

Some Columbia University graduates have been hired by local and state authorities in the United States to assist in urban development. Graduates have also founded social enterprises and joined tech start-ups. 

William Carey International University

Online Master of Arts in Development Studies

Students who complete the online master’s program in Development Studies understand how social, cultural, and religious factors have shaped global development throughout history. As a result, students are equipped to conduct research and develop programs that address modern challenges regarding development. 

Several general program paths are available, as well as options for specializations in China Studies or Global Women’s Empowerment.

Standout Features of Columbia University – Online MA in Development Studies:

Harvard Extension School

Online Master’s Degree in Global Development Practice

Harvard Extension School offers an online master’s degree in global development practice. Through this program under the worldwide development department, students will learn to tackle different subjects such as financial models for sustainable development, human health risks, and ecological system dynamics.

By identifying and challenging assumptions, seeking alternatives, and determining solutions, students learn to engage organizations in innovative thinking and change their mindset. Global practice can also be used to leverage local knowledge. 

Standout Features of Harvard Extension School – Online Master’s in Global Development Practice:

Skills Needed for Development Administration Occupations

A Thorough Understanding Of Development Practice, Development Policy, and International Development Concepts

It is crucial for students to understand current practice and policy that is central to the idea of development. By presenting arguments and accurate evidence, you become better trained to analyze problems and interventions critically and constructively.

In the end, students should thoroughly understand fundamental theories, concepts, debates, and practices in the Development Administration field.

Soft skills: Research, Leadership, Project Management, Problem-Solving, Strong Verbal and Written Communication

Development Studies graduates take on a variety of roles. It is equally important that, besides possessing academic expertise, students acquire and nurture the soft skills that employers believe are crucial to a professional’s performance.

They can work as a community liaison officer, volunteer coordinator, development officer, refugee support coordinator, immigration adviser, project monitoring and evaluation adviser, environmental specialist, advocate, or program coordinator.

In a policy team, undergraduate degree holders may begin their careers as administrators or coordinators before progressing to advisers or senior advisers.

However, if you are interested in specialized, in-depth analysis in policy or research roles, postgraduate study in Development Studies, such as a Master’s degree, is recommended.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Development Administration, Development Management, or Development Studies all about?

Development Administration, Management, and Studies emphasize “development” as its central concern. 

There are two broad sets of problems associated with the idea of development:

To resolve these issues, Development Administration allows for the collaboration of groups and individuals to uncover other underlying problems and provide solutions.

What characterizes Development Studies?

Development Administration utilizes tools, practices, policies, and a broader development process to enact change. It also entails critical reflection on development goals and how they are implemented to improve policy, approaches, and outcomes. 

The concept of development is interdisciplinary and occurs on a range of geographic scales, across small, local community initiatives and more extensive, national-scale projects.

Students are expected to have a thorough understanding of its broad concepts encompassing the social and natural sciences. 

Is an Online Master of Science in Development Administration a popular choice of study?

More and more young, wide-eyed people are choosing to study Development Administration or Development Studies to inspire and enact long-term, sustainable change. That’s good news, considering that the demand for skilled training and development management experts is projected to grow by up to 11% in the next decade. 

Why study an Online MS in Development Administration?

Development Studies aims to provide every individual, family, community, country, and the world with the opportunities and capabilities they need to pursue their values and live life to the fullest. As you study poverty and the ways to alleviate it, you need to have an in-depth understanding of how markets, states, and civil society work.

While deeply rooted in the Social Sciences, the concepts of Development Administration and Development Studies are utilized in the technical fields. These include Agriculture, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), Water Management, Engineering, Medicine, Business, Forestry, Climate Change and Management, and Mining.

As such, graduates of an online Master of Development Administration program will find themselves immersed in public service, private practice, and non-profit work. 

What are the career outcomes for studying an online MS in Development Studies?

Diverse industries, ranging from private companies, non-profit organizations, government agencies, the public sector, and everything in between, are constantly on the hunt for key people who have the capacity to aid in alleviating developmental issues and finding solutions.

The popular career outcomes of an MSc in Development Administration, Management, or Studies are:

Because Development Administration work typically involves coordination with issues and operations on the global front, English proficiency–which points to the ability to communicate using a commonly used first language–is always a plus.

Key Takeaways

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