Growth is synonymous with Development Studies

Growth is synonymous with Development Studies

CATALYST Rural development is now a policy priority for India and will open up opportunities for Development Studies specialists.

Growth is synonymous with Development Studies

Development Studies is a multidisciplinary branch of social science which addresses issues of concern to developing countries.

It has placed a particular focus on issues related to social and economic development, and its relevance may therefore extend to communities and regions outside of the developing world.

Development Studies is offered as a specialised masters degree in a number of universities, and, less commonly, as an undergraduate degree. It has grown in popularity as a subject of study since the early 1990s, and has been most widely taught and researched in the third world and in countries with a colonial history, such as the UK, where development studies originated.

Students of development studies often choose careers in international organisations such as the United Nations or the World Bank, non-governmental organisations, private sector development consultancy firms, and research centres.

Development issues include Area Studies, Demography, Demographics, Development Communication, Development Theory, Ecology, Environmental Studies, Human Rights, Migration Studies, Public Health, Social Policy, Urbanization, and Women's Studies.

Development studies as a discipline can encompass any subject from Human Rights to Financial Modelling for project financing. Jobs in development usually require, therefore, a skill-set that is technical and specialised. In addition they require integration of a broader understanding of development theory.


At the master’s level and above, the options are plentiful. Institutions offering MA, MPhil or PhD degrees in Development Studies.

For MA courses, such as the one offered by Tata Institute of Social Sciences, candidates are expected to possess a strong (usually first class) BA degree. For MPhil degrees, an MA in Social Sciences such as economics or quantitative subjects such as physics or statistics is preferred — IDS is an example.

For MA degrees, the curriculum allows more flexibility. At TISS, for example, students have a wide range of concentration options in disciplines such as Economics, Sociology, Political Science, Psychology, Women’s Studies, Culture Studies, and Media Studies.

Another option, often conditional on obtaining scholarships, is enrolling in the many Development Studies courses offered abroad, for example - in the UK, Oxford and the London School of Economics (LSE) have masters degrees that are popular.

Scholarships that support such study include British Chevening, Rhodes (for those with strong extracurricular achievements as well) and Commonwealth Scholarships.

Career Opportunities

Career opportunities in the field of development studies and related disciplines are varied and dynamic. Rural development is now a policy priority for India and will open up opportunities for development studies specialists. There are numerous opportunities in infrastructure development, NGO-related work, media and public policy.

Careers may include: public sector research and policy analysis, NGO and humanitarian work, advocacy/lobbying, education, development programme planning and/or implementation, managing volunteers, local and international journalism, immigration and refugee services, travel and tourism work, cross-cultural relations consultancy, public relations and communications, urban planning, international development, public health, community work, English language teaching abroad, local government advisory work, social science, and environmental and climate change research, among several others.


*Madras Institute of Development
Studies (MIDS), Chennai
*Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), Centre for Development Studies (CDS),
*Indira Gandhi Institute for Development Research (IGIDR), MIDS, IIT-Madras,
*Delhi School of Economics
*Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata (IDS).
*Centre for Development Studies (CDS) at Thiruvananthapuram.

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