Master in Development Studies

Master of Arts (MA) in Development Studies

The International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague is an international postgraduate school and one of the oldest and largest centres for the comparative study of social, political and economic development.

In the MA programme you learn about the most recent theories and debates in development studies and learn to apply this knowledge to practical issues of development and social change. Students come from government, NGOs, universities and private companies. The staff is drawn from around thirty countries from all over the world.

Majors on offer:

  1. Agrarian, Food and Environmental Studies
  2. Economics of Development
  3. Governance and Development Policy
  4. Human Rights, Gender and Conflict Studies: Social Justice Perspectives
  5. Social Policy for Development
  6. Migration and Diversity track

Career opportunities

ISS students are young and mid-career professionals who often return to their previous job or make a career move after completing their studies. ISS alumni work in NGOs, governments, universities and international organisations such as the UN and World Bank.

Read more about: Career opportunities Master in Development Studies.

Education objectives

Graduates will be able to understand processes of social development and change and how such processes at various levels (from local to global) interact. They will be able to present a critical overview of major issues, theories, debates and strategic interventions in the field of Development Studies.

Target audience

The programme is invaluable to young and mid-career professionals currently working in the government sector, national or international NGOs and staff of Southern and Northern universities focusing on Development Studies.

Admission criteria

  • Applicants are required to have a Bachelor degree in one of the social sciences or equivalent, comprising at least three years studies at a recognised university or institute of higher education. They must have obtained at least class 2.2 (Lower Second), B or equivalent, but preferably class 2.1 (Upper Second), B+ or equivalent. Applicants from India with a BA degree from a four or five star university, as determined by the NAAC are admissible. Other Indian applicants, as well as applicants from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Pakistan are required to have an MA degree.
  • Professional experience relevant to the Major which the applicant wishes to study is normally expected and is a preference for admission.
  • Applicants who are not native English speakers are required to demonstrate their proficiency. Thus on application for admittance to an ISS programme, students must provide a certificate from TOEFL (PBT-580, CBT-237, iBT 92) or IELTS academic test 6.5. ISS does not require a language certificate from native English speakers from the following countries: Australia, Botswana, Canada, Cameroon (English-speaking region), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, India, Ireland, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Philippines, Rwanda (English-speaking region), South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, UK, USA, Zambia and Zimbabwe.


You can apply to the MA in Development Studies programme by using the online application system. Applications are assessed on an ongoing basis by the Admissions Office.

Read more about: Application Master in Development Studies


Please see below for information about the Majors within this Master programme. Whether a major is offered full-time or part-time*, is indicated accordingly.




Agrarian, Food and Environmental Studies Full-time Part-time
Economics of Development Full-time Part-time
Governance and Development Policy Full-time Part-time
Human Rights, Gender and Conflict Studies: Social Justice Perspectives
Full-time Part-time
Social Policy for Development Full-time Part-time
Migration and Diversity track Full-time Part-time

*Please contact the ISS student office at for more information about part-time study.