Study Development Studies Abroad

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A Guide to Studying Development Abroad

Over the past few decades development studies has grown in popularity as an interdisciplinary approach to tackling the many challenges embedded in global poverty and emerging industrialization. By choosing to study development abroad you can put yourself out on the frontline of many of these issues, learning firsthand about innovative new approaches to guiding globalization in a positive direction.

Why Study Development Abroad

While every nation deals with their own set of economic and infrastructural problems, at large development remains a global issue to be confronted. Development study abroad programs can help educate you about the real challenges that our generation will face as globalization continues to soar into the 21st century. If you study development abroad then you will learn much more than you ever could by staying at home in a comfortable classroom environment; you will experience directly the pressing issues that we need to unite and address as a global community.


You can study development abroad most places in the world, but if you really want the most out of your experience then you should strongly consider studying within the developing world. The opportunity to engage development challenges firsthand will provide an unparalleled education within the subject matter, while giving a real world face to many concepts you may have only been learning about second-hand thus far.

The global south is disproportionately underdeveloped when compared to the global north, which is a major issue that development groups currently try to address. Regions such as Central America, Africa, and Southeast Asia for example face the highest levels of poverty in the global community. These are the areas where many development efforts are currently most strongly focused, and thus where development study abroad programs tend to have the largest presence.

Some specific countries where development study abroad programs are most popular include Brazil, India, Tanzania, Thailand, and Costa Rica. The entire world is at your doorstep, so try to choose a location where you take a deep interest in the culture and language as well. You never know what future opportunities may sprout up down the road when you study development abroad!

Courses & Programs

Most development study abroad programs will either offer you the opportunity to enroll full time at a foreign university and select development courses, or else engage in a smaller subject-specific program which is tailored for development studies.

Some common courses that students of development enroll in abroad include community development, economic development, human rights, urban studies, and sustainable development. Because it is an interdisciplinary field, even if your host university does not offer subject-specific courses while you study development abroad, odds are high that they will offer courses in related subject matter which can transfer back for academic credit

Many students also opt to study development abroad through a subject-specific program. These programs usually entail taking classes at a local university or satellite school and are commonly supplemented by additional internship, volunteer, or service learning opportunities. Action is what is most important when it comes to development studies, and these programs can be a great way to further engage local communities.

Development degrees are most commonly conferred at the postgraduate level, although more and more universities around the world are beginning to offer development studies as an undergraduate degree track as well.  Development study abroad programs are typically available during summer sessions, single semesters, or full academic years.

Benefits & Challenges

The Real World. Studying development abroad is a great way to get out there and apply what you have learned thus far in school to reality. Especially if you have never travelled to a developing country, it will be a tremendously humbling experience.

Community Action. Even if your development study abroad program does not include specific opportunities to supplement your studies with service, seeking out such ways to engage the community will enhance your experience tenfold.

Exploration. You do not have to limit your study development abroad experience to just one location; travelling extensively throughout a region is just one of the many perks of studying abroad!

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A Guide To
Studying Development Abroad


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