Master of Development Practice Degree Program


The Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change (ICGC), in partnership with the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, offers a Master of Development Practice (MDP) in International Development program at the University of Minnesota.

What is the Master of Development Practice Program?

    This two-year interdisciplinary degree program is part of a global network that prepares graduate students for a career in sustainable development, equipping students with the competencies, skills, and knowledge needed to work toward poverty alleviation and sustainable development in developing regions of the world. It prepares young professionals for careers in sustainable development—globally, locally, and in the complex realities in between.

    A strategic blend of training in theory and practice equips MDP graduates with knowledge, skills, and competencies essential to appropriate and effective engagement with the broad coalitions addressing society’s complex sustainable development challenges.

    Minnesota’s MDP program is a cooperative, interdisciplinary endeavor comprising faculty from six collegiate units at the University of Minnesota. MDP faculty work both locally and globally, and with notable partnerships and extensive experience in Colombia, Guatemala, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Egypt, the Middle East/North Africa region, and more.

    Curriculum Admissions Current MDP Cohorts

    The MDP experience centers on engagement. Student inquiry and action typically begin with challenges framed by local and global partners, with engaged learning experiences occurring through campus-based coursework, field-based summer placements, a culminating capstone project, and a variety of co-curricular opportunities. 

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    Field Experiences

    MDP students are required to complete a 10-week (400 hours) international field experience, which will include professional work and academic cross-cultural training. Students will complete the field experience during the semester between the first and second year of the program. 

    Students are responsible for the additional cost of the field experience and should plan accordingly. The typical field experience will cost $4,500-5,000.

    For more detailed information about Field Experience requirements, check out the MDP Handbook

    Timeline (approximate dates):

    • September — Solicitation and development of field experience projects by MDP faculty and students
    • November — Projects presented to students and team selection process occurs
    • December — Initial team contact with clients
    • January — Proposal (TOR) development; Submit funding proposals to various funders (ongoing)
    • Spring — Formative interactions with client Registration with Learning Abroad Center; IRB Process; ITRAAC
    • May–July — Students in the field, typically late May through end of July

    Past field experiences have taken place in:

    • Americas and Caribbean: Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Fond du Lac Tribal Community, New Orleans
    • Africa: Senegal, Ghana, Kenya
    • Southeast Asia: Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines
    • South Asia: Nepal, India


    MDP New Student Orientation is held for full days starting the week before classes begin in fall.  

    Typical MDP Orientation activities include:

    • Visiting local NGOs that encompass big and small operations and local development resources
    • Advisor panel with associated faculty
    • Engaging the U Session — to highlight the many areas where MDP students typically engage the U as Research Assistants, Teaching Assistants, Interns, and capstone teams
    • Parts of Graduate School and Humphrey School of Public Affairs Orientations
    • Introduction of field experiences — past locations have included: Kenya, Vietnam, Ecuador, Jamaica, Philippines, St. Lucia, New Orleans, Thailand, Nepal

    For more information about New Student Orientation, check out the MDP Handbook.

    MDP/GPA Capstone Project

    The Capstone Project is designed to provide a culminating learning experience for second-year students as they apply their knowledge through a team-project for a client (for example, public, development, or non-government organization). The projects allow students to gain important practical experience that will position them for professional success. In addition, the capstone experience facilitates student reflection on the knowledge and values acquired during their program. Student teams gain experience in working collaboratively, interacting with clients, and in jointly managing projects. Students are supported in their work by the course instructor, who provides guidance and feedback, leading toward the development of a professional quality project.

    For more information about the Capstone Project, check out the MDP Handbook