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Doing a degree in development studies allows you to research a wide range of global issues. However, although studying international development is a fantastic opportunity to learn about the root causes of unequal global development and investigate current and historical crises, is there actually a job at the end of it?
Completing a degree in development studies can lead to many exciting jobs working to address global challenges. These can include international aid worker, journalist, diplomat, non-profit fundraiser, research academic, environmental campaigner, civil servant and jobs in public policy.
With lots of fields open to you afterwards, completing a degree in development studies may be a great choice for you if you are interested in any of these jobs…
Humanitarian Aid Worker
Having a development studies degree lays a strong foundation of a career in international aid. Studying international development provides the theoretical understanding and practical tools needed to work in humanitarian action. Many humanitarian NGOs require applicants to hold a relevant degree and degrees in development studies are seen as strong qualifications. If you want to work in humanitarian aid, definitely consider doing a degree in development studies.
A development studies degree allows you to research the root causes on global inequality, as well as investigate ongoing crises and conflicts. The experience gained on an international development degree gives you the foundational understanding needed to work responding to humanitarian disasters. Many successful aid workers begin their careers by doing a degree in development studies.
Studying international development can lead to a career in journalism. Many newspapers and broadcasters need journalists with experience in developing countries, which is why they recruit development studies graduates. Development studies informs students of the history, trends and issues affecting Global South countries, which can be highly sought by media outlets looking for journalists to work in the developing world.
Many journalists specialising in stories in the developing world have degrees in development studies. A development studies degree gives you a deep understanding of events occurring in developing countries, their causes and wider contexts. As there are many news platforms that cover a wide range of developing countries, doing a degree in development studies can be a good start to a career in journalism.
A degree in development studies can be a good start for a career in policy. Many institutions, including governments, international bodies and NGOs hire development studies graduates to assist with drafting policies, especially related to the Global South. A degree in development studies can lead to jobs drawing-up policy platforms for both institutions in the developed world and those based in the developing world.
The job of policy officer is to draft, coordinate and evaluate policy proposals. Policy institutes usually hire graduates with development studies degrees to focus on policy affecting low- and middle-income countries, or countries affected by disasters and conflicts. A degree in development studies can be a good way to begin a career in policy.
Diplomats are employed by governments and international institutions like the United Nations to be manage international relations. Governments will often hire graduates with development studies degrees to begin careers as diplomats stationed in low- and middle-income countries. Studying international development provides the contextual knowledge needed to effectively work in developing countries.
Many countries have diplomatic corps, including many embassies and outposts in developing countries. Governments and international institutions want diplomatic staff with an understanding of the issues affecting developing countries, and so often hire development studies graduates to join their diplomatic services based in these contexts. A degree in development studies can lead to an exciting career in international diplomacy.
International Development Online Courses
If you are interested in working in international development, we highly recommend the online short course International Humanitarian and Development Careers. We think it provides one of the best overviews of the development sector and gives fantastic tips on how to land a job with an international development organisation. Follow the link to enrol.
Another online short course we really recommend for those wanting to work in international development is How To Design & Fund International Development NGO Projects. Anyone looking to work in the development sector needs a strong understanding of how aid projects are designed, and we think this course gives one of the best insights. Click the link to be taken to the course’s page.
We also think the online course Sustainable Development in the 21st Century by Yonsei University to be one of the best for those interested in international development. Delivered by former UN Secretary General Ban-ki Moon, the online course would be a great addition to the CV of anyone looking to work in international development. Click the link to enroll on the course.
Advocacy is a key part of international development. Advocacy works to create long-term and systemic change by campaigning for broad political and social improvements. Completing a degree in development studies can be a great way to start a career in campaigns and advocacy, especially if you are interested in working for long-term improvements in social justice, poverty reduction or peace and conflict.
Development studies graduates working in advocacy jobs can either be based in developed countries working on political campaigns and public movements, or in the Global South advocating for systemic change. Many NGOs have advocacy departments focusing on international development and humanitarian related campaigns and employ development studies graduates to work in advocacy roles.
Climate change is a major issue affecting the world, but it has as especially large impact on developing countries, most of which are less resilient to its impacts. Doing a degree in development studies can show how climate change and environmental disasters have massive effects on poorer nations. Studying international development can lead to a career using this knowledge to help mitigate the impact of climate change on developing countries.
For those interested in a career working to tackle climate change and its impact, a degree in development studies can lay a strong foundation. Many NGOs and international organisations working on climate change employ graduates with development studies degrees as they have good knowledge of how climate change impacts pooper nations, as well as the tools and methods these countries can utilise to limit the impact of environmental degradation.
Communications is a key part of many international organisations. Doing a development studies degree can be the first step in a career focusing on how international organisations can run effective communications campaigns related to developing countries. International NGOs, as well as businesses operating in developing markets, require communications staff with strong knowledge of low- and middle-income countries.
Doing a degree in development studies provides a deep understanding of the politics, economics and cultures of developing countries. This knowledge can be highly prized by governments, NGOs, advocacy groups, think-tanks and companies when producing communications content for both audiences in poorer nations, well as those in developed countries to highlight issues in the Global South. For those who want to work in communications focusing on lower income countries, a degree in development studies can be a good choice.
Business Development Manager
Development NGO’s hire business development managers to increase their funding base. Doing a degree development studies degree can be the first-step to working as a business development manager within the aid sector. Combining fundraising, business strategy and grants management, the business development manager role is a key position with development NGOs. NGO’s often hire development studies graduates into business development positions.
Completing a degree in development studies can be a great choice if you are interested in working in business development within the non-profit sector. NGOs often hire development studies graduates for business development roles as they have the skills in research and proposal development needed for the role, as well as a good understanding of the issues facing developing countries. Doing a development studies degree is a good route into NGO business development.
Completing a degree in development studies can lead to career in academic research. Many top universities have departments focusing on researching development issues. Graduates with development studies degrees can go on to work for universities conducting academic research on the events, challenges and development of poorer nations. Doing a degree in development studies can lay a strong foundation to an academic career in international development.
Many academic researchers focusing on developing countries usually conduct extensive field research. Graduates with development studies degrees can begin as research assistants before progressing to conducting their own research on low- and middle-income countries, their histories, contexts and development. If you want to work in academic research focusing on international development, begin by doing a development studies degree.
A degree in development studies can lead to a career in education and lecturing. Many universities have courses on international development and employ development studies graduates as lecturers. After doing a development studies degree you are likely to need some years professional experience before joining a university as a lecturer, but, if you want to work teaching people how to reduce world inequality, a degree in development studies is a good start.
Most university lecturers who teach development studies will specialise in a specific area of development such as economic development, human rights, community development or gender. However, most will begin their education with a general degree in development studies before they specialise. Doing a degree in development studies is a good option if you want to go on to a career in academia.
International development NGOs often have large fundraising teams. These focus on securing funds through donor grants, company partnerships and public donations. Doing a development studies degree can be a great choice if you want to work in NGO fundraising. International development NGOs hire development studies graduates because of their passion and knowledge of development work.
Fundraising is a crucial part of the international development industry. Doing a degree in development studies can be a great first step to working for large international NGOs in fundraising. International development NGOs hire development studies graduates in fundraising roles, especially for jobs focusing on donor grant applications, as these need international development knowledge to assist with the project design and proposal development.
Governments around the world employ civil servants to work within their departments. Doing a development studies degree can lead to a career in civil service as governments hire graduates to work in their foreign offices and international development departments. The knowledge and experience of developing countries gained on a development studies degree is sought by governments for civil services roles working on projects assisting poorer countries or in departments tasked with international relations.
Civil servants working in government departments focusing on developing countries issues often have degree in international development. The jobs of civil servants in foreign office roles or government development agencies can include managing aid projects, developing policy, working in the diplomatic corps or in government liaison roles. Doing a degree in development studies can be a good first-step to a career in governmental civil service.
Development consultants are hired by NGOs, government agencies and international organisations to complete specific projects or provide expert external advise. Doing a degree in development studies can be the first step to working as a consultant in the development industry. Studying international development gives you both strong qualifications and expert knowledge of development theory and practice, and this can be of great service to agencies needing to hire external development consultants.
A development studies degree can lay a strong foundation for a career as a consultant for the aid and development sector. Most development consultants specialize in specific areas of development work and doing a development studies degree can help you identity, research and develop knowledge of key types of development work. Doing a development studies degree can be a great start to a career as a development consultant.