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Many people want to work in the international development sector. Not only do you get to build a career addressing the needs of people affected by conflicts, disasters or crises, or living in poverty, but often you get an exciting job that lets you travel the world. However, lots of people are confused about the requirements needed to work in global development, and what they should study. Here we break down many of the top degree choices if your aim is to get a job in international development…
If you want to work in international development, one of the best degrees to choose is development studies. Degrees in development studies aim to provide students with the skills and knowledge needed to take roles in the international development sector. They combine the theoretical study of development issues, with the practical tools needed to implement effective and sustainable international development projects.
There are many top universities around the world offering development studies at both bachelors and master’s level. Many international development organizations recruit development studies graduates for their internships and entry level roles.
A top degree to choose if you aim to enter the international development sector is humanitarian action. International development and humanitarian crises are often intertwined. Many nations struggling to develop are suffering from extensive and complex humanitarian crises. Taking a degree in humanitarian action gives you a deep understanding of how development and humanitarian relief is intertwined.
Many of the skills and knowledge gained on a degree in humanitarian action are highly relevant for a career in international development. Most humanitarian action degrees are at post-graduate level, but there are a few universities that offer the course as a bachelors.
Refugee And Migration Studies
Another degree to consider if you want to work in international development is refugee and migration studies. Human migration and displacement are directly linked to international development. When communities lack development, often people leave to head towards richer nations. A lack of development can also cause conflicts, and increase the risks and impacts of humanitarian crises – further reasons why people flee their homes.
Doing a degree in refugee and migration studies gives you a deep understanding of how human migration and displacement links to global development. It also provides students with the practical methods are used on development projects to address refugee and migrant issues.
Natural and manmade disasters are directly linked to development issues. Communities that lack development are often at risk of disasters. Communities that are struck by disasters often have their development impeded. This results in a vicious cycle. However, this link does mean that doing a degree in disaster management can be ideal if you want to work in international development.
There are many leading bachelors and master’s degrees in disaster management. Studying one of these will give you practical tools that can be used to assist communities impacted by disasters. Many of these tools are also highly relevant for jobs within the international development sector.
Public health and international development go hand-in-hand. Communities need access to quality healthcare in order to develop. There are many jobs across the international development sector that relate directly to public health. This means doing a bachelors or masters in public health can directly lead to a career in global development.
If you aim is to get a job in international development after your degree in public health, consider choosing a course that focuses on public health in the Global South. This will provide you with a deeper understanding of the public health needs of communities international development projects aim to assist.
There are a range of actors in the international development sector. Many of the major organizations are NGOs. This makes taking a degree in NGO management a good step to beginning a career in international development. NGO management degrees teach students the practical methods NGOs use to operate, including project management, grant management and proposal development. These are valuable skills for anyone wanting to work in international development.
Most universities only offer NGO management degrees at post-graduate level.
International Development Online Courses
A great way to find out if a degree in international development is right for you is to take an online short course. We highly recommend the course Management of International Development: Towards Agenda 2030. It looks at the current international development model as well as the trends that will be key to global development in the near future. Follow the link to the course’s page for more information.
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 studying 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. The link is to the course’s page.
If you are interested in the practical methods used on international development projects, we recommend the online course How To Design & Fund International Development NGO Projects. The course teaches students the tools needed to establish and run impactful development projects. Click the link to visit the course’s page for more information.
Peace And Conflict Studies
Peace and conflict and global development are other factors that go hand-in-hand. Communities impacted by conflicts often have their development reduced, or struggle to become prosperous. Poorer communities are also more likely to fall into conflict. This makes a degree in peace and conflict studies ideal for anyone interested in working in international development.
A degree in peace and conflict will provide students with a theoretical background in why conflicts arise, their impacts on those involved and how they end. It will also demonstrate how lasting peace and be achieved. This theoretical understanding can be key to the success of many international development projects, making a degree in peace and conflict studies a good choice for anyone wanting to work in the sector.
Finance And Accounting
Perhaps a less considered degree to choose for a career in international development, but actually one many should consider, is finance and accounting. Development agencies need a range of finance roles in order to effectively manage their budgets and ensure they remain financially compliant. Many also employ accountants to ensure their financial records and reports are correct, and to assist with audits.
Ideally, a degree in finance and accounting that has an element related to non-profit financing or grant management would be ideal for those wanting to work in international development. However, any quality finance and accounting degree will provide most of the skills needed to work in international development.
Logistics And Supply Chain Management
Another degree definitely to consider if you want to work in global development is logistic and supply chain management. All international development organizations have complex supply chains in order to get the supplies needed, in the right location, in good condition and on time to the areas where development projects need them.
There are a range of logistics and supply chain roles across the international development sector. This means doing a degree related to these areas can be highly beneficial. Learning the technical sides of logistics and supply chain management, ideally on a degree that relates them to international development projects, will definitely help you launch your career in the sector.
International development organizations often have to work in challenging, and sometimes insecure contexts. In order to mitigate risks to their operations, most development agencies will hire a team of security experts. This means doing a degree in security management can be a great way to get a job in the international development sector.
A degree in security management will provide students with many of the skills needed to give security advice to international development projects.
Human Resource Management
Another degree many people do not consider when planning for a career in international development, but that they probably should, is human resource management. Many international development agencies are large organizations with hundreds or even thousands of staff, often spread across many countries. This means they employ teams of human resource professionals in order to effectively manage their personnel.
The practical methods that will be taught on a degree in human resource management are directly applicable to almost all international development organizations. This can make it a great degree choice for anyone wanting to start a career in the sector.
A final degree that would be a good choice for people looking for a job in international development is public policy. International development organizations often draft policies that aim to address the root causes of the issues they are working to resolve. This means there are a range of policy roles across the global development industry.
Most universities only offer degrees in public policy at master’s level. However, if you want to work in international development within organizations not only addressing the immediate needs of crises and poverty-stricken communities, but also addressing the underlying causes of their issues, consider a degree in public policy.