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The Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Global Development (GD) is a one-year, interdisciplinary graduate-level degree program combining a flexible course-based curriculum with a capstone or problem-solving project. The program is designed to enhance practical and technical skills and to prepare students for careers in field-based development and development policy roles serving low-income and rural communities globally. Featuring senior faculty advisors with strong global experience and international reputations, Cornell’s GD MPS program provides opportunities for critically analyzing development strategies and learning about practices, technologies, approaches and trends in development worldwide.

Communities around the world are faced with rapid change and complex and unprecedented challenges that require creative solutions and urgent attention. However, government agencies and private sector enterprise often lack personnel trained to deal with these emerging challenges.  Similarly, professionals with disciplinary training often find themselves working on development issues for which they have limited preparation or technical knowledge. The goal of the MPS program is to provide graduates with the ability to effectively assess development challenges and address them by applying up to date technical skills and working as part of transdisciplinary teams.

MPS students, in consultation with their advisors, select appropriate courses from the wide variety of offerings at Cornell and through the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). Students have the opportunity to specialize in the following areas:

  • International agriculture and rural development
  • Agro-ecology, agro-forestry, and restorative agriculture
  • Community development
  • Education and development (including agricultural education, extension education, youth and adult education)
  • Social enterprise
  • Rural entrepreneurship and inclusive markets
  • International environmental management
  • Program evaluation
  • NGO management
  • Gender and development
  • Migration, including the study of refugees and diasporic populations
  • Population studies, demography, and development

and the potential to create your own curriculum. 

Each specialization differs in its orientation while providing a multi-faceted educational opportunity for individuals committed to finding sustainable approaches to community development. Common curricular components include an MPS seminar and up to six capstone project development and completion credits.

Most applicants accepted into the Global Development MPS program have at least two years of relevant field or administrative experience. Many are returning Peace Corps volunteers (RPCVs) or experienced international professionals seeking to expand their knowledge and graduate credentials. Applicants with limited professional experience are also considered for admission, but must have fieldwork or other proficiencies aligned with the mission of the program.

Applicants need to obtain their own funding for the program, though we do offer a limited number of competitive fellowships, including one teaching assistantship and one full-tuition Coverdell Fellowship. The Coverdell Fellowship is awarded to an RPCV and may be granted to a single individual or shared among up to four fellows. All students enrolled in the program have the opportunity to apply for travel grants to support capstone project research and professional development workshops.

MPS students in the program have access to dedicated career services support in the CALS Office of Professional Programs and Extended Learning and through the vast network of Cornell alumni worldwide.