Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do I have to take the IARD 5990/5980 Project Paper Research credits?

No. You are required to complete 30 credits as specified in the degree requirements, complete two registration units (i.e. two semesters of tuition), and hand in a Project Paper. But you are not required to actually register for project paper research credits. However, you can register for up to six of these credits overall and a maximum of six of these credits can count toward the 30 required for the degree. Students will often register for these credits if they don't want to take a full load of courses, but still want to get enough credits to make progress toward the degree. Alternatively, 5990/5980 can also be used as a way to get enough credits at the 4000 level or above, or to ensure the minimum of 18 for a letter grade or the minimum of 20 CALS credits needed. These credits are always supervised by the student's advisor or by the Director of Graduate Studies and they are the ones to assign the grade at the end of the semester.


2. When is my project paper due?

Students are expected to finish their project paper during the Summer following their two semesters of coursework. In the event that circumstances (truly) beyond the student's control cause them to miss the August deadline, they may then petition the Director of Graduate Studies for permission to apply to the Graduate School for a Leave of Absence or In Absentia status. These are not routinely granted to MPS students but may be allowed under special circumstances. A Leave of Absence allows the student to remain alive in the Registrar's computer, to keep their NetID, but not be required to pay tuition (Currently, a $200 fee is charged for this).


3. What are "registration units"?

Cornell requires MPS students to complete two registration units in order to get the degree. A registration unit is one semester of full time study. What this means is that each student must pay for two semesters of full time study to finish the MPS. Of course, if desired a student can stay for longer and take more courses - two is the minimum.


4. What funding is available for MPS students?

Cornell has no funds allocated to pay tuition for new MPS students but some do find employment as research assistants after arrival at Cornell. Second year students can apply for the Teaching Assistant position which involves helping with the first year students and also TA'ing undergrad IARD courses. Also available to second year students are jobs assisting the Humphrey Fellows Program and as the campus Peace Corps representative (Peace Corps returnees only). While none of these positions is reserved for IARD students, many have the necessary qualifications and have gotten these positions in the past.


5. When do I need to get my Advisor and Second Committee member?

In Cornell's system, all graduate students are advised by a committee. MPS students are required to have two members, a chair and a second member. The Chair (if not assigned prior to arrival) must be designated by Fall Break (Spring Break for January admissions) and the second member by the beginning of the second semester. Until a Chair is designated, the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) acts as the temporary Chair.


6. Can I change members of my Committee?

Yes. Changes of advisors and/or second members are routine since students often find that their particular interests are best matched by a faculty member other than the original ones on their committee. Changes made to your committee must be made online via your student center account.


7. What if the faculty member I want on my committee isn't a member of the field of global development?

Ask the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) to have them listed as a member and we will go ahead and do it.


8. What if I want to take a course that is listed below the 4000 level?

You are allowed to count up to 6 credits below the 4000 level toward the degree, so you are OK for at least that many credits (typically two courses). If you want to take more than 6 credits at below the 4000 level you have three options

  • Petition the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) for a waiver. Go see the DGS and explain your situation. Assuming you have legitimate reasons for wanting a waiver you will be asked to put it in writing for the record (and for the Grad School).
  • If you have not used all of your IARD 5990 credits (i.e. you still have not registered for the maximum of 6 allowed to count toward the degree) you can add some of these credits to your schedule to make up the required number of 4000 and above credits.
  • Add the needed number of credits at 4000 or above by taking additional courses either at Cornell or elsewhere (a maximum of 6 can be transferred in to Cornell for the degree - See below).

9. Can I transfer credits in to Cornell to count toward my MPS degree?

A maximum of 6 credits can be transferred in but these cannot be credits that were used to satisfy the requirements for a different degree at Cornell or elsewhere. That is, you can't simply take some credits from your undergrad transcript and count them toward Cornell's MPS. But you can count courses taken at Cornell or another institution that did not lead to a degree.


10. Can I earn credits via Independent Study?

Yes. Independent study credits are earned under the supervision of a faculty member who sets the requirements for the credits and is responsible for certifying that they have been completed. The course number used is IARD 5970 and 1-6 credits may be used toward the degree.


11. Do I have to take courses in IARD?

No. Apart from the MPS student seminar (IARD 6990 - 1 credit) there is no formal requirement to take IARD courses though many students do.