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Global Development Practice Master’s Degree Program

Gain knowledge, practical skills, and an interdisciplinary perspective on global development issues.

  • Online Courses

    11 out of 12 courses

  • On-Campus Experience

    1 weekend or one 3-week summer course

  • Tuition

    $3,220 per course

Program Overview

Through the master’s degree in the field of global development practice you:

  • Develop a holistic understanding of human health risks, ecological system dynamics, technological innovations, and financial models to advance sustainable development.
  • Identify and challenge assumptions, seek alternatives, determine solutions, and engage organizations to think differently.
  • Leverage local knowledge through global practice.
  • Learn with and from a global network of development professionals.

Harvard Extension School is a member of the Global Association of Master in Development Practice and meets the association’s standard of core development practice competencies.

Program Benefits

  • Map with a flag.

    Customizable path, stackable certificates, & experiential learning

  • Teacher speaking to class.

    Instructors who are global development practitioners & Harvard University faculty

  • Two people talking at a table.

    Personalized academic & career advising

  • Lightbulb in a hand.

    Entrepreneurial opportunities through the Harvard Innovation Labs

  • Three hands together.

    Peer community, including the Global Development Practice Club

  • Graduation cap and diploma.

    Harvard Alumni Association membership upon graduation

Customizable Course Curriculum

Our curriculum is flexible in pace and customizable by design. You can experience the convenience of online learning and the immersive benefits of learning in person. Study part time, choosing courses that fit your schedule and align with your career goals.

As you work your way through the program’s courses and precapstone and capstone courses, you’ll have the opportunity to explore topics such as labor economics, anthropology and human rights, globalization, and food systems.

11 Online Courses

  • Primarily asynchronous
  • Fall, spring, January, and summer options

On-Campus Capstone Course

You’ll take this course in person, executing the development action plan for an industry partner that you created in the precapstone course. Choose between an accelerated or standard pace:

  • An online course with an intensive weekend on campus in the spring
  • A 3-week summer session


The path to your degree begins before you apply to the program.

First, you’ll register for and complete 2 required courses, earning at least a B in each. These foundational courses are investments in your studies and count toward your degree, helping ensure success in the program.

As an alternative, you may choose to earn the following credentials as part of your admissions path: MITx MicroMasters® Program Pathway.

Getting Started

We invite you to explore degree requirements, confirm your initial eligibility, and learn more about our unique “earn your way in” admissions process.

Earning a Stackable Certificate

As you work your way toward your master’s degree, you can take courses that also count — or “stack” — toward a graduate or microcertificate. It’s a cost-effective, time-saving opportunity to build specialized skills and earn a second professional credential.

For each certificate, you can choose courses that best fit your goals.

Stackable graduate certificates include:

Stackable microcertificates include:

A Faculty of Global Development Experts

Studying at Harvard Extension School means learning from the world’s best. Our instructors are renowned experts in sustainable development, ecological system dynamics, technological innovations, and more. They bring a genuine passion for teaching, with students giving our faculty an average rating of 4.5 out of 5.

Our Community at a Glance

Through our learner-centered approach, students define problems, engage with stakeholders, evaluate evidence, determine priorities of action, and deliver an implementable plan.

Upon successful completion of the required curriculum, you will receive your Harvard University degree — a Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in Extension Studies, Field: Global Development Practice.

Download: Global Development Practice Master's Degree Fact Sheet

  • 36

    Average Age

  • 1-2

    Average Courses Taken Each Semester

  • 71%

    Work Full Time

  • 100%

    Would Recommend the Program

  • 45%

    Professional Experience in the Field

  • Most

    Pursuing for Career Change

students in a active learning weekend class

Career Opportunities & Alumni Outcomes

Graduates of our Global Development Practice Master’s Program work in a variety of roles and organizations.

Our alumni hold such titles as:

  • Community Agribusiness Advisor
  • Director of Strategic Development
  • Financial Leadership Development Program Analyst
  • Project Engineer
  • Research Analyst

Our alumni work at a variety of leading organizations, including:

  • Peace Corps
  • Manna Project International
  • Feinstein Institute for Public Service
  • The Leap Agency
  • Santander Bank

Career Advising and Mentorship

Whatever your career goals, we’re here to support you. Harvard’s Mignone Center for Career Success offers career advising, employment opportunities, Harvard alumni mentor connections, and career fairs like the online All Ivy Environmental and Sustainable Development Career Fair.

Your Harvard University Degree

Upon successful completion of the required curriculum, you will earn the Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in Extension Studies, Field: Global Development Practice.

Expand Your Connections: the Harvard Alumni Network

As a graduate, you’ll become a member of the worldwide Harvard Alumni Association (400,000+ members) and Harvard Extension Alumni Association (29,000+ members).

Paulen Maria Isabelle Santos
After earning my degree, I became more qualified for the kind of jobs I wanted to be doing in the next phase of my career. It also allowed me to move more freely across the different thematic issues under the sustainable development framework, which I couldn’t do before.
Paulene Maria Isabelle Santos
Master of Liberal Arts in the field of Global Development Practice '21

Tuition & Financial Aid

Affordability is core to our mission. When compared to our continuing education peers, it’s a fraction of the cost.

Our Tuition (2023–24 rate) $3,220 per course
Average Tuition of Peer Institutions $5,476 per course
Average Total Cost $38,640

After admission, you may qualify for financial aid. Typically, eligible students receive grant funds to cover a portion of tuition costs each term, in addition to federal financial aid options.


What is Global Development Practice?

Professionals in this space tackle challenges affecting people, economies, and climates globally. They may tackle issues of access and inequality, particularly in developing countries. They develop and implement strategies and solutions to improve agriculture, education, governance, human rights, communication technology, safety, security, and humanitarian assistance.

What is a master’s degree in development practice?

Master’s degree programs in global development practice, or development practice, involve an interdisciplinary approach to addressing challenges in sustainable development. The program is designed for development practitioners, policy administrators, educators, and private sector professionals tasked with addressing sustainable development problems.

The Harvard Extension School graduate program meets the Global Association of Master in Development Practice‘s standard of core development practice competencies.

To understand the differences between sustainability and global development, read Sustainability vs. Global Development Practice — Which One is Right for You?

How Long Does It Take to Complete the Global Development Practice Graduate Program?

Program length is typically between 2 and 5 years. It depends on your preferred pace and the number of courses you want to take each semester.

For an accelerated journey, we offer year-round study, where you can take courses in fall, January, spring, and summer.

While we don’t require you to register for a certain number of courses each semester, you cannot take longer than 5 years to complete the degree.