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Global Development Practice Degree Requirements

The Master of Liberal Arts, Global Development Practice degree field consists of 12 courses (48 credits), 1 of which includes the on-campus capstone course.

Getting Started

  1. Explore the required course curriculum.
  2. Determine your initial admissions eligibility.
  3. Learn about the 2 degree courses required for admission.
  4. Search and register for courses.

Required Courses

12 Graduate Courses

  • ENVR 101 Proseminar: Introduction to Graduate Studies in Sustainability and Global Development
  • DEVP 102 Proseminar: Critical Analysis of Global Development Systems
  • Global Classroom: Foundations of Sustainable Development Practice
  • One global health course
  • One social science course
  • One economics course
  • One management course
  • Four global development practice electives
    • EXPO 42b is an option
  • Precapstone tutorial (noncredit)
  • Capstone (on campus)

Capstone experience. For the capstone, you execute a Development Action Plan (DAP) for a specific organization, ordinarily a non-profit, governmental organization, or a nongovernmental organization (NGO).

Capstone sequencing. You enroll in the precapstone and capstone in back-to-back semesters in your final academic year. The capstone must be taken alone as your sole remaining degree requirement.

Recent Capstone Topics

  • Development Action Plan for UNICEF Philippines
  • Socially Responsible Investing for Northwestern Mutual
  • Implementing Holistic Justice in Ghana’s Prison System: A Multidisciplinary Expansion Plan for Sudreau Global Justice Institute
  • A Development Action Plan: Cambodian Mango Sector Market Access
  • WorkingWorkJO: Bridging the Female Labor Force Participation Gap in Jordan

The Harvard On-Campus Experience (Capstone)

Many courses can be taken online, but you are required to come to Cambridge for the capstone course, which offers you in-person access to faculty, campus resources, and the academic community.

The capstone is offered online with an intensive weekend on-campus (spring term) or during a 3-week summer session.

International Students Who Need a Student Visa

To meet the on-campus requirement, you complete the capstone over the summer. You can easily request an I-20 for the F-1 student visa for Harvard Summer School’s 3-week session. For more details, see the important visa information on the International Student Study Options page.

Optional Certificates

You can choose to concentrate your degree studies in a specific development area and earn a certificate along the way. There are 7 options:

  • Environmental Policy and International Development
  • Health and Society
  • International Relations
  • National Resource Management and Sustainable Ecosystems
  • Social Justice
  • Sustainable City and Communities
  • Sustainable Food Systems


Below are our initial eligibility requirements and an overview of our unique admissions process to help get you started. Be sure to visit Degree Program Admissions for full details.

Initial Eligibility

  • Prior to enrolling in any degree-applicable courses, you must possess a 4-year regionally accredited US bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent. Foreign bachelor’s degrees must be evaluated for equivalency.
  • You cannot already have or be in the process of earning a master’s degree in development practice or a related field. Check your eligibility.

The Office of Predegree Advising & Admissions makes all final determinations about program eligibility.

Earning Your Way In: Courses for Admission

To begin the admission process, you simply register—no application needed—for the following 2 graduate-level degree courses (available online):

  • ENVR E-101 Proseminar: Introduction to Graduate Studies in Sustainability and Global Development
  • DEVP E-102 Proseminar: Critical Analysis of Global Development Systems
    • To register in either proseminar, you’ll need to pass our online test of critical reading and writing skills or earn a B or higher in EXPO 42b Writing in the Social Sciences.
    • You have 2 attempts to earn the minimum grade of B in the proseminars (a withdrawal grade counts as an attempt). The proseminars cannot be more than 2 years old at the time of application.

The courses above, including EXPO 42b, count toward the degree once you’re admitted; they are not additional courses.

While the 2 courses don’t need to be taken in a particular order or in the same semester, we highly recommend that you start with ENVR 101 (or the prerequisite, EXPO 42b). Each course must be completed with a grade of B or higher, without letting your overall Harvard cumulative GPA dip below 3.0.

MITx MicroMasters Credential Admissions Pathway

If you have earned the MicroMasters credential, you may apply the credential toward admission and complete one additional course at the Harvard Extension School. Learn more about the micromasters pathway

Applying to the Degree Program

During the semester of your second degree course, submit the official application to the program. 

Don’t delay! You must prioritize the 2 degree courses for admission and apply before completing subsequent courses. By doing so, you’ll:

  • avoid the delayed application fee or the loss of credit for expired course work.
  • ensure your enrollment in critical and timely degree-candidate-only courses.
  • gain access to exclusive benefits (see bottom of page).

Eligible students who submit a complete and timely application will have 10 more courses after admission to earn the degree. 

For details about full eligibility, the application process, and application fees, visit Degree Program Admissions.

Search and Register for Courses

The Division of Continuing Education (DCE) offers degree courses all year round. You can study in fall, January, and spring terms through Harvard Extension School (HES) and during the summer through Harvard Summer School (HSS).

To find degree courses in the DCE Course Search and Registration platform:

  • Under Search Classes, scroll to Browse by Degree, Certificate, or Premedical Program.
  • Select Graduate Degrees
  • Choose Global Development Practice to explore program courses.

To Complete Your Degree

Required 3.0 GPA, 2 Withdrawal Grade Limit, and Repeat Course Policy

GPA. You need to earn a B or higher in each of the 2 degree courses required for admission and a B– or higher in each of the subsequent courses. In addition, your cumulative GPA cannot dip below 3.0.

Withdrawal Grades. You are allowed to receive 2 withdrawal (WD) grades without them affecting your GPA. Any additional WD grades count as zero in your cumulative GPA. See Academic Standing.

Repeat Courses. We advise you to review the ALM program’s strict policies about repeating courses. Generally speaking, you may not repeat a course to improve your GPA or to fulfill a degree requirement (if the minimum grade was not initially achieved). Nor can you repeat a course for graduate credit that you’ve previously completed at Harvard Extension School or Harvard Summer School at the undergraduate level.

Courses Expire: Finish Your Coursework in Under 5 Years

Courses over 5 years old at the point of admission will not count toward the degree. As stated above, the proseminar cannot be more than 2 years old at the time of application.

Further, you have 5 years to complete your degree requirements. The 5-year timeline begins at the end of the term in which you complete any 2 degree-applicable courses, regardless of whether or not you have been admitted to the degree program.

Potential degree candidates must plan accordingly and submit their applications to comply with the 5-year course expiration policy or they risk losing degree credit for completed course work.

Additionally, admission eligibility will be jeopardized if, at the point of application to the program, the 5-year degree completion policy cannot be satisfied (i.e., too many courses to complete in the time remaining).

Graduate with Your Harvard Degree

When you have fulfilled all degree requirements, you will earn your Harvard University degree: Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in Extension Studies, Field: Global Development Practice. Degrees are awarded in November, March, and May, with the annual Harvard Commencement ceremony in May.

Degree Candidate Exclusive Benefits

When you become an officially admitted degree candidate, you have access to a rich variety of exclusive benefits to support your academic journey. To learn more, visit degree candidate academic opportunities and privileges.