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Global Development Practice Degree Requirements

The Master of Liberal Arts, Global Development Practice degree program is offered online with 1 on-campus course required at Harvard University. Weekend options are available for the on-campus course.

Getting Started

Explore Degree Requirements

Required Course Curriculum

  • Two people on a zoom call.

    Online core and elective courses

  • School building.

    On-campus capstone experience

  • Lightbulb in a hand.

    Capstone project

12 Graduate Courses (48 credits)

The degree is highly customizable. As part of the program curriculum, you choose the global development courses that meet your professional goals, whether it’s community development, global health, social justice, or development policy. And you complete a development action plan as your capstone project.

Online courses are primarily asynchronous, providing flexibility for international students and those with variable work schedules.

Required Core & Elective Courses

  • ENVR 101 Proseminar: Introduction to Graduate Studies in Sustainability and Global Development
  • DEVP 102 Global Development Theory and Practice
  • DEVP 110 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 Writing in the Social Sciences is an elective option

Precapstone Course & Capstone Project

In the precapstone, you design a development action plan (DAP) for a specific organization. And in the capstone course (see on-campus experience), you execute the plan. You may work with a nonprofit, governmental organization, or 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

Optional Graduate and Microcertificates

You can choose to concentrate your degree studies in a specific development area to earn a graduate or microcertificate along the way.

Microcertificates:

Graduate Certificates:

On-Campus Experience

  • Calendar.

    Choose between the accelerated or standard on-campus experience.

  • Two people talking at a table.

    Learn and network in-person with your classmates.

Nearly all courses are available online, but you are required to come to Cambridge for the capstone to share, in person, your research experience with faculty and peers.

Choose between two on-campus experience options:

  • Accelerated on-campus option: This capstone option is offered online with a required intensive weekend on campus during the spring term.
  • Standard on-campus option: This capstone option is offered in one 3-week Harvard Summer School course. This option is ideal for those who want a more traditional on-campus experience. HSS offers, for an additional fee, housing, meal plans, and a prolonged on-campus experience here at Harvard University. Learn more about campus life at Harvard.

International Students Who Need a Student Visa

To meet the on-campus requirement, you choose the Standard on-campus option and study with us in 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.

In-Person Co-Curricular Events

Come to Cambridge for Convocation (fall) to celebrate your hard-earned admission, Harvard career fairs offered throughout the year, HES alumni networking events (here at Harvard and around the world), and, of course, Harvard University Commencement (May).

Admissions

  • Diploma.

    Confirm your initial eligibility with a 4-year bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent.

  • Person climbing toward a flag.

    Take two courses in our unique “earn your way in” admissions process that count toward your degree.

  • Checking off a box.

    In the semester of your second course, submit the official application for admission to the program.

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

Earning Your Way In — Courses Required for Admission

To begin the admission process, you simply register — no application required — for the following two, four-credit, graduate-level degree courses (available online).

These prerequisite courses count toward your degree once you’re admitted; they are not additional courses. They are investments in your studies and help ensure success in the program.

  • ENVR E-101 Proseminar: Introduction to Graduate Studies in Sustainability and Global Development
    • To register in the 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 proseminar (a withdrawal grade counts as an attempt). The proseminar cannot be more than 2 years old at the time of application.
  • DEVP E-102 Global Development Theory and Practice

While the two courses don’t need to be taken in a particular order or in the same semester, we 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 two degree courses for admission and apply before completing subsequent courses. By doing so, you’ll:

  • Avoid the loss of credit due to expired course work or changes to admission and degree requirements.
  • Ensure your enrollment in critical and timely degree-candidate-only courses.
  • Avoid the delayed application fee.
  • Gain access to exclusive benefits.

Eligible students who submit a complete and timely application will have 10 more courses after admission to earn the degree. Applicants can register for courses in the upcoming semester before they receive their grades and while they await their admission decision.

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

Search and Register for Courses

The Division of Continuing Education (DCE) offers degree courses all year round to accelerate degree completion.

  • You can study in fall, January, and spring terms through Harvard Extension School (HES) and during the summer through Harvard Summer School (HSS).
  • You can enroll full or part time. After qualifying for admission, many of our degree candidates study part time, taking 2 courses per semester (fall/spring) and 1 in the January and summer sessions.
  • Most fall and spring courses meet once a week for two hours, while January and summer courses meet more frequently in a condensed format.

To Complete Your Degree

  • Trophy on a computer monitor.

    Maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.

  • Clipboard with a pen.

    Complete your courses in five years.

  • Graduation cap and diploma.

    Earn your Harvard degree and enjoy Harvard Alumni Association benefits upon graduation.

Required GPA, Withdrawal Grades, and Repeat Courses

GPA. You need to earn a B or higher in each of the two 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 two withdrawal (WD) grades without them affecting your GPA. Any additional WD grades count as zero in your cumulative GPA. Please note that a WD grade from a 2-credit course will count as one of your two allowed WD grades. 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 Five Years

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

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

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

Potential degree candidates must submit timely applications or they risk losing degree credit for completed course work.

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.