Twin Cities campus
Twin Cities Campus

Development Practice M.D.P.

HHH Administration
Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs
Link to a list of faculty for this program.
Contact Information
Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, 301 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55455 (612-624-3800; fax: 612-626-0002).
  • Program Type: Master's
  • Requirements for this program are current for Fall 2017
  • Length of program in credits: 50
  • This program requires summer semesters for timely completion.
  • Degree: Master of Development Practice
Along with the program-specific requirements listed below, please read the General Information section of this website for requirements that apply to all major fields.
The master of development practice (MDP) prepares students for careers in international development. The degree provides rigorous interdisciplinary training and equips students with the skills needed to address the problems of poverty and sustainable development in the developing world. The MDP program is jointly administered by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change (ICGC) and spans several academic units across the University of Minnesota. The degree provides training in policy analysis and management, health and education, natural sciences, social sciences, and interdisciplinary research methods. An international field experience and capstone workshop in development practice also are required. The MDP degree is part of a global consortium of international development programs.
Program Delivery
  • via classroom (the majority of instruction is face-to-face)
Prerequisites for Admission
The preferred undergraduate GPA for admittance to the program is 3.00.
A four-year bachelor's degree from an accredited US university or foreign equivalent at time of enrollment.
Other requirements to be completed before admission:
While no specific experience or academic pathway is required, students with a strong liberal education background and sound quantitative and analytical skills will be best prepared for academic success at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Previous coursework in mathematics, statistics, and economics is recommended. Past applicants needing to strengthen this part of their skill set have found courses in introductory microeconomics, college algebra, and introductory statistics to be helpful preparation. Prior to admission students may find such courses available online; many are also available at the University of Minnesota. International professional experience and foreign language competency are strongly preferred.
Special Application Requirements:
A complete application will include a University of Minnesota graduate application, personal statement, resume or C.V., transcripts, GRE scores, TOEFL scores, at least three letters of recommendation, and an optional diversity statement.
Applicants must submit their test score(s) from the following:
  • GRE
International applicants must submit score(s) from one of the following tests:
    • Internet Based - Total Score: 100
    • Paper Based - Total Score: 600
    • Total Score: 7.0
The preferred English language test is Test of English as Foreign Language.
Key to test abbreviations (GRE, TOEFL, IELTS).
For an online application or for more information about graduate education admissions, see the General Information section of this website.
Program Requirements
Plan C: Plan C requires 50 major credits and 0 credits outside the major. There is no final exam. A capstone project is required.
Capstone Project: The capstone project is an opportunity for MDP students in their second year to apply their knowledge through a client-based team project. Each student team and the workshop instructor will work with an NGO or public sector client engaged in some dimension of international development, preferably situated in a developing country, to identify a suitable project. While the specifics of each project will vary, all will include in-depth research, analysis, and the creation of a professional written report. Student teams will be expected to develop an appropriate presentation of this product to the relevant stakeholders. The projects will be done by small groups and can have multiple dimensions. Students will have the opportunity to integrate various aspects of development such as economic development, public health, environmental sustainability, education and skills development, and citizen participation.
This program may be completed with a minor.
Use of 4xxx courses towards program requirements is not permitted.
A minimum GPA of 2.80 is required for students to remain in good standing.
At least 1 semesters must be completed before filing a Degree Program Form.
Required Core Courses
AGRO 5321 - Ecology of Agricultural Systems (3.0 cr)
MDP 5001 - Ways of Knowing and Sustainable Livelihoods (2.0 cr)
MDP 5002 - Research Methods for Sustainable Livelihoods (4.0 cr)
MDP 5003 - Field Study Pre-Departure Seminar (1.0 cr)
MDP 5004 - International Field Experience (3.0 cr)
MDP 5100 - International Field Seminar (1.0 cr)
MDP 5200 - Capstone Workshop in Development Practice (3.0 cr)
PA 5003 - Introduction to Financial Analysis and Management (1.5 cr)
PA 5031 - Empirical Analysis I (4.0 cr)
PA 5501 - Theories and Policies of Development (3.0 cr)
PA 5503 - Economics of Development (3.0 cr)
PA 5521 - Development Planning and Policy Analysis (4.0 cr)
Education Policy
OLPD 5104 - Strategies for International Development of Education Systems (3.0 cr)
or OLPD 5107 - Gender, Education, and International Development (3.0 cr)
Environmental Science
GEOG 5401 - Geography of Environmental Systems and Global Change (4.0 cr)
or GCC 5008 - Grand Challenge: Policy and Science of Global Environmental Change [ENV] (3.0 cr)
PA 5151 - Organizational Perspectives on Global Development & Humanitarian Assistance (3.0 cr)
or PA 5405 - Public Policy Implementation (3.0 cr)
Public Health
PUBH 6320 - Fundamentals of Epidemiology (3.0 cr)
or PUBH 6134 - Sustainable Development and Global Public Health (2.0 cr)
Electives to bring total degree credits to at least 50. See for further information.
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AGRO 5321 - Ecology of Agricultural Systems
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Course Equivalencies: 00275 - Agro/Ent 5321
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Spring
Ecological approach to problems in agricultural systems. Formal methodologies of systems inquiry are developed/applied. prereq: [3xxx or above] course in [Agro or AnSc or Ent or Hort or PlPa or Soil] or instr consent
MDP 5001 - Ways of Knowing and Sustainable Livelihoods
Credits: 2.0 [max 2.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall
Complexities of interdisciplinary study of development and a range of �ways of knowing� the field of development studies and sustainability. Approaches practiced by physical, biological, social science, and humanities scholars. "Ways of knowing" in different cultures/groups and from a variety of situated perspectives. Key issues and concepts and key methodological challenges facing us as we engage in interdisciplinary and international development study and practice. Sustainable livelihoods. Team taught when possible by faculty from biological, social sciences, and humanities, or at minimum will include guest lecturers who can offer a range of disciplinary perspectives on questions of development. prereq: Grad MDP major or instr consent
MDP 5002 - Research Methods for Sustainable Livelihoods
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Spring
Research/writing skills to support work in international development. Discussion of basic qualitative research methods/data analysis. Qualitative/quantitative data, collaborative research/analysis. Relationship between research/policy. prereq: MDP grad student or instr consent
MDP 5003 - Field Study Pre-Departure Seminar
Credits: 1.0 [max 1.0]
Grading Basis: OPT No Aud
Typically offered: Every Spring
Preparation for international field experience. Identify arrangements for summer field experience in consultation with faculty leader of seminar/MDP advisers. Feedback on colleagues' plans. prereq: MDP grad student or instr consent
MDP 5004 - International Field Experience
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: S-N or Aud
Typically offered: Every Summer
International field experience. prereq: MDP grad student or instr consent
MDP 5100 - International Field Seminar
Credits: 1.0 [max 1.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall
Debriefing/identifying important learning from field experiences. Complete final report on field project. Build upon skills in peer review/feedback developed in 5003. prereq: MDP grad student or instr consent
MDP 5200 - Capstone Workshop in Development Practice
Credits: 3.0 [max 6.0]
Prerequisites: MDP grad student or #
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Learning from field experiences. Analytical/practical skills developed in academic training. Apply skill/experiences to "real world" problem provided by local or international development-focused organization. Reflective practice. prereq: MDP grad student or instr consent
PA 5003 - Introduction to Financial Analysis and Management
Credits: 1.5 [max 1.5]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall, Spring & Summer
Finance/accounting concepts/tools in public/nonprofit organizations. Fund accounting. Balance sheet/income statement analysis. Cash flow analysis. Public/nonprofit sector budgeting processes. Lectures, discussions. Cases. prereq: Public policy major/minor or major in development practice, public affairs or liberal studies or grad nonprofit mgmt cert or instr consent
PA 5031 - Empirical Analysis I
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall
Basic statistical tools for empirical analysis of public policy alternatives. Frequency distributions, descriptive statistics, elementary probability/probability distributions, statistical inference. Estimation/hypothesis testing. Cross-tabulation/chi-square distribution. Analysis of variance, correlation. Simple/multiple regression analysis.
PA 5501 - Theories and Policies of Development
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Typically offered: Every Fall
What makes some countries wealthier than others, one group of people healthier and more educated than another? How does the behavior of rich nations affect poor nations? Origins of development thought, contemporary frameworks and policy debates. Economic, human, and sustainable development. prereq: Grad student or instr consent
PA 5503 - Economics of Development
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall
Economic growth, inequality, poverty, rural/urban labor markets, risk/insurance. Investments in human capital, credit markets, gender/household economics, governance/institutional issues. Microfinance, conditional cash transfers, labor/education policies. prereq: PA 5501 or concurrent registration is required (or allowed) in PA 5501
PA 5521 - Development Planning and Policy Analysis
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Typically offered: Every Spring
Techniques of development planning/policy analysis at national, regional, and project levels. Effects of external shocks and government interventions on national/regional economies. Macroeconomic modeling, input-output analysis, social accounting matrices/multipliers, project evaluation. prereq: 5031 or equiv recommended or instr consent
OLPD 5104 - Strategies for International Development of Education Systems
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Periodic Fall
Strategies for improving quality/efficiency of schooling in developing countries. Introduction to current research on what policy/programmatic interventions have proven most successful in increasing access, raising quality, and improving efficiency of education in developing countries. prereq: Grad student
OLPD 5107 - Gender, Education, and International Development
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall
Role of gender/gender relations in international development/education. Interdisciplinary body of literature from development studies, political science, economics, anthropology, cultural studies, gender/women's studies.
GEOG 5401 - Geography of Environmental Systems and Global Change
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Course Equivalencies: Geog 3401/5401
Typically offered: Periodic Fall
Processes that create/change the spatial patterns of climate, vegetation, and soils. Potential of humans to alter climate, vegetation, and soil processes. Possible impacts of human-altered environmental conditions. prereq: grad student or instr consent
GCC 5008 - Grand Challenge: Policy and Science of Global Environmental Change (ENV)
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Course Equivalencies: 00766 - EEB 5146/FNRM 5146/GCC 5008/P
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Periodic Spring
Through readings, lectures, discussions, written assignments, and presentations this course introduces the critical issues underpinning global change and its environmental and social implications. The course examines current literature in exploring evidence for human-induced global change and its potential effects on a wide range of biological processes and examines the social and economic drivers, social and economic consequences, and political processes at local, national, and international scales related to global change.
PA 5151 - Organizational Perspectives on Global Development & Humanitarian Assistance
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall
Organizational analysis of international development and humanitarian assistance, including perspectives from sociology, political science, psychology, public administration, and management. Examines efforts of multiple organizational players, including NGOs, governments, bi-lateral and multi-lateral organizations, corporations, foundations, and international organizations. Critical analysis of aid organizations, especially regarding ways in which they reflect and create power and privilege, the manner in which individuals needs and desires interact with, support, or challenge the needs of the organization, and how all of this is influenced by forces outside the boundary of the organization. Students practice developing actionable recommendations to improve the effectiveness of international aid organizations in the context of multiple (and often contested) understandings of global development needs and conflicting stakeholder demands. Readings, class discussions, mini-lectures, simulations, case analyses, group projects, oral presentations, memo writing, opinion writing.
PA 5405 - Public Policy Implementation
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Spring Odd Year
Theory, tools, and practice of the implementation of public policy, particularly in areas involving public, private, and nonprofit organizations. Analytical approach focuses on multiple levels in policy fields to pinpoint and assess implementation challenges and levers for improvement.
PUBH 6320 - Fundamentals of Epidemiology
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall, Spring & Summer
This course provides an understanding of basic methods and tools used by epidemiologists to study the health of populations.
PUBH 6134 - Sustainable Development and Global Public Health
Credits: 2.0 [max 2.0]
Typically offered: Every Spring
Effects of globalization on social/sustainable development. Population, war, economics, urbanization, environment, water/sanitation, communicable/non-communicable conditions. New infectious/chronic diseases, food security/environmental health. prereq: Credit will not be granted if received for 6100 or 6365