Frequently Asked Questions

How can I apply?

Applications can be accessed through the Laney Graduate School's application instructions page.  Those instructions are for all applicants to Emory’s graduate programs, though each program (ex. MDP) may have additional or separate guidelines or requirements. See the MDP admissions page for more information on our specific guidelines.

What does the application consist of?

We evaluate candidates based on the following criteria: the statements of purpose, letters of recommendation, résumé/CV, and transcripts. Standardized test scores, like the GRE, may also help to support your application, if provided, but are not required. The personal statements are the single most important part of the application. Please refer to the admission page for more detailed information on each of these requirements.

What do you look for in an applicant?

We seek applicants with a combination of the academic ability needed to undertake the MDP's rigorous curriculum and relevant work or study experience in developing countries or service among underprivileged communities in the United States. We seek a cohort of students with diverse experiences. Competence in a foreign language, such as French or Spanish, is a plus.

Do I need to have a certain major?

You are not required to have a specific undergraduate major. However, students with majors that are far removed from fields related to development are advised to clearly explain in their statement of purpose why they wish to "change gears" and study development practice.

Do you accept applicants who have just graduated from college?

We welcome applications from students who are still finishing their undergraduate studies. However, students who have had a few years of work experience after completing their college degrees will be the most competitive applicants.

Who should I have recommendations from?

All applicants must submit three letters of recommendation. We understand that many applicants may have been out of school for a few years, so letters can be from either professors or professionals (e.g. employers, supervisors, or colleagues). At least one of these must be from either a faculty member or a development professional who can speak to the applicant's experience with development-related activities (whether in the form of work experience, study abroad, internships, etc). As this is a rigorous academic program, at least one letter must be from an individual who is familiar with your academic performance and abilities.

Do I need to come for an interview prior to admission?

We do not expect applicants to come to Emory University for a face-to-face interview. Our admission process includes submission of a brief video interview in which candidates respond to a few pre-recorded questions. A phone or skype interview may be required of students being considered for funding.

Do I have to choose an advisor when I apply?

You do not have to select or contact a particular member of the faculty prior to joining the MDP program. MDP students are supervised by MDP Directors and faculty and are assigned an advisor once they begin the program.

Who teaches MDP courses?

A wide range of highly qualified Emory professors – including the MDP Director and Associate Director - teach both core MDP courses and elective courses. Visiting professors from other universities and professionals from development organizations may also teach semester-long courses and shorter training modules. Please consult the Teaching Faculty and Visiting Faculty pages for sample bios of Emory MDP instructors.

How many students do you admit each year?

Our admission decisions are driven by a commitment to collaborative learning and personalized attention, so we admit a small, highly selective class (averaging 15-18 students) each year. Class size varies in each course, as some core courses are taught specifically for the MDP students, while others include students from other programs and schools (ex. students from the School of Public Health). This diversity enables MDP students to grow as a well-integrated team as well as to interact with peers from other programs and schools at Emory University and in the Atlanta area.

How does the Emory MDP differ from a degree in Development Studies?

The MDP program at Emory University builds on critical thinking about and a contextual understanding of development processes that are usually provided by an academic course of study, but also equips students with the essential competencies and knowledge needed to function as effective development practitioners. It aims to produce professionals who are as comfortable in scientific and policy circles as they are working in local communities.  

What career opportunities are available to Emory MDP graduates?

The Emory MDP program prepares students for positions of leadership and responsibility in international development. We anticipate that Emory MDP graduates will have exciting and rewarding career opportunities in a variety of contexts, including policy, research, and practice. Current MDP graduates are working with NGOs (CARE, the Carter Center, UNICEF Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, Search for Common Ground), federal agencies (CDC, Indian Health Service), policy think-tanks (World Resources Institute), consulting firms (Deloitte), CGIAR research centers (World Agroforestry Center), US Embassies overseas, and Emory programs (Institute for Developing Nations, Center for Global Safe Water).

What kind of career development support do you provide MDP students?

The small size of our program allows MDP faculty to work one-on-one with students to help them identify and pursue their interests and career objectives. We provide individualized professional development mentoring and advising throughout the entire duration of the program, but particularly during the second year. Through their internship experiences with leading development organizations and exposure to development professionals who teach MDP courses and modules and who visit Emory University, MDP students are able to build strong professional networks prior to graduation. During their fourth semester, MDP students engage in a Professional Development Seminar which is specifically aimed to develop their professional portfolio and prepare them for the job market.

Can I combine the MDP program with full-time employment?

The MDP Program requires a single-minded, whole-hearted commitment to an intense program of studies and training. MDP students with employment commitments will find it difficult to benefit fully from the wealth of learning and networking opportunities that are available at Emory University and in the Atlanta area. However, students are able to engage in limited part-time on-campus or off-campus work.

Does the Emory MDP offer a distance learning option?

The MDP program has a significant engaged learning component that does not easily lend itself to a distance learning format. MDP students are placed with local and international partners throughout their course of study and are exposed to a wide range of courses, lectures, seminars, workshops, field trips, and networking opportunities, all of which require their presence in the Atlanta region.

How are summer field placement decided? 

The Emory MDP program offers a wide range of summer field placement opportunities, including different countries and types of partner organizations. We work closely with our partner organizations to identify places and projects that best fit individual students' sectoral and regional interests. Placement decisions are based on students' preferences, experience, and language competencies, on the one hand, and the needs of partner organizations and of the MDP program as a whole, on the other.

Can I do the summer field training in the U.S.? 

The summer field practicum is designed to enable MDP students to gain experience as international development practitioners. Though these practicums, students are "embedded" as interns within the field operations of humanitarian organizations in the Global South. In addition to this field training abroad, during the two academic years of their MDP program, students engage in community-based learning and research opportunities in the Atlanta area. These collaborations are in partnership with organizations that often work with low-income communities, refugees and immigrants, and other vulnerable groups in the United States.

For additional information on the Emory MDP program, please see the MDP handbook.

How much does it cost?

Please refer to the Program Costs page for information of tuition, fees and estimated living expenses.

Are scholarships available for Emory MDP students?

We offer a number of partial tuition scholarships to highly qualified students. These funds are available on a competitive basis upon acceptance into the program. Funding for MDP studies is also available from external scholarship programs. In addition, MDP students are eligible for part-time work opportunities at Emory University. The Office of Financial Aid provides federal financial aid information to new, returning, and international Laney Graduate School students. 

Who covers the cost of the summer field practicum?

The MDP program and, in some cases, partner organizations, cover the majority of travel and subsistence expenses related to the summer field training in Global South settings. In addition, MDP students receive a tuition waiver for the summer session. Typically, MDP partner organizations in the host-countries provide logistical support and coverage for research expenses and in-country travel.  Students are responsible for incidentals and personal expenses, such as luggage items, wardrobe, entertainment, tourist excursions, and souvenirs.