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.

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 statement of purpose is the most important part of the application. Please refer to the admission page for more detailed information on each of these components.

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 (whether paid or unpaid) and/or study experience in low-resource settings, especially in the Global South. Knowledge of foreign languages and professional skills are highly desired.

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 well qualified undergraduate students, particularly if they have relevant extra-curricular experiences. However, applicants who have had at least a few years of work or volunteer experience after completing their college degrees will more competitive.

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 partial tuition scholarships.

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 assigned an academic advisor once they begin the program, based on the students' expressed interests.

Who teaches MDP courses?

A wide range of highly qualified Emory professors 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 15-16 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 Emory departments and schools.

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, federal agencies, policy think-tanks, consulting firms, research centers, and Emory programs. See our Alumni page for a list of employers of MDP graduates.

What kind of career development support does the Emory MDP program provide?

The small size of our program allows MDP faculty to work one-on-one with students to help them identify their interests and career objectives. Through their internship experiences and exposure to development experts who teach MDP courses, MDP students build strong professional networks prior to graduation. During their second academic year, MDP students engage in a Professional Development Seminar  that prepares them for the job market. Personalized career advising and support is also available to MDP alums following graduation. MDP students are provided with complimentary DEVEX Career Accounts to facilitate their access to job announcements and career resources. 

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, MDP students are able to engage in part-time on-campus or off-campus work during their time in the program.

Does the Emory MDP program 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 practicum placement decided? 

The Emory MDP program offers a wide range of summer field placement opportunities, including different countries and types of partner organizations. We seek to achieve the best possible match between  students' preferences, experiences, and language competencies, on the one hand, and the programmatic needs of partner organizations on the other. Each summer the MDP program places students in over 20 countries with about 20 partner organizations. See our Field Practicum page for more information on the variety of projects and partners.

Can I do a summer field practicum in the U.S.? 

In particular circumstances, MDP students may obtain an "exemption" to the second summer field practicum abroad, by serving with a partner organization in the U.S. This exemption must meet specific requirements (in terms of timeframe, deliverables, etc.) that ensure equivalency with the international field practicum and must be approved by the MDP program.

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 and with partner organizations. 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 international summer field practicum. 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.