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Career prospects

International Development Studies (Research MSc)

Career prospects

An education in the social sciences will impart a broad range of skills that easily translate into a multitude of careers.

Graduates of the Research Master’s in International Development Studies will be qualified to apply for jobs in both the academic world and research-oriented institutions. The programme provides an excellent foundation for pursuing a PhD in relevant fields. It also prepares students for positions in applied or policy research in multinational organisations, research institutes, consultancy firms and governmental agencies.

Specific career examples from alumni of the Research Master’s programme International Development Studies are:

  • Phd Position at Wageningen University, at CEDLA, at AISSR, at Hong Kong University and at University of Johannesburg
  • Programme Officer at the Food and Agriculture Office in Rome
  • Policy advisor for the Dutch Parliament (Labour Party)
  • Social researcher for the Office for National Statistics in the UK
  • Independent text writer
  • Editor of the online journal The Broker
  • Policy Researcher at the Policy and Evaluations Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Junior Project Assistant Educaids, Edukans

Alumni views

An education in the social sciences will impart a broad range of skills that easily translate into a multitude of careers. Below you can read about the career path of an alumna in the Research Master International Development Studies.

Maria Hagan - Alumna Research Master International Development Studies

Rich academic training and on-the-ground experience

When looking for MA programmes to apply for, I was interested in applying to a school of Social Sciences despite holding a Bachelor of Arts. I was particularly drawn to the International Development Studies MA at the UvA, because it offered a pre-Master’s programme of extra classes and research methodology training which allowed me to transition into the Social Sciences. I also jumped at the opportunity of being able to study in Amsterdam in English and in a highly-ranked department. The Research Master programme in particular caught my attention, for the extensive period of field research that it offers.

  • Read more from Maria Hagan

    As a Research Master’s student I really enjoyed being part of a small cohort of students with a variety of disciplinary backgrounds and interests. Many fellow students had considerable experience in development or related areas, which really fed class discussions. It was a luxury to be able to pursue the MA over two years, allowing me the time to explore many potential research themes, theoretical approaches, research sites and options before having to make a decision about where to carry out fieldwork and how to focus my second year research project. I particularly benefited from having a dedicated supervisor who worked closely with me on developing my research, and provided invaluable support during my fieldwork and the process of writing up.

    I was Programme Committee representative for my cohort, which allowed me to take part in departmental discussions about the programme and its future, drawing on input from fellow students. I also worked as a student assistant co-coordinating an Academic Skills Workshop Series for refugees and asylum seekers hoping to integrate into a Dutch university and further their studies. During my second year, I worked as research assistant to a PhD student for several months. Finally, I had the opportunity to take part in two winter schools with a focus on migration (in Rome and Athens) organised by other UvA departments.

    At the moment, I am enrolled in a PhD programme at the University of Cambridge, working on a project stemming from the research that I carried out for my MA. The decision to continue on to a PhD concretised while I was in the field. It was there that I realised how much I enjoy both the practical and academic aspects of social science research.  I became invested in the migration issues that I focus on in my work, and convinced of the importance of continuing the work that I was doing. I put in my applications for PhD programmes midway through the second year of my MA with the support of my supervisor.

    The flexibility of the programme allowed me to tailor my research project to my interests in a way that few other programmes seem to offer. Being able to show that I had completed a two-year MA programme including extensive fieldwork no doubt gave me an advantage in earning a PhD position. It demonstrated my ability to carry out research and fieldwork to potential supervisors and funding bodies. My MA has really allowed me to hit the ground running in my PhD: I have drawn extensively on my MA research to present at several conferences and start the process of publishing papers.

    I would recommend this programme to any student hoping to get both rich academic training and on-the-ground experience from their Master’s. In its two-year form, the programme is particularly suited to students who feel they might like to pursue research or academia.

    My advice would be to embrace the extended fieldwork opportunity, which is the highlight of this programme. Although it can be a daunting prospect and a challenging experience, it is a rare and incredibly enriching opportunity to learn by doing. From my own time in the field and that of other students in my cohort, I see that these experiences are truly unique and formative.

Career support

To support you in your career goals, the University offers a variety of resources:

GSSS Career Event 

Twice a year the GSSS hosts a Career Event, where you can meet organisation representatives and alumni, and receive helpful tips and feedback about searching for a job as a graduate.

UvA Careers Centre (LAC)

The career advisers at the UvA Student Careers Centre can help students with information, workshops and individual vocational counselling to find out what you want, get insight into your capabilities and competencies, make choices and improve your application skills in order to achieve your goals.

With an increasing number of international students each year, the UvA is truly an international university. UvA graduates from all over the world find their way to interesting careers, whether in the Netherlands or abroad. The Student Careers Centre is specialised in advising international (non-Dutch) UvA graduates about job seeking in the international labour market.