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International Development at SU’s Maxwell School

Julian Flores (M AIR '13) while a student, at his internship with the World Food Programme in Djibouti

Julian Flores (M AIR ’13) while a student, at his internship with the World Food Programme in Djibouti

International Development at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University

Many MPA and MA IR students wish to work in the fields of international development and humanitarian assistance.  They aim for careers working for organizations devoted to improving well-being and eliminating suffering in an international context.  The broad range of courses available in our program provide special focus on health, education, environmental sustainability, economic growth, humanitarian assistance and the cultural context of international development and humanitarian work.

But, Which Degree?
Alumni of both the MPA and MA IR (and the various joint degree options) take positions in this field.  For the prospective student, the decision of which program to complete has more to do with what you are bringing to the program. Both programs will prepare you well, but there may be one that provides a better fit for your specific needs, depending on your past experiences and academic background.  If you already have a strong international profile with required language skills and cultural understanding (often with some undergraduate academic focus in international affairs), the MPA alone will provide a more policy and management focus which can advance your career.  Those with more limited international exposure, will benefit from the MA IR degree which will not only take a strong interdisciplinary lens to the topics, but also allows for 6-9 months in professionally oriented internship in an international location (also helpful in furthering language skills).  The two year joint programs hold wide appeal for many, especially those at the earlier stages of their careers, seeking both the management and policy focus with the ability to gain valuable internship experiences throughout the world.  Students are able to further develop a sub-regional focus in concert with their topical concentration in development via internships, assignments, language study and the policy papers they chose to write for classes.

Global Programs
An advanced degree alone will never be enough to prepare you for working in the international arena at the highest levels of policy analysis and program management, monitoring and evaluation.  It is critical in this competitive market place to present a complete profile of experiences, living and working abroad, proficiency in multiple languages and exposure to different cultures.  All students in our MA IR degree have the ability to complete two semesters anywhere in the world! Over the past three years, MA IR (and IR joint) students have completed professionally oriented internships in over 50 countries.  Having access to Maxwell’s world-wide alumni base in over 149 different countries allows for students to pick one of our many formally developed global programs or to create their own unique program of study focused on their particular interests anywhere in the world.

Local Projects
Locally, a number of students get involved with organizations and projects affiliated with faculty in our department.  Robert Christian teaches the core MA IR course, “Challenges of International Management and Leadership”.  In addition to his role on faculty, Robert is the President and Founder of the Boulder Institute of Microfinance, celebrating its 20th year of operation this year. Charlie Benjamin, President of the Near East Foundation has taken on interns and fellows every year since moving their headquarters to Syracuse, and has been a frequent speaker and advisor to students in our programs.  The TNGO Initiative based out of the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs, looks at governance, leadership and effectiveness of transnationally operated NGOs around the world. This project has led to the development of one of the largest data bases of NGOs and their leaders.

Related Research and Projects
Professor McPeak
has several on-going research projects related to adapting livestock systems to climate change an hunger safety nets in Mali and Kenya, as well as a recently completed pastoral risk management project in Kenya and Ethiopia. His works in progress are looking at livestock insurance and trade in African countries.  Professor Catherine Bertini, who’s courses include:  “Girls Education in the Developing World”, “Humanitarian Action: challenges, Responses, Results”, UN Organizations: Managing for Change”, and Food Security,  is a senior fellow with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and a frequent speaker at events around the world on issues of humanitarian assistance, food security and agricultural development.  Professor Rebecca Peters recent publication on Identity and Authority in an Angolan Development Programme was published in a special issue of the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.  Her work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the US Department of Education and the International Institute of Education (IIE).  Professor Schnell consults on various projects with the World Bank, specific to public sector reform issues in Eastern Europe and is also a Program Officer at the German Agency for International Development (GIZ) working on poverty reduction.  Professor Abonyi’s recent work has centered on governance structures in Myanmar.

Alumni of Maxwell’s MPA and MA IR programs hold and have held these and similar positions related to this field of study:

Executive Director, World Vision International
Field Support Officer, Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, United Nations
Director of Finance, Strategic Planning & Program Evaluation, US African Development Foundation
Director of Microfinance, Tanzanian Children’s Fund
Field Advisor, US Agency for International Development, US Department of State
Coordinator, Initiative for Global Development
Senior Program Officer, The Asia Foundation
Program Officer, International Organization for Migration
Interim Director, Global Health Policy & Advocacy, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Education Specialist, UNICEF
Senior Fellow, ICF International
Deputy Mission Director, USAID, Cambodia
Vice President, Program Support Department, Save the Children
Senior Program Development Specialist, ChildFund International

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April 2024
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