Master of Arts in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management (Self-Designed)

Format: On Campus (Brattleboro, VT)

Program Start: September

Duration: 16-24 months

Credits: 41

Application Deadline: February 24, 2016

Common Career Areas:

Education, Government, Media, Nonprofits and NGOs, Policy Advocacy

Degree Sequence:

On-campus coursework
(9 months)
(6-12 months)
Capstone in Vermont
(1 week)
I chose the SLM degree because I wanted an education similar to an MBA where I would gain hard business skills along with the context needed to use those powers for good.

Scott Lamer, MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management Partner and Advisory Board Member, Green City Growers

Design your own interdisciplinary graduate degree program to fit your career objectives.

students at SIT Graduate InstituteSIT’s flexible, self-designed Master of Arts in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management program allows students to design a personalized, interdisciplinary graduate degree experience based on their own professional objectives. Students can gain exposure to several different degree fields or receive targeted training for professional advancement.

In close consultation with faculty advisors, students design their curriculum by drawing on the array of resources and course options offered each term by SIT Graduate Institute, including courses offered through the following degree programs:

Interested students can acquire a specialization in one of the following professional areas:

  • Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Social Innovation and Management
  • Policy Analysis and Advocacy

The self-designed program combines multidisciplinary coursework with experience in the field. Students benefit from SIT’s experiential learning approach and from close interaction with practitioner faculty while developing a learning plan and objectives tailored to fit their unique career goals.

Students and faculty describe SIT's unique, self-designed degree in intercultural service, leadership, and management.

Degree Sequence

On-Campus Coursework, Two Terms (9 months) (minimum 28 credits)

  • Fall Term: September–December
  • Field Courses (optional): January
  • Language Intensives (optional): January
  • Spring Term: January–May

Practicum, Two–Three Terms (6–12 months), (12 credits)

  • Two or three terms working with an organization

Capstone Paper and Presentation

  • Final paper and presentation on campus

Browse Past Capstone Papers

Program Duration:
It is possible to complete this degree in as little as 16 months, provided students work with their advisor to ensure they complete a summer practicum and capstone in December. To get the most out of the program, students typically choose to lengthen their practicum and complete the program in 20 to 24 months.

During students’ nine months on campus, they complete a minimum of 28 credits. This comprises two required courses, totaling seven credits, as well as an additional 21 credits (minimum) of electives.

  • Required Coursework (7 credits)
    • Foundations in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management – 4 credits
    • Practitioner Inquiry – 3 credits
  • Electives (21 credits minimum)
    Students in the self-designed MA program can take courses from SIT’s degree programs in conflict transformation, international education, and sustainable development, as well as other courses outside these degree fields. (Classes can vary from year to year.)

    Examples of coursework chosen by recent students in the self-designed program include:
    • Economics; Financial Management; Strategic Planning; Policy and Citizen Advocacy; Post-Conflict Reconstruction
    • Training Design; Program Planning; Training for Social Action; Project Design and Planning; Financial Management
    • Marketing; Training Design Theory; Conflict and Identity; Youth Program Leadership; Practice of International Education

Students can satisfy the program’s elective requirement in a number of ways, including by attending SIT courses offered in Vermont; participating in field courses offered around the world (most recently in Bangladesh, Mexico, and Turkey); or pursuing independent study. Students can also choose to take a course at a local institution and transfer the credit to SIT. Please note that in this situation, the course must be at the graduate level and the institution must be accredited.

  • Area Specializations
    Students may also choose a six-credit sequence of courses that constitute a specialization in one of the following areas:
    • Monitoring and Evaluation
    • Social Innovation and Management
    • Policy Analysis and Advocacy
  • Reflective Practice (12 credits)
    This portion of the program is a structured approach for students to apply coursework learning to a related professional activity. During this phase (minimum six months), students receive course credit for documenting the integration of their knowledge and skills, working in a professional context in the field while remaining engaged with faculty and other students on the program. Students can complete the practicum in the US or abroad.
  • Capstone Paper and Seminar
    Students demonstrate, assess, and synthesize their learning through preparation of a capstone project and participation in a one-week capstone seminar held multiple times each year on SIT’s campus in Vermont. Researching and writing the capstone paper takes students deeply into the experiential learning cycle, where they explore the meaning of the practicum experience, integrate theory and practice in written and oral presentations, and make a contribution to a professional field of study. Review past capstone papers submitted by students in the self-designed program.

Degree Requirements
Students have five years from the time they enter the program to complete all degree requirements. (For any student who, because of special circum­stances, studies part-time during two consecutive on-campus academic years, the program entry date is calculated from the beginning of their second on-campus year.) A student who does not complete all degree requirements (including the language and culture proficiency requirement) within five years of the entry date will be withdrawn from the program. A student with extenuating circumstances must apply to the dean of the program for an extension.

All students must fulfill a Language and Culture Proficiency Requirement before they are eligible to graduate.

View the current academic calendar.

Study abroad as part of your master’s degree program.

IndiaInternational and US-Based Intensive Courses
Students have the option of completing a short-term intensive course at sites in the US or abroad. Typically ranging in duration from one to four weeks, recent intensives have been offered in Washington, DC; Bangladesh; Mexico; and Turkey.

Intensive field courses offer students pursuing an MA in intercultural service, leadership, and management the chance to interact with practitioners in the field, learn on-site, and expand professional networking. Short-term intensives are typically offered in January. Learn more about the intensive field courses.

View our 2016 course offerings

Apply the knowledge and skills you acquire in the classroom while engaging in the field in real-world settings.

Professional Practicum

Following the on-campus coursework phase, each student completes a professional practicum with an organization of his/her choosing.* The practicum must be related to the student’s coursework and career goals and be for a minimum of six months. Practicums may be paid professional positions or unpaid internships.
SIT Graduate Institute student on practicumDuring this period — referred to as the Reflective Practice — students remain engaged with faculty and other students and receive course credit for documenting the integration of their knowledge and skills while working in a professional context.

Practicum placements provide in-depth, hands-on learning; enhance résumés; and expand professional contacts.

Recent practicum placements held by students in the self-designed MA program include:

United States
  • Field Coordinator, American Red Cross (Washington, DC)
  • Program Coordinator, The Mariposa DR Foundation (Ithaca, New York)
  • Program Coordinator, Spark Teacher Education Institute (Putney, Vermont)
  • Programs Administrator, Shared Hope International (Vancouver, Washington)
  • Outreach and Education Intern, Democracy Now! (New York, New York)
  • Municipal Development Advisor, Peace Corps (Washington, DC)
  • Consultant, Regenesis Group (Santa Fe, Mexico)
  • Princeton Bridge Year Coordinator, ProWorld Service Corps (San Francisco, California)
  • Internal Program Director, Project MotiVATe (Fountain Valley, California)
  • Student Affairs Manager, International Field Studies (Nelsonville, Ohio)
  • Senior Editor, Bread for the World USA (Washington, DC)
  • Placement Liaison Office, US Peace Corps (Washington, DC)
  • Program Development Officer, Samaritan's Purse International Relief (Boone, North Carolina)
  • Associate Field Office Coordinator, Global Health Action (Decatur, Georgia)
  • Country Director, AfricAid (Lakewood, Colorado)
  • Project Manager and Proposal Writer, FORMATEL (Haiti)
  • Consultant, Oro Savings and Sharing Cooperative (Philippines)
  • Intern, Protection Unit, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (Switzerland)
  • Legal Development Intern, South East Asia Investigations into Social and Humanitarian Activities (Cambodia)
  • Program Associate, The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (Israel)
  • Program Coordinator, Taiwan Alliance to Combat Trafficking (Taiwan)

* Students find positions on their own with support from SIT's Career and Practicum Services Center.

SIT Graduate Institute student on practicumThe program prepares professionals to:

  • Design and lead intercultural initiatives
  • Create and direct projects related to peacebuilding, development, and education
  • Manage programs for national and multi-national companies, nonprofits, government agencies, and NGOs

Graduates of SIT’s MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management program are prepared for positions in a host of professional venues, including international organizations, NGOs, educational institutions, the media, the private sector, and government. Graduate careers include nonprofit management, international relations, program directorship, and project management.

The interdisciplinary nature of the program prepares students for careers in fields related to conflict transformation, sustainable development, and international education, among others.

Karen Stromgren Blanchard
Karen Stromgren Blanchard

Associate Professor and Chair
Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

PhD, California Institute of Integral Studies
MIA, School for International Training
BA, University of Connecticut

A member of SIT Graduate Institute's faculty since 1988, Karen Blanchard developed and taught the Institute’s first course in conflict transformation. She also has directed a training program for Southeast Asian development professionals in the US and in Southeast Asia, and has been an academic director in Nepal. 

Read More
Syed Aqeel Tirmizi
Syed Aqeel Tirmizi

Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

PhD, State University of New York, Binghamton
MIA, School for International Training
BComm, University of Punjab, Pakistan

Dr. Aqeel Tirmizi’s professional portfolio includes more than 20 years of international experience in teaching, research, management, and capacity building. The major focus of his work deals extensively with managing and leading in global and multicultural environments as well as working with themes of social justice and social innovation. 

Read More
Ryland White
Ryland White

Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

MIA, School for International Training
BA, Converse College

Ryland White, professor, has been a member of SIT Graduate Institute faculty since 1993. She teaches courses in training design for experiential learning, training for social action, dismantling disability, and ethics and intercultural training design.

Read More
Mokhtar Bouba
Mokhtar Bouba

Visiting Assistant Professor and Instructional Technologist 
Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

Mokhtar received a doctorate in education and leadership studies from Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire. He also holds an MEd in education for social justice from Keene State College in New Hampshire and an MA in service, leadership, and management from SIT Graduate Institute. 

Tamara L. Stenn
Tamara L. Stenn

Adjunct Faculty
Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

DA Leadership, Franklin Pierce University
MIIM, SIT Graduate Institute
BS Journalism, University of Maryland

Dr. Tamara L. Stenn is an adjunct professor in the sustainable development program at SIT Graduate Institute, a visiting professor of social entrepreneurism at Hampshire College, and a scholar of sustainable development and justice.

To be considered for admission to the MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management program, an applicant must meet the following criteria:

SIT Graduate Institute vermont campus

  • US bachelor's degree or an equivalent that demonstrates academic ability
  • Demonstrated English language ability (see details below)
  • Intercultural and professional experience
  • Demonstrated ability to use experience as a source of learning

English Language Ability

Applicants whose first language is not English and who did not graduate from an English-speaking institution in a country whose official language is English submit test scores for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), or the PTE (Pearson Test of English). (Applicants can access free TOEFL and IELTS  practice tests online.)

  • Applicants taking the TOEFL must receive a minimum score of
    • 600 on the paper-based test (PBT)
    • 250 on the computer-based test (CBT), or
    • 100 on the internet-based iBT.
  • Applicants taking the IELTS must receive a score of Band 7.0 or higher.
  • Applicants taking the PTE must receive a minimum score of 68.

These scores are considered the minimum proficiency needed to undertake graduate-level work. Scores must be dated within two years of the start date of your academic program at SIT.

SIT Graduate Institute’s Selection Process

Our admissions staff work one-on-one with every applicant to facilitate a highly informed and multidimensional admissions experience: applicants are encouraged to attend an open house, talk with SIT faculty and staff, and hear from current students and alumni. As applicants become familiar with the attributes of an SIT education — grounded in the experiential learning model and focused on social justice and leadership skills in intercultural environments — they determine for themselves in what ways SIT can help them meet their educational and career objectives.

Direct Costs

Tuition and Fees

Year 1 Tuition: $31,260
Year 1 Fees: $1,800

Year 2 Tuition: $6,150

MA degree total tuition and fees (all terms combined): $39,210

Year 1 On-Campus Room and Board: $9,120 (Estimated off campus housing is $11,250)

Indirect Costs

SIT estimates the costs to students for books, personal expenses, transportation, and off-campus housing/food. Individual expenses may vary. Off-campus living expenses and transportation costs are based on student survey data; individual costs vary depending on a variety of factors such as the type of housing and location of practicum.

Year 1 Books: $800
Year 1 Personal Expenses: $2,700
Year 1 Transportation Costs: $1,200-$2,250

Year 2 Books: $1,200
Year 2 Personal Expenses: $3,600
Year 2: Travel, housing, and other costs associated with the reflective practice phase vary depending on location and duration of position.

Additional Costs

Field Study Courses in year 1:

Costs range from $2,200 to $5,450. See details on the locations, schedule, and costs of individual field courses.

Estimated Health Insurance:

$3,000 (per year)

Health insurance is required for all students, and may be waived if a student can document health insurance coverage.

Estimated Student Loan Fees:

Year 1: $800
Year 2: $300

Estimated fees are based on the average amount borrowed by SIT Graduate Institute students. See details on student loan options.


Direct costs and on-campus room and board are billed by SIT Graduate Institute. Indirect, off-campus housing costs, transportation expenses, and additional costs are not billed by SIT, but represent educational expenses associated with being an enrolled student.