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Grounded in SIT’s unique brand of experiential, place-based learning, explore how global health crises, economic inequality, natural resource degradation, and political and ethnic conflict are interconnected, requiring a new generation of highly educated, innovative, multidisciplinary development practitioners.

Starting in Quito, Ecuador, an urban city high in the Andes, you will explore the challenges of one of the most biodiverse countries in the world while learning from experienced faculty, local community members, guest lecturers, and top experts in the field. Study ecological impacts, forest regeneration, sustainable land practices, and conservation on excursion to northern Ecuador’s patchwork of cloud forests. Excursions may also include trips to the coast.

Spend your second semester in Africa, splitting your time between Kampala, the national and commercial capital of Uganda, and the smaller river city of Lilongwe, Malawi. For 15 weeks, you will engage in comparative analyses of how economics, natural resource management, health policy, and trade are affected by contrasting local needs, diverse livelihood practices, cultural identities, and varied histories of colonization and resistance. Though based in the city, you will examine sustainable and regenerative development practices in urban, peri-urban, and rural locations during their site visits and fieldwork.

In the final semester, you will spend 10 to 12 weeks in a full-time practicum, arranged in consultation with your program coordinator, in a role and global location of your choosing, drawing from SIT’s longstanding worldwide partnerships and professional networks. Here, you will gain the experience and hands-on skills you need to attain your career goals while also completing a capstone paper to be presented at the end of your program.

The SIT MA in Development Practice offers you a chance to obtain professional skills while conducting your own research and fieldwork and undergoing systemic, cross-cutting, and interdisciplinary graduate-level training in a highly competitive, global environment. This program incorporates theory, practice, and leadership development across the social sciences, natural/health sciences, ecology, and management. Through rigorous academic training and immersive fieldwork, the program bridges systems thinking and community-driven approaches to research, analytics, advocacy, and management, equipping you with the real-world skills needed to identify and address development challenges and multisector solutions in the 21st century.

As a graduate, you’ll be prepared to integrate policy, scholarship, ethics, participatory practice, capacity building, and lifelong learning to achieve sustainable, global development goals.


With SIT’s experiential curriculum, you’ll learn how to put theory into practice.

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In this program, you will:

  • Develop a critical understanding of the current systems that have led to today’s growing inequality, poverty, environmental destruction, and unsustainable ways of living, and become familiar theoretically and experientially with the field of sustainable development practice.
  • Solve problems and engage with the urgent challenges of the present in the field of sustainable development, such as poverty and inequality, conflict over natural resources, environmental degradation and climate change by applying tools of participatory inquiry and design to bring about transformative action in collaboration with multiple stakeholders.
  • Apply and integrate social-ecological systems-thinking, practical skills, leadership capacity, as well as the sense of innovative and imaginative possibilities within the areas of sustainable development and resilience.
  • Demonstrate skills in project design and implementation, project management and evaluation based on the needs of a locality and in collaboration with multiple stakeholders.
  • Show a mastery of global and comparative perspectives on development, sustainable development and regeneration across different geographical, socio-economic, cultural, and political contexts.
  • Demonstrate holistic understanding of the linkages across policy instruments, social complexities, human health risks, ecological system dynamics, technological innovations, and financial models that can advance integrated sustainable development solutions.


Semester One: Ecuador (12 Credits)

  • Foundations of Sustainable Development
  • Critical Issues in Global Health
  • Development Economics
  • Culture and Development
  • Professional Development Seminar
  • Practitioner Inquiry

Semester Two: Uganda/Malawi (14 Credits)

  • Negotiation, Mediation, and Dialogue
  • Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning
  • Design Thinking, technology, and Development
  • Sustainable Natural Resource Management
  • Gender, Agriculture, and Climate Change
  • Professional Development Seminar
  • Practitioner Inquiry

Semester Three: Practicum (10 Credits)

  • Develop Practice Practicum
  • Capstone Project
Professional Practicum

A cornerstone of SIT Global Master’s in Development Practice is the practicum. This allows you to apply learning from the classroom in real-world settings while getting hands-on, professional experience.

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For your final semester, SIT will support you in finding an approved practicum with an international agency, think tank, NGO, government agency, or other organization involved in sustainable development policy/advocacy/action work in a global location of your choice. This practicum experience will give you the opportunity to practice policy/advocacy work in a real-world setting and to expand your professional network and strengthen your ability to develop grounded expectations about what constitutes feasible sustainable development strategies. Your practicum is completed alongside other semester coursework.

During this period, you’ll remain engaged with faculty and other students and receive course credit for documenting the integration of your knowledge and skills while working in a professional context.


SIT’s faculty are practitioners in their fields. Our diverse, multicultural faculty have worked across the world as leaders, trainers, and developers in the business, nonprofit, education, and public sectors.

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Program Chair

Joseph Lanning, Program Chair
Joseph Lanning

Program Chair

Dr. Joseph Lanning is an economic and agricultural anthropologist whose research focuses on agricultural decision-making and food insecurity, including the agricultural livelihoods of rural Malawians.

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Alumni Careers

Students in this program go on to work in the field in a variety of areas including development aid agencies, NGOs, development, consultancy, nonprofits, philanthropy and government agencies. Find out some of the career paths that may be open to you.

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Graduates from this degree can expect to find employment in the fields of:

  • Social Enterprise
  • Natural resource management
  • Sustainable livelihoods development
  • Community development and resilience
  • Sustainability of food, water, and energy
  • Nonprofit and NGO Leadership and management
  • Monitoring and evaluation
  • Policy and research
  • Human rights advocacy
  • Economic development and capacity building
Admissions Criteria

We strive to create a diverse and experienced student body to enhance the learning experience both inside and outside the classroom.

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To be considered for admission to the MA in Development Practice program, an applicant must meet the following criteria:

  • 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

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 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.

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.


The Covid-19 pandemic has made center-based testing unavailable in much of the world. Because of this, Duolingo, which is taken at home over the Internet, is now accepted as a substitute for the TOEFL and IELTS at a growing number of universities

The Duolingo English Test presents an entirely different approach to testing because students can take it at home from their own computer. There are no test centers and no appointments. The cost is $49 USD and they can take the test online, anytime.


See a breakdown of the costs for this program.

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Direct Costs

Semester 1

  • Tuition: $14,500

Semester 2

  • Tuition: $14,500

Semester 3 (Reflective Practice Phase)

  • Tuition: $14,500

Total MA degree tuition and fees (all terms combined): $43,500

Indirect Costs

Semester 1

  • Room and board: $4,200
  • Books: $400
  • Visas: $390 (estimated)
    • Visa and background check
  • Personal expenses: $1,100
    • Includes cell phone plan
  • Transportation costs: $750
  • Immunizations: $789
    • Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Yellow Fever

Semester 2

  • Room and board: $4,000
  • Books: $300
  • Visas: $260
    • Uganda Visa and Malawi Visa
  • Personal expenses: $1,100
  • Transportation costs: $600
  • Contingency: $500
  • Airfare
    • Flight between Uganda and Malawi: TBD

Semester 3 (Reflective Practice Phase)

  • Room and board: $4,500
  • Books: $250
  • Visas: Will vary depending on location
  • Personal expenses: $1,500
    • Includes cell phone plan
  • Transportation costs: $500

Additional Costs

Estimated Student Loan Fees

  • Semester 1: $500
  • Semester 2: $500
  • Semester 3: $500

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