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Administrative Unit:Development Studies
College/School: College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, College of Letters & Science
Admitting Plans:Ph.D.
Degrees Offered:Ph.D.
Minors and Certificates:Doctoral Minor

Faculty: Professors Alatout, Apple, Barham, Bowie, Chavas, Collins, Coxhead, Elder, Ewig, Fair, Foltz, Gilbert, Green, Hendley, Jacobs, Keller (chair), Kendall, Klug, Lim, Liu, Manion, Naughton, Seidman, Sethi, Shah, Stern, Stoecker, Tigges, Tripp, Turner, Ventura, Winichakul, Young, Zepeda


The mission of the Ph.D. program in development studies is to prepare Ph.D. graduates for careers in social science research, policy, and education related to international development issues. The target audience includes people who wish to prepare for careers in international development as well as midcareer international development professionals who will return to their original employer or employment sector after earning a Ph.D. Applicants are expected to have experience working in developing countries. The program emphasizes interdisciplinary social science research and analysis designed to address the problems of developing and emerging economies.

Students from the United States and 40 countries have enrolled since the program was established in 1970. Over 125 alumni work in a wide range of capacities with various government agencies, nongovernment agencies, and universities in the United States and other countries. Most alumni from other countries have returned there to take up senior-level posts in government and other national institutions and in academia.


Students seeking admission to the program must already hold a master's degree in a social science, preferably with a thesis requiring original research. Previous experience living and/or working in a developing country in some capacity (Peace Corps, non-government organizations, individual initiatives, etc.) is an important aspect of a successful applicant's background. A student's application is judged on the basis of previous academic records, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a research proposal. This proposal will form the cornerstone of the student's program. It will provide the admissions committee with a clear explanation of the direction the student intends to take with the research. General Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores for all applicants and TOEFL or IELTS scores for international applicants are required.

In addition to the online application and reasons for graduate study, applicants must submit a letter clearly outlining reasons for choosing the Ph.D. in development; dissertation research proposal; official transcripts for all post-secondary institutions attended; three letters of recommendation; curriculum vitae.

For more information: Chair, Development Studies Ph.D. Program, 327 Ingraham Hall, 1155 Observatory Dr., Madison, WI 53706; 608-262-3412; devstudies@mailplus.wisc.edu; devstudies.wisc.edu.