Development Practice Degree Program

Gain knowledge, practical skills, and experience to critically evaluate and address the multidimensional challenges of sustainable development: climate change, extreme poverty, gender inequality, and access to clean water and sanitation. Through our learner-centered approach, you will define problems, engage with stakeholders, evaluate evidence, determine priorities of action, and manage outcomes.

Harvard Extension School is a member of the Global Association of Master’s in Development Practice and meets the Association's standard of core development practice competencies.

Key learning outcomes

Through the master’s degree in the field of development practice you:

  • Develop a holistic understanding of policy instruments, social complexities, human health risks, ecological system dynamics, technological innovations, and financial models to advance sustainable development.
  • Identify and challenge assumptions, seeking alternatives, determining solutions and reflecting on results.
  • Engage with the global network of development professionals.
  • Employ state of the art project management techniques.
  • Leverage local knowledge through global practice.

Program Overview

The degree program includes 12 courses with at least one, three-week capstone on campus.

  • Get started. You begin by completing two stipulated degree courses as outlined on the degree requirements page. This is your opportunity to demonstrate your commitment and ability to perform well as a Harvard student.
  • Apply to the program. While completing your second degree course, you submit your application. We have application cycles in the fall, spring, and summer.
  • Continue your studies, online and on campus. As you progress through the program, you choose from courses offered on campus or online, year round fall, spring, and summer. To fully experience Harvard, you are required to take at least one three-week capstone course on campus.
  • Complete your capstone. You’ll apply coursework toward a development plan (DP) that has a real-world application for an NGO, nonprofit organization, municipality, or other community-based entity. Under the mentorship of your instructor in a classroom setting, you will identify a client, design a research project around stakeholders' interests, and execute the project. You are encouraged to select a client near where you live and align the project with local community interests. The outcome of the capstone experience includes an optional presentation at the Sustainable Development Solutions Network annual conference.
  • Graduate with your Harvard degree. You participate in the annual Harvard Commencement, receiving your Harvard University degree: Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in Extension Studies, field: Development Practice.

Explore Degree Requirements

Learn about degree requirements, admissions, & on-campus study

Explore Course Listings

Once you've learned about the degree requirements, you can search for courses that count toward the degree. See the degree courses


Affordability is core to our mission. Our 2019–20 graduate tuition is $2,840 per course. The total tuition cost of earning the degree is approximately $35,000.

There are a number of financial aid options available once you’re admitted to the program.

MITx MicroMasters® Program Admissions Pathway

If you have earned the MicroMasters Program credential, you may apply the credential toward admission and complete one additional course at Harvard Extension School. Learn more about the MicroMasters Program pathway