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Our Program

Our program combines theoretical-academic learning with practical research proficiencies and place-based knowledge about the Global South. While focusing on the key conceptual, analytical and practical agendas in contemporary development research, the program provides exciting vistas for praxis by giving students the opportunity to learn about the nexus between theory and practice through hands-on fieldwork and research experience in the Global South.

Master of Arts (MA)

As a coherently structured step-by-step interdisciplinary program, with specifically devised course menus designed for a dedicated cohort of students, DVST is a uniquely focused, but flexible graduate program.

The program is structured as a five-term program combining coursework, research and fieldwork.

DVST courses are interdisciplinary in orientation. Core courses have been specifically designed to provide students with a full range of conceptual and methodological tools to engage the current problematique of development as it confronts us in our globalizing world. DVST elective courses complement and expand on the core curriculum, covering the latest developments in the study of political economy, civil society, policy, refugee flows, and culture and development. Students may also select one elective course from other graduate programs with the permission of the graduate program director. The number of required course credits varies depending on whether students choose the MRP or MRT option. See Degree Requirements for further information.

As a degree requirement, students are expected to undertake fieldwork for a period of three to four months during the summer semester of the first year. A major goal of the program is to encourage students to use their own field research and hands-on experience in the Global South to reflect on the theories and ideas discussed in the classroom. Our program requires all students to conduct fieldwork and research on a particular aspect of the larger field of development studies during the summer months of the first year. This research, combined with the theoretical and methodological foundations built through coursework and the student’s fieldwork experience, forms the basis for sustained reflection in the form of a Major Research Paper or a Thesis. Students are trained to develop a detailed research proposal for approval prior to departure to the field. Upon return from the field, they enroll in Critical Reflections on Field Work, a required core course that provides concrete opportunities for guidance and collective feedback as they prepare to analyze their data and to write their Major Research Papers or Theses.

As part of their fieldwork experience, students also complete an internship or volunteer position with a relevant organization (NGO, international development agency, civil society organization, government agency, university, etc.) concerned with issues close to the student’s research topic. While students are encouraged to identify a relevant organization/place on their own, all students will be required to receive formal approval in writing from the Graduate Program Director about their fieldwork plan. If necessary, students will be assisted in choosing the location of their fieldwork by the Graduate Program Director. Students must submit a fieldwork report upon their return from the field and arrange for their host organization to send an evaluation report to the program.

Please note: York University does not usually let students travel to countries with “Avoid travel” warnings as advised by Foreign Affairs Canada. To make the clearance of the ethics process easier, please try to avoid studying countries with this warning or be prepared to justify why you are travelling there.

Students must leave for the field in mid-May of their first year and make concrete plans for their return to York before the beginning of the fall classes.

Graduate Diplomas

Several Research Centres at York offer exciting Graduate Diploma programs that students can take concurrently with DVST. These Diploma programs give students opportunities to expand their knowledge of a particular area and/or to receive additional certification of the knowledge developed through their graduate program of study.

Graduate Diploma in Asian Studies

The Graduate Diploma in Asian Studies (GDAS) is a one-of-a-kind diploma tailored specifically for students conducting their graduate research in Asia and Asian Diasporas.

Graduate Diploma in Latin American & Caribbean Studies

York University offers formal accreditation at the graduate level of specialized knowledge about Latin America and the Caribbean.

Graduate Diploma in Refugee & Migration Studies

The Graduate Diploma in Refugee and Migration Studies is a unique opportunity for students to complement their regular graduate degrees, with a specialization in the growing field of forced migration studies.

Learn More

The Graduate Program in Development Studies at York is an exciting environment to pursue innovative, socially engaging, career-ready education. Contact our Graduate Program Assistant to learn more.