Dedicated to contributing to “change for good” in our home communities and in collaboration with international partners (Chambers 1997, Whose Reality Counts?), the International Development MA Program (IDMA) is committed to advancing the leadership of Deaf, DeafBlind, Hard of Hearing, Deaf-plus, and signing professionals in the development field.

As the world’s only International Development program that trains professionals for deaf development and disability inclusive development, the IDMA Program prepares students to advocate, design, implement, monitor and evaluate social change activities in collaboration with Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard-of-Hearing people, and people with disabilities, at local, national and international levels. IDMA coursework provides practical experience examining legal and social policy frameworks, political and economic conditions, sociocultural and language-centered values and rights, and other features of contemporary life that contribute to or impede social participation and social justice.

The IDMA also offers numerous opportunities for professional interaction and engagement in the development field, by hosting and/or coordinating presentations by key development practitioners and researchers, professional development activities outside the classroom, and two professional field placements (one conducted in the metro Washington, DC area and one conducted internationally).


  • Completed application form. 
  • A non-refundable application fee of $75.
  • A minimum 3.0 grade point average (on a four-point scale) in all previous undergraduate and graduate study. (Occasionally, applicants with a GPA lower than 3.0 may be admitted conditionally upon the recommendation of the department.)
  • Official transcripts of all undergraduate study, including evidence of having received a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. (Those applying during their final undergraduate year will be required to submit a final transcript after completion of their bachelor’s degree and before enrolling in their first semester of graduate study.) 
  • Official transcripts of all graduate study. 
  • Goals statement. See below for more information.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • All international applicants from non-English speaking countries must demonstrate English language competence via the Degrees of Reading Power (DRP) examination. TOEFL results may be substituted instead of taking the DRP. (Use 5240 for the ETS institutional code)

Additional Program Requirements

A basic understanding of economics is necessary to complete coursework in Economic Development and Micropolitics. Therefore, students must have passed an introductory course in economics either prior to or during the first semester of study.

The ability to communicate across cultures in more than one language is both a distinguishing and expected skill of the international development professional. To satisfy requirements for graduation, IDMA students are required to take one course in a Language Other Than ASL and English (LOTAE) or demonstrate that they took a course in a LOTEA some time in the five years prior to entering the IDMA.

Interview with the International Development MA Program. After submitting a complete application, the program will contact you to arrange an interview (either face to face or via video-platform)

Goal statement questions

  1. What got you interested in the International Development field? Describe experience working in deaf development organizations, community-based organizations, social justice work, international experiences, or other experiences that led you to International Development.
  2. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals describe 17 areas of global issues that include things like access to quality education, employment, food, health, gender equity, disasters and climate change, and emphasize disability inclusion in each area
  3. What areas are you interested in studying and working on in your career?In your academic, community, or professional experiences–describe a situation that required you to work with others to create a solution to a problem? What role did you take in creating that solution?
  4. What kind of professional work do you envision for yourself after graduation? For example — implementing community-based projects, developing policy, research, monitoring and evaluation of projects. If there is additional information that you would like us to know to better understand you and your professional interests, include that content in answer #4.

Note on Goal Statements in ASL and English: In your online application, you will submit a written personal statement answering four questions and submit a link to an American Sign Language (ASL) video where you discuss the same four questions. This is an opportunity to demonstrate the way that you approach the four questions in each language. The ASL and English Goal Statement do not need to be identical, and can address similar or different content areas.

  • February 15 – Priority application deadline (for scholarship consideration)
  • May 15 – Standard application deadline

Courses & Requirements

Admissions Procedures

Applicants for the M.A. in International Development must complete the application procedures and meet the requirements for graduate study at Gallaudet University. Visit the Graduate Admissions website for more information and a checklist of application requirements. The International Development program has additional application requirements which are the following:

  • A basic understanding of economics is necessary to complete coursework in economic development, micro- and macropolitics. Therefore, students must pass an introductory course in economics either prior to entering the IDMA Program or in the first semester of study.
  • Gallaudet University is a bilingual university with coursework and other campus activities conducted in ASL and English. Therefore, the IDMA requires demonstrated proficiency in academic ASL and academic English in order to be admitted and to graduate.
  • The ability to communicate across differing language and cultural ecologies is a distinguishing and expected skill of international development professionals. Therefore, ability in signing, reading and writing, another language is required for graduation. Students must achieve a grade B or above in one university or community-based language course with instruction in a language other than ASL or English.
  • Course lectures and other activities and events are conducted in academic ASL. Therefore, prospective IDMA applicants are required to demonstrate the ability to participate in discussions conducted in ASL in a classroom setting. Each applicant must provide videotaped responses to two provided by the IDMA program (related to graduate study and professional practice in the International Development field).
  • Three current letters of recommendation.
  • An interview with the Department
  • An English writing sample (e.g., graduate school goals statement, samples of academic or technical writing).
First Date for Consideration of Application: No Set Date
Last Date for Completed Application: No Set Date

Program Specific Requirements

  • A basic understanding of economics is necessary to complete coursework in Economic Development and Micropolitics. Therefore applicants must have passed an introductory course in economics.
  • The ability to communicate across cultures in more than one language is both a distinguishing and expected skill of the international development professional. Therefore, novice ability in reading and writing another language or willingness to obtain novice ability in the first year.
  • A videotaped response in American Sign Language to one of two questions asked by the department for review to demonstrate the ability to participate in discussion in a classroom setting.
  • Three current letters of recommendation
  • Interview with the Department
  • To satisfy the IDMA Program’s requirements for graduation, candidates must take the American Sign Language Proficiency Interview (ASLPI) and earn a score of 2+ or above prior to or during their final semester of graduate studies. If a candidate for graduation does not receive the requisite rating on the ASLPI by this timeline, the student can request an Alternative Assessment via the IDMA Program’s Multiple Measures Review.

Summary of Requirements

Year One - Fall

MPA elective: or equivalent course as approved by academic advisor

Students are introduced to significant topics in international relations that affect economic and social development. Among the topics to be included will be: theories of the nation-state; theories of peace and war; theories, perspectives and measures of economic and social development; the role of international organizations and international law related to conflict resolution and development; Case studies of development reflecting various perspectives; and the role of women and disabled people as both participants and subjects of the development process.

Credits: 3
Distribution: Graduate

This course introduces students to the field of International Development by examining the history, theories, and models of development. Drawing on a range of case studies, students gain an understanding of development as a set of institutions and networks that emerged in the post WW II period and proliferated primarily throughout the Global South, facilitated by neoliberal policies. Critically analyzing the role of development organizations from the Global North in foreign assistance, as well as their influence on social policies and political decision-making, students will apply their insights to current development issues, controversies, and debates.

Credits: 3

Current enrollment in the International Development Masters of Arts Program; or permission of instructor

Distribution: Graduate, Masters

This course explores how micropolitical factors shape individual experiences and social relations within and between groups. Understanding human experiences and practices connected to gender, race, ethnicity, language, disability, sexuality (and so on) as changeable, contradictory, and often situation-specific, we will examine personal choices, identities, and community formations as legacies of and responses to the ways power is organized under late-modern capitalism and post-colonial international relations. Drawing from a wide range of social scientific materials, we will pay especial attention to intersections of race and class, as well as local, national, and global affiliation in the formation and transformation of people's lives. Course activities focus on the project level in which development takes place, allowing students to examine those social categories that most impact development outcomes, associated political processes, and individual and group action of the group or groups selected for the semester project.

Credits: 3

IDP 770 and IDP 771

Distribution: Graduate, Masters

This course introduces students to standard practices of professional communication, conduct, and preparation of documents and presentation materials and types commonly used in the international development field. Course activities include: technical writing, creating persuasive messages in formats and media appropriate to a variety of audiences (e.g., specialist, non-specialist, targeted groups). Course activities will also address professional communication and conduct, and guide students in preparing their IDMA portfolios for submission at the end of the semester (required for continuing to the second year of IDMA graduate study, practicum and internship experiences)

Credits: 1

permission from the department

Distribution: Graduate, Masters

Year One - Spring

MPA elective: or equivalent course as approved by academic advisor

This course will be a survey of the major issues in economic development. There will be an overview of the central questions in economic development, including the very definition of development itself; the problem of how to measure economic development; the causes and consequences of differenced in economic growth rates among countries; and a review of the history of international development policymaking. Topics covered will include international trade policy, international capital flows, exchange rate policy, inflation, public finance, monetary policy, agriculture, population, and the environment. The class will end with a synthesis of these diverse fields into the theory of development economics as a tool for promoting growth and reducing poverty.

Credits: 3

Matriculation in the Master of Public Administration or International Development program

Distribution: Graduate, Masters

This course expands upon IDP 770: Introduction to International Development by exploring human rights frameworks currently reshaping the field of international development, particularly with respect to sustainable development goals. IDP-771 applies human rights theories and models to case studies from Deaf, DeafBlind, Hard of Hearing, signed language communities, and persons with disabilities around the world to analyze human rights indicators in the context of sustainability, as well as social movements, grassroots activism, and other forms of non-governmental organizing work. This course also examines the impact of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), assistance projects/programs, international laws, and social protection policies for communities at the local, regional, national and international level.

Credits: 3

IDP 770 or permission of the Program Director.

Distribution: Graduate, Masters

IDP 775 introduces students to the design, planning, and implementation of community development projects with Deaf, DeafBlind, Hard of Hearing people, signed language communities, and people with disabilities with a focus on disaster and humanitarian contexts. Theoretical frameworks address the nature of social change in societies around the world, the interrelationship between inequitable social conditions and efforts such conditions, and the value of local constituencies’ involvement in shaping change. Students will develop essential skills for designing projects, as well as training in collaborative team-building and facilitation of projects that are sensitive to local communities’ viewpoints, social interests, and leadership in local and international development networks.


Current enrollment in the International Development Masters of Arts Program; or permission of instructor

Distribution: Graduate, Masters

Year Two - Fall

This course builds upon IDP 770 and 772 by focusing on the intersections between race, gender and sexuality in international development agendas emphasizing the role of Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing people and people with disabilities. Drawing on theoretical and practical cases, students will explore the ways that race, gender and sexuality shape individual and group identities including diverse practices, perspectives and creative development action. Through critical analysis of the course's core concepts, students will develop insight into the social issues faced by particular groups around the world, as well as the ways that others forms of categorization further impact social inequalities, such as: socioeconomic class, social hierarchies, disability, ethnicity, family structures and expectations, language and communication, and religion.

Credits: 3

IDP 770 and IDP 771; or permission of the Program Director.

Distribution: Graduate, Masters

This course focuses on collaborative formulation, development and evaluation of programs working with Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing people and people with disabilities in disaster and humanitarian contexts. Exploring current philosophical, theoretical, and methodological stances related to collaborative program development, course activities demonstrate the salience of international human rights frameworks for sign language-centered leadership and disability rights, and connect these to bi- and multilateral organizational and funding channels now undergoing enhancement as a result of the United Nations introduction of the Sustainable Development Goals. Using the latter as a foundation to identifying socioeconomic problems and barriers to self-determination, participation, and equity, students will design program proposals in response to an actual Request for Proposal (RFP). Work on peer teams, students will then submit an Evaluation Plan for an actual program. In addition to cultivating program development and evaluation skills, course activities provide students with opportunities to practice program management skills and grant-writing experience.


Permission of the instructor

Distribution: Graduate, Online, Masters

International development activities place a heavy emphasis on the ability to skillfully interact with and to generate many types of data. This course introduces students to the most common types of research methods and strategies currently used in the international development field, and explores the ethical implications of research planning, methodological decision-making, and research fieldwork. Course activities include: introduction to research formulation and design; literature review; quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods; data collection and analysis; rapid assessment methods; and participatory community assessments. Course activities also highlight the elements of a good argument and provide opportunities to analyze, construct, and to refine research arguments.

Credits: 3

Prerequisites: Students must complete the first year of IDP core coursework, or have the permission of the Program Director.

Distribution: Graduate, Masters

Professional service and direct action are core features of international development work, and therefore a critical aspect of graduate-level preparation. The IDMA's supervised practicum is designed to offer practical field experience observing and working in an international development assistance organization, federal agency, for- or non-profit organization, or other development-related venue. The supervised field practicum provides students with a critical first opportunity to integrate didactic interdisciplinary study of international development with professional interaction and engagement in an international development organization, federal agency, non-profit organization, or other international development entity (think tank, policy institute). An on-site supervisor and a university-based supervisor (practicum instructor) provide supervision and guidance to promote students' professional development, and application of theoretical knowledge to real-world international development situations, issues, and opportunities.

Credits: 3

Current enrollment in the International Development Masters of Arts Program; or permission of instructor

Distribution: Graduate, Masters

Year Two - Spring

MPA elective: or equivalent course as approved by academic advisor

This course builds on IDP-780 Supervised Practicum for International Development. As in that course, field experience working in a development assistance organization, federal agency, or nonprofit organization is an essential part of graduate training in and preparation for professional careers in the international development field. The supervised internship placement adds to the practicum experience by expanding the scope of professional activities and outputs expected of students, and by increasing students¿ level of responsibility and accountability to partnering organizations and collaborating communities. As with IDP-780, students engage in practical experiences guided by the supervision of an on-site supervisor and a university supervisor (internship instructor). The supervised internship requires a minimum of 360 clock hours.

Credits: 6

Current enrollment in the International Development Masters of Arts Program; or permission of instructor.

Distribution: Graduate, Masters

Building on IDP-779 Professional Seminar I, this course is designed to deepen students understanding of standard practices of professional communication, conduct, and preparation of documents and presentation materials, as well as their understanding and advocacy of human rights, with an emphasis on language, and visible and invisible disabilities. In addition to preparing students for entry into professional international development work (e.g., professional rapport and alliance-building, developing CVs and cover letters for various types of job postings, job search skills), IDP-782 activities guide students in critical reflection on the impact of cross- and intercultural power dynamics for professional interaction, collaborative engagement, and ethical practice.

Credits: 1

IDP 779 or permission of the Program Director.

Distribution: Graduate, Masters


Program Outcomes

1. Students will engage in critical study of international development theories and methods with an emphasis on collaborative advocacy, program and project development, and research to address social inequalities and promote social justice efforts pursued by Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing communities and people with disabilities.


2. Students will evaluate existing laws, policies, and programming in relation to international development agendas to examine intersections between sociocultural features, language, political and economic structures and forces; conduct situation analyses to identify factors that influence the design and implementation of projects and programs; and develop a plan for monitoring and evaluation taking into consideration both internationally recognized standards and local/national context.


3. Students will demonstrate their understanding of how national and international development assistance networks and international relations impact the sociocultural, political, and economic conditions of local communities, regions, and countries.


4. Students will design and carry out projects that demonstrate their understanding of the sociopolitical and socioeconomic dimensions of language usage, rights, programming, and/or policy with an emphasis on understanding the barriers and opportunities that specific communities’ encounter, especially with respect to use of signed languages.


5. Through practical experience (practicum, internship, conferences, professional networking), students will apply international development theories and methods to promote the participation and leadership of Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing people, and people with disabilities, within organizational structures and activities, as well as related professional networks.


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