May 22, 2014

Bridging Research and Policymaking: The McCourt School’s Master of International Development Policy Program

The McCourt School of Public Policy (MSPP)’s Master of International Development Policy (MIDP) is one of Georgetown’s core graduate programs in international development.

The program’s distinguishing characteristic is its emphasis on the use of economic analysis and quantitative methods during evaluations of policy and program effectiveness. MIDP students also learn the importance of local institutional and cultural contexts through courses on politics, management, and ethics of development, as well as hands-on experience. 

Approaching Evaluation from a New Angle

Franck Wiebe, faculty director of the MIDP program, explains that "program evaluation in international development used to be conducted after project completion, and was often incomplete. But now, development agencies, governments, and other local actors are increasingly interested in using more rigorous methods to better understand what works, what doesn’t, and why."

MIDP graduates are equipped to meet this demand with their advanced technical and analytical skills. Students benefit from core courses on microeconomics, public finance, statistical and regression methods, cost-benefit analysis and sustainable development, and impact evaluation, which provide them with the training needed for development projects.

Outside the Classroom

The MIDP program also emphasizes practical, hands-on experience. Classes typically include case studies from leading development institutions. Many students take part-time internships during the academic year, and all must complete a summer professional experience to graduate. Students have satisfied this requirement by working at the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, among other organizations. Finally, the MIDP capstone enables students to integrate their classroom and professional experiences by analyzing policy issues posed by real clients.

Faculty Research

MIDP faculty members conduct leading research to examine the effectiveness of interventions in development settings overseas. Many students collaborate directly with faculty members on their research efforts.

Faculty research includes the Georgetown University Initiative on Innovation, Development and Evaluation (gui2de). Co-sponsored by MSPP and the Department of Economics, gui2de supports empirical field-based research to assess the effectiveness of development policies on issues including maternal care, financial education, road safety, and sanitation, among others. 

Partnering Opportunities

The MIDP program has forged strong relationships with prominent development organizations and is collaborating with them to shape policy and enhance student learning. At a recent symposium, students were able to interact directly with professionals from the World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Innovations for Poverty Action. Such opportunities enrich students' educational experiences and provide critical professional networking moments.