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Global Development and Social Justice, Master of Arts


Earn a master's degree in Global Development and Social Justice online!

The Master of Arts (M.A.) in Global Development and Social Justice at St. John’s University aims at best practices and leadership in global development. Our mission of social justice and human rights advocacy, grounded in Catholic Social Teaching, is reflected through our innovative online methodology. We seek especially to provide education to those lacking economic and social means.

This innovative multidisciplinary program combines classroom instruction with online learning, offering you flexibility to pursue in-depth research in a broad variety of critical areas related to development and social justice. Our committed faculty members and support staff will help you understand the causes of poverty and social injustice throughout the world, and encourage you to develop adaptable, effective, and concrete solutions.

The two-year distance learning program is comprised of 33 credits delivered fully online.


Dean Joyce Lawlor
[email protected]

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Who Should Apply?

If you are an international development professional, a social service provider (who may already hold an advanced degree in your area of specialization), or simply seeking a career in the fields of sustainable development and social justice, you will find the M.A. in Global Development and Social Justice serves to expand your horizons and provide a solid theoretical and practical foundation for your future work. If you are interested in sustainable development, international relations, nonprofit management, and human rights, we encourage you to apply to this program. 

Admission Requirements:

  • An accredited bachelor’s degree or its equivalent
  • Proficiency in English (written and spoken).  If your native language is not English, or if your secondary and post-secondary education was not in English, you must take the (1) Test of English as a Foreign language [TOEFL] or (2) International English Language Testing System [IELTS] - More information on the TOEFL or IELTS can be found on page 7 of the St. John's University Graduate Bulletin within General University Information. The TOEFL code for St. John's University is 2799. 
  • Two letters of recommendation from individuals qualified to evaluate your ability to succeed in a graduate program of study
  • A statement of personal and professional goals relevant to your interest in the Global Development and Social Justice program

Application Deadline:

The application deadline is March 1. If you apply now, you can begin the program in the next summer semester. The application fee of $70 is waived for all of our applicants. Please contact the Office of Graduate Admission at 718-990-1601 or [email protected], to ensure that your fee is waived.

  • In the online application, you will be asked to choose your major and "College and Campus" on the drop down menu. You will need to choose "St. John's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (Online Program)."  Then under the next drop down menu to select your major you will need to select "M.A. Global Development and Social Justice.” Select "Summer" term.
  • You will also need to send official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and, if necessary, TOEFL scores to the address below:

Graduate Admission Processing Service Center
St. John's University
PO Box 811
Randolph, MA 02368-0811

Due to the distinctive nature of the program, we do not accept transfer credits.


Course Breakdown

MGD 100: Models of Intervention in Global Development
MGD 110: Catholic Social Thought and Practices of Integral Human Development and Solidarity MGD 120:  Information Resources for Global Development and Social Justice Practices 
MGD 130: Impact of International Organizations in Global Development
MGD 140: Economics of Development
MGD 150: Sustainable Food Systems, Water and the Environment
MGD 160: Migration and Refugees in Development: Humanitarianism, Gender and Inequities
MGD 172: Project Management & NGOs
MGD 180: Media Strategy and the Politics of Peace Building
MGD 190: Health Care Issues in Global Development
MGD 200: Integrating Seminar & Capstone Project

Course Descriptions

MGD 100: Models of Intervention in Global Development
What is global development? How can we effectively plan, monitor, and evaluate an intervention in the development field? How can we build on the principle of subsidiarity in a continuously globalizing world? This course introduces students to the key concepts of global development in the context of social justice, combining concerns for international development with awareness of the human person, the common good, solidarity and subsidiarity. Contemporary development issues such as migration, environment, health, and conflict will be examined through common models and tools of intervention. Case studies referring to non-governmental organizations, inter-governmental organizations, and national governments will also be emphasized.

MGD 110: Catholic Social Thought and Practices of Integral Human Development and Solidarity
What should be the goals of global development? What constitutes sustainable prosperity for all? What models and practices of global development lead to human flourishing? How can practices of solidarity and peace building be cultivated to promote development and human wellbeing? Students will endeavor to answer these and other important questions in a manner that draws deeply upon the Catholic moral tradition in dialogue with other points of view.

MGD 120: Information Resources for Global Development and Social Justice Practices
An introduction to the scope, organization, evaluation, and use of print and electronic information sources. Emphasis will be placed on the use of these resources by development professionals. Particular emphasis will also be placed on developing skills in using and creating digital information resources, and of the sharing these resources using electronic courseware social networking technologies, scholarly networking technologies, and information management techniques. The information needs of constituent communities, including models of information seeking behavior, barriers to information access, and development of information literacy skills is also covered. All topics in this course are discussed within the context of the kinds of research and communication activities that are expected of development workers, thus information literacy skills, social science research methods, and professional and scholarly writing are also key areas of emphasis.

MGD 130: Impact of International Organizations in Global Development
Examination of  the role of international organizations (IGOs) and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in global development. Organizations such as the United Nations (UN) that are universal in scope, or regional such as the European Union (EU), are institutions that created by sovereign governments and established by, and given legal recognition by, treaty. On the other hand, NGOs are organizations whose members are individuals that do not represent any government. Some organizations are specialized, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which deal with economic development, or the World Health Organization (WHO), which deals with heath issues in developing countries. Organizations play an important role in the development of the economy, environment, health care issues, education, and other social issues that plague developing countries in the global economy. At the conclusion of this course, students will be able to 1) analyze the role of international and nongovernmental organization to development; 2) examine organizations and their policies toward developing countries; and 3) compare and contrast IGOs, NGOs, and other organizations in the context of globalization and development.

MGD 140: Economics of Development
An introduction to the field of economic growth and development from the perspective of Catholic Social Thought. It covers: theories of economic growth; development and underdevelopment; the role of ethics in policy formation; the causes and consequences of poverty (national and international); international wealth and income inequality; and trade and globalization. Various theories and perspectives are presented, all contrasted with the approach to development found in the Catholic social thought tradition, especially in the Encyclicals related to development issues.

MGD 150: Sustainable Food Systems, Water and the Environment
This course will critically evaluate the synergistic relationship among food systems (production –consumption-disposal), water, and the environment. It will evaluate the political-economy of development policies to reduce global hunger, and assess the impact of fluctuating climate, biodiversity, and natural resources on agricultural production, food security, public health and poverty reduction strategies. The promotion of social justice through sustained development will be a primary theme of the course utilizing the frameworks of food, water, and environmental justice. Participants will appraise the impact of the close association between food security, nutrition, and public health on achieving sustained global development. Past and present case studies that represent both “best practice” and “unsuccessful” sustainable development projects will be investigated. Emphasis will be placed on examining participatory, community-based, and locally originated projects as a key to promoting long-term integrated and sustainable development. A key component of the course will be to provide a working knowledge and set of research tools for investigating the barriers and challenges that the synergistic relationship between food, water, and the environment pose to sustainable development. A review of methods for assessing the impact of climate change, biodiversity, and natural resources on agricultural production, food security, and public health will include a focus on GIS (Geographic Information Systems) mapping and analysis. Participants will also formulate an applied sustainable project for implementation in their own country. In addition, the political, economic, and sociocultural dimensions of global disparities and poverty and their impact on food and agricultural policy will be assessed.

MGD 160: Migration and Refugees in Development: Humanitarianism, Gender and Inequities
This course will addresses the political and social issues associated with the movement of people as they relate to the developing world. The course will familiarize students with the normative and legal issues of migrations and refugee movements, including the relevant international institutions and conventions. Students will examine such issues as the role of diaspora communities, remittances and development, forced migration and trafficking, as well as refugee crises and humanitarian responses. Theoretical frameworks will include issues of gender, inequality, and social justice

MGD 172: Project Management & NGOs
Fundamentals of project management. It provides the theory and core methodology students will need to manage projects or participate effectively on project teams. The course uses the project life cycle as its organizing framework and topics cover the entire project management process, including project definition, planning, executing, and closing. Participants will study the characteristics of projects and project management, learn how to define and describe a project as well as how to organize, plan, implement, control, terminate, and post-evaluate a project. Topics will include: basic project concepts and project selection, definition, organization structure, team building, communication and conflict management, planning methods and techniques, resource allocation, risk management, monitoring and control, and termination. Participants will complete a group project which involves preparing a project proposal for a “real-world” project of their choosing.

MGD 180: Media Strategy and the Politics of Peace Building
The first part of this course will focus on how communication and media are vehicles for human development, and communication as an agent of social change. It will present various models of communication, and a particular emphasis will be on participatory model of communication. The second section of the course will seek to apply the students' understanding of these models through a focus on the study of interactive methods for negotiation and mediation to resolve conflict. Students will be introduced to practical models of conflict resolution, such as workshops and multi-track mediation. The course will conclude by linking communications and development with broad approaches to social peace and community building.

MGD 190: Health Care Issues in Global Development
This course closely links health care with issues of culture, global development, and social justice. Participants will gain a comprehensive understanding of global health problems and the state of health within their own countries. At the same time, they will get a comparative and global view of current applied solutions.

MGD 200: Integrating Seminar: The Art and Complexities of Development: Toward a new Model of Sustainability
Dr. Barrett Brenton and Dr. Basilio Monteiro
This integrating seminar intends to focus on what students have learned during their studies, integrating what has been learned in each of the courses in the light of each student’s own experiences, and the shared experiences of the entire class (in person and by the networking that has taken place through Online Learning). During the seminar, students will have the opportunity to present and discuss their capstone projects with each other, and with the professor who will be the seminar leader. The goal is to arrive at an in-depth understanding of specific development issues researched and to identify strategic/structural solutions and alternative approaches.

Capstone Project
The goal of the required capstone project is to arrive at an in-depth understanding of development issues or priorities a student has identified. That comprehensive understanding takes into account the data available on a specific issue or priority and the results of other studies that have been undertaken. Students are also expected to identify strategic/structural solutions or approaches to addressing the development issue or priority identified. Students may also choose to research in-depth and analyze one (or more) strategies that a nation, an international organization, or NGO has developed to address a development issue and priority, to assess that strategy, and to propose an alternate approach(es).

Career Outcomes

The need for professionals with an education in global development and its varying fields is currently higher than ever. Completion of this master’s degree program will present you with a vast range of career opportunities in national and international organizations, and governmental and non-governmental organizations as well. You may seek employment in academic research, or with agencies of the UN such as UNFEM, UNEP, UNICEF, FAO, as well as the IMF and World Bank. You will also be qualified to work for multinational corporations, international media organizations, law firms, emergency relief and development efforts, and diplomatic missions.

Through its multidisciplinary approach and dedicated faculty, the M.A. will provide you with the necessary skills to become a creative and compassionate leader in your field and to participate in the global market. Online Learning courses and communication will also give you experience in state-of-the-art pedagogical technology.

Online Learning

Earn Your Degree Online
Pursue your St. John’s degree entirely on your computer. Our fully accredited Online Learning programs allow you to take courses electronically. Log in at your convenience to enter our virtual classrooms, learn from our accomplished faculty, and engage with classmates.

Our online courses offer the same high academic quality that students experience on campus. Professors deliver lectures and post assignments via Blackboard, our electronic course management system. Students use it to attend virtual classes, share documents, take exams, and exchange ideas with faculty and classmates.

A Fully Academic Experience
You also enjoy the outstanding services available to all St. John’s students, for example:

  • Eligibility for scholarships and financial aid
  • Tuition and fees identical to those for on-campus courses
  • Access to library collections, career services, mentoring, and other academic resources.

Please note that California residents in online programs at out of state nonprofit institutions, like St. John’s University are ineligible for all forms of federal aid, including federal student loans based on current federal state authorization rules.

Additional Information

Pope Paul VI Scholarship
The Pope Paul VI Scholarship began in 1965 and is available to students pursuing a Master of Arts in Global Development and Social Justice who are diplomatic personnel from Permanent Missions to the United Nations (UN). Eligible candidates must be listed in the UN Blue Book entitled Permanent Missions to the United Nations. These partial scholarships cover 50 percent of tuition for the M.A.