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1997 - 2018
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Quick facts

Programme: Development Studies
Degree awarded: Master of Arts (M.A.)
Duration and credits: 4 semesters; 120 ECTS credits
Starts in: October (winter semester)
Language of instruction: English

About the programme

The M.A. Development Studies enables students to develop the advanced knowledge, analytical skills, and conceptual frameworks required to understand and navigate the complexities of economic and social development.

Students enrolled in the programme gain insights into the economic, social, ethical, and cultural contexts and constraints of development. The programme provides outstanding opportunities to put theory into practice through international field research, with a strong focus on integrating quantitative and qualitative methods.

The programme addresses the worldwide need for experts in the expanding field of development research as well as for project managers in international development cooperation.

Who should study this degree programme?

This programme is particularly suitable for students with a first degree in social science and mid-career professionals in any development-related field. Qualified students from developing and emerging countries are particularly welcome.

More information from the students enrolled in the programme >


  • Programme entirely taught in English
  • Strong focus on quantitative and qualitative methods
  • Field research opportunities
  • A unique selection of language courses

Career prospects

Graduates have a wide range of potential career paths within the development field, such as:

  • programme managers for local and international development organisations, including government agencies, non-governmental organisations and
  • community groups
  • policymakers at bilateral and multilateral organisations, such as GIZ, the World Bank and the United Nations as well as for civil society advocacy groups
  • as researchers and doctoral students, taking the academic career path

Programme syllabus

1st semester (30 ECTS credits)

  • Methods and theories of Development Studies
  • Interdisciplinary seminar
  • Qualitative and quantitative research methods

2nd and 3rd semesters (65 ECTS credits)

  • Qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Research seminar
  • Elective modules (e.g. sociology, economics, sustainability of resources, political science, Southeast Asian studies)
  • Languages and additional study skills courses

4th semester (25 ECTS credits)

  • Field research
  • Master’s thesis
  • A research colloquium with internationally renowned guest speakers is offered each semester.


If desired, you may choose to specialise in

  • Development Economics or
  • Southeast Asian Studies

Academic entry requirements

A first (Bachelor’s or equivalent) university degree in social sciences, economics or business studies, i.e. in one of the following disciplines: anthropology, demography, empirical social and human geography, sociology, administrative science, economics, business studies/administration, or any other equivalent degree with a minimum of 60 ECTS credits in one or several of these disciplines. This first degree must have been obtained as part of a programme of study with a minimum standard duration of three years' full-time study.

Out of the 60 ECTS credits referenced above, 10 ECTS credits (or a minimum of 300 hrs of coursework) must come from methods of empirical research, such as data collection and survey design, rigorous qualitative or quantitative data analysis, mathematics or statistics applied to social science. A general course in research methods is not enough and does not count in this case. The overall average mark for your undergraduate degree should be equivalent to 2.5 or better according to the German marking scale or ranked among the best 50% of your cohort.

If you are unable to provide your degree and examination certificate for your first degree at the time of application, e.g. because it has not been issued yet, you may send us your transcript (Transcript of Records) instead. This should show the courses and assessments completed as well as the marks/grades/results achieved and comply with the above requirement regarding minimum average marks. If you apply using your transcript instead of the final certificates, you will be offered a place on condition that you submit your final certificates to the Student Registration Office by no later than the 10th week of lectures in the first semester of your degree programme at the University of Passau.

Language requirements

Unless English is your first language or the language of instruction for your undergraduate studies or secondary school education, you will need to prove that you have adequate English skills (level B2 CEFR or higher) by means of a recognised language certificate.

You should also have basic knowledge of German (level A1 CEFR) to help you in your everyday life. If you do not have basic knowledge of German at the time of application, you will be able to take a free language course either before the start or within the first two semesters of the degree programme.

Leaflet introducing the Programme (PDF) >
List of courses (PDF) >
Module catalogue (PDF) >


Student Advisory Service
Information about choice of study and advice at Innstr. 41, 94032 Passau, Germany
Phone: +49 (0)851 509-1154

Student Registration Office

Information about application and registration
Go to Website >

For more information about the programme please visit the website of the University.
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