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For a better world

Posted on Monday, October 20, 2008

In a rapidly changing world, development studies have captured the curiosity of students, who want to be a part of the solution to emerging social and economic problems related to development. Supreeta Singh introduces you to its academic and professional scope

What do Amartya Sen, Samir Amin, Joseph Stiglitz and Kemal Dervis have in common? Each of these noted economists has made his mark in the area of human welfare and development. Although the scope of development studies stretches beyond just economics, at its core, it is concerned with issues related to the social and economic advancement of humanity at large.


Development studies is a multidisciplinary branch of social science, formerly associated with the problems and solutions of developing nations. Dr R N Sharma, Professor and Dean, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, explains, “Social issues are complex. Therefore, the domain of development studies is interdisciplinary, as well as unconventional.”
Samita Sen, Professor, Jadavpur University, adds, “With so many different branches, a discipline like development studies definitely offers tremendous scope.”

In India, development studies is primarily adopted as a research study in the MPhil stage, or later.
Ishita Mukherjee, Professor, Women’s Studies, Calcutta University, reveals, “Students from almost all streams can pursue development studies. We have a two-year MPhil course and several research opportunities. A student can apply to pursue development studies after completing his or her master’s degree.” However, there are some institutes like TISS that offer master’s degrees as well.
One can also pursue development studies abroad. Karan Gupta, Foreign Education Consultant, informs, “More and more students today, are curious about it. However, most people prefer pursuing a master’s degree in international relations or diplomacy, and then study development under these fields.”


Considering the large number of social sciences that fall under development studies, job opportunities also abound - both in India and abroad.
Shekhar Niyogi, Career Counsellor, explains, “For a student with a degree in development studies, the industry offers several job opportunities. Whether it is in the academic arena, government institutions, UN organisations, social services, funding agencies, or in the media - a student with a research degree can be employed as a strategist, planner, consultant, researcher, theorist, teacher, programme officer, etc. In a country like India, with a growing economy, there is great demand for such professionals.”
Niyogi further adds that for a fresher, it is best to work at a grassroot level before becoming a full-time consultant. A student or a research fellow can apply for a job depending on his/ her branch of study.


The starting salary in this field depends on the area of study, but overall, a student, who acquires a degree in development studies, can hope to earn quite well. Prof Sharma reveals, “The starting salary for a student with a degree in this subject could be around Rs 25,000. After that, the sky is the limit.”

Development studies include a variety of distinct social science fields, some of which are mentioned below:

Area studies Demography Development theory Development economics Development anthropology Development geography Development management Economic history Geography Sociology Philosophy and ethics Political history Politics International relations Human security Women’s studies Demographics Migration studies Ecology Pedagogy

Institute watch
Centre for Development Studies,Trivandrum(
Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai (
Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata (
Society for Development Studies, New Delhi (
Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai (

(Indicative listing)


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