Master of Arts in International Social Sciences (Development Studies)

The Master of Arts in International Social Sciences (Development Studies) program, or ISS program, has a specific focus on development studies and issues around global justice. Students learn about relevant theories as well as the practical realities of the development/aid industry. Students have to do an internship and can specialize in a field of interest by choosing relevant electives on topics such as migration, social security, sustainability, and gender.

The ISS program prepares thoroughly for an academic career in development through its emphasis on project planning, disaster management, and a critical lens on global power relations and the postcolonial situation. Being highly cosmopolitan with students from all over the world, its specific worth lies in the opportunity to assess international issues through a literally global perspective stemming from the diversity of the student body.

­Content­ and ­Structure­


  • Theories of Development
  • Critical Reflection on Development Cooperation
  • Sustainability, De-Growth and Resource Politics
  • Development Economics
  • Social Protection and Poverty Analysis
  • Public Health in Developing Countries
  • Peace and Conflict Research
  • Religion and Development
  • Migration and Development
  • Project Planning
  • Disaster Response and Humanitarian Aid
  • Public Health
  • Internship in the Field of Development Cooperation or Humanitarian Aid
  • Methods of Empirical Research
  • Advanced Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods
  • Research Oriented Master's Thesis


The normal program length is 4 semesters. It may be extended by up to 2 semesters upon application.

The program has a modular structure. A module consists of several courses, which are grouped in a thematic block. The modules generally take up one semester or one year of study.

Passing all individual courses of a module is the requirement for the completion of a module. The overall module grade is the arithmetic mean of the individual course grades. For each module completed, a set number of credits is given in accordance with the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). The credits are recognized throughout Europe and therefore transferable. Thus, transferring to a study program abroad should be easy.

Application period  for full-time studies

For the winter semester:

Applicants who need visa:
December 1 to March 31

Applicants who do not need visa:
April 1 to August 31

For the summer semester:

Applicants who need visa:
April 1 to August 31

Applicants who do not need visa:
November 1 to February 28

Application period  for part-time studies (only non-visa students)

For the winter semester:

April 1 to August 31 (only applications from non-visa applicants can be accepted)

Beginning of the program

Full-time studies: winter semester or summer semester

Length of the program

Full-time studies: 2 years / 4 semesters (incl. a practical training session of 8 weeks)

Study options

Full-time studies


Master of Arts in International Social Sciences (Development Studies)
(120 credits)




ADRA Scholarship Details

Friedensau Scholarship Details


Financial Bulletin

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Why choose this program?

The ISS program has a specific focus on development studies and issues around global justice.

It is aimed at professionalizing those already working in develop­ment or others for whom a part-time program seems more fitting. It offers a solid academic base in the field of development studies.

Students learn about relevant theories that are nec­essary to critically reflect on current practices in the field of development aid. Practical competencies are furthered through courses such as project planning, monitoring and evaluation. Academic competencies in research methods and writing skills enable a continuation in a scientific career.

Stemming from the diversity of the student body, the specific worth of the program lies in the oppor­tunity to literally assess international issues through a global perspective as experienced by your student cohort.

Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor's degree in social sciences, humanities, or other related fields
  • English proficiency test (e.g. TOEFL) or a bachelor's degree taught in English
  • Some experience in development cooperation

Length of the Program

  • 3 years / 6 semesters
  • Beginning in the winter semester
  • Spend 2 weeks each semester on campus
    Winter semester 2019/20: October 14-18, 2019 and January 20-24, 2020
    Summer semester 2020: March 30 to April 3, 2020 and May 25-29, 2020
  • Additional e-learning modules

Professional Training

The internship is conceptualized as an opportunity for professionals to develop expertise in a field of interest. For example, by supporting other regional branches of the organization that they already work for, or experiencing work at a similar yet different institution. It is accompanied by supervision and reflection through a colloquium.


  • Theories of Development
  • Development Industry and Legacy
  • Development Economics
  • Poverty Analysis and Social Protection
  • Public Health in Developing Countries
  • Religion and Development
  • Peace and Conflict Research
  • Methods of Empirical Social Research (qualitative and quantitative)
  • Academic Writing and Rhetoric and Presentation Skills
  • Planning, Management and Evaluation of Development Projects
  • Disaster Management and Response
  • Sustainability, De-growth and Resource Politics
  • Globalization and Global Governance
  • Migration and Development
  • Gender and Development
  • Land Use, Land Rights and Development
  • Internship
  • Research-Oriented Master's Thesis


  • €1,660 per semester

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Admission ­Requirements­

The completion of a degree program at a university, or an academically recognized college, or university of applied sciences, or an equivalent degree in social sciences or humanities is required and proven by a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, a diploma, a state examination, or a doctorate. A final grade of at least 2.5 is required.

All applicants must demonstrate proficiency in the English language by the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a result of at least 550 (PBT = paper-based test), or 213 (CBT = computer-based test), or 79 (IBT = internet-based test) points or a comparable performance in another test, such as the IELTS (6.0) or the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (grade B). Applicants who received their bachelor's degree in an English-language program are exempt. These applicants must submit a university certificate indicating that at least half of the courses were taught in the English language.

Admission ­process

  • The applicant submits the complete application file online within the application deadline.
  • The application for admission will be examined by the Admissions Committee and the Finance Committee within 1 week to 1 month. The decision on admission will be made under consideration of the admission capacity and the clarified student financing.
  • The applicant will be notified in writing by e-mail within one week after the meeting of the Admissions Committee and Finance Committee.
  • The admitted applicant will be asked to transfer the down payment and the deposit to FAU within 2-3 weeks after being informed about the decision on admission, EU citizens by August 31 at the latest, non-EU citizens by May 31 at the latest.
  • Upon the receipt of the down payment and deposit, the Admissions Office will send the letter of admission as well as information on the start of studies and the arrival to the prospective student. In case the prospective student needs a visa, further documents relevant for the embassy will be sent within 1 month.
  • Information on visa:
    • The prospective student needs a student visa. We recommend that the prospective student checks in advance how much time he/she needs in order to get an appointment at the respective embassy. The visa application normally takes 6-8 weeks.
    • Upon the receipt of the visa, the prospective student notifies and informs the Admissions Office about the flight schedule, taking into consideration the appointment for the pickup service.
    • The Admissions Office offers 1 or 2 appointments for a pickup service of the prospective students from the airports in Berlin to FAU, normally on Friday or Sunday/Monday, depending on the number of the prospective students. The dates for the pickup service will be communicated after the visa has been received.

The easiest way for applicants to FAU is the online application—simply create a user account and start the online application right away.

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Any questions?

  • on program
  • on application
  • on finances
  • or in general?

I would like to answer your questions!

Ulrike Schultz
Prof. Dr. rer. pol.

Telephone: +49 (0) 3921 916-193

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The internship is an important part of the ISS program, in which students combine their theoretical academic knowledge with practical experiences. During internships, students begin to develop and modify their skills required for the degree. Moreover, they get an overall perspective of their future course of action and goals.

Internship Information and Forms

The institute where I did my internship is the Regional Institute of Gender, Diversity, Peace and Rights (RIG/DPR), which is part of Ahfad University for Women in Sudan. The students I interacted with were brilliant and interesting women, having the same kind, welcoming spirit of the people I met during my time in Khartoum.

Arlyn Avilés

During my internship at the Community Health and Development organization (CHAD) in Myitkyina, Kachin State, Myanmar, I performed tasks such as preparing lesson plans and conducting awareness trainings, recording data for the annual and quarterly plans, attended meetings and workshops with UNICEF, visited camps for internally displaced persons.

Dawn Lu San

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