ISS building from across canal

When you apply for admission to the ISS MA programme you apply for a Major.

The Majors form an important part of the study programme. The courses are closely related and are designed to give students deeper insight and a higher level of competence in their field of study. Students write their research paper under the guidance of staff with relevant expertise.


I chose ISS because of its international reputation and its expertise in relevant research in the area of development studies

To see more testimonials click on the major(s) that you are interested below.

  • Major in Agrarian, Food and Environmental Studies

    Agrarian, Food and Environmental Studies (AFES) offers an interdisciplinary approach to understanding and confronting the impacts of global capitalist development on agrarian structures and environmental systems.

    Studying in the canteen
  • Major in Economics of Development

    The Economics of Development (ECD) major provides students with the theoretical knowledge, policy awareness, and analytical techniques to tackle many of the key issues facing their countries in respect of economic development and economic policy analysis.

  • Major in Governance and Development Policy

    The Governance and Development Policy (GDP) Major provides students with insights and skills relevant to understanding and affecting governance processes at local and national levels.

  • Major in Human Rights, Gender and Conflict Studies: Social Justice Perspectives

    The Social Justice Perspectives (SJP) Major offers critical reflections on issues relating to gender, human rights, conflict and social mobilization, which are all key to social justice.

  • Major in Social Policy for Development

    The Major in Social Policy for Development (SPD) offers an interdisciplinary, critical approach to the analysis of the problems of social reproduction and social provisioning within a context of development and associated social and structural transformations.

  • Governance of Migration and Diversity (GMD) track

    The Governance, Migration and Diversity (GMD) track equips students to work on current challenges around migration issues and how to manage them.

Teaching at ISS

The teaching offerings are attuned to the diverse backgrounds of ISS students. All students receive thorough academic counselling at the beginning of the programme to help them determine their study paths. The counselling, which is given by the convener of each Major, provides information about the compulsory and optional courses, in particular about the foundation, research techniques and major courses.

Students may take voluntary remedial courses to make up for a deficiency or weak background knowledge.

After the Christmas break, students take courses to further deepen their study of a theme or element of the Major or to focus on a topic not exclusively related to their field of study.


Within the MA programme students have an option to specialize further with one of our specializations. Take a look at the current specializations on offer.

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