An Evaluation of the Master's in Development Practice Initiative
February 2012 | Evaluation | Master's in Development Practice

Total Awarded: $17 Million
Total Grants: 24
Duration: 2007 - 2012
Geographic Focus: 17 countries around the world


The Foundation invested in the Master’s in Development Practice (MDP) to train a new generation of development practitioners with the technical and practical skills necessary to diagnose and address the interlinked global problems of sustainable development and poverty. This program was designed as a time-bound initiative for the Foundation.

What We Evaluated

The Foundation commissioned this evaluation to examine (1) the quality and strength of the individual programs and Global MDP Association, (2) the capacity of the Global MDP Secretariat to support the Association, (3) the demand for the program as demonstrated by the quantity, quality, and caliber of students attracted, and (4) the future viability, sustainability, and replicability of the MDP model at other institutions of higher learning. The evaluation team used a mixed method approach. They administered online surveys to MDP institutional leaders, reviewed documents related to the inception and implementation of the initiative, and conducted in-depth interviews with MDP directors, program staff, and students.

What We Learned

  • Twenty-two full MDP degree programs were in operation, with two more poised to launch in the fall of 2013.
  • Institutions offering an MDP degree program formed the Global MDP Network (or the Global Association of MDP Programs), providing a platform for sharing ideas, experiences, and expertise.
  • All MDP students from across the world participated synchronously in a “Global Classroom” via video connections.
  • A Secretariat coordinated all components of the initiative. The Secretariat provided vital operational and programmatic support to the initiative and its components. It was largely responsible for keeping the Network going.
  • At the time of the evaluation, one program had graduated two cohorts of students, and 10 programs had graduated one cohort. A total of 1,154 students had enrolled in MDP programs since the launch of the first program; 376 of them had graduated.
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