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MA Development Studies Top Colleges, Syllabus, Scope and Salary

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Pranjal Singhal

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MA Development Studies or Masters in Development Studies is a 2-year post graduation course which is offered in various universities and colleges throughout India. The main eligibility criterion for this course is that the student should have cleared their graduation from a UGC recognized college with at least 50% marks.

Some of the top institutes which conduct admissions for MA development studies are:

Some universities conduct entrance tests also.

  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences conducts TISSNET to give admission to students in the course of MA.
  • IIT Madras conducts HSEE
  • IIT Guwahati also conducts entrance test for its MA courses.
  • NIT Rourkela conducts its own selection process for admission to MA development studies.
The admissions to MA development studies begin generally in the month of May and June. Though the TISS-NET exam for admission to TISS will be conducted on January 4, 2020 this year. IIT Madras’ HSEE will be conducted on 19th April 2020. NIT Rourkela generally releases the application forms in April which can be filled up to the last day of May. But this is subjected to change.

MA Development Studies deals with the various aspects and challenges of development and public policy. Students study the fundamentals of various topics like economics, geography, society, and human growth. They study about project management, behavioral science, foreign languages, and perform a lot of fieldwork.

The average course fees per annum for MA development studies range from INR 5,000 to INR 1.5 Lakhs.

What can you do with a degree in development studies?

Students passing this course can work in many government and private sectors, They can work in consultancies, PSUs, NGOs, and research organizations. They can work as a Consultant, Administrator, Social Worker, Enterprise Account Manager, Teacher, etc.

The average starting salary for this course ranges between INR 2.5 Lakhs to INR 6 Lakhs.

Top Colleges for Master of Arts [MA] (Development Studies)

MA Development Studies: Highlights?

Course Level Masters
Examination Type Semester-wise/Year-wise
Eligibility for the program Graduation in Arts stream with minimum of 50% marks.
Duration of the program 2 years
Number of students enrolled in Arts Programs Over 70 Lakh
Average Tuition Fee (per annum) INR 5,000 to INR 1.5 Lakhs
Average Salary (per annum) INR 2.5-6 Lakhs
Job Profiles Consultant, Administrator, Social Worker, Teacher, Lecturer, etc.

MA Development Studies: What is it about?

Development Studies has its origin in Economics but in recent years it has emerged as a multidisciplinary field. In MA development studies, a student has to study elements from Sociology, Political Science and Economics among other allied disciplines. Every society or community has its own needs and requirements when it comes to development. Hence to develop public policy, it is imperative to remember the unique context of the community which is why the course is multidisciplinary in nature.

It helps develop an informed perspective on development practices across communities in various countries, especially India. Students admitted to the course learn about the various issues and challenges which hinder the development of a particular community. It raises awareness regarding inequalities and discrimination of marginalized groups in a community.

This course is perfect for those who wish to understand the dynamics of development in a developing country like India. This course is appropriate for those who have a knack to understand sociology, polity, economy, and history of a community.

MA Development Studies: Course Outline

The below table gives a course outline of MA development studies.

Semester 1 Semester 2
Fundamentals of Economics Human Development
Fundamentals of Geography Project Management
Introduction to Development Studies Social Work Research
Communication skills & Behavioural Science Programming Techniques
Semester 3 Semester 4
Micro Finance Disaster Management
Gender & Development Environment Management
Rural & Urban Development Civil Society
Development of Administration & Planning Block Placement

MA Development Studies: Top Institutes

Institute Name Location Average Fee (per annum)
Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati INR 32,000
Jawaharlal Nehru University-[JNU] New Delhi INR 400
National Institute of Technology Rourkela INR 47,000
Annamalai University Chidambaram INR 6,000
Amity University Noida INR 1,36,000
Indira Gandhi National Open University-[IGNOU] New Delhi INR 5,500
Tata Institute of Social Sciences Mumbai INR 72,500
DAV PG College Dehradun INR 4,500
Central University of South Bihar Patna INR 14,000
University of Kota Kota INR 7,500
Azim Premji University Bangalore INR 75,000
Tata Institute of Social Sciences Hyderabad INR 64,500

MA Development Studies: Eligibility

The main eligibility criterion for this course is that the student should have cleared their graduation from a UGC recognized college. The graduation should have been done in an Arts stream or any related/allied subject. Also, the student should have obtained a minimum of 50% marks in the qualifying exam. Though certain universities like DAV PG College, Dehradun, also give admissions to students who have obtained 40% in their graduation. 

Certain institutes like Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Hyderabad also admit Development practitioners and NGO staff with a valid Bachelor’s degree.

MA Development Studies: Admission Process

Universities offering this course begin to release application forms in the month of February and March and the process continues till the month of June. Students who have completed their Bachelor degree or are in the final year of the program can apply for the program. The Admission process can best be summed as:

  • Application Form
  • Entrance Test
  • GD/PI

Once the application process is over, students have to sit for an entrance examination. Some of the institutes which conduct entrance examination for admission to MA Development Studies are:

  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences
  • Ambedkar University, Delhi
  • Azim Premji University, Bengaluru
  • Jamia Millia Islamia University, Delhi

The Entrance examination, such as TISSNET,  for masters in Development Studies usually consists of two types of questions – Objective and Descriptive. Depending upon the university, there might be only objective questions in the test or only descriptive type questions.

The questions are asked from a range of topics. Some of the topics are:

  • Current Affairs
  • General Knowledge
  • English Proficiency
  • Quantitative Aptitude
  • Logical Reasoning

Selection Process

Offer for admission to MA Development Studies is based on the performance in written test and personal interview. Certain Institutes like TISS Mumbai, also conduct a Group Discussion before a personal interview. The respective weightage assigned to each criterion is given below. 

Criteria Weightage (%)
Entrance Test 40
Group Discussion 30
Personal Interview 30

MA Development Studies: Distance Learning

There are many colleges and universities which offer MA Development Studies in distance learning mode too. IGNOU is very pularly known for this. Apart from IGNOU, many state open universities also offer this course in distance learning mode.

While pursuing the course in  distance learning mode, the course duration can go up to 5 years.

MA Development Studies: Career Prospects


There are a lot of career opportnities after pursuing masters in development studies. The major recruiting industries are:

  • Consultancies
  • Government PSUs
  • NGOs
  • Corporate Organizations
  • Research Organizations

Students get to work in roles such as:

  • Public Policy Consultant
  • Social Worker
  • Teacher
  • Lecturer
  • Researcher

To learn more, click here.

Higher Studies

Those who want to study further also have many doors opened for them. Students, after completing masters in development studies, can go for courses like M.Phil. in Development Studies or Ph.D. in Development Studies.

Master of Arts [MA] (Development Studies) Fee Structure in India

2.60 K (Minimum Fee)PUBLIC COLLEGES1.80 L  (Maximum Fee)
43.36 K (Average Fee)
45 K (Minimum Fee)Private COLLEGES2.12 L (Maximum Fee)
1.13 L (Average Fee)


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