Development Studies


Development Studies examines the interaction of social, economic and political development in contemporary societies and is therefore, necessarily an interdisciplinary enterprise. Development Studies concentrators develop the skills and knowledge best suited to their chosen geographical area of interest, emphasizing what is historically and culturally distinctive about the region and how its development reflects general processes of socio-economic change. While the concentration produces graduates with expertise in the study of development, most concentrators combine their course work with first-hand experience in the developing world. Course selection should balance analytic training with local and historical knowledge. Therefore, courses must be taken in at least three social science disciplines to achieve an interdisciplinary approach to these processes of change.

Student Goals

Students in this concentration will:

  • Understand issues of development from sociological, economic, and political perspectives
  • Develop fluency in a second language
  • Gain experience in social science research methods
  • Engage in fieldwork to attain local knowledge of a developing culture
  • Produce a substantial piece of original research or creative work


Click here for a list of the Development Studies concentration requirements. For more information about this concentration, please visit the department's website.

Honors and Capstones

View Honors website

All concentrators are required to write a senior thesis. However, students who demonstrate exceptional scholarship are recommended for Honors in the concentration. DS students do not have to apply for Honors. All students who fulfill the following requirements will be recommended for honors: a minimum grade average in concentration courses of 3.5 and a thesis judged by both advisors as meriting Honors. Please see the program website for more information.

Liberal Learning

This concentration allows you to address the following Liberal Learning goals:

  • Expand your reading skills
  • Collaborate fully
  • Understand differences among cultures
  • Embrace diversity
  • Engage with your community
  • Learn what it means to study the past
  • Evaluate human behavior
  • Work on your speaking and writing

Download the full statement on Liberal Learning at Brown

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Affiliated Departments


Graduating Class

Year Total Capstone Honors
201034 34 24 
201130 30 21 
201214 14 10 
201316 16 

Alumni Pathways

Development Studies alumni have gone on to work as university faculty and researchers for domestic and international non-governmental organizations, as well as in finance and public health. 

See more details on the CareerLAB website.

Dept. Undergraduate Group

Visit this DUG's website to learn more.

If you are an advisor and would like to make changes to the information on this page, contact, or email Dean Besenia Rodriguez.