International Development Doctoral Program

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to complete the International Development Doctoral program?

This is typically a 3-year program if a student is going full time with 2 years of coursework and 1 year completing a dissertation. Most students are full-time working professionals and opt to take 6 credit hours per semester (part-time) and complete in 4-5 years.

What is the minimum number of hours I need to enroll in each semester?

A student must be enrolled in a minimum of 1.0 credit hour each semester (excluding summer) in order to stay enrolled in the program. Most classes are 3.0 credit hours a term.

How are the synchronous courses structured?

Synchronous courses are held on the computer using specialized software that allows the class and professor to interact with each other. They are generally held one time a week at either 5:00 pm CST or 7:00 pm CST for two hours per class. Classes generally held on Monday, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

What is the complete cost of the program?

The program costs include in state tuition, an IDV program fee, and cost associated with books, materials, supplies and travel and lodging associated with the in person sessions. Tuition can change each year to please check on the International Development website to check the most recent tuition and fee rates.

Are there assistantships available within the program?

Yes, there are a limited number of graduate assistantships available in the program. They are awarded on a competitive basis. An assistantship includes a tuition waiver and a monetary stipend. If you are interested in applying for an assistantship you need to included a memo stating that fact in your application packet to the program. Assistantships require 20 hours a week of time from the part of the student.

Do you need to live in Mississippi to qualify for an assistantship?

No, Students need not live in Mississippi in order to hold a graduate assistantship. Generally if the student lives out of state, they perform research for the program. Students are required to work 20 hours per week on their assistantship.

What is the GPA required for acceptance into the program?

A 3.5 on a 4.0 scale is required to be eligible for regular admission into the program. A student may be accepted into the program conditionally with a 3.25 GPA.

What GRE/GMAT score is required for acceptance into the program?

We do not have a minimum score for the GRE or GMAT. Instead the application review committee reviews the whole application portfolio for admission. We encourage students to submit the strongest application possible including GRE/GMAT scores, letters of recommendation, research statement, and all other materials.

Can I enroll in courses if I have not been accepted into the program?

No. We currently do not allow anyone who has not been accepted into the program enroll in International Development courses. If you are interested in getting a feel for the program, please feel free to join us for an In-Person Session in Long Beach, Mississippi. You may contact Elizabeth Hughes for more information.

Is it possible to have the In-Person Sessions waived?

No, the In-Person Sessions are vital to each of the International Development courses and Ph.D. level program work. In- Person sessions allow for students and professors to meet on a face to face basis. Students and graduate program talk about how invaluable the in person session are/were to their development into a scholar. It would be a disservice to the student and the professors not to have this requirement.

How many letters of recommendation are required to apply to the program?

At least three letters of recommendation are required in order to apply to the program. We request that two of the three letters originate in academia, specifically from a professor who has had you in their class.

I have been out of graduate school for a while. What do I do if I am unable to get letters of recommendation from my former professors?

Professors do change universities and retire, but the department can often give you a forwarding address so that you may contact them. If you are unable to contact any of your former professors, contact your former department and request them to write a letter of recommendation based upon your transcripts.

My Master's degree is not from one of the disciplines listed on the International Development website. Can I still apply to the program?

Yes, you may still apply to the program. It is important that you have research interests that can be justified in the International Development setting and that you have a strong research background. In short, the burden is on the applicant to show knowledge and past research experience on how this makes a good "fit" into the program.

Is it possible to waive the research/study abroad?

No, we do not waive the study abroad because it is a vital to complete this study abroad in order to further their research. Students can meet the research/study abroad requirement in one of two ways. Method one is that we offer a research/study abroad class each summer that runs 10- 12 days in the field and additional work before and after the field work. This is scheduled to allow for working professionals to take time off work to meet this requirement. Additionally, a student can work directly with her/his committee to create an individualized research abroad program for data collection. This path is not often followed since it is more work on the student.

How many people have graduated from the program?

The program is entering its twelfth year of existence and we are proud to have over 30 graduates who have entered a variety of fields (data as of January 2011).

Is the program accredited?

The University of Southern Mississippi is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the accreditation association for our region. Our program does not have accreditation since we are interdisciplinary in nature and no such agency exists to accredit such programs. Most social science programs do not have accrediting agencies associated with as business schools and nursing programs do.

Where can I find more information about the program?

You can find more information about the International Development program at You may also contact the International Development recruiter, Elizabeth Hughes at

What are the career options with a Ph.D. in International Development?

Most of our students are working professionals who opted to take the career route after their Bachelors and/or Masters degree(s). The path they did not follow was the path to a Ph.D. The International Development Doctoral program now offers that road open again to these people. Our graduates leverage their interdisciplinary social science degree in a number of ways including: promotion within their existing organization, an opportunity to change careers, a method to become a professor in a college or university, or to begin a consulting business.

What happens if I need to take a semester off from school?

The faculty of the International Development program understand that our students often have full time jobs and other responsibilities that may conflict with them being enrolled in the program. In order to fulfill the requirement of being continuously enrolled in the program, the department allows the student to enroll in one credit hour for the semester that they wish to sit out. Failure to enroll in at least 1.0 credit hour per term results in being dropped from the program.

When are admission deadlines?

The deadline for fall semester admission is May 15th and the deadline for the spring semester admission is October 15th.

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