foreign city in mountains


An IAS Major Concentration

Study how societies evolve over time.

All societies change over time, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. In this concentration you explore different conceptions of development and why some societies develop while others languish? What accounts for disparities in longevity, wealth, and access to food and healthcare? How can we explain differences in extreme poverty, malnutrition, and treatable disease? You consider how societies move from being heavily rural to those with higher levels of urbanization? What explains differences in political, civil and economic liberties? What accounts for differences in gender rights and opportunity? What are the implications of climate change and environmental distress?

Concentration objectives

The IAS concentration in Development offers an interdisciplinary approach to examine why some societies develop politically, socially, and economically while others languish. You can explore disparities in wealth, political freedoms, gender rights, urbanization, access to basic resources like food and healthcare, environmental conditions, and social justice.


To satisfy the concentration requirements, browse the available courses.

Browse Development Courses


This concentration requires 36 units of coursework:

  • 3 units of Research Methods coursework [any level]
  • 6 units of introductory coursework from two different academic disciplines
  • 9 units of advanced coursework from the Core courses list [300-400 level]
  • 15 units of advanced Development coursework from a minimum of three different academic disciplines. IAS denominated (home-based) courses can count as an IAS course or as a course from the instructor’s home discipline to fulfill the interdisciplinary requirement.
  • 3 units of additional coursework [any level]

NB At least six units of advanced coursework must be at the 400 level.

Additional requirements:

  • Students must fulfill the standard IAS foreign language requirement:  the successful completion of four semesters of one (1) language appropriate to their concentration.
  • We strongly encourage students to study abroad. For those students who do not study abroad, an additional 3 unit course at the 300 or 400 level is required.
  • We strongly prefer students to select their study abroad location and their regional specializations consistent with their chosen language of study (e.g., students who wish to study in Latin America must satisfy their language requirement with either Spanish or Portuguese).
  • Throughout the course of completing the Development concentration, students must show depth in at least one world area by taking a minimum two courses focused on the same area, and breadth by taking a third course focused on a different area. We consider world areas to be Africa, East Asia, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, North America and South Asia.
  • All advanced credits counting for the IAS major must be unique to the IAS major.
  • Students must receive a grade of C+ or higher in all IAS courses; all courses taken for IAS credit must be taken for a letter grade, including language courses.

NB A single course may satisfy more than one of the distribution requirements (i.e. disciplinary or world area). Some of these requirements may be completed while abroad.


If you have questions about this major concentration, please contact Professor Sobel.

Contact Professor Sobel