Designed to train future leaders and change makers in addressing pressing global development issues, such as inequalities and unacceptable levels of poverty, through evidence-based strategies to promote inclusive, sustainable growth and human development, guided by the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN's 2030 Agenda. 


The Economic and Political Development (EPD) concentration equips students with a broad understanding of the processes of economic, political, and social change in the developing world, as well as a more focused competence in specific fields, such as financial inclusion, small business and social enterprise development, corporate social responsibility, gender and development, education or health policy, sustainable development, and post-conflict reconstruction and governance. Through an interdisciplinary package of courses, workshop projects, and practical internships, you’ll gain key skills in policy analysis, program planning, project management, monitoring, and evaluation for inclusive and sustainable development. When combined with the Data Analytics and Quantitative Analysis Specialization, EPD constitutes a STEM-designated program. For more information, see here

Who It’s For

The EPD concentration attracts diverse students from around the world who are committed to fighting inequality between and within countries, eradicating poverty and its causes, and promoting inclusive, sustainable growth and human development by expanding people’s civil, political, economic, and social rights and freedoms. EPD concentrators include students with prior experience in development, as well as students seeking to shift from other fields. 

Career Paths

EPD graduates are suited to internationally focused careers, going on to become managers, advisors, analysts, and change agents with organizations in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, including governments, multilateral institutions (including the UN system and development banks), consulting firms, financial institutions, think tanks, foundations, non-government organizations (NGOs), and social enterprises.

 View employment data

Curriculum & Courses

The EPD concentration complements the core MIA and MPA curricula with a broader and deeper understanding of development economics, the political context of development, and trends and good practices in the international development field, guided by the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN's 2030 Agenda.

Concentration Requirements

Students must complete a total of 18 credits, consisting of six three-point courses (including the Capstone Workshop in Sustainable Development Practice, which satisfies the Capstone requirement for MIA and MPA students):

  • Two core courses (one in economic dimensions of sustainable development and one in political dimensions of sustainable development)
  • Two sustainable development practice courses (Methods for Sustainable Development Practice and Capstone Workshop in Sustainable Development Practice)
  • Two courses in a focus area (economic, political, social or environmental dimensions of sustainable development)


How much flexibility is there within the EPD curriculum?

Beyond the core requirements, EPD allows for a considerable amount of flexibility with courses. As an EPD student, you are able to dive into your chosen focus area by choosing from an extensive list of curated courses, supplementing your schedule with courses from other SIPA concentrations, and pursuing opportunities at other Columbia schools. In fact, EPD has traditionally been one of the largest MIA-MPA concentrations because it allows students to explore a variety of interests while fulfilling concentration requirements.

Which specialization fits well with EPD concentration?

Each specialization can be tailored to mesh with the EPD curriculum. Students may select whatever specialization will help fulfill their professional goals.

What is the difference between the Capstone workshop and the capstone Workshop in sustainable Development Practice?

The Capstone workshop is a degree requirement for all MIA and MPA students. EPD has its own version of the Capstone workshop program called the Capstone Workshop in Sustainable Development Practice, which is a required course for EPD students in their second year and is part of a two-course sustainable development practice series through which students gain practical skills and experience working with external clients on various development related projects. The Capstone Workshop in Sustainable Development Practice runs from early November until early May, and usually involves an overseas study trip, either during winter or spring break.

What internship opportunities do EPD students pursue?

Completing an internship is a degree requirement for all MIA and MPA students. Since many EPD students come to SIPA to change careers, internships provide a valuable opportunity to build a resume with relevant experiences, hone new skills and expand professional networks. EPD students pursue internships in public, private, and nonprofit sectors, with many interning in New York City at the United Nations, prominent foundations, global NGOs, financial institutions and consulting firms, and the growing tech and startup industries. EPD students interested in the US federal government also seek opportunities in Washington DC, and many opt to arrange summer internships abroad to develop international experience. The EPD concentration provides wide support to students in identifying internships through advising, alumni connections, and events.