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UB's first MDP Cohort started in early September 2010 with preparation for their first residential Module. 23 admitted candidates initially confirmed their attendance, representing a cohort from 6 countries, with an average age of 36, and an average 10 years of professional experience from all walks of life: Teachers, Health Workers, Ministry Employees, Local Government, Private Companies with academic backgrounds in IT, Food Science, Nursing, Management, Agriculture, Humanities, Education, Economics, Social Sciences, Finance, Journalism. Half of them already with Postgraduate Qualifications including four Masters; half male, half female. The second cohort of the modular MDP will start in September 2011 with the application deadline set for 30th April, 2011.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.     What is a Master’s in Development Practice degree?

The Master’s in Development Practice (MDP) at UB is a 28-month modular degree (compared to the two-year full-time programmes at other MDP Institutions) providing graduate-level students with the skills and knowledge required to better identify and address the global challenges of sustainable development, such as poverty, population, health, conservation, climate change, and human rights. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (MAF) committed $15 million over the next three years to enable the introduction of MDP programmes at universities worldwide. In June 2009, MAF named 10 universities to receive significant grants to establish new MDP programs.  Columbia University launched its program in September 2009, while the other nine universities will launch their programs in the fall of 2010. In May 2010, another 10 universities were announced.

2.     Why did MacArthur create the Master’s in Development Practice degree?

In 2007 the MacArthur- supported International Commission on Education for Development Professionals, found that worldwide, many people working in the field of development are not sufficiently prepared to tackle the challenges they face. The creation of MDP programs is an acknowledgement that addressing extreme poverty and sustainable development throughout the world requires expert knowledge and an interdisciplinary approach.

3.     Why a new separate degree rather than a concentration within an existing Master’s program?

Currently the bulk of development leaders are trained in narrow fields, usually in the social sciences, such as economics. By broadening their training and providing them with a knowledge base including health sciences, natural sciences, social sciences, and management, they will be able to more effectively understand and address the root causes of extreme poverty and the challenges of sustainable development.

4.     Why were the universities that received grants chosen? 

The grants were very competitive. There was widespread global interest in establishing local MDP programs – with MacArthur receiving 140 letters of interest. Ultimately, over 70 universities in North America, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Latin America submitted proposals. The quality and diversity of the proposals indicate strong interest in expanding development studies around the world. The 20 universities chosen were selected for a number of reasons, including support from top university leadership and the quality of faculty across four core competencies: natural sciences, health sciences, social sciences and management. They also were chosen because of the strength of their infrastructure and academic programs; their ability to serve as a regional hub; the geographic representation among students; and a timeline and business plan for financial sustainability when funding ends in three years.

5.  What do these grants mean for the regions where these universities are located?

The grants help recognize some of the very fine universities across the globe that have the infrastructure, interest, and ability to strengthen their expertise as world leaders in the future of development. Every one of the universities that was selected to establish a MDP program is well positioned to create a program that attracts strong regional, national and international support in terms of students and faculty. These universities will develop innovative, inter-disciplinary programs that will become models for other institutions of higher learning to emulate. 

6.   Why did MAF select Columbia as the first programme and what is its role within the MDP network?

John McArthur, CEO of Millennium Promise, and Jeffrey D. Sachs, the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, was instrumental in creating the International Commission on Education for Development Professionals, which MacArthur supported. The Commission provided the insights and recommendations that ultimately led to the development of the MDP degree. As an outgrowth of that preliminary work, Columbia University’s Earth Institute, in cooperation with the School of International and Public Affairs, created the first MDP program that launched in the fall of 2009. In addition, MacArthur established a Global Master’s in Development Practice Secretariat based at Columbia. The Secretariat will help manage the development of the MDP programs, develop an open-source repository for the MDP curriculum and other teaching materials, and will offer an online, global classroom on sustainable development for students worldwide. The Secretariat will also manage the MDP network of universities and additional programs for MDP graduates, including continuing education opportunities, networking, and development of course materials including cases.

7.     What type of student will seek this degree?

We believe that a wide range of development professionals will seek the degree including officials with inter-governmental organizations, developed and developing-country ministries, aid agencies, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and the private sector. The MDP programs being developed will provide these individuals with training beyond the typical classroom study of economics and management found in most development studies programs.

8.   Beyond the number of students graduating, how will success of the program be determined?

By 2012, the MacArthur Foundation expects a total of 750 students to be enrolled in programs worldwide. Beyond that, we hope to see over the next 10-20 years a critical mass of programs develop globally and for the MDP to become an internationally recognized degree much like a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

9.  How does UB’s MDP differ from the programmes at other MDP network universities?

The University of Botswana is in the process to launch a new breed of modular programmes in Botswana which addresses the need to provide life-long-learning opportunities for graduate students and professionals residential/employed outside Gaborone and to support their employing organisations nationwide and in the region. UB’s MDP will be based on eight intensive residential modules (totalling 21 weeks of on-campus tuition) and two practical placements (the latter including a compulsory in-company research project in compliance with regional qualification frameworks).

10.  How can 21 weeks compare to 4 semester of full-time coursework?

The International Commission’s Report recommends 143 learning outcomes which need to be achieved by a course workload equivalent to 54 US credits. With 1,040 workload hours during the 21 residential 6-day-weeks, the number of class room hours is equivalent to the full-time mode MDP programmes. In addition, 1,185 hours are needed for self-study and assignments during the off-campus interim periods, and 900 hours for the two placements. The total workload translates into 125 ECTS credits (European Credit Transfer System) or 312.5 SAQA credits. UB’s delivery mode has been designed to minimise the total days off-work needed to complete the programme; we believe this approach will make it easier for participants to gain support from their employing organisations.

11. How does this workload translate into the eight modules?      

Two courses and a seminar make up each of the first four 2-week intensive block modules (9 ECTS credits, 100 residential hours) with 101 (24) hours of preparatory (post) work each [the second 2-week module is immediately followed by a week of field visits to local development projects]. Three courses and a workshop or mini-group-project make up each of the subsequent four three-week intensive block modules (12 ECTS credits, 144 residential hours) with 120 (36) hours of preparatory (post) work each. Seminars, workshops, and mini-projects are employed to deepen the cross-disciplinary understanding of the topics covered in the courses. The time intervals between modules are set to accommodate full-time employed participants who will require 12 hours of self-study and assignments per week during off-campus phases (with online support via collaboration software). Anyone able to devote more hours per week for preparation will require less weeks (e.g. 2-3 weeks in case of full-time 40 hour/week preparation). 

12.  What happens if I cannot attend a particular module due to job demands or illness?

All modules are self-contained so that ability to attend for a particular period of two or three weeks always includes the potential for successful completion of the coursework covered (this approach also ensures one-visit study/teaching opportunities for international students/academics). For UB’s MDP modules, the expected core competencies and learning outcomes of the four key disciplines recommended by the MDP Commission have been re-clustered in a way, so that the modules can also be offered as stand-alone options for professional development or part of other programmes. In conclusion: although the sequence of modules has been chosen to provide a coherent path of progression, none of the modules are linked by pre-requisite relationships; a module missed can be attended later together with the participants of the following cohort. 

13. Is there an alternative to the completion of the whole programme?

The award of the Master’s in Development Practice is closely linked to the recommendations and demands of the International Commission’s Report and – in UB’s case - the completion of an integrated research project. However, the successful completion of the first three 2-week modules (27 credits) as well as one of the five other modules and the field training programme will result in the award of a Postgraduate Diploma in Development Management. Although this option might suit individual circumstances, it will also provide an alternative to employing organisations not willing to initially commit support for participants for the whole MDP programme. The Postgraduate Diploma will allow the holder to commence with the Master’s in Development Practice at any time in the future.

14. What about the fees and payments?

The programme fees are dependent on the number of credits of the MDP components. Nationals from Botswana and SADC currently pay 817 BWP per credit (940 from 2011/12), students from other countries pay 50% more: 1,226 BWP (1,410 from 2011/12). The MDP programme runs over 28 months and, thus, will be affected by fee increases in future academic years. A table in the MDP brochure provides estimates, e.g. ~46,500 BWP for the Postgraduate Diploma or ~113,000 for the Master (placement option instead of field programme), both for students from Botswana and SADC countries. Certain additional fees are listed in UB’s Calendar, including hostel and refectory fees. The MDP programme fees have to be paid in order to register for the particular MDP modules and components. After receiving the appropriate payment (possible by bank transfer), the programme coordinator will provide access to the relevant materials necessary for preparation of the modules.          

15. Are scholarships available?   

Unfortunately, this is not the case. The fees have to be fully paid by the participants or their respective sponsors. Some financial assistance has been included in the MAF grant received, but it will be available on a competitive basis and refers to research and travelling expenses only. 

16. How does UB assure the quality of its MDP?

To assure potential participants of value for money and to safeguard their financial, emotional and time investments, UB’s MDP is fully compliant with regional and international NQF standards (National Qualification Frameworks). The additional approval by a European accreditation agency during 2011 will not only provide evidence of the quality of UB’s MDP, but will also drive the internationalisation of the programme; the upcoming accreditation provides ease of recognition of UB’s programme modules for graduate qualifications at international partner institutions in Africa and overseas, and adds value to those international programmes through attractive and uncomplicated student/staff visiting and/or exchange options.