Economic & Social Development of Regions

Master's Program

Master of Arts in Economic and Social Development of Regions

The Master of Arts in Economic and Social Development of Regions is designed to serve students from a variety of backgrounds. It attracts recent undergraduates from liberal arts fields such as social sciences (Economics, Sociology, Psychology, Political Science) and History, and also from practice-oriented fields such as Management, Education, and Engineering.

For those already working in public or private sector fields related to economic and social development, it can enhance skills and provide opportunities for career advancement. It is specifically designed to speak to the interests of international students as well as domestic ones.

Graduates of the program will be prepared to assume professional roles in local, state, and national government agencies (in the United States and abroad); in research, consulting, and planning aspects of business; and in non-profit organizations working on economic or social development. Students who choose to do so will also be prepared to go on to doctoral programs in social sciences, history, public policy, planning, and management.

In the Master’s program, courses can be selected to address the student's particular interests in one of six Focus Areas:

  1. Policy at the National, State, and Local level
  2. Global Development and International Policy
  3. Community Development, Social Policy, and Non-Profit Management
  4. Innovation, Technology, and Policy
  5. Environment and Sustainability
  6. Research Methods

Admissions Requirements

The Economic and Social Development of Regions Master's program at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell is designed not only for recent college graduates, but also for older, non-traditional, and mid-career students with experience in a variety of work and community settings. The requirements for admission include:

  1. Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution college or university.
  2. An undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 or better. Applicants must submit an official transcript from their undergraduate institution.
  3. Acceptable scores on the Graduate Record Examination Aptitude Test. (Use of GMAT scores may be approved by the graduate coordinator.) Students for whom English is not a national language must also submit a score for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
  4. Three letters of reference from individuals familiar with the educational and/or professional performance of the applicant.
  5. A personal letter including a statement about the applicant's professional interests, educational and work qualifications, and future goals.
  6. A curriculum vitae summarizing education and work experience.
  7. An interview may be requested by the Graduate Admissions Committee.
  8. Proof of residency.

Students may be admitted in one of two categories:

  1. Matriculated student. A fully accepted degree candidate who meets all criteria.
  2. Matriculated with conditions. From time to time, a student may be accepted conditionally into the program. To become a fully matriculated student, the student must receive at least a 3.0 grade point average in nine credit hours of Economic and Social Development of Regions graduate level courses, while also completing any conditions established by the Graduate Admissions Committee. Conditional matriculation requires that students meet conditions 1 and 2 above.

Part-Time and Full-Time Study

MA students may attend either full-time or part-time. Most courses will be scheduled in the evening. Courses will be offered in fall and spring terms, and some courses may be available during the summer. Students taking a full-time load of 12 credits per semester can finish the program in three semesters. Students taking 9 or more credits in a semester will be considered full-time students.

Transfer Credit

Matriculated students in Economic and Social Development of Regions may transfer up to 12 credits of course work completed at other accredited universities, provided that such courses are within the content area of Regional Economic and Social Development, and do not involve credit for field experience or professional work. Such transfer credit is subject to the approval of the Department Graduate Curriculum Committee and the Registrar's Office, and all University policies governing graduate transfer credit.

Degree Requirements

A total of 30 (for project) or 33 (for thesis) academic credits, at least 18 of which must be taken at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell with a grade average of B or better, is required for completion of the degree.

The course of study includes two compulsory core courses (six credits):

  • 57.506 Research Methods in Economic and Social Development
  • 57.513 Foundations of Comparative Regional Development

The course of study must also include three of the following six courses (9 credits):

  • 57.503 Work, Technology, and Training
  • 57.511 Dynamics of Power and Authority, Diversity, and Inequality
  • 57.537 Developing Economies
  • 57.592 Qualitative Research Methods
  • 57.593 Advanced Quantitative Methods
  • 57.598 Organizational Dynamics in Regional Development

Students are also required to complete an additional 12 credits of course credits, and either six credits of thesis or three credits of project. The 12 credits of additional course requirements can be satisfied in a wide variety of ways. Students are encouraged to take advantage of six focus areas that specify additional course work in particular areas. However, students are also encouraged to tailor their program to achieve their own learning and career goals, by combining courses, independent study, and practica as appropriate. Non-core course selections must be approved in advance by the student's graduate advisor.

Thesis or Project

The capstone to the degree program is a thesis or project demonstrating the student's mastery of the field. Typically, the thesis (6 credits) involves a substantial piece of research in economic and social development, whereas the project (3 credits) involves carrying out and documenting a professional problem-solving activity. In some cases, more in-depth problem-solving activities may qualify for thesis status. Thesis or project work is supervised on an ongoing basis by the student's thesis/project supervisor.

Graduate Advisor

Each newly matriculated student in the program will be assigned to an academic advisor from among the faculty of the graduate program. The student will meet with his/her academic advisor on a regular basis throughout the course of study to discuss course selections, planning for practica, and the development of the thesis or project. In particular, all non-core course selections require prior approval from the academic advisor. Each student will, in addition, select a faculty member to supervise his/her thesis or project. The student will retain his/her academic advisor to provide guidance on selection of remaining courses.

BA/MA and BS/MA Options

Undergraduate majors in related fields at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell may enroll in a BA/MA or BS/MA program that allows eligible students to complete both degrees in five years. Application for this program typically occurs in the junior year and applicants must meet all eligibility requirements, including a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. Additional information is available from the Graduate Coordinator.