ESDR Focus Areas

The Master of Arts in Economic and Social Development of Regions allows students to focus their elective courses in a particular topic or policy area of personal or professional interest. Students are not obligated to follow any of these focus areas but may take any elective courses he or she prefers and build their own curriculum.  However concentrating on a specific focus area may better suit the student’s interests or better further their career or educational goals.

Below are the focus areas in which students may direct their studies. In each area we list relevant jobs our graduates have obtained and PhD programs to which graduates of our program have gained admission.  In a small number of cases, we list jobs or PhD programs under two topic areas because they are appropriate for both.

Policy at the National, State, and Local Levels

This area is largely focused on US policy.  There is overlap between this topic area and Community Development, Social Policy and Non-profit Management. Courses in this area explore public policy in terms of labor, gender, social welfare, as well as sustainable housing, and municipal management.

Graduates who have focused in this area have found employment in Federal, State, and City level agencies as well as private non-profit and for profit research organizations, typically focused on economic and social development issues. In some cases, graduates who concentrated in this area are also working on social policy issues. Our students have been employed by:

  • US Department of State, USAID, Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, Senior Conflict Specialist
  • US Department of State, Columbia Desk, Deputy
  • US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Survey Statistician
  • US Smithsonian Institution, Budget Analyst
  • US Congresswoman Nikki Tsongas, Staff
  • U.S. Department of Labor- Wage & Hour Division, Investigator
  • Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Immigration Officer
  • Massachusetts Department of Administration and Finance, Budget Analyst 
  • Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Economic Analyst
  • Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Transportation Planner
  • City of Easton, MA, Community Housing Planner
  • City of Haverhill, MA Economic Development Planner
  • City of Newburyport, MA, Economic Development Planner
  • Village of Ossining, NY, Village Planner
  • Vice President for Community Outreach, Lowell Five Bank
  • City of Lowell, Crime Analyst
  • City of Lowell, Neighborhood Programs Coordinator
  • City of Lawrence, Crime Analyst
  • City of Lowell, Director, Small Business Assistance Bureau
  • City of Lowell, Personnel Assistant
  • City of Lowell, Department of Planning and Development, Assistant Planner
  • City of Lowell, Department of Planning and Development, Neighborhood Planner
  • City of Worcester Executive Office of Economic Development, Housing Planner and Rehab Specialist
  • Massachusetts AFL-CIO, Public Affairs Coordinator
  • Forrester Research, Research Analyst
  • Jobs for the Future, Research Analyst
  • Healthcare-NOW!, Organizer and Web Coordinator
  • Northeastern University, Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, Research Associate

Ph.D. Programs:

Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Public Policy
University of Connecticut, Economics 
University of Wisconsin, Sociology
SUNY Albany Sociology
UMass Lowell, Work Environment
Cornell University, Department of Government
Brandeis University, Heller School of Social Policy

Global Development and International Policy

This focus area addresses globalization, links between local, regional and national policy issues and the impact of international politics, trade and development on domestic policy.  Students study development strategies, migration, gender roles, poverty, patterns of trade, the major institutions that influence trade finance and development, and the changing international division of labor and capital.

Students who focused in this area have gone to work for the US agencies involved in international matters, nonprofits involved in international work, and for universities as researchers on grant funded research projects. This is often the case for our international students who return to their home countries. Our graduates who have focused on Global Development and International Policy have found employment at:

  • National University of Ireland, Galway, Marie Curie Research Fellow
  • Parahyangan Catholic University, Indonesia, Lecturer, International Relations Department
  • World Service of Canada Vietnam, Coordinator
  • IBM Vietnam, Communications Specialist
  • RR Donnelly, Team Lead—Research and Analytics
  • US Department of State, USAID, Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, Senior Conflict Specialist
  • US Department of State, Columbia Desk, Deputy
  • Chemonics, Inc. Business Development Manager for Africa
  • National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, Senior program manager for East Africa

Ph.D. Programs:

Michigan State, Political Science
London School of Economics and Political Science, Sociology—Global
Northeastern, Sociology
UCLA, Urban Planning—Global
SUNY Binghamton
Northwestern, Sociology
University of Massachusetts Amherst, Sociology
Washington State University, Sociology
Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia, Women’s Studies

Community Development, Social Policy, and Non-Profit Management

Understanding sustainable development strategies requires a deep comprehension of the dynamics of community economic development, community politics and community practice.  Students who focus in this area address urban development strategies, sustainability, community inclusion in decision making, land use policy and planning, and management of non-profit organizations.

Students who have concentrated on this focus area have found employment primarily in non-profit agencies whose mission is community development in areas such as housing, health, workforce development; community social issues often involving immigrant communities; and community organizing and social justice. Our graduates have found employment at:

  • Greater Lawrence Health Center, Grants Administrator
  • The Healthy Building Network Data Systems Project Leader
  • The Small Business Advisor Center, A Partnership of the City of Lowell, Community Teamwork, and Middlesex Community College, Director
  • The Polus Center for Economic and Social Development North Shore Regional Program Director
  • Merrimack Valley Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Program Associate
  • Lawrence Community Works, Real Estate Development Manager
  • United Teen Equality Center, Director of Workforce Development and Social Enterprise
  • Greater Lawrence Community Action Council, Inc., Assistant Director, Planning and Program Development
  • UMass Lowell Center for Family Work and Community, Assistant Project Manager
  • UMass Lowell Center for Family Work and Community, Project Manager
  • YMCA of Greater Nashua, NH, Director of Major Gifts
  • University of Massachusetts Boston, Career Counselor and Employment Specialist
  • The Global Health Fellows Program/The Public Health Institute Recruitment, Outreach, and Communications Assistant
  • Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), Financial Education Coordinator
  • NFI Massachusetts, Inc. Development Specialist
  • New Hampshire Alcohol and Other Drug Service Providers Association, Executive Director
  • Manhattanville College, Student Activities & Commuter Affairs, College Director
  • Career Center of Lowell, Career Advisor
  • YWCA, Lawrence, MA, Grant Writer
  • Greater Lowell Workforce Investment Board, Grant Specialist
  • MaineSense (Network of health care providers in Maine), Reporting Analyst, Informatics Department
  • Community Builders, Chicago Office Lead Safety Project Manager 

Innovation, Technology, and Policy

Students who focus in this area study the sources of competitive leadership among countries and within industries.  They become skilled at industry studies that involve the theory and sources of innovation, the path of technology design, competitive strategies, the role of financial strategies and skill development strategies in the innovative trajectory of industries and firms, and the impact of offshoring and global relocation on employment and on particular regions.

Students who study in this area tend to find research jobs at institutes or universities that focus on the study of innovation in industries and firms and the role of innovation in regional and national development in different countries. A majority of students in this area have gone on to PhD programs.

  • BAE Systems, Analyst
  • Cambridge Energy Systems, Consultant
  • Chevron Corporation, Global Category Lead
  • National University of Ireland, Galway, Marie Curie Research Fellow
  • KATU Consultants, Managing Partner
  • RR Donnelly, Team Lead—Research and Analytics
  • National University of Ireland, Galway, Marie Curie Research Fellow

Ph.D. Programs:

Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, Industrial Geography 
Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Public Policy
Université Montesquieu Bordeaux IV, Groupe de recherche en économie théorique et appliquée

Environment and Sustainability

Environmental issues are some of the most important challenges facing communities at the local, national, and global level.  This focus area introduces students to some of the most significant issues arising from the connections of economic activity and economic development to the quality and sustainability of the environment.  Students learn skills in the economic and political analyses relevant to the design and implementation of policy alternatives that have emerged domestically and globally over the last 40 years or so. From global climate change to brownfields, concern about environmental damage has created a rich legacy of economic and political analysis, policy, and politics to which students are exposed through the courses in the focus area.

We have not had as many students focusing in this area as other areas, but those who did have found employment in environmental research firms such as Cambridge Energy Systems.

Research Methods

This focus area is not as extensive as the other areas, although a student can put together a set of courses that will develop qualitative or quantitative skills to support jobs or further education that is oriented to research.