International Education

Students in the UMass Amherst international education program prepare for careers in building and strengthening educational systems across the world.

They focus on post-conflict and post-colonial areas, working with populations marginalized by gender, race, ethnicity, poverty, war and other crises. They may work in primary and secondary programs, higher education, adult learning, or women’s literacy. Our students enter the program with experience working with marginalized populations and with a desire to develop culturally specific projects and undertake research in developing countries. They have a commitment to social justice and to ensuring that everyone has access to an effective education, no matter their age, gender, ethnicity, social position, or economic status.

Because the international education program was created 50 years ago, it is well established, internationally recognized, and enjoys a network of more than 500 graduates working all over the world. We are a collaborative learning community, with active participation of both faculty and students representing a wide range of cultures, languages, and experiences. Many of our students are early-to-mid-career professionals with extensive international development experience, and approximately two-thirds are international students. Students become both learners and sources of learning for others, with classes able to make use of students' experiences as part of the curriculum.

Our students become scholar-practitioners—professionals who combine the study of theory with practical engagement in educational programs and research. We explore current theories of international education (social theories, migration, and education) and learn tools and practices (training design, project management) that professionals need in the field. Our faculty have extensive and current field and research experience and engage our students in their work. The international education program is also closely associated with the Center for International Education (CIE), which is actively involved in managing international education development projects and research. Through the center’s work, students are able to explore the relationship between academic studies and the practical realities of international development work.


We’ve designed the international education Ph.D. program for professionals with extensive relevant international field experience. Doctoral students study the role of education in the context of Asia, Africa, and Latin America and other developing areas. Their individualized course of study incorporates theoretical, practical, and contextual study. The theoretical work may investigate, for example, the relationship between education and socioeconomic or political change or gender issues in education. The practical study allows students to develop skills, such as research and evaluation design and methods, planning and policy analysis, curriculum and materials development, training, and management. In their contextual work, students focus on specific sectors, such as literacy, health or agriculture, as well as different sociocultural settings. In addition, most students will strengthen their knowledge of current conditions in a particular country or region of the world.

We are committed to providing financial support for our doctoral students. Most can count on two and a half years of support, typically in the form of teaching or research assistantships, depending on funding availability. Some fellowships are available as well.

Our master’s students enter the program having had meaningful experience of immersion in another culture while engaged in education and development-related work, often at the community level.

The UMass graduate certificate in early grade reading is a five-course, 15-credit, fully online program for practitioners and policy makers working on early grade reading reform projects in developing countries. The program allows those in governmental and non-governmental organizations to build their capacity to develop, monitor, and improve early grade reading programs. It is also an opportunity for practitioners and policymakers to enroll in a university-accredited professional development program if they cannot attend on-campus classes. Lastly, the program is a stepping-stone for international education professionals interested in eventually applying to the master’s degree program in international education.

The early grade reading certificate program is asynchronous, allowing students to take the courses at any time and in any order. If they later choose to pursue a master’s degree, students can apply the credits they earn to a program at UMass Amherst.