International Education

Students in the UMass Amherst international education program critically engage with development issues related to equitable and quality educational outcomes around the world.

They gain the skills and knowledge to become changemakers in the field of international education and development across the two-thirds world. We are a friendly, supportive, and challenging community working with populations marginalized by structural inequalities such as gender, race, sexualities, ethnicity, poverty, and conflict. Our deep commitment to developing scholar-practitioners with a strong foundation in applied theory allows students to explore issues from different perspectives alongside students and faculty from across the globe.

Our students enter the program with professional experience in the two-thirds world and with the 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. Areas of focus include: social justice, gender inclusion, eduction in emergencies, students as learners, non-formal education, early grade reading, the influences of aid, policy & practice for improved well-being, social justices, and equality around the world.

As one of the oldest programs in international education, we have an extensive and influential network of alumni who are global leaders. Our graduates are ministry officials, donors, practitioners, academics, teachers, and grassroots organizers. 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.

Our students are 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. Students have the opportunity to conduct research and practice globally as part of the academic program.

The international education program hosts the academic journal Comparative Education Review and the Alliance for Critical Education, a research group committed to critical engagement with development issues, theoretical and methodological concerns in international education. 

Program Highlights

  • Nearly 75% of graduate students and faculty are international
  • 100% are international education and development practitioners, researchers, and academics
  • Customizable course choices to meet your research and applied interests
  • Wide array of theory and practice-oriented courses
  • A global alumni network of scholars and practitioners built over 50 years
  • Hands-on experience in research and practice through networks, affiliations, & projects

Skills Gained

  • A deep theoretical understanding of critical dilemmas in education and development
  • A strong background in research skills
  • A focus on practical application and skills needed to critically engage with and address pressing issues in international education today

Career Paths

  • Education and development for NGOs and INGOs (e.g., International Rescue Committee, EDC, FHI 360) or donor agencies (e.g., USAID, Lego Foundation)
  • Politics and policy-making around education and development
  • Grass-roots development work
  • Academic or educational leadership


International education offers programs leading to master’s (M.Ed.) - also onlineand doctoral (Ph.D.) degrees. Students study the role of education from a social justice perspective in the context of the two-thirds world. 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.

The UMass graduate certificate in early grade reading is a five-course, 15-credit, fully online program for practitioners and policymakers 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.