Will future global development education be short and online?

By Kelli Rogers 08 September 2015

Short-term courses and certificates are gaining ground, especially for mid-career professionals who might not have the wish, time or money to devote to a full-time master’s degree.

Diving into details of 3-D printing for social good, earning a certificate in refugees, displacement and forced migration studies or tackling the essentials of nonprofit strategy is only getting easier when it comes to education access — especially when it can all be accomplished online.  

Startups like TechChange, a social enterprise that provides courses on the use of technology in addressing social and global challenges, along with established institutions like Massachusetts’ Clark University or the U.K.’s distance learning focused Open University are beefing up both their short-term and online learning options. Last week’s newly launched Philanthropy University, meanwhile, is offering its online classroom for free to students around the world who wish to do social good.

“International development students are caught up in the narrative of ‘invest in your education no matter the cost,’” founder and CEO of TechChange Nick Martin said, referring to the expense — which can be upwards of $150,000 — for a student to earn a traditional master’s degree in international development in the United States.

Some students can responsibly take the leap by justifying their earning potential afterward, but often “you can’t always make the same case for development,” he said.

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About the author

Kelli Rogers@kellierin

In her role as associate editor, Kelli Rogers helps to shape Devex content around leadership, professional growth and careers for professionals in international development, humanitarian aid and global health. As the manager of Doing Good, one of Devex's highest-circulation publications, she is constantly on the lookout for the latest staffing changes, hiring trends and tricks for recruiting skilled local and international staff for aid projects that make a difference. Kelli has studied or worked in Spain, Costa Rica and Kenya.

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