Development Studies

Affiliated Faculty

Development Studies focuses on social transformation or change. The problems of social transformation are urgent, massive, complex, and often transcend the boundaries of conventional academic disciplines.

DS examines the problems, processes, and prospects for the development of human and material resources in what are generally thought to be the less developed areas of the world. To study comparative development effectively, one must draw upon many disciplines and construct a balanced understanding of historical and contemporary processes. Thus, studying development as a social transformation requires a blending of knowledge and perspectives from political science, economics, sociology, psychology, anthropology, geography, history, and environmental science.

Further information can be found in the DS Requirements and Policies booklet:

Student Learning Goals

Undergraduates should have the following knowledge and skills when they graduate with a major in Development Studies from UC Berkeley:
Develop Strong Interdisciplinary Training with Control over Key Concepts in the Social Sciences

  • Develop a critical understanding of conventional and non-conventional measures and indices of development
  • Comprehend core concepts pertaining to Development Studies which are part of larger social scientific traditions and analysis (state, market, civil society)
  • Understand the genealogy of particular theoretical traditions of development that are both rooted in and cross cut the disciplines.
  • Grasp the complex relations between development as a series of planned interventions (at various levels) and the dynamics, conflicts and rhythms of historical change and social transformation.

Apply an Interdisciplinary Approach to the Analysis of International Development Theory and Practice

  • Recognize how differing concepts and ideas are translated into development practice
  • Identify the multiple forms of state and non-state interventions – and the map of multilateral, bilateral and local development institutions – associated with contemporary international development.
  • Integrate understandings of market, state and civil society, and grasp how they are deployed in development theory and practice

Acquire Historical & Geographical Knowledge and Language Skills

  • Examine the historical processes by which the Global South emerged from within the modern world system (post 1450)
  • Develop a comparative understanding of major world regions and their interrelations
  • Gain a substantive knowledge of cultural, political, economic, and historical development of one particular region of the developing world; if possible, participate in Education Abroad Program in a country in the region
  • Acquire language skills relevant to regional expertise

Demonstrate Research, Critical Reading, and Writing Skills

  • Formulate well-organized arguments supported by evidence
  • Write clearly and effectively
  • Apply basic quantitative skills
  • Critically evaluate arguments in professional, public and advocacy literatures
  • Gain some practical experience through internships

Learning Goals Appendix:
DS Learning Goals: Appendix

Major Requirements

Lower Division:
5 Courses

  • DS 10: Introduction to Development Studies. (You must earn a C or better prior to declaring. This course can only be repeated once). All students are required to take DS 10, there are no substitutes.
  • Econ 1 or 2: Introduction to Economics. (You must earn a C or better prior to declaring. This course may be repeated only once).
  • Anthro 3: Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology.
  • IAS 45: Survey of World History.
  • Statistics 2, C8, 20 or 21.

Foreign Language:
All students must demonstrate a proficiency equivalent to four college-level semesters in any modern language other than English. Equivalency can be achieved through coursework, AP credit, examination, and/or study abroad. For more information on how to complete the language requirement, please consult the DS Requirements & Policies booklet. Languages accepted by the College of Letters and Science are not automatically accepted by the DS major. Please check with the department for eligible languages.
Upper Division:

  • Development Studies 100: History of Development and Underdevelopment.
  • Disciplinary Courses: two courses in the same discipline selected from Appendix A in the DS Requirements & Policies booklet.
  • Development Courses: two courses selected from Appendix B in the DS Requirements & Policies booklet.
  • Methodology: one course selected from Appendix C in the DS Requirements & Policies booklet.
  • Concentration: three upper-division courses are selected to provide substantive knowledge of the cultural, political, economic, and historical development of one particular region of the developing world. It is best to choose courses from more than one discipline. Concentration courses must be pre-approved by an advisor. Courses are chosen from Appendix D in the DS Requirements & Policies booklet.


How To Declare

Applications are accepted during the fall and spring semesters from the third week of instruction until the last day of instruction (not the last day of finals). Applications are accepted during the summer from the last week in June until the beginning of the fall semester (not the beginning of classes).
To be eligible to declare students must have:

  • Completed DS 10 with a grade of C or better (students may repeat DS 10 only once to achieve a grade of C or better);
  • Completed Economics 1,2 or C3 with a grade of C or better; and
  • Are not in the final semester of undergraduate work.

Additionally, students are encouraged – but not required – to complete two semesters of college-level foreign language or the equivalent before applying to the major.
To get declared you must both:

  • attend a Major Declaration Workshop (check the IAS Calendar for dates), and
  • meet with an advisor to submit the DS application materials

Bring a completed DS Application – including all materials and transcripts listed below – to the Workshop. Application materials may be submitted after attending the Major Declaration Workshop. However, students will not be officially declared until they have both attended a Workshop and submitted all declaration papers.

More Info

To be eligible for honors, students must have senior standing and a GPA of 3.6 in the major and 3.5 in all work completed at UC Berkeley. Doing honors includes a year-long course sequence (IAS H102 in the fall and DS H195 in the spring) in which students learn how to formulate a hypothesis, conduct supporting research, and complete a thesis paper of approximately 75 pages or longer.
After Graduation:
The DS major is designed to provide a broad-based liberal arts background as well as the intellectual skills appropriate for careers in both the public and private sectors. Additionally, the major offers an excellent background for students planning postgraduate careers in social science disciplines and professional schools.
More information:
This description is for introductory purposes only. Students interested in completing a major or minor in DS should consult the DS Requirements & Policies booklet.

Note: The Development Studies major has been retired and folded into Global Studies – Students are no longer able to declare Development Studies. Please visit the Global Studies website or the Global Studies page on the Berkeley Academic Guide for more information.


    For intended Political Economy majors only:

The workshop consists of a video and a short quiz. Click here for the online Major Declaration Workshop.

News and Notes

Political Economy Major Map

How to Declare a Major

The Berkeley Economy & Society Initiative (BESI)