International Programmes 2019/2020

Master of Arts in Development Studies MA Development Studies

University of Passau • Passau

Master of Arts in Development Studies
Teaching language
  • English

This degree programme is taught entirely in English.

Programme duration
4 semesters
Winter semester
More information on beginning of studies
This programme starts in October each year.
Application deadline

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, the deadlines have been changed. Please visit for the correct application deadlines.

Tuition fees per semester in EUR
Combined Master's degree / PhD programme
Joint degree / double degree programme

The MA Development Studies programme enables students to develop the advanced knowledge, analytical skills, and conceptual frameworks required to understand and navigate the complexities of economic and social development.

Students enrolled in the programme gain insights into the economic, social, ethical, and cultural contexts and constraints of development. The programme provides outstanding opportunities to put theory into practice through international field research, with a strong focus on integrating quantitative and qualitative methods.

The programme addresses the worldwide need for experts in the expanding field of development research as well as for project managers in international development cooperation.

Who should study in this degree programme?

This programme is particularly suitable for students with a first degree in social science and mid-career professionals in any development-related field. Qualified students from developing and emerging countries are particularly welcome.

More information from the students enrolled in the programme 

Course organisation

First semester (approximately 30 ECTS credits)

  • Methods and theories of Development Studies
  • Interdisciplinary seminar
  • Qualitative and quantitative research methods

Second and third semesters (approximately 60 ECTS credits)

  • Qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Research seminar
  • Elective modules (e.g. Sociology, Economics, Sustainability of Resources, Political Science, Southeast Asian Studies, Geographies of Development)
  • Languages and transferable skills courses

Fourth semester (approximately 30 ECTS credits)

  • Field research
  • Master’s thesis
  • A research colloquium with internationally renowned guest speakers is offered each semester.

If desired, you may choose to specialise in one of the following fields:

  • Economics
  • Southeast Asian Studies
  • Sustainability
Types of assessment

Courses and seminars operate on the assumption that students will do a good deal of preparation and follow-up work outside the classroom, with support from the respective lecturers but nevertheless conducted independently.

Modules are assessed during or at the end of each semester. European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) credits are awarded when the respective module has been passed and the required coursework submitted. Assessments and coursework are usually graded. The forms of assessment include written and oral examinations, student presentations and written reports, essays and papers or a combination of the above. A Master's thesis must be written as part of the programme.

The final grade for the programme is the average mark of all graded modules.

A Diploma supplement will be issued
International elements
  • Language training provided
  • Content-related regional focus
  • International guest lecturers
  • Integrated study abroad unit(s)
  • Specialist literature in other languages
  • Training in intercultural skills
  • Study trips
  • International comparisons and thematic reference to the international context
Integrated study abroad unit(s)

If you wish to study abroad, assistance in selecting scholarship programmes as well as consultation and information is offered by the International Office.

Integrated internships

There is no formal internship requirement for this degree programme. Nevertheless, we recommend that you go to the effort of completing one or more voluntary internships as you study towards your degree.

Course-specific, integrated German language courses
Course-specific, integrated English language courses
The course of study can be taken entirely online
Digital learning and teaching modules
  • MOOCs
  • Virtual classrooms
  • Video learning
  • Blogs
  • Chats with lecturers
Description of e-learning elements

The university uses ILIAS, a platform that provides a web-based e-learning functionality. Lecturers can decide on a course-by-course basis whether to offer the e-learning functionality, which is used to varying degrees throughout the university.

Furthermore, the university is a member of BVU – the Bavarian Virtual University. As this is a joint project among Bavarian universities, students enrolled at the University of Passau have access to the BVU's vast offering of online courses (MOOCs).

Participation in the e-learning course elements is compulsory
Can ECTS points be acquired by taking the online programmes?
Can the e-learning elements be taken without signing up for the course of study?
Tuition fees per semester in EUR
Semester contribution
The semester contribution fee is 72 EUR per semester. This covers the student services association and bus pass fees.
Costs of living
You should budget for a minimum of 720 EUR per month for accommodation, food, transport and other activities. However, this sum does not yet include your health insurance contributions! If you need a visa to come to Germany, this is the amount you must have available to you (e.g., paid into a blocked account) for each month. Nevertheless, your actual cost of living will vary depending on your lifestyle, and so you should treat this figure as an absolute minimum.
For details, see:
Funding opportunities within the university
Description of the above-mentioned funding opportunities within the university
The International Office awards a small number of scholarships to international degree-seeking students who have been enrolled in a Bachelor's programme for at least two semesters or in a Master's programme for at least one semester.
You may also apply for a Deutschlandstipendium scholarship, which is open to students of all nationalities. This scholarship has a stipend of 300 EUR per month and runs for one year. You may re-apply in subsequent years.
Finally, there is a one-off emergency hardship grant available to international students in exceptional cases of unexpected financial difficulties.
For details, see:
Academic admission requirements

A first (Bachelor's or equivalent) university degree in social sciences, economics, or business studies, i.e., in one of the following disciplines: anthropology, demography, empirical social and human geography, sociology, administrative science, economics, business studies/administration, or any other equivalent degree with a minimum of 60 ECTS credits in one or several of these disciplines. This first degree must have been obtained as part of a programme of study with a minimum standard duration of three years' full-time study.
Out of the 60 ECTS credits referenced above, 10 ECTS credits (or a minimum of 300 hours of coursework) have to come from methods of empirical research, such as data collection and survey design, rigorous qualitative or quantitative data analysis, or mathematics or statistics applied to social science. A general course in research methods is not enough and does not count in this case. Your overall average mark for your undergraduate degree should be equivalent to 2.5 or better according to the German marking scale or ranked among the best 50% of your cohort.

Language requirements

If English is not your first language or the language of instruction for your first degree, you will need to prove that you have adequate English skills by means of a recognised English language test at level B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

To help you go about your daily life in Germany, it is advantageous to have at least basic German language skills. Therefore, if you have a German language certificate at level A1 CEFR (i.e., beginner's level), you should enclose a certified copy of it when you apply. Do not worry if you do not have basic German skills or cannot provide a certificate, as you will take a free beginner's German language course during the first year of studies in Passau.

Application deadline

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, the deadlines have been changed. Please visit for the correct application deadlines.

Submit application to

Please visit our application pages for details on how to apply and what documents to submit.

Possibility of finding part-time employment

For international students, a dedicated career adviser is on hand: the "iStudi Coach" will help you with all your questions about finding work or placements in Germany.

Please note that students from non-EU countries must apply for a work permit at the national job centre if they work more than 240 half-days per year. Students from EU member countries do not require a work permit.


The International Office has set up an accommodation service for international students. We have a number of rooms available in our halls of residence as well as several private flats which are available for rent to exchange students. Some are within walking distance to the university, others are more conveniently reached by bike, bus or car, but always in less than thirty minutes.

The International Office can arrange your accommodation for one semester or a full academic year. Rooms in our halls of residence cost between 200 EUR and 400 EUR per month and are fully furnished. Kitchen and bathroom facilities are usually shared, although some rooms have en-suite bathroom facilities.

On average, a room on the open housing market costs in the vicinity of 200 EUR to 400 EUR a month. Landlords usually require a two-month or three-month deposit when you move in, which will be returned to you at the end of the rental period, provided you leave your accommodation in good condition. Many students share a flat with other students.

Career advisory service

The university provides advice on job hunting, jobs and career-entry positions at German and international companies, here and abroad. These include personal interviews and advice, training courses on how to apply as well as intercultural and soft skills training.

International students have access to a dedicated career adviser – the "iStudi Coach" – who helps students find internships and apply for student jobs and career-entry positions at German companies. The iStudi Coach also coaches international students on German labour market practices, how to write applications, and so on.

Related links:

Specific specialist or non-specialist support for international students and doctoral candidates
  • Welcome event
  • Buddy programme
  • Accompanying programme
  • Tutors
  • Specialist counselling
  • Cultural and linguistic preparation
  • Visa matters

University of Passau

Content Bild
View of the main entrance of the central library © University of Passau

The University of Passau

Some 13,000 students from more than 100 countries are currently studying towards their degrees on our bright, modern campus next to the Inn River and a stone's throw from the town centre and the historical Old Town.

The four faculties of the University offer degrees at the undergraduate, Master’s and doctoral levels. Currently, five Master’s programmes – MSc Computational Mathematics, MSc Computer Science, MA Development Studies, MSc International Economics and Business and MSc Mobile and Embedded Systems – can be studied entirely in English.

A cosmopolitan university

No other Bavarian university has more of its students spending part of their programme abroad – to study, conduct research or gain work experience – than the University of Passau.

The range and depth of language tuition offered by our Language Centre probably has a role to play in this. Another reason is that our programmes are very international in their outlook – and with more than 200 international partner universities to choose from, it is difficult not to be tempted to go abroad for a semester or two or even to complete one of our 20 double degree programmes offered in co-operation with our global partner universities.

An unparalleled student experience

Passau’s students benefit from a good staff-to-student ratio and from studying on an urban campus of manageable size that is located very close to the town centre.

The facilities on campus are of a high standard: There are bright, sunny seminar rooms, lecture theatres equipped with the latest technology, numerous computer rooms, Wi-Fi access exists throughout the campus, and our well-stocked university library stays open until midnight on most days.

Student satisfaction at the University of Passau is particularly high and our sought-after graduates typically occupy executive posts in business, social, and academic organisations in Germany, Europe, and indeed all over the world.

Student life

Throughout the semester, there are plenty of events of all sorts on campus and around town, often organised by our very active student societies. The Sports Centre has some 40 sports clubs, including acrobatics, climbing, rowing and yoga.

78% International students currently studying MA Development Studies
236 Partnerships with universities throughout the world

University location

An ideal student town

Passau is situated near the Bavarian Forest at the confluence of the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers, and it is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Germany. After two fires that destroyed much of the town in the 17th century, the Old Town was rebuilt in the baroque style by Italian master builders, which is why you will notice a distinct Italian flair as you stroll through "Bavarian Venice", another name by which Passau is known.

With students accounting for one-quarter of its population, Passau is very much a student town with many galleries, art studios, bars, cafés, clubs and, of course, beer gardens; naturally, there is a modern multiplex cinema. A shopping centre and the nearby pedestrian zone offer a lot of excellent eateries and shops, just a short five-minute walk from campus.

Passau is home to a number of cultural institutions, such as the theatre and the "Scharfrichterhaus" – a restaurant, cinema and political cabaret/stand-up stage where many of Germany’s most popular contemporary comedians started out. Both have productions and acts running throughout the year.

In addition to this, Passau plays host to numerous annual cultural events, including "Europäische Wochen Passau" – a cultural festival which brings international symphonic orchestras, classical ensembles, theatre companies and artists to Passau for about six weeks every year; the Eulenspiegel Festival with predominantly German comedy acts and rock bands; two Oktoberfest-style festivals in spring and autumn; and no list of festivals would be complete without the traditional Christmas Market in front of St. Stephen’s Cathedral every December. Incidentally, did you know that St. Stephen's has the world's largest cathedral organ?

Outdoor enthusiasts will be delighted at the many opportunities for hiking, climbing, cycling, and alpine and cross-country skiing in the nearby Bavarian Forest. Additionally, Passau is not far from the Austrian and Bavarian Alps, with their famous skiing areas as well as their mountain biking and hiking trails.