Global Development Studies

An undergraduate interdisciplinary program with a focus on social justice, sustainable economic development, public health, global interconnection, and public service.

Major Requirements

The Major in Global Development Studies requires 30 total credits plus two prerequisite courses and language competency as defined below.


  • ECON 2010 or 2020
  • One “area” course relevant to the student’s topical or geographic interest. This area course can come from any department. Its purpose is to give the student background on a geographic area to be pursued as a research project within the major. Geographic areas can be relatively broadly or narrowly defined (“Latin America” is a relatively broad category, “Cuba” is much narrower).


  • GDS 3010-3020, Global Development, Theories and Case Studies (6 credits) 
    • GDS 3010 is to be taken in the first semester of the student's third year; GDS 3020 can be taken in second semester of the student’s third year or in the first semester of the student's fourth year.
    • This two-semester sequence focuses on theories and case studies illustrating different approaches to global development.
  • GDS 3100, Development on the Ground (3 credits) 
    • To be taken in the first semester of the student’s third year
    • Focuses on the practical, political and ethical issues that face development workers as they engage communities “on the ground” or “in the field.”
  • GDS 4991, Fourth-year Seminar (3 credits) 
    • To be taken in the second semester of the student’s fourth year.
    • Each student will complete a major research paper.


  • Electives will be chosen in consultation with a faculty advisor, who will help the student put together a suite of courses that will culminate in a research paper prepared for GDS 4991
  • Courses must at the 3000 level or higher. 

LANGUAGE COMPETENCY (one of the below options)

  • One (1) course beyond the 2020 level of any language taught at UVA (or in an approved study-abroad program)
  • If a student has reached the 2020 level in one language but does not want to go further with that language, the student can satisfy the requirement by studying a second language and reaching the 1020 level.

** The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at