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Get your International Development PhD from Southern Miss!

International Development Ph.D.
Program Overview

Discover the world of International Development with an International Development PhD from Online at Southern Miss. Our online degree program provides students with exceptional instruction in research, analytics, and writing skills. The interaction between our faculty and students in person, as well as those thousands of miles away, makes enduring contributions to the field of International Development.

Most of our convenient and affordable courses offered with the IDV Doctoral Program include the content and academic milestones of a traditional on-campus doctoral program, but in a more flexible, online delivery format. The University of Southern Mississippi has a diverse student body whose membership is drawn from across the United States and around the world. Experience the world while obtaining your International Development PhD through Online at Southern Miss. This is your life, plus college.



The International Development (IDV) Doctoral (Ph.D.) Program accepts applications for both fall and spring admission. The deadline for the fall semester is May 15 of that year and the deadline for the spring semester is the October 15 of the previous year.  Decisions on acceptance and non-acceptance are based on the applicant’s completed application file.  All materials will be reviewed following the application deadline.  Applicants will be notified once a decision has been made.

Note that the University’s Graduate Bulletin requires candidates for admission into doctoral programs to present a graduate-level grade point average of not less than 3.25 on a 4.00 scale. We cannot admit students whose GPA falls below this requirement.

Admissions are competitive.

A completed application must include each of the following items.

  1. Graduate School Application, including a $60 application fee.
  2. GRE or GMAT scores. We require the official scores from Educational Testing Service (ETS),
  3. Three Letters of Recommendation, at least two from professors who know your work and the final one from a professor or professional who knows you.
  4. Current resume/Curriculum Vitae.
  5. Research Statement of 1500-2000 words explaining your research interests and how your interests fit within the program’s research teams and faculty.
  6. Research Paper or professional writing sample.
  7. Undergraduate Transcript(s).
  8. Masters Transcript(s).

All application materials are to be submitted online at the website for Graduate Admissions:

You will be asked to create an account where you will be able to log in at any time to update your application, upload documents and to check on the status of your application.

Students interested in financial aid should consult the following website:

Students interested in applying for a graduate assistantship or if you have additional questions concerning the admissions process, please contact the IDV Recruiter/Program Coordinator:

Annette Copeland
Program Coordinator
International Development Doctoral Program
College of Arts and Letters

The University of Southern Mississippi, Gulf Coast
730 East Beach Boulevard
Long Beach, MS 39560 

Degree Requirements

  • IDV 710 – International Development Theory 3 hrs.
  • IDV 719 – Research Design I 3 hrs.
  • IDV 721 – Statistical Methods in International Development Research 3 hrs.
  • IDV 729 – Qualitative Methods 3 hrs.
  • Major Emphasis Area 12 hrs.
  • Minor Emphasis Area 9 hrs.
  • Electives 9 hrs.
  • Dissertation Research 12 hrs.

International Development Fields

Economic Development

  • IDV 722 – International Development Statistics II 3 hrs.
  • IDV 730 – International Development Finance 3 hrs.
  • IDV 754 – Economics for International Development 3 hrs. (Required course for this emphasis area)
  • IDV 853 – Comparative International Economic Development 3 hrs.
  • IDV 854 – International Economics 3 hrs. (Required course for this emphasis area)

Political Development

  • IDV 711 – International Political Economy 3 hrs. (Required course for this emphasis area)
  • IDV 851 – Comparative International Political Development 3 hrs. (Required course for this emphasis area)
  • IDV 871 – Institutions in Development 3 hrs.
  • IDV 874 – Ethnic Conflict and Civil War 3 hrs.
  • IDV 892 – Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare 3 hrs

Security Studies

  • IDV 795 – U.S. National Security Policy 3 hrs. (Required course for this emphasis area)
  • IDV 872 – Nation/State Building 3 hrs.
  • IDV 874 – Ethnic Conflict and Civil War 3 hrs.
  • IDV 890 – International Security 3 hrs. (Required course for this emphasis area)
  • IDV 891 – Seminar in Homeland Security 3 hrs.
  • IDV 892 – Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare 3 hrs.

Social/Cultural Development (minor only)

  • IDV 713 – Globalization 3 hrs.
  • IDV 725 – Field Research in International Development 3 hrs.
  • IDV 852 – Comparative International Cultural Development 3 hrs. (Required course for this emphasis area)
  • IDV 871 – Institutions in Development 3 hrs.
  • IDV 872 – Nation/State Building 3 hrs.
  • IDV 873 – Political Economy of Global Climate Change 3 hrs.

Research Tool(s)

Students satisfy research tool requirements by:

  1. completion of required coursework
  2. demonstration of international competency through one of the following: oral language exam, approved international field experience, or by petition
  3. successful completion of professional competency experiences to include a) submission of a fundable external funding proposal of research, b) submission of a publishable peer-reviewed article or book chapter, c) presentation of a research paper at a national or international academic conference


The purposes of academic residency are to provide doctoral students with significant time for extensive involvement with faculty, professional colleagues, and peers, and to provide a period of time for concentrated study and course work. It is structured as a full-time experience. The following are options for satisfying the residency requirement: (a) two consecutive terms of 12 hours each, (b) two consecutive summer terms of 12 hours each with continuous enrollment during intervening terms, or (c) three consecutive terms of 9 hours each. Students must consult with individual departments regarding which of these options are approved and whether online or off-campus courses can be used to establish residency. This is not residency for tuition purposes.

Continuous Enrollment Requirement:

  • Students must register for three (3) hours of coursework during the semester in which they take their comprehensive examinations, and/or have a prospectus approval meeting.
  • After a doctoral student completes his or her comprehensive examination, continuous enrollment in at least three (3) semester hours must be maintained during each fall and spring semester until the student successfully defends the dissertation.
  • Students must register for three (3) hours of 898 during the semester they defend the dissertation. All required coursework must be completed before the semester in which the dissertation is defended.
  • If a student does not submit copies of his or her dissertation in a form acceptable to the graduate reader prior to the deadlines established in a given semester, or if the student’s degree will not be awarded until the next term, then the student must register for three (3) hours of 898 (dissertation) during the semester or term in which the degree will be awarded.

Frequently Asked Questions

This is typically a 3-year program if a student is going full time (12 credit hours per semester)with 2 years of coursework and 1 year completing a dissertation. Most students are full-time working professionals and opt to take 6 credit hours per semester (part-time) and complete in 4-5 years.

A student must be enrolled in a minimum of 3.0 credit hours each semester (excluding summer) in order to stay active in the program. Most classes are 3.0 credit hours a term.

Synchronous courses are held on the computer using specialized software that allows the class and professor to interact with each other. They are generally held one time a week at either 5:00 pm CST or 7:00 pm CST for two hours per class. Classes generally held on Monday, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The program costs include in state tuition, an IDV program fee, and cost associated with books, materials, supplies and travel and lodging associated with the in person sessions. For more pricing information, click here.  For financial aid information, click here.  For detailed tuition information, click here.

Yes, there are a limited number of graduate assistantships available in the program. They are awarded on a competitive basis. An assistantship includes a tuition waiver and a monetary stipend. If you are interested in applying for an assistantship you need to include a memo stating that fact in your application packet to the program. Students are eligible to apply for assistantship positions once the IDV core courses are complete and the Qualifying Exam is passed. Assistantships require 20 hours a week of time from the part of the student.

What is the GPA required for acceptance into the program?

A 3.5 on a 4.0 scale is required to be eligible for regular admission into the program. A student may be accepted into the program conditionally with a 3.25 GPA.

What GRE/GMAT score is required for acceptance into the program?

We do not have a minimum score for the GRE or GMAT. Instead the application review committee reviews the whole application portfolio for admission. We encourage students to submit the strongest application possible including GRE/GMAT scores, letters of recommendation, research statement, and all other materials.

Can I enroll in courses if I have not been accepted into the program?

No. We currently do not allow anyone who has not been accepted into the program enroll in International Development courses. If you are interested in getting a feel for the program, please feel free to join us for an In-Person Session in Long Beach, Mississippi. You may contact Annette Copeland for more information.

Is it possible to have the In-Person Sessions waived?

No, the In-Person Sessions are vital to each of the International Development courses and Ph.D. level program work. In-Person sessions allow for students and professors to meet on a face to face basis. Students and graduates of the program talk about how invaluable the In-Person sessions are/were to their development into a scholar. It would be a disservice to the student and the professors not to have this requirement.


How many letters of recommendation are required to apply to the program?

At least three letters of recommendation are required in order to apply to the program. We request that two of the three letters originate in academia, specifically from a professor who has had you in their class.

I have been out of graduate school for a while. What do I do if I am unable to get letters of recommendation from my former professors?

Professors do change universities and retire, but the department can often give you a forwarding address so that you may contact them. If you are unable to contact any of your former professors, contact your former department and request them to write a letter of recommendation based upon your transcripts.

My Master's degree is not from one of the disciplines listed on the International Development website. Can I still apply to the program?

Yes, you may still apply to the program. It is important that you have research interests that can be justified in the International Development setting and that you have a strong research background. In short, the burden is on the applicant to show knowledge and past research experience on how this makes a good “fit” into the program.

How many people have graduated from the program?

The program is entering its sixteenth year of existence and we are proud to have over 40 graduates who have entered a variety of fields (data as of June 2015).

Is the program accredited?

The University of Southern Mississippi is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the accreditation association for our region. Our program does not have accreditation since we are interdisciplinary in nature and no such agency exists to accredit such programs. Most social science programs do not have accrediting agencies associated with as business schools and nursing programs do.


Where can I find more information about the program?

You can find more information about the International Development program at You may also contact the International Development Program Coordinator, Annette Copeland at

What are the career options with a PhD in International Development?

Most of our students are working professionals who opted to take the career route after their Bachelors and/or Masters degree(s). The path they did not follow was the path to a PhD. The International Development Doctoral program now offers that road open again to these people. Our graduates leverage their interdisciplinary social science degree in a number of ways including: promotion within their existing organization, an opportunity to change careers, a method to become a professor in a college or university, or to begin a consulting business.

What happens if I need to take a semester off from school?

The faculty of the International Development program understand that our students often have full time jobs and other responsibilities that may conflict with them being enrolled in the program. In order to fulfill the requirement of being continuously enrolled in the program, the department allows the student to enroll in three credit hours for the semester that they wish to sit out. Failure to enroll in at least 3.0 credit hours per required semester (spring and fall) results in being dropped from the program.

When are admission deadlines?

The deadline for fall semester admission is May 15th and the deadline for the spring semester admission is October 15th.

What other online degrees are offered by Online at Southern Miss?

Please visit our programs page here: