Sustainable Development Management, M.A.

By adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the international community has sent out a strong message for a new global partnership: At the historic 2015 UN Summit the leaders of 193 developing, emerging and industrialised countries jointly agreed upon 17 ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For the first time in history, the international community has assumed shared responsibility to achieve economic progress in keeping with social justice and ecological sustainability. Implementing the 2030 Agenda not only requires more effective and efficient development policies, but also highly qualified professionals equipped with a broad interdisciplinary and intercultural understanding of the diverse development issues, local contexts, global interconnections and latest methodologies enabling them to identify needs and develop as well as implement said required policies.

The master’s degree programme Sustainable Development Management interweaves subject-related topics from economics and political science with both empirical and project management methodology. The acquired knowledge will enable students to actively contribute to the academic discourse on sustainable development. By imparting the latest subject-specific methodologies students will be qualified to successfully implement development projects. To this end, our curriculum follows the framework of the Project Cycle: Students will acquire the specialised theoretical and practical competencies needed to successfully identify development issues, devise and implement sustainable development projects, as well as to critically examine these with respect to their effectiveness. Thus, our approach produces graduates who are highly qualified experts sought-after by both public and private employers, at home and abroad. The overall aim of the programme is to train future professionals, who are qualified to play a significant part in the implementation of the 17 sustainable development goals, thus contributing to creating a more equitable and sustainable world.

The University’s international atmosphere as well as its mix of students from developing and industrialised countries help to refine students’ intercultural and diversity management skills while they cooperate and learn from each other. In addition, the course structure ensures opportunities for students to apply their theoretical knowledge and gain practical experience by participating in real-world development projects and conducting (field-) research during their studies.

Course Structure

The standard duration of this programme is three semesters. The first two semesters will equip you with advanced knowledge of economics and political science approaches as well as empirical methods focusing on sustainable development. The second semester will deepen your understanding by introducing relevant aspects of international law, as well as project management and evaluation methods significant in the context of development cooperation. Both semesters offer you opportunities to specialise via a choice of subject-specific electives. Your final semester will be dedicated to writing your master’s thesis. Following preparatory participation in a project situated in the field of applied development cooperation, you will then be able to apply your methodological, research and critical skills to writing your thesis, which can be completed as part of a practical development project.

Career Paths

Graduates of Sustainable Development Management from Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences will be valuable employees who are highly sought after by various institutions in the fields of technical as well as financial development cooperation. Moreover, the strong focus of the master’s programme on project management gives our students an additional edge in the labour market. They will be able to pursue a broad range of careers in the following areas:

  • Public institutions: governments and ministries of developing countries (e.g. ministries of finance, industrial policy, rural development, education etc.), as well as develpment banks
  • Multilateral development institutions, including the World Bank, IMF, the United Nations and other international and national NGOs (such as Oxfam International or the International Red Cross)
  • Private sector: in the fields of consulting and engineering (at firms like ICON Consultant Group, GFA Consulting Group or Lahmeyer International)
  • PhD: our graduates are also eligible for admission to international postgraduate programmes, including the Postgraduate Training Programme for Development Cooperation at the DIE (Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik) and the doctoral programme of the Center for Development Research (ZEF) at the University of Bonn, amongst others


Language Requirements
Fluency in both written and spoken English at level B2 or higher according to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) is required.

Academic Requirements
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree (or equivalent/ in a discipline related to social sciences, economics or industrial engineering with a German grade point average of 2.5 or higher, or an ECTS grade of A or B.

Scholarships for students from developing countries

Our study programme is part of the EPOS programme (Development-Related Postgraduate Courses) financed by DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service). From winter semester 2019/2020 onwards a limited number of full scholarships will be awarded to excellent students from developing countries. For more information on selection criteria and the application process please click here.

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Visit Application and Admission for more information about the application procedure.

For questions regarding the application procedure, admission requirements or enrolment please contact the Student Advisory Service via:

For more information about the degree programme itself or study-related and academic counselling services, please contact the head of the degree programme directly:

Head of Degree Programme:

Prof. Dr. Oliver Serfling
Professor for Economic Policy and Development Economics

Consultation hours: Tuesday, 2-3pm

Office: 2A 01 003

Programme Coordinator:

Lena Gutheil, M.Sc.
Scientific Staff

Consultation hours: Monday, 10-11am

Office: 2A 01 014


Place of study

Campus Kleve

Start date

Winter or summer semester



Duration of study

3 semesters of full-time studies

Study model

Full-time studies

Degree awarded

Master of Arts

Restricted admission


When to Apply

Actual information on the application process can be found under Application and Admission.

Online-Application via uni-assist

Our postgraduate programmes start in both the winter and summer semesters. For the winter semester, applications are accepted between May and July 15th; for the summer semester between December and January 15th.


Regulations for the study programme

Examination Regulation Sustainable Development Management, M.A.


Team Sustainable Development Management, M.A.

Head of Degree Programme
Prof. Dr. Oliver Serfling
Professor for Economic Policy and Development Economics

Lena Gutheil
Scientific Staff