International Development Major

The international development major will prepare you for serving around the world and the U.S. in a variety of fields.

Are you interested in preparing to serve in today’s diverse field of international development? Is God leading you to serve either nationally or internationally to make a difference? The international development major at Houghton College will prepare you for a career in the multifaceted social development of communities, nations and regions around the world.

Career options include community and international development; relief work, refugee services and other service-oriented vocations in diverse cultural contexts; health services, education, missions and Bible translation in developing countries; and multi-cultural contexts in the U.S. as well as the inner-city context.

The program provides an intellectual, spiritual and practical foundation by which graduates may engage the many forms of development in strategic and sustainable ways at home and abroad. The major draws heavily on the methodologies and perspectives of anthropology and related social sciences, integrating the theory of cross-cultural development work with experiential learning in cross-cultural settings. In addition, graduates will experience pressing international development initiatives and will understand effective avenues for building a Christian vocation of global service.

For greater breadth and depth, all international development majors are required to choose a second major or two minors from areas of study, including art, biology, business administration, communication, political science, sociology and religion. Other areas of study for minors include economics, education, environmental stewardship, linguistics, management, missions and public health. These areas are selected to bring the skillset of a specific discipline to bear on development problems and potentials.

Developing Community, Changing Lives

Researching Rural Life in Sierra Leone

Houghton students, faculty and alumni conducted a preliminary study that was used to seek funding and design development initiatives in a rural village in Sierra Leone.

Why Major in International Development?

  • Prepare for today’s multicultural world through both rigorous theoretical study and hands-on, experiential learning opportunities
  • Gain practical experience in the field through an intercultural experience or an off-campus practicum specifically in development
  • Travel the world through Houghton’s many off-campus study opportunities or internships
  • Integrate global engagement into every aspect of your education
  • Study with faculty who have extensive experience living, working and serving in cross-cultural settings around the world, and integrate these experiences into the classroom

Major Requirements

Focus and Field Experience Tailored to Your Interests

International development majors pair their studies with another academic discipline and choose their field experience based on their individual career aspirations. You will work under the supervision of members of the Houghton faculty who have had extensive experience and training in intercultural studies, missions, linguistics and development work. They will work with you to provide the best location and right type of training for the work and service you desire most. You can do a formal overseas study program, an internship or a variety of other types of specially arranged programs.

With so many off-campus study opportunities, you might find it hard to choose just one. Many students study abroad several times during their four years at Houghton.

Global Engagement

As an international development major, global engagement will be a part of your total education. Each student is required to have a field experience in development. Students are involved in various activities and learning opportunities including:

  • Annual Faith and Justice Symposium sponsored by Houghton’s Center for Faith, Justice and Global Engagement
  • Journey’s End Tutoring (JET), a Saturday ministry to immigrants and refugees in Buffalo, primarily helping with teaching English
  • Faith and International Development Conference, Calvin College
  • Cornell Institute for African Development Conference, Cornell University

Featured Testimonial

Houghton provided a space for me to figure out what I was passionate about and gave me the support I needed to thrive and [the] foundational skills to be able to do what I am doing today.

Michelle Mahoney ’14 Family community navigator at Hopeprint and transfer adviser at On Point for College

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