Careers in Global Development

Graduates from the undergraduate and graduate (MA and PhD) Programs in Global Development Studies often secure rewarding employment in positions related to their academic training. This includes many of the Program’s graduates going on to work in national, international, and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs); with municipal, provincial, and federal governments in Canada and around the world; in inter-governmental and international institutions; and in the private sector. From careers focusing on human rights, climate change and sustainability, healthcare, migration and refugees, peace and security, economic and social policy development, urban planning, gender empowerment, food security, and more, graduates from Global Development Studies are uniquely positioned to address many of the world’s most pressing and difficult challenges.  

A snapshot of where our graduates have ended up reveals an impressive range of career paths. This includes working with:

•    UN Women on gender empowerment
•    Global Affairs Canada on education and poverty alleviation for women and girls in Eastern and Southern Africa
•    War Child Canada to support children in the context of armed conflict and war
•    Environment and Climate Change Canada in economic policy 
•    Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada in policy analysis
•    The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, Government of Canada, in the Climate Risk Hub 
•    Transport Canada in policy analysis
•    Carbon Pulse as an international climate and carbon policy journalist
•    The Atlantic Council for International Cooperation (ACIC) on sustainable development
•    Above Ground on ensuring that companies based in Canada or supported by the Canadian state respect human rights wherever they operate
•    The Dallaire Institute for Children, Peace, and Security in communications and research
•    The Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network to support efforts to achieve economic, social and political justice in Guatemala
•    The Ecology Action Centre (EAC) on active transportation
•    The Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) to support newcomers to Nova Scotia 
•    Feed Nova Scotia to address food insecurity in Nova Scotia
•    Venture 2 Impact on supporting the development work of global actors in the non-profit sector
•    The Elizabeth Fry Society to support restorative justice and alternatives to incarceration for women and gender-diverse individuals
•    The Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute to support educational opportunities and change for communities of African ancestry
•    The Government of Nova Scotia in business immigration support
•    The Halifax Regional Municipality in urban planning

Moreover, many GDS graduates continue their academic careers beyond Saint Mary’s, winning world class recognition for their work. Recent graduates have gone on to the London School of Economics to study migration and refugees, to Dalhousie’s Schulich School of Law, and to PhD programs in a range of disciplines, winning prestigious awards through the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation Fellowship Program and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada’s Doctoral Fellowship Program. 

A degree in Global Development Studies prepares students to support communities across the globe. Its interdisciplinarity provides students with the breadth needed to understand the complex problems and challenges confronting global society and the natural world, while also developing specialized skills to focus on specific issues that require deep understanding. Finally, Global Development Studies prepares effective and engaged communicators who can harness their skills in limitless ways. 

A 2017 survey of 1,901 graduates from 14 development studies programs across Canada revealed impressive career outcomes for graduates in the public sector, the private sector, academia, research groups, and non-governmental organizations. Saint Mary’s development studies alumni did particularly well. 

Saint Mary’s Development Studies Graduates Reported: 

  • 94% were employed, 72.2% in full time permanent positions and 13% in full time contract positions 
  • The largest share of respondents reported incomes in the range of $40,000 to $59,999 (27.8%), $80,000 to $99,999 (25.9%), and $100,000 and over (12.9%) 
  • 87% were satisfied or highly satisfied with their career trajectories 

Across Canada, Development Studies Graduates Reported: 

  • 86% were employed, 52.8% in full time permanent positions and 21.3% in full time contract positions 
  • The largest share of respondents reported incomes in the range of $40,000 to $59,999 (25%), $60,000 to $79,999 (18%), and $80,000 to $99,999 (11.2%)
  • 80.9% were satisfied or highly satisfied with their career trajectories


Rebecca Tiessen and John Cameron, The Career Paths of IDS Graduates in Canada, Canadian Association for the Study of International Development (CASID) and Canadian Consortium of University Programs in International Development Studies (CCUPIDS), June 2017.

For External Links to Opportunites in Global Development Studies, see:

Verge Magazine 

International Youth Internship Program (IYIP), Government of Canada 


Campus Access 

 Cooperation Canada

Canadian Crossroads International  

Charity Village   

COADY international Institute

Eldis Programme, Institute of Development Studies   

Government of Canada, Public Service Jobs   

Government of Canada, Youth Jobs and Internships  

United Nations Careers 


Volunteer Canada  

Atlantic Council for International Cooperation (ACIC)

World University Service of Canada (WUSC) 


Contact us

Faculty of Arts
Global Development Studies
Mailing address:
923 Robie Street
Halifax, NS
B3H 3C3