Global Inclusion and Social Development, MA


  • UMass Boston alums: When you apply to our MA program in global inclusion and social development, we’ll cover your application fee. Email when you’ve started the application process. Note that it can take 3-6 weeks for the fee coverage to go through the system. Thanks for checking out our graduate programs.

Concentrations | SGISD Core Courses

Application deadlines

  • Fall admission: Apr. 1
  • Spring admission: Nov. 1

Review our application checklist here.

Download the student handbook here.

Our 39-credit MA program in global inclusion and social development offers the opportunity to engage in rich, transdisciplinary study. It is the first graduate program in the world to focus on inclusion as it intersects with wellness, disability, and economic policy from a global perspective.

Students will take core classes in global inclusion and social development, paired with a concentration area of their interest. Current concentration tracks include human rights, disability studies, rehabilitation counseling, transition leadership, and vision studies. There is also an independent design option for students with other specific interests.

The program draws from the rich expertise of our primary research center, the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) at UMass Boston. The ICI is a nationally recognized leader on disability inclusion. It offers training, research, consultation, and clinical and employment services, and is a partner of Boston Children's Hospital.

Our students work with our experienced faculty and field experts to engage in the dynamic study of the complex, crucial interrelationships among health, wellness, and social and economic development in individuals and populations that are often excluded. Scholars in our program examine multiple causes of exclusion, such as gender, race, economic status, and sexual orientation.

Our goal is to foster leaders in the field who learn how to create and develop solutions for change outside of the classroom, and to build inclusion out in the community as advocates and practitioners.


Students may select from the following options to pursue an area of concentration:

1. Individualized plan of study: This option is for those with specific interests not fully addressed within existing SGISD courses. Students choose to examine an important and relevant area of study within global inclusion and social development studies, and take courses across departments at UMass Boston that relate to their chosen area of focus. An example might be working with refugee and immigrant populations in the US or abroad.

2. Or, students may select from the following concentrations:

  • Our human rights track focuses on the framework needed to foster inclusive change throughout societies and organizations. By understanding how to advocate for social justice, and how to mobilize and measure local and international movements, students examine how to advance human well-being, as well as the rights to health, education, and decent work for all. A certificate in human rights is also available.
  • Our track in transnational, cultural, and community studies, or TCCS, is a collaboration with the College of Liberal Arts. TCCS looks at migration patterns and other population movements, as well as race/ethnicity, and analyzes these topics through the lenses of culture, community, identity, and citizenship.
  • The disability studies track prepares students to work with people with disabilities in various capacities and to become leaders and advocates in the field. This track benefits from the expertise of our colleagues at the Institute for Community Inclusion, a research and training institute based within SGISD.
  • The nonprofit management track prepares students to hold a leadership position at a nonprofit organization. Students take courses from the College of Management to gain proficiency in business practices, and learn how to apply those to running a nonprofit.
  • Our gerontology track prepares students to understand senior citizens from a social and psychological perspective, and to work in the community or at a policy level to help support today’s vast aging populations. Our partner for this concentration is the Department of Gerontology in the McCormack Graduate School.
  • Students who choose the rehabilitation counseling track will learn to help people who face barriers to employment find fulfilling work. Populations often supported by rehabilitation counselors include veterans, immigrants, and people with disabilities. Note that this track is different from the Rehabilitation Counseling MS program also available within SGISD.
  • Students who elect our transition leadership track will train as leaders who can help people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups attend college, enter the workforce, and live independently. Note that this track is different from the Transition Leadership Certificate also offered by SGISD.
  • Students who opt for our vision studies track will develop best practices in order to advocate for and support individuals with low vision so that they may thrive in their daily lives and in their communities. Note that this track is different from the SGISD Vision Studies MEd program.

SGISD Core Courses

All students must complete GISD 601, 605, 606 and 801. Students must then take three additional courses, choosing one option from each of the following: 608 or 609; 610 or 611; and 615 or 616.

GISD 601: Current and Historical Perspectives on Global Inclusion and Social Development Students will examine the concepts of social inclusion and social development, current approaches to these concepts, and policy and practice implications. Upon course completion, students will be able to apply these concepts to particular policy areas including disability, health, the labor market, and economic policy affecting particular communities, countries, or regions.
GISD 605: International Responses to Social Inclusion This course will strengthen students’ knowledge of international organizations’ approaches and strategies in response to pressing societal issues and crisis, and their impact on cross-cultural communities, vulnerable populations, and social inclusion. The course emphasizes the role of the non-governmental sector in addressing issues and crisis and in promoting the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.
GISD 606: Research and Evaluation in Diverse Settings: Methods and Implications This introduction to quantitative and qualitative research methods and program evaluation emphasizes cultural diversity and its implications for design and methods choices, as well as stakeholder participation. The course introduces students to the scientific method, the research process, and the role of ethics in conducting human subjects research.
GISD 608: Ethics and Professionalism in Global Inclusion and Social Development Students will examine ethical standards and codes that guide professional practice and conduct. They will learn the influence of ethics on organizational strategies, national priorities and policies, and relationships among international bodies. The course will teach students strategies and techniques to identify and help address ethical issues in practice, research, and evaluation in a variety of contexts and settings. Students can choose to take this course or Cultural Competency: Impacts on Innovations and Model Development.
GISD 609: Cultural Competency: Impacts on Innovations and Model Development This course introduces students to the concepts of culture and cultural competency, and examines the impact of cultural differences on inclusion and exclusion. Students build knowledge and leadership skills in cross-cultural communication, conflict resolution, and organizational capacity building, and learn cultural competency models. Students can choose to take this course or Ethics and Professionalism in Global Inclusion and Social Development.
GISD 610: Strategies for Systemic Change Students will learn organizational systems theory, including the nature of change and the change process. Through case studies, they will learn approaches to and strategies for engaging stakeholders in the change process, as well as planning, implementing, and evaluating systemic change. They will also consider the role of culture on systemic change efforts and implications for change agents and practitioners. Students can choose to take this course or Managing Change: Supporting Communities and Embracing Cultures.
GISD 611: Managing Change: Supporting Communities and Embracing Cultures Students will learn to assess communities’ needs and abilities for change and evaluate change efforts, emphasizing stakeholder involvement, considering cultural, racial, ethnic, and socio-economic make-up. Students can choose to take this course or Strategies for Systemic Change.
GISD 615: Leadership in Global Inclusion and Social Development Students will examine the impact of personal values, beliefs, communication styles, and experiences on leadership. They will learn leadership theory, approaches to leadership development, and leader roles and responsibilities (including ethical and socially responsible leadership). They will learn to assess their leadership style through self-reflection, and develop lifelong professional development skills. Students can choose to take this course or Population Needs and Global Practices.
GISD 616: Population Needs and Global Practices This course introduces students to the concept of population and related theories, and reviews major trends in world population changes. It also examines how to address population needs with respect to policy, strategy, and practice. Particular emphasis is placed on population changes and needs related to youth, aging, health and disability. Students can choose to take this course or Leadership in Global Inclusion and Social Development.
GISD 801: Innovations Seminar This seminar series exposes students to the innovative thinking, planning, model development, and actions of national and international leaders seeking to improve inclusion as well as social and economic development opportunities for all—particularly for vulnerable and diverse populations. Seminars will feature professionals in the fields of disability, health and wellness, education, community and workforce development, international development and assistance, public policy, and administration.