About IDS

About IDS

The International Development Studies Program, founded in 1987, offers UCLA undergraduates an interdisciplinary education on the critical issues, problems, and achievements common to developing regions of the world.

The IDS program attempts to address the following questions: Why are the poor countries poor? Why are the rich countries rich? What can be done to enable poorer countries to become better off? Do policies that narrow the economic gap between nations worsen or ameliorate the socio-economic inequalities within them? Are the factors that have widened socio-economic inequalities in the developing world the same or different than those in more fully industrialized countries? To address these questions, students focus their studies on the cultural, political and economic realities of the developing world, which includes the countries of Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America.

- Interdisciplinary Major
- Study abroad and internship credit may fulfill major requirements

- Small core courses and senior seminar
- Senior Thesis option that leads to Departmental Honors
- Students must  apply
 to be admitted during Fall of their Junior Year



IDS students' educational experiences are balanced between applied, field case-study learning and theoretical, conceptual knowledge. We believe strongly that these two types of learning are inseparable, and are useful for work in academia, government agencies, private industry, or non-governmental and non-profit organizations.  Most importantly, the program assists students in developing critical thinking skills with insight into, and knowledge of, the complex and diverse world community.

Interdisciplinary Approach: Our approach enables students to address the challenges of development from several different academic perspectives. Ranging from Anthropology to Economics, Public Health to Women's Studies, Geography to History, and Political Science to Sociology, our curriculum exposes students to the concerns of the developing countries. An understanding of these issues is indispensable for both practical and scholarly purposes. While encouraging the acquisition of theoretical and conceptual knowledge, the program is equally concerned with their practical application to global realities.



The program values field experience involving travel, study and/or work in regions in the Developing World. Thus a strongly encouraged (though not required) aspect of the major is study abroad, especially in a developing area, and intern in a local, national, or international community development agency/organization. 



Common topics of concern to students in International Development Studies major include:

  • The History of International Economic Expansion
  • Development Theory & Aid Institutions
  • The Consequences of Rapid Urbanization
  • Population-Resource Issues
  • The Transfer of Resources
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Human Migration & Refugee Relief
  • War and Political Violence
  • Health, Illness, and Health Services
  • Food Security & Self-Sufficiency
  • Human Rights & Environmental Justice
  • Political Stability & Democratization
  • Survival of Indigenous Societies
  • Conflicts between Modernity & Tradition
  • Inequalities of Wealth & Power at all Levels
  • Relationships between Development & Underdevelopment
  • Cultural Identity and Cultural Production
  • Gender Disparities in the Developing World
Walking you Through the Program: Learn more about the program in this great article!