Global Inclusion and Social Development (MA)

Program Overview

Whether you are switching careers, seeking a new opportunity, or looking to get a promotion, our master’s program in global inclusion and social development can help you reach the next level in your field.

The 36-credit GISD MA program examines global, national, and local issues related to inclusion and social development. Students seek solutions to complex challenges in today’s rapidly changing society, such as health disparities, environmental justice, community development, participatory decision-making, and economic inequality, as well as discrimination based on gender, disability, sexual orientation, age, race, ethnicity, and economic status. 

Our graduates go on to serve as leaders in their communities, as well as in national and international nongovernmental organizations; local, regional, and national governments; foundations; community organizations; and the for-profit sphere. In all these roles, they work to increase inclusion and social development regionally, nationally, and globally.


Fall admission: June 1
Spring admission: November 1
Applications are accepted on a space-available basis after these dates. Email us for more information.


1. Individualized plan of study: Students take courses across departments at UMass Boston that that relate to a specific area of global inclusion and social development. An example might be working with refugee and immigrant populations in the U.S. or abroad.

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

  • Human rights: Focuses on the framework needed to foster inclusive change throughout societies and organizations. A certificate in human rights is also available.
  • Critical ethnic and community studies: Collaboration with the College of Liberal Arts. Analyzes migration patterns and other population movements, as well as race/ethnicity, through the lenses of culture, community, identity, and citizenship.
  • Disability studies: Prepares students to work with people with disabilities in various capacities and to become leaders and advocates in the field. Supported by our colleagues at the Institute for Community Inclusion.
  • Nonprofit management: Prepares students to lead a nonprofit organization. Students take courses from the College of Management to gain proficiency in business practices.
  • Gerontology: Prepares students to understand aging from a social and psychological perspective, and to work in the community or at a policy level. Partner: Department of Gerontology.
  • Rehabilitation counseling: Help people who face barriers to employment find fulfilling work. We also offer a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling.
  • Transition leadership: Support people with disabilities to attend college, enter the workforce, and live independently. We also offer a transition leadership certificate.
  • Vision studies: Advocate for and support individuals with low vision to thrive in their daily lives and in their communities. We also offer a master’s degree in vision studies.

Core Courses

All students must complete GISD 601, 605, 606, and 801 or 802. 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. Visit the course catalog for complete descriptions.

What You'll Learn

Students in the MA program in global inclusion and social development build knowledge and skills in the following areas:

1. Inclusion, social development, and globalization

Demonstrate knowledge of:

  • Concepts of, perspectives on, and approaches to social inclusion and development, as well as economic development
  • Relationships between health and wellness and social and economic development
  • The impact of social exclusion on marginalized populations and other disenfranchised groups
  • Related U.S. and international policies and practices

2. Self-reflection and leadership

  • Use self-reflection to examine the impacts and resulting biases of personal values, beliefs, styles of communication, experience, and upbringing on leadership style.

3. Ethics and professionalism

Demonstrate knowledge of accepted moral principles and values, specifically within professions focused on social justice and human services.

4. Critical and creative thinking and translation into practice

  • Think critically and creatively.
  • Identify an issue, dilemma, or problem, and explore relevant information through research to resolve it.

5. Communication

  • Communicate efficiently in oral, nonverbal, and written modes
  • Recognize the diversity of the intended audiences and communicate appropriately

6. Negotiation and conflict resolution

  • Recognize the characteristics of conflict, and examine its sources in relation to the contending sides’ traits
  • Use a cooperative process to negotiate a mutually suitable solution

7. Cultural competency

  • Recognize the influence of others’ worldviews, personal biases, and assumptions
  • Appreciate and honor those factors to enhance communication and partnerships

8. Teaching, training, and mentoring

  • Adopt a variety of teaching strategies to teach, train, and mentor
  • Act as advocates, coaches, teachers, guides, and role models to positively influence the career development of colleagues and fellow students

9. Transdisciplinary practice and team building

  • Provide a supportive environment that recognizes the skills and expertise of team members from diverse disciplines
  • Create effective teams by facilitating teamwork, managing team dynamics, and identifying the stages of team development

10. Working with communities, organizations, and systems

Understand the basic features and issues of systems.
Think systemically about the complexity of policy, practice, and research challenges.
Demonstrate awareness of how the infrastructures of organizations and businesses work.

11. Policy and advocacy

  • Understand public policy at local, state, national, and international levels in relevant areas of health, wellness, and social and economic development
  • Use this knowledge to address problems affecting a large number of people and to inform policymakers about people’s needs

12. Research, evaluation, and policy analysis

  • Develop a working knowledge of research methods, statistics, evaluation methods, and policy analysis
  • Use this knowledge to gather, analyze, and evaluate data, and translate findings into practice

Careers for Graduates

Here are some examples of how a SGISD graduate could put their degree to use:

  • Running a women's shelter in an underserved rural community in the U.S.
  • Supporting veterans with disabilities to find fulfilling work
  • Training people who are blind or have low vision to navigate independently
  • Working with an international nonprofit to empower communities hit hard by natural disasters
  • Serving as a consultant to the United Nations on issues around equal access to education
  • Conducting research into employment and compensation patterns across ethnic groups in a developing country

Careers relevant to our graduates include gerontology, conflict resolution, and international relations.

Contact Us

Joy C. Solon
Program Assistant

School for Global Inclusion and Social Development
in the College of Education and Human Development