World Travels Lead Graduate to New M.S. in Global Development

Posted April 29, 2024

What do Rwanda, Brazil, and Puerto Rico have in common? They are all places Ana Santos traveled on her journey to — and through — Georgia Tech's new M.S. in Global Development.  

After two years in the Peace Corps in Rwanda and a year as a Fulbright Scholar in Brazil, Santos joined the first cohort of master's students in Georgia Tech's Global Development program. 

"I wanted to go to the next level in my career, so I knew this was the right time for me to do my master's degree," Santos said. As the one-year curriculum winds down and Santos prepares for graduation, she reflects on her experience and what she plans to do next.  

Preparing for a Changing World 

Santos said she chose Georgia Tech because the blend of technical skills and theoretical knowledge was unlike any other program she was considering. 

"A lot of global development work in the modern era is very data-based, and you need computer skills to succeed," Santos said. "For example, monitoring, reporting, and evaluating, known as MRE, is a growing field in global development. This program taught me the computer skills to work with data for global development, including statistical analysis, empirical research methods, and geographic information systems." 

Santos put those skills to the test in her spring capstone course in Puerto Rico. The Urban Planning Studio, led by Assistant Professor Albert Fuentes in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, traveled to the U.S. territory for one week over spring break.  

There, the team combined research, data analysis, and fieldwork — such as talking with community leaders, government officials, industry leaders, and legal aid organizations — to understand the impact of the recent natural disasters in Puerto Rico and what the recovery effort has been like in the public sector. Now, they are finalizing a written report for their clients at the Center for New Economy in Puerto Rico. 

12 Months, One Degree 

The M.S. in Global Development combines courses from the School of Economics, the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, and the School of City and Regional Planning.  

Students take five required courses and can choose from over 50 electives to complete their curriculum. Classes range from econometric analysis to urban ecological design to big data and security and can be tailored based on personal interests and future plans.  

"One of the things that made the program the best option for me was that it could be done in one academic year," Santos said. "I wanted to study what was most relevant for me and the skills I needed and then re-enter the workforce as soon as possible. And this one-year program enabled me to do that." 

Santos hopes to work in U.S. foreign assistance after graduation, but says leaving Georgia Tech and the Global Development program is bittersweet. 

"I would love to stay. I'm having a great time, and I'm sorry I couldn't take every single class that was offered," she said. "But I've learned a lot for such a short amount of time." 

Ready to embark on your own journey in global development? Explore Georgia Tech's program today! 

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Di Minardi

Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts