Master of Development Practice (MDP) students are required to spend a minimum of 3 months gaining practical experience through a program-approved field placement or internship. The placement is normally completed during the spring term after 2 terms of coursework. In the final term, after the field placement or internship, students may have the opportunity to participate and present papers at the International Conference on Sustainable Development Practice (ICSDP) in New York. During the 2021-22 academic year students may pursue their placements remotely if travel or other mobility restrictions are in effect.
Incoming MDP students meet with John Abraham, Lecturer & Field Placement Manager (email@example.com) during Fall term to discuss your interests and begin the search process. You will also meet returning MDP students to learn about their experiences and discuss your plans for spring term. Please note that there is no guarantee that you will be selected for the placement of your choice.
When to apply
You are encouraged to start your search for prospective host organizations early. The process of applying and final selection could take 3-5 months. Before applying for any placements, ensure your CV is of professional quality, shows your academic and professional qualifications, and clearly articulates your interests/skills and career goals.
Choosing between offers
If you apply for multiple placements, you will likely hear back from more than one organization and will need to decide which one suits you best. Find out as much as you can about the organization, the type of work they might have you do, related costs, and what in-country support they can (and can not) provide. Don't rush your decision but do ask your host organization for a deadline by which to accept or decline.
When accepting an offer you are obligated to commit to that organization and are expected to decline any subsequent offers. Be sure to notify your field placement manager (FPM) about your decision. An agreement may be required and signed by you and your host organization.
Pre-departure requirements for international placement
Students are required to comply with all university-wide and program-specific pre-departure requirements in order to obtain credit for International Development (INDEV) 611 - Field Placement. Your FPM will communicate these requirements in fall and winter term prior to placement. Some prodecures will still apply even if students are pursuing their placements remotely from Canada. If students plan to pursue a placement remotely while living outside of Canada, they are advised to approach the FPM to be properly advised on the relevant procedures.
Costs vary with location, type of host organization and program, and duration. Please see more information about funding your placement.
Where to apply
Note: If the Government of Canada has issued an advisory against travel to a particular country/region, placements in that country/region will normally not be approved. Consult the FPM and check the Travel Advice and Advisories for information about health and security risks abroad.
The best practice approach to gaining professional experience and skills development in the field of global sustainable development is through a placement with a development organization or initiative in a developing country or region. MDP Waterloo connects students with a range of placement opportunities globally.
Placements are offered through partnership with Canadian development organizations, including World University Service of Canada (WUSC) and Cuso International. Please note that students without Canadian citizenship or permanent resident status may face some restrictions depending on visa policies in placement countries.
Placements offered to MDP by Canadian partner organizations are normally posted early winter term. Applicants must meet the eligibility requirements and there are no guarantees that students will receive their first choice placement. Final decisions on student selection are made by host organizations.
MDP faculty networks
MDP faculty may occasionally suggest an organization in a developing country that may be willing to host an MDP student. In this case, students are required to notify the FPM. The FPM will consult with the faculty member and prospective organization to establish viability, timeframe and placement mandate. Once verified, students will be provided instructions for application. Final decisions on student selection will be made by the host organization.
The Global Association offers partially funded internships to MDP students through the International Fund for Agriculture and Development (investing in rural people). Eligibility, costs and time requirements vary and are subject to change without notice.
United Nations agencies
United Nations agencies may offer placements through country-level offices or the United Nations Association in Canada's Junior Professional Consultant Program. See other UN agency websites for further details
Note: UN internships often require a minimum 6 month commitment. Costs and conditions vary and are subject to change without notice.
Other prospective host organizations
- EQWIPHUB is a Canadian platform to transform the economic trajectory of youth around the world. EQWIP HUBs brings together a global network of collaborators including: UN-Habitat, TakingITGlobal and the Education Development Centre to reimagine how young women and men nurture tangible skills and resources needed for developing new enterprises.
- Innovations for Poverty Action is a U.S.-based research and policy nonprofit that discovers and promotes effective solutions to global poverty problems, and works to ensure that evidence created is used to improve the lives of the world’s poor.
- Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), founded in Waterloo, Ontario, MEDA operates on every continent creating business solutions to poverty.
- Queen Elizabeth Scholars 4 Energy Access is funded internships for eligible MDP Waterloo students. Hosted by cutting edge social enterprises deploying clean energy technologies in the global South.
Note: Availability of listings here are not guaranteed; terms and conditions are subject to change without notice.
Arranging your own placement
Students have the option to pursue organizations of interest outside the networks and organizations listed above, provided they relate to global sustainable development. The opportunities are wide-ranging so it's important to begin defining your professional and geographical areas of interest early. When researching opportunities, note any eligibility, timing or cost requirements that may disqualify you from applying. This may include citizenship status, language ability or start/end dates.
Once a prospective host organization is identified, consult with your FPM to ensure your placement will be approved. If approved, you may proceed to formally apply to the organization, in accordance with its instructions. If required, the FPM will provide you and the host organization with a written agreement establishing roles and responsibilities, prior to departure.
Students entering the program with an organization in mind are encouraged to meet with the FPM to verify suitability in fall term.
Finding your own placement in Canada
Students may opt to deviate from the best practice model and pursue a placement opportunity in Canada, with no guarantees from the university. For international students pursuing a placement in Canada, they must meet the following criteria:
- be eligible to work off campus and have the necessary background and skills to meet the requirements of the host organization;
- demonstrate that the organization and placement mandate is related to global sustainable development;
- complete and submit a pre-application form to the FPM; and
- obtain approval for the placement from the FPM before spring term.
Cost of placement
There are three types of costs incurred by students for the field placement course (INDEV 611):
- Tuition and incidental fees for the field placement course paid to University of Waterloo.
- Students selected for placement through the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) pay a single program fee of $4,500 regardless of location. This fee includes return airfare, accommodation, food, living allowance, pre-departure training, and in-country support.
- Typical placement costs internationally range from $4,000 to $6,000 depending upon the country of placement.
Please note that costs are subject to change without notice.
Funding your placement
Please see more information about funding your placement.
|2019||UN University - Institute for Water, Environment and Health||Hamilton, Canada||Water resources|
|2019||Devonshire Initiative||Toronto, Canada||Communications|
|2019||Sustainable Development Solutions Network Canada||Waterloo, Canada||Communications|
|2019||Hitch (UK -Nigeria)||Waterloo, Canada||Communications|
|2019||UNESCO Voices of Future Generations||Waterloo, Canada||Education/literacy|
|2019||Havana University||Havana, Cuba||Argo-ecology/food sovereignty|
|2019||Youth Challenge International - EQWIP HUBS||Surabaya, Indonesia||Environmental sustainability|
|2019||MVIWATA and World University Service of Canada||Moshi, Tanzania||Youth engagement|
|2019||Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific (ESCAP)||Bangkok, Thailand||Disaster risk reduction|
|2018||Esk'etemc First Nation||Canada|
|2018||Anmchara Int'l School||Ghana|
|2018||Mennonite Economic Devt Assoc||Tanzania|
|2018||Tanzania Midwives/Cuso International||Tanzania|
|2018||SEED (Youth and Innovation)||Canada|
|2017||Global Medicare Foundation||Cameroon|
|2017||Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support||Canada|
|2017||EQWIP HUBS (Youth Challenge International)||Indonesia|
|2017||Nirman Foundation (2)||India|
|2017||National Agriculture & Forestry Institute (Cuso International)||Lao PDR|
|2017||Sustainable Environment, Education and Development||Madagascar|
|2017||Cuso International (Sustainable Tourism Development)||Myanymar|
|2017||Alianza Cacao (World University Service of Canada)||Peru|
Uganda Voluntary Development Association
*last updated July 2019