Shaping your MALD Degree

The MALD curriculum is a highly flexible degree and can be customized in numerous ways to meet specific academic, personal and professional goals. Fletcher courses can be broadly categorized as theoretical, policy-focused, regionally-focused, or skills-oriented, with most courses embodying two to four of those elements. Fletcher's courses are organized in three divisions: international law and organizations; diplomacy, history, and politics; and economics and international business. Coursework from each division ensures breadth and interdisciplinary study. MALD students build expertise in a particular area by selecting two concentrations from 11 fields of study. The capstone project allows students to partner with a faculty advisor to explore a particular international issue in depth. In addition, students have the option to incorporate cross-registration, and dual, joint, and exchange programs into their MALD degree.

  • Fields of study are the basic building blocks of the Fletcher curriculum. Fields of study are areas of specialization or concentration that are used to meet the school's depth requirement. Fields enable students to develop a specific set of skills related to a functional topic or geographic area. MALD students are required to graduate with two fields of study.

    Learn more about the 11 fields of study offered, as well as the ability to "self-design" a specific field.

  • Fletcher's curriculum is oriented toward providing students with the functional expertise they need for global careers. Although most Fletcher fields of study are organized around functional themes, the school also supports regional interests through coursework, comparative case studies, faculty and student research, and overseas internships. Students may choose to focus on a specific geographic region by taking courses with regional relevance, by focusing their capstone project on a region, or by self-designing a regionally-focused field of study. Many Fletcher courses, while organized along functional lines, have substantial content in a particular region, such as mobile banking in sub-Saharan Africa, climate change in China, and the rule of law in post-conflict societies such as Afghanistan. Internship opportunities are an excellent way of developing regional, as well as functional, expertise.

  • Quantitative reasoning skills are an important part of today's professional toolkit. Fletcher provides a wide array of quantitative offerings while allowing students to determine the depth and type of quantitative knowledge and skills they will pursue. While some students choose quantitative coursework as a primary focus, others hone their quantitative skills in the context of another discipline. Students, by choice, may build quantitative skills in the following areas:

    • Business (accounting, management, marketing, financial analysis, corporate governance, law)
    • Financial Analysis and Accounting (balance sheets, cash flow analysis, reporting)
    • International Development (development economics, program design, microfinance, impact evaluation, results frameworks)
    • International Finance (project finance, governance, financial instruments, monetary and exchange rate policy)
    • Project Management (proposal development, budgeting, financial statement analysis, monitoring and evaluation)
    • Research Methods (field data collection, survey design, analytical frameworks)
    • Statistical and Economic Analysis (regression analysis, statistical reasoning and inference)
  • Under the direction of a professor, the capstone project allows students to sharpen their analytical skills, build deep knowledge in a specific area of expertise, and create a bridge to their job search. Capstone projects have included business plans, policy memos, case studies, group projects, and academic theses. All MALD students complete a capstone project. This is a unique opportunity to transform the learning that takes place at Fletcher into a substantial independent product.

  • Fletcher encourages students to tailor their studies to their meet academic interests and professional goals by offering cross-registration, opportunities, exchange programs, and joint and dual degrees. Fletcher maintains special relationships with many programs and graduate schools at Tufts University and Harvard University. In addition, one-semester exchange opportunities exist with many of Fletcher's partner institutions around the world. Up to 25 percent of a student's classes can be taken at other institutions. Students also have the option of pursuing a dual degree with some of the world's leading professional schools and graduate programs. Additionally, students may pursue an ad hoc dual degree. The most common dual degrees combine a MALD degree with a degree in law, business, public health, education, and area studies.

  • In addition to formal classroom instruction, Fletcher offers numerous extracurricular opportunities on a weekly basis. Fletcher's research centers, student clubs, and groups regularly host speakers and conferences representing a wide range of perspectives, current events and professional activities. By conducting cutting-edge research and providing experiential opportunities, Fletcher's research centers and programs serve as a practical complement to classroom learning. Students gain hands-on experience through research, internships, study trips, business plan competitions, consulting projects, simulations, fieldwork, international conferences, and professional skill-building workshops.

  • While the MALD does not have a strict core curriculum, there is a structure in place to ensure that students acquire a breadth of knowledge, quantitative skills, and competency in a functional or regional area of study. Courses can be used in numerous combinations to meet the breadth and depth requirements. No two students end up taking the same set of courses to meet the MALD requirements, which are:

  • The capstone project is a key aspect of Fletcher’s master’s degree programs, offering students the opportunity to produce a substantial piece of work examining a multidimensional international issue. This exercise allows students to build a real depth of knowledge in a particular area of focus. Capstone projects can be designed for practical application, and thus can serve as a strong bridge to the job search process.  

    The detailed requirements for any capstone project are determined after consultation with the supervising faculty member and can take a wide range of formats, including, but not limited to:

    • A traditional academic research thesis
    • A policy paper (for example, for a government, NGO, or an international organization, whether or not for an actual client)
    • An operational plan (for example, in development, business, or public diplomacy)
    • A case study
    • A business plan


    The Tufts Digital Library holds a selection of capstone projects and theses.

    Incubator Courses

    Fletcher offers incubator courses to serve as the foundation for capstone projects. These courses are open both to students who wish to take them to prepare for the capstone project and also for general enrollment. In the large majority of incubator courses, the final product of the course itself will be the same for both groups of students. Students who wish to turn the final project or paper from the incubator course into a capstone will coordinate with the instructor and capstone advisor.

    Incubator Course Title Instructor
    B200: Foundations in Financial Accounting and Corporate Finance Jacque, Laurent L.
    B212: Starting New Ventures Bhidé, Amar
    B233: Best (or More Plausibly, Widely Used) Practices Bhidé, Amar
    B237: Field Studies in Global Consulting Tunnard, Christopher R.
    D200: Diplomacy: History, Theory and Practice Henrikson, Alan K.
    D216m: Social Networks in Organizations – Part One Tunnard, Christopher R.
    D217m: Social Networks in Organizations – Part Two Tunnard, Christopher R.
    E247: Econometric Impact Evaluation for Development Aker, Jenny C.
    H203: The International Relations of the China Seas Perry, John Curtis
    L203: International Law in International Relations Trachtman, Joel and Hite, Nancy
    L209: International Treaty Behavior: A Perspective on Globalization Chayes, Antonia
    P201: Comparative Politics Bulutgil, H. Zeynep
    P216: Research and Writing in the Global Political Economy Hite, Nancy F.
    P223m: Political Violence Bulutgil, H. Zeynep
    P220: Understanding Mass Atrocities Conley-Zilkic, Bridget
    P256: Innovation for Sustainable Prosperity Gallagher, Kelly Sims
    P272: China's Frontiers Khan, Sulmaan
    P298: Conflict in Africa deWaal, Alex