Career outlook

IDS graduates thrive in work fields that require understanding of global affairs, international experiences as well as analytical, communication, and project implementation skills. Following recent policy changes at national and international level, IDS graduates have increasingly found employment in non-traditional development fields such as the private sector.

Possible prospects

The programme trains students for careers in public, non-profit (e.g. academic), and the private sectors. Job opportunities include:

  • Research positions: conducting academic and applied research into development issues in the Netherlands and abroad.
  • Policy positions: preparing and coordinating policy, advising on, and planning international development cooperation (e.g. in UNDP, FAO, Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
  • Implementation positions: serving as local project managers and coordinators (in NGOs or the private sector, e.g. as corporate social responsibility or sustainability advisors).
  • PR/communication positions related to development issues.
  • Following recent policy changes at national and international level, the number and size of organisations involved in international cooperation have increased considerably. Consequently, there is a growing need for professionals who are able to integrate elements from various disciplines into the analysis of complex development-related issues.

Academic Careers

The MSc in International Development Studies programme prepares students adequately for PhD research. Many of our graduates were successful in attaining competitive PhD positions and research fellowships.

Professional Careers

Our graduates have been successful in finding challenging and interesting jobs. Here are some inspiring examples:

  • Ama van Dantzig (2006; co-founder Dr.Monk (international innovation agency), with headquarters in Amsterdam, Netherlands and Accra, Ghana
  • Maartje ten Brummelaar (graduated 2007), Policy Advisor - Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands
  • Eliska Gerthnerova (graduated 2012), EU Development and Humanitarian Aid Policy Officer, Office of the Government of the Czech Republic
  • Thijs Rutgers (graduated 2010), Business Developer, Enviu – we start world changing companies.
  • Ilse Zeemeijer (graduated 2012), Editor and journalist, Het Financieele Dagblad

Facts and figures

Corresponding with overall labour market trends, the labour market position of IDS-graduates was affected by the economic crisis during the last years. Research of the STOGO Labour Market Monitor (2012/2015) among graduates of The Department of Human Geography and Planning shows that 62% of the 2012-2015 IDS cohort had found a job within 6 months after graduation. Often, this job matches well with their educational background: two-third of the IDSM graduates (cohort 2007-2015) is of the opinion that the knowledge they acquired during the programme corresponds well with their current job position and that the theoretical knowledge in particular prepared them well for the labour market.

A pilot survey was conducted among IDS alumni early 2013, in which 68 alumni (hence only a minor share of our graduates) took part. Among the respondents, 79% had a job, 7% were self-employed, 6% were doing a second internship, 3% were studying, and 4% were unemployed, all from the last cohort (2011 – 2012). Most important sectors are that of development cooperation (24%), academia/education (21%), and government (16%). The majority of the alumni works in the Netherlands (69%), 10% works in Europe, and the remaining 21% works outside Europe.

Graduates of the IDSM programme are now working at the following organisations, among many others:


Learning Dutch

If you want to find a job or internship in the Netherlands, knowing Dutch will get you places. Even if you work within an international organisation, knowing at least some Dutch is always a benefit and in some cases even a requirement. In order to learn Dutch, free language websites such as or can get you started or take a look at the Dutch courses offered by Babel. As a student from Utrecht University you receive a 25% discount on their course offerings.

After graduation

If you want to stay in the Netherlands after your graduation, you can apply for the ‘residence permit orientation year’. This permit can be submitted within 3 years after completing your studies and allows you unlimited working rights (hence: a work permit –TWV- is not required). For an overview of the conditions that apply for this permit, please visit the IND website.