About ISS

ISS is an international graduate school of policy-oriented critical social science. It brings together students and teachers from the Global South and the North in a European environment. Established in 1952 as the International Institute of Social Studies by Dutch universities and the Netherlands Ministry of Education it does research, teaching and public service in the field of development studies and international cooperation. We are located in The Hague, known as 'The World’s Legal Capital'.


On 1 July 2009 ISS became a University Institute of Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR). This unique structure, in which ISS retains its mission, location, and relative autonomy whilst benefiting from the resources available from an internationally renowned university, came about after a careful process of negotiations. As a University Institute, ISS is able to develop innovative research in cooperation with other EUR faculties and have greater access to Dutch and international research funding. Students graduating from ISS receive diplomas and degrees which bear the names of both ISS and EUR. ISS will remain in The Hague though all staff and students will have access to EUR facilities and resources.


Research at ISS focuses on development studies. This transdisciplinary field of study seeks to understand phenomena of underdevelopment, development, and change, with special reference to low-income countries. Poverty, globalization, gender, and inequity are keywords in most of our programmes.


We offer a four-year Ph.D. programme and an accredited 15.5-month MA in Development Studies with various specializations for participants from over 50 countries. In addition, we offer postgraduate diploma programmes and short courses. The degrees, including the Ph.D., are recognized internationally and by Dutch legislation. Our more than 11.000 alumnus function at all levels of government, business and civil society in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Accreditation The ISS MA Degree in Development Studies is widely recognized, accredited by the Netherlands Flemish accreditation organization NVAO and provides eligibility for entry to Ph.D. programmes in the Netherlands and other countries worldwide.

Public service

Our staff comes from many countries and is a source of knowledge and has wide experience in international development. We stimulate public debate on current issues, important for the exchange of knowledge and for increasing public awareness. ISS organizes a wide variety of events, from large conferences to small roundtable meetings for selected groups. The staff is also engaged in the institutional capacity development, contract research and advisory services for international agencies and national governments.

ISS in a nutshell

The International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague is part of the Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR). It is a graduate institute of policy-oriented critical social science, founded in 1952 and able to draw on sixty years of experience. ISS is a highly diverse international community of scholars and students from the global south and the north, which brings together people, ideas and insights in a multi-disciplinary setting which nurtures, fosters and promotes critical thinking and conducts innovative research into fundamental social problems. Key to the ISS philosophy and practice is the wish to make a contribution to achieving social justice and equity on a global level. The strong partnerships with organizations and individuals in developing countries make up a network in which the co-creation of knowledge and an integrated approach to research and teaching can flourish and remain societally relevant. ISS shares expertise with a wider public by providing high-level policy advice, serving as a platform for debate and the exchange of ideas and engaging in consultancy.

Programmes taught in:
  • English (US)

This school also offers:


Institute Of Social Studies - Erasmus University Rotterdam

The Master of Arts in Development Studies offers a solid academic and professionally relevant training in theory and methods for development studies. It is designed for t ... [+]

The Master of Arts in Development Studies offers a solid academic and professionally relevant training in theory and methods for development studies. It is designed for those wishing to start or continue their professional careers in the area of development. In the MA program, you learn about the most recent theories and debates. You will also learn to apply this knowledge to practical issues of development and social change.

Critical thinking

MA students are encouraged to develop a critical understanding of major debates, theories, and strategic interventions and of the skills to analyze the issues and to design and assess interventions aimed at tackling these issues. An essential part of this process is to develop skills in research methodology, which will be applied in a research paper prepared as a requirement for the Master's degree.... [-]

Netherlands The Hague
September 2020
English (US)
Full time
15 - 16 months
Read more in English