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Frequently asked questions

How long is the structured programme and can I study part time?

This is a two-year programme. The course combines distance-based learning with compulsory contact sessions over the two (2) years.  The contact sessions are held on the University of the Free State campus in Bloemfontein. Lecturers will discuss coursework during these sessions. The course is essentially part time and you can continue working while studying.

How do I qualify?

If you have completed an honours degree and/or postgraduate diploma with an average of 65% for the highest qualification, you are eligible to apply. Should you not meet these requirements, but have at least 5 years' extensive development-related work experience; you are eligible to be included in the selection process by submitting a comprehensive portfolio through the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) office and following the application process.  Contact for more information.

What is the cost of the course?

A quote can be generated on the UFS website under the student finances section. To obtain a quote for the first year of the MDS programme you need to include the following compulsory module codes: EDSA7905; EDSB7905; EDSC7905; EDSD7905 and EDSE7905  

When and how do I apply?

Applications open in July of the previous year of intake.  To successfully apply for the MDS you need to complete the online applicationNo manual applications will be accepted. You will obtain a student number when you apply on-line.

What documents do I have to forward for assessing?

The application for MDS will only be accepted if you upload the following completed documents online during the application process:
A. An essay on what you consider as the major development challenges facing your region (6 – 8 pages). The essay is graded, therefore pay attention to consistency (essay rubric). Give attention to the following:

  • Construction of argument
  • Academic writing style
  • Plagiarism
  • Referencing style

B. Motivation on why you wish to be included in the MDS Programme
C. Curriculum vitae
D. Completed Form MDS 1  

Applications close at the end of September of the year before intake. 

What is the selection process?

All the documents submitted in with the application are evaluated separately. Scores are accumulated. The selection committee then discusses the scores and relevance of each application. Between forty and fifty students are selected to be part of the programme every year.

When will I know if I am successful?

The successful students will be notified via email during November of the year before intake.

When do I pay what? 

Payment dates for South African students

First semester: all fees for the first semester are payable on/before 31 March.
Second semester: all fees for the second semester are payable on/before 31 August.

Payment dates for international students

First semester: all fees for the first semester are payable on/before 31 March.
Second semester: all fees for the second semester are payable on/before 30 June, regardless of any other date which may appear on account statements.
All other fees are payable no later than the end of the month, following the month in which the transaction took place, as indicated on the account statement, unless specifically stipulated otherwise in the regulations. 

If payments are not made by the due dates

Interest at the prime bank rate as charged by ABSA BANK plus 2% levied on accounts in arrears;
All academic records will be withheld; and
International students with outstanding fees on 1 July will not be allowed to continue with studies. 

What are my job prospects on completing this course?

The Centre for Development Support conducted a scan of development-related job advertisements in some leading newspapers, identifying all the skills necessary for development work, and this study formed the basis in the design of the programme. Careers related to development are located in many different contexts including development agencies, research bodies, government departments, non-governmental organisations and the private sector. The work includes contributing to systems development, the development of plans and policy, conducting applied or strategic research, community organising, and addressing scarce skills.


Tel: +27 51 401 3825
Academic Advice:
EMS Applications:
EMS Appeals BFN (South and Bloemfontein)
EMS Appeals Qwaqwa:

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