MDS (structured) brochure



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

This is a two-year programme. The course combines distance-based learning with five one-week tuition sessions over the two (2) years, which will be held at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein. Coursework will be discussed by lecturers 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 previous qualification, you are eligible to apply. Should you not meet these requirements, but have at least five 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.

What is the cost of the course?

A quote is available on the UFS website.. To obtain a quote for the first year of the MDS you need to include the following module codes (compulsory modules):

  • EDSA7905
  • EDSB7905
  • EDSC7905
  • EDSD7905
  • EDSE7905  

How do I apply?

Applications open in July of the previous year of intake. 

  1. To successfully apply for the MDS you will need to complete the following:
    UFS application: This is an online application ( No manual applications will be accepted. Once application is successful you will receive a student number.
  2. TALPS (Academic Literacy):  Attached, the TALPS information sheet with information and the registration for the online TALPS test.  Please email the TALPS office at  to arrange for the TALPS test to be taken before the end of September of the year before intake. 
  3. MDS application consist of the following:
    • Two recommendation forms – to be completed and sent in sealed envelopes
    • An essay on what you consider as the major development challenges facing your region
    • Motivation on why you wish to be included in the Master's in Development Studies Programme
    • Certified copy of your ID/passport
    • Certified copy of your academic track records
    • Certified copy of your academic certificates
    • Curriculum vitae
    • Signed undertaking
    • Completed form MDS3

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

How will I be selected?

All the documents that have been handed 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 by mid-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 plus 2% will be levied on all 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. A definite need for development training due to the requirements of available jobs was identified.


Ms Lizette Pretorius
+27 51 401 2173
+27 51 444 5465


Internal Box 11, UFS
PO Box 339, Bloemfontein, 9300

Economic faculty contact block