Alumni & Friends - Ways to get involved and give back

Complementing your IDS Degree with another Subject Post

International development is a very broad field. Although students are not required to take an additional minor or major, it is highly recommended they do so in order to specialize in an area of their interest. Usually, employers and graduate schools are looking for concrete evidence (a.k.a. a degree) showing that you have the academic background to work in a particular aspect of development. Complimenting a specialist or major can be done with another major or a minor, or 2 minors, depending on your interests.

You need 20 credits to complete your degree. A specialist requires between 13-15 credits to complete, while a major requires 8 credits and a minor requires 4 credits. It is important to remember that only a specialist allows for unlimited overlap between courses, if the second program is not actually required to complete your degree. However, once you have made your decision regarding a Subject Post (or narrowed down to some options), it is recommended you speak to the registrar’s office or Academic Advising to ensure that all the administrative requisites will be completed and the overlap is allowed.

To better make your decision you can also speak to professors, 4th and 5th year students of the program, or check out the website to see where graduates have ended up, so you know what your future prospects will be.

Here are the most popular options for selecting a complementary Subject Post. Links of the programs lead to the UTSC Calendar, which gives a more thorough description and availability of courses.

  • be prepared to write a lot of essays and do a lot of readings
  • there are many different streams to anthropology, but the socio-cultural is the one most relevant to IDS
  • main point of anthro: studying why humans behave the way they do
  • may be combined with environmental, political, economic streams & factors
  • large development orgs (i.e. World Bank, UN, CIDA) and some private sector companies (i.e. mining) hire anthropologists to ensure development projects are appropriate in their context
  • anthropologists also tend to become academics or researchers
African Studies
  • courses are mostly general to all of Africa, but some are country specific
  • a good balance between African culture, beliefs, and traditions & the effect of colonialism, war, and modern society
  • new minor and a lot of the courses are still being developed; makes it hard to plan ahead since some courses are not offered every year
  • it is best to combine with French, Arabic, or Swahili (offered in the downtown campus)
  • regional focus for work in Africa
  • can make you more competitive with organizations who work in Africa
  • there is also a language requirement for jobs in Africa (mostly French, but also a 3rdnon-colonial language i.e. Swahili)
  • a minor is not difficult to complete
  • IDSB01, IDSC11, STAB22 all count towards requirements
  • there are more social/political economics but there are also more hardcore economics course offered for a more solid foundation
  • need additional technical skills (math, science, stats) that might be difficult to develop alongside skills you need in IDS
  • some economic courses should be taken regardless in order to understand the importance of a strong local economy and job creation for development
  • microcredit programs
  • could be used in many different fields of development, especially political science / public policy
Environmental Science
  • also one of the two options of the IDS program, other than the Arts
  • since 2010, it has been difficult to do major in EnviroSci in combination with IDS, but the program has been completely restructured recently
  • there is a new science curriculum to introduce workshops/courses that better tie with IDS
  • there are still a high number of prerequisites (1st year biology, chemistry, physics, calculus)
  • it is a good idea to take some in summer school, in order to ensure good grades and an easier course load during the year
  • in the field you need to know physics and chemistry, so don’t think of them as unnecessary
  • need additional technical skills (math, science, stats) that might be difficult to develop alongside skills you need in IDS
  • some valuable courses to take are the B level EES courses, such as hydrology, climatology, soil science, due to their application in upper courses
  • BIOC52 or any other field course for practical experience
  • usually need a post-grad to make it more practical
  • NGOs doing sustainability work look for people who can combine knowledge of development with a solid understanding of environmental processes
  • industry/corporate world: environmental consulting, urban planning, adaptation to climate change, GIS, Environment Impact Assessment
Health Studies
  • a focus on the Social Determinants of Health, the connection between health and socioeconomic issues * policy & advocacy
  • unless you really enjoy health and science, the science requirements are not very useful (unless you are thinking about medical school)
  • need further education for technical medical fields
  • Doctors Without Border (MSF), Stephen Lewis Foundation, Care International, Global Health Council , AMREF, Aga Khan, SALAMA, Treatment Action Campaign
  • human rights work
  • health care/services provision
Political Science
  • there are three streams: Canadian politics, international/development politics, and political theory
  • offer courses with regional focus (i.e. Middle East, Latin America, Africa, Southeast Asia) which would be useful for a better understanding of the underlying issues in specific countries
  • politics is the core component to so many of the issues discussed in development, so even a few interesting courses are worth taking for a more holistic understanding of development
  • very heavy on the essay writing and readings
  • national and international politics
  • internships with the Governance Department of the UNDP
  • CIDA
  • any policy work
  • NGOs and advocacy, lobbying government(s)

Other, more specific/concentrated options


  • Most universal ones are French & Spanish. French is especially important for gov’nt work in Canada and very useful for work in Africa. Spanish is invaluable for work in Latin America. Although there are variations between countries having a strong knowledge will be very useful.
  • The UTSC campus has cut availability in Spanish courses and some other ones, so it’s best to check out the downtown campus. UTSC offers French, and introductory courses in Mandarin, Hindu, Tamil, Japanese.
  • Having a language is very useful in general, it is a great thing to add to your resume and invaluable for work in the field.
  • Learning a language could be overwhelming while taking other courses, so consider taking summer courses, a different course outside of school (compare fees with your course costs), or the best way to do it is in-country (i.e. for Spanish there is Guatemala or Mexico live-in programs, and for French there is the J’Explore program in Canada


  • Could be done as part of the Environmental Science stream.
  • Could be as technical or non-technical as you want it to be.
  • Geography is looking at the environment, but from the perspective of how humans interact with it and what that means.
  • There is more of an anthropologic slant to geography than the environmental sciences, although both deal with the environment.
  • Future work can involve human geography, urban planning, resource management, and GIS, which is very technical but well-paid and in high demand.
  • However, a lot of people choose geography as a master’s to specialize in later on.

Global Asia Studies

  • A regional focus program like African Studies. Unfortunately, at UTSC there is no Latin America concentration except POLC91 & POLC99, but there is a more wide variety in the downtown campus.
  • Great if you want to work in that region of the world as you will gain better historical, cultural, and contemporary understanding of the issues of the region and their particular roots.
  • Definite advantage on your resume and your overall knowledge base.

Public Policy

  • A more concentrated stream of political science that focuses specifically on policy creation and analysis.
  • It is interdisciplinary, so there are courses from a lot of different programs, which can be difficult to grasp.
  • It is very statistics-based and requires at least 1.5 credits in research methods courses. This means that it could be a little dry and technical to study, but of course very useful if this is what you want to do in the future. However, you could study political science and choose public policy as a master’s alternative.
  • Very useful if you want to go into policy work with governments, businesses, NGOs, etc.

Women's & Gender Studies

  • It is better to do a minor than a major, when complementing with a major or specialist in IDS. There are many sociology and history upper-year courses which would require prerequisites.
  • There are limited number of courses that could be directly tied with IDS and women in development, perhaps only one or two. Other development courses usually devote a lecture to women and development, which makes for a good base, but is not comprehensive enough.
  • However, if you want to concentrate on women’s rights, gender equality etc., it is important to be familiar with the causes and effects of women’s subordination and development approaches towards women.
  • This is why a minor, or at least familiarizing yourself with some courses will be useful.
  • Focus on women is a growing fields and many NGOs incorporate gender analysis or gender component to their projects.

Media Studies

  • A fairly new concentration/component to the IDS program, but essential to understanding how the media shapes not only development but the public’s opinion about development.
  • If you are interested in journalism or documentaries, this is also a great option.