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Credit & Time Requirements

The MDP Program requires students to complete 45 credits: 24 credit hours of core MDP coursework and 21 credit hours of elective courses to complete one or more Specializations of the student’s choice. Students are strongly encouraged to complete their program within 2 years; however, flexibility in course requirements exists. Below are timeline indicators as an aid to help students keep their academic programs on track throughout their time as an MDP student.


Please click on the timeline indicators for more information about each phase of the MDP program.

1. Orientation

An MDP orientation will be given during the first week of classes. The orientation will provide incoming students a comprehensive overview of the program’s vision, guidelines, requirements and expectations. Faculty and second-year MDP students are also invited to attend the orientation. The orientation will provide an opportunity for students to present themselves and to articulate their expectations for the program. Students are also invited and encouraged to attend the TCD orientation, which is normally held at the end of the first week of classes. In addition, students are also encouraged to attend the UF Graduate School orientation. Orientation dates are e-mailed to incoming students before the start of classes.


2. Initial meeting with Graduate Coordinator (within two weeks of start of first semester

Within the first two weeks of classes, students are required to schedule a meeting with the graduate coordinator, Renata Serra. Dr. Serra will discuss a number of issues including the student’s specific interests for the Master’s practicum and product, and the makeup of the supervisory committee. The opportunities for earning a certificate or specialization during the MDP program will also be discussed. 


3. Appointment of supervisory committee chair (first half of first semester)

The chair of the supervisory committee should be appointed as early as possible in the program. Since students must begin planning their field practicums during the first semester, the chair should be selected in the first half of the fall semester so he/she can participate in this important process. Also the chair will provide invaluable advice during the development of the Study Plan. The chair of the supervisory committee is often a core faculty of the MDP Program, but this is not a requirement. An extensive group of MDP Affiliate Faculty has committed to supporting the program and represents an important resource for MDP students. 


4. Appointment of additional members of the supervisory committee (end of first semester)

In addition to the chair of the supervisory committee, at least one additional committee member is required. Selection of the second committee member should be done in consultation with the chair of the supervisory committee, and often the choice relates to the student’s specialization pursued through a carefully selected group of elective courses. The second member can be a UF graduate school faculty member or special appointment permitted at UF. Professionals representing development or other academic organizations and institutions can also be invited to participate on your supervisory committee (as a third member). The committee chair and graduate coordinator must approve their inclusion in the committee. These committee members must commit to participating in the student’s final presentation and defense of the field practicum report, either in person or utilizing online videoconferencing. 


5. Study Plan (end of first semester)

Students will complete an initial draft of their Study Plan during the first semester, which includes a listing of the courses students intend to take during the program, including 12 credit hours of electives to satisfy the requirements of the certificate, concentration, specialization and/or minor they wish to pursue. It also lists the supervisory committee members and the intended practicum site. The Study Plan first draft should be completed and submitted by the end of the fall semester with the guidance of from the Graduate Coordinator and the chair of the supervisory committee. Modifications to study plans must be approved by the student’s committee and approved changes communicated to the Program Coordinator. Once complete, the Study Plan must be signed by the student and their supervisory committee members. Students should file the original with the Graduate Coordinator, provide a copy to the Program Coordinator and keep a copy for their own records. MDP students who complete the core courses of the MDP Program qualify for the TCD certificate and should enroll for this certificate by the end of the spring semester. 


6. Field practicum proposal and field practicum paperwork (mid-point of the second semester)

Students should carefully review the field practicum guidelines provided during orientation that detail the requirements of the practicum, the development of the proposal, and the deadlines to apply for practicum funding.  During the Spring course, Design and Methods in Sustainable Development Practice, students will develop their field practicum proposals as a key deliverable for the course. Input from the student’s supervisory committee members is required and critical during the development and approval of the field practicum proposal and supervisory committee members must approve the final version before the student departs on his/her practicum. Students must submit the Institutional Review Board (IRB) application for approval during the month of February (second semester). Guidelines and forms for non-medical projects can be found online at  It takes 7-10 days to receive a response from the IRB so every effort should be made to submit an application with a strong likelihood of being approved. 


7. Implementation of Field Project (minimum of 10 weeks during the summer months)

During the implementation of the field practicum, students are strongly encouraged to organize on a continual basis the information collected as the work progresses and take meticulous notes while in the field, including insights, reflections, and important observations each day. Students are required to present the preliminary results and findings of their work to the communities and organizations that participated in the project, while still in country. Please refer to the field practicum guidelines for specific indications and requirements of the field practicum. 


8. Poster session, final report, presentation and defense (third and early fourth semester)

Within the course Conservation and Development Practicum students will develop a poster and present it in a public poster session towards the end of the Fall semester or in Spring semester as a deliverable for the course. Students will also develop the first draft of their final field practicum report as another deliverable of the aforementioned course, with complementary guidance by their respective supervisory committees. Early in the fourth semester, students will schedule and complete their practicum report presentation and defense. 


9. Graduation (fourth semester)

Students are required to complete an online application in one.uf as instructed by the graduate school, early in Spring semester, and are ultimately responsible for ensuring that they have met all the MDP Program and Graduate School requirements and deadlines to successfully graduate.