Bachelor’s Degrees in Monitoring and Evaluation

If you’re looking to start a career in monitoring and evaluation, then this guide will assist you in locating the best possible pathway from the undergraduate level. Monitoring and Evaluation is not a subject in itself widely offered at universities, although the knowledge base is formalising over time, but rather, it is a set of skills and techniques which enable development practitioners, medical scientists, project managers, and organisations to use evidence and data to improve practice, or to learn more about the space in which they work. Thus, before you select an undergraduate qualification, it is advisable to think about your core strengths, your interests and passions, and to seek professional career advice before making a selection. Economics, and particularly with mixed majors in politics, or social sciences can be a powerful foundation. If you are very interested in the technical side of data use, and of evaluations, then statistics may be the best foundation. And if it is public health that fascinates you, or modelling health responses, then epidemiology may be most advisable. The key to a successful career is finding this fit. Explore this list for some inspiration.

MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

Despite a strong historical association with strengths in engineering and mathematical subjects, MIT’s social science department is rising in prominence. All MIT undergraduates study courses offered by the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Science (SHASS), and studies in politics and economics form a core part of the offering of this school. Monitoring and Evaluation, particularly in complex and cross-cultural settings requires a good understanding of culture and history, and languages can also work in your favour if you’re looking for an international career. Coupling these important foundations with more rigorous data-related or statistical subjects leads to a powerful base on which to build a career in M&E. Majors include Economics, and Politics, Anthropology, History, and other interesting offerings. A course in comparative media studies is useful for writing and communicating findings – a significant part of being proficient in M&E. Or why not major in Science, Technology and Society which takes stock of the nexus between technology and humanity. An understanding of the behavioural aspects of technology integration is key for implementing M&E in rapidly advancing, and increasing data-centred theory and practice.

Oxford University: Philosophy, Politics and Economics

The Oxford PPE has been the chosen field of study of a number of significant leaders, and Nobel prize winners. For good reason. The PPE degree is a powerful combination of subject matter, which is thought to transform and deeply develop the intellects of participants. The degree encourages problem solving, lateral thinking, and requires participants to cover and hold vast amounts of information about social systems and change- key areas of study to understand and implement sound monitoring and evaluation practice. This degree is also broad in its subject matter, enabling scope to refine your key interests as you progress through the course. While Economics as a major will cover important considerations about how and why people organise, how organisations work, and how behaviour can be individually and collectively understood and analysed, philosophy teaches logic and critical reasoning. A political background will assist where you hope to have an international career, and require an understanding of international law or international relations. Either way, this is an excellent foundation.

Stanford University – Undergraduate degree in Humanities and Social Sciences

If addressing environmental challenges, and developing an M&E skillset to support this is where your passion lies, then undergraduate studies at Stanford, and being actively involved in the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment may be the perfect option for you. Stanford’s Social Science undergraduate offering comes in 3rd on The World University Rankings for 2021. In the general undergraduate humanities and social science faculties, the exciting offering includes majors in Biomedical Computation if you’re intending to use your M&E in the public health space, Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law if you’re tending toward M&E for policy and practice, Economics, Ethics, or Global Studies. A new minor includes studies in digital humanities. Whichever route you take, selecting your majors from the Humanities and Social Science undergraduate offering at Stanford is sure to position your career for success.

UC Berkeley – Social Science Degree focusing on Interdisciplinary Studies

Rather than a traditional programme, the Interdisciplinary Studies Field (ISF) aims to encourage innovations, by allowing a broad and interdisciplinary approach to undergraduate studies. The track is largely research based but includes a range of courses from the Social Sciences and Humanities, as well as courses from the professional schools, and a range of prescribed courses as part o the ISF track. The course thread focusing on Sciences and Society would provide an excellent suite of skills for understanding and analysing human social behaviour, and how to reconcile this with mechanistic basis required for technocratic solutions. ‘Interdisciplinary’ allow for a balanced approach to gathering key ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills; precisely the kind of balance required to lead the way in M&E.

London School of Economics – BSc in Economics coupled with various majors

Although a formal Economics major may seem more suited to traditional banking and financial sector careers, there are a range of degree offerings which speak to developing a career focusing on Monitoring and Evaluation, and development practice. Not only do studies in Economics and Economic History equip students with problem-solving skills and critical thinking, but these create a deep understanding of social systems, and how to leverage institutions for the improvement of society. This will also equip candidates with programme management skills, critical for M&E practitioners looking to create improvement in development practice. Degree offerings include BSc majoring in Economics, PPE, International Social and Public Policy or Econometrics and Mathematical Economics, Environmental Policy, and Economic Development. Attending LSE will also ensure starting your career well networked!

University College London – Undergraduate Degrees in the Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences

UCL is rising in the International Rankings for its Social Science offerings and have expanded to include the Institute or Advanced Studies, to enable interdisciplinary studies. This will allow candidates to focus simultaneously on Economic Development and Statistics for example, or on Anthropology and International Relations. A more accessible and inclusive environment, this is an excellent option for gaining your key skills to grow and M&E career.

University of Amsterdam – bachelor’s in politics, Psychology, Law and Economics (PPLE)

A new take on the traditional mixed-major PPE, The University of Amsterdam’s PPLE Bachelors is sure to equip candidates with the key skills to understand people within social, economic and political systems. This is important for a career in M&E, particularly when practitioners aim to affect meaningful change. At the school, there are a range of other degree programmes which may be equally well-suited as a foundation for an M&E career including a Bachelor’s in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, as well as the traditional social science offerings. Econometrics is handy if you’re interested in becoming a serious evaluator, seeking to run randomised trials, and conduct analyses to learn the effects of programme and projects at scale.

University of Peking’s Research National School of Development

This school offers an astounding range of courses in various subjects, through which you could create a highly refined programme for your specific interests in Monitoring, evaluation and development practice. Courses include those focusing on Information Economics Strategy, Real World Economics, Social Economic Surveys: Theory, Methodology and Practice, Socio-Economic survey data analytics, and a range of courses on the nexus between economics, social systems, and statistics.  If you are looking for an international study experience, this cosmopolitan university ranks 17th in the world for its Social Science offering and would equip candidates with world class skills. It would just be advisable to check whether the courses you choose are offered in your language before applying.

SOAS University of London – BSc Development Economics

SOAS University London is fast establishing itself as a leader in the study of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East. This school offers a uniquely critical take on traditional views of Economics and Development and enables students not only to solve problems with existing tools, but to reinvent the toolset – something much needed in a rapidly changing world. This heterodox Economics curriculum focuses on the economics and developing economies and will equip candidates with the skills of analysis for policy reform to match the changing needs of humanity.

University of Cape Town – Bachelor of Social Science

South Africa’s University of Cape Town (UCT) offers an excellent range of subjects within both their Commerce and Social Science faculties. Taking the Social Science route allows for access to a range of majors both within the Social Science and other faculties. The Social Science degree programmes include a world-class PPE, African Studies, or Social Development. From this degree, students can focus on dual majors which might include Statistics, Informatics or Environmental and Geographical Science, if your interests lie in environmental issues. If you’re looking to work on the African continent, this is an excellent place to begin you career in Development, or M&E. You might even find yourself proficient in an African Language before graduation day.

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About Angela Biden

Angela Biden is a consulting strategist and M&E consultant. She has worked across a range of development, and business contexts. She holds a Masters in Economics and Philosophy, and has worked in the nexus of M&E and social impact; to help those doing good do more of it; for some 15 years. From policy board rooms, to Tech start-ups, to grass roots NGOs working in the face of the world’s most abject challenges; Angela is focused on conducting relevant and meaningful M&E: fit for purpose, realistic, and useful for stakeholders creating positive change.
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