NGOs and International Development

Relevant majors and minors: All majors and minors are relevant for those interested in working with NGOs and/or international development

  • Science skills are essential for staff in many NGOs (non-government organisations) that work in areas such as the environment, conservation, social development and advocacy.
  • There are many different types of NGOs and development agencies, with different NGOs and agencies employing science graduates from different disciplines.
  • Science graduates with majors in botany, biodiversity, chemistry, geoscience, microbiology and zoology, are highly sought after by environmental NGOs.
  • Other NGOs which focus on specific diseases such as cancer, AIDS, malaria or tuberculosis, employ science graduates with a background in chemistry, microbiology, medicinal chemistry, genetics, physiology, biochemistry/ biotechnology, to research cures, or ways of preventing the spread of these diseases, or to plan responses to health emergencies in developing countries.
  • Animal welfare NGOs employ graduates with majors in animal science and veterinary studies, zoology and livestock production.
  • Social development NGOs focus on areas such as mental health, child protection, social services, indigenous programs, human rights and refugee rights and science graduates with a variety of backgrounds, especially psychology, physiology and geography, are employed in social development roles.
  • Some NGOs specifically concentrate on science by expanding the scientific capacity of developing regions through targeted professional training and exchange programs.
  • Funding for NGOs mainly comes from donations from individuals and philanthropic organisations, rather than government funding, fundraising officers with relevant science backgrounds play a key role in effectively raising public support.