I hold a degree in community education from a university in east Africa, and I intend to pursue a master's degree in rural development. What are my options for earning a degree from an American university?

Many rural development degree programs in America were started to help small communities in the United States, which is why you will find many of the best programs offered primarily through state schools and universities with agricultural degree programs.

Rural development specialists analyze the ways that economics, politics, and people shape the land. Alumni of rural development programs help small villages find sources of fresh drinking water, write plans for public utility development, and guard against building too heavily on new land. Many scholars now recognize that developing nations need this knowledge and talent more than growing U.S. counties do.

To that end, a number of American colleges and universities are finding new ways to bring their rural development expertise to eager students in Asia and Africa. At least one Ivy League school has developed an innovative master's degree program in conjunction with an Ethiopian university. And many colleges and universities offer online agriculture and rural development degrees online.

Whether you attend class in person, online, or through a combination of methods, you can expect to learn from a small but growing community of experts who have dedicated their careers to smart, sustainable growth.