McDonald has taught at University post-graduate level at Drury College, Springfield, Missouri. He taught and supervised the Advanced Areas Studies Course for Francophone Africa at the Foreign Service Institute, Washington, DC. McDonald has guest lectured at several universities and institutions, including the National War College, Georgetown University, and Yale University, amongst others. He received is BA in French and Political Science from Southwest Missouri State University. From there, he did his graduate studies, focusing on East European History at the University of Missouri. He received his MA in African Politics in the School or Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. He is currently Director of the African Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.