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9 Top Master Degrees in Humanitarian Action

Humanitarian action is about saving lives and alleviating suffering caused by conflict and natural disasters. We have compiled 9 Master degrees in Humanitarian Action around the world for your consideration.

Master Programme in Humanitarian Action and Conflict (Uppsala University)

Uppsala University in Sweden offers a Master of Theology degree in Humanitarian Action and Conflicts. Students spend one year on campus completing the necessary course requirements and conducting independent research that culminates in a master’s dissertation. Required courses for the program include Introduction to Humanitarian Action, Anthropology in Humanitarian Action, International Law in Humanitarian Assistance, Geopolitics, Public Health in Humanitarian Action, Management and Conflict and Peace-Building. To qualify for admission, students must show demonstrated fluency in English and have a bachelor’s degree. A statement of purpose is also required for admission to the program.

Humanitarian Action (Ruhr University Bochum)

Ruhr University of Bochum in Germany offers a Master of Arts degree in Humanitarian Action through a partnership with the Network on Humanitarian Action (NOHA). This intensive multi-disciplinary program requires 24 months to complete. Students are free to specialize in one of the following fields: Humanitarian action management, Humanitarian international law, International relations in humanitarian action, Public health/medicine in humanitarian action, Anthropology in humanitarian action or International organizations in humanitarian emergencies. A master’s degree dissertation based on independent research is required for each concentration. To be considered for admission, students must hold a bachelor’s degree in law, medicine, international relations, political science, sociology, anthropology, psychology, management, economics, geography, communications or a closely related field.

Master of International Humanitarian Action (Fordham University)

Fordham University in New York City, United States, offers a Master of Arts degree in International Humanitarian Action. The program is designed for a completion as a full-time course of study over the course of two years. Students take courses on a wide range of topics, including Current Humanitarian Issues, Vulnerable Populations and Migration, Humanitarian Logistics, Community Participation in Emergency Response, Humanitarian Negotiation, Leadership & Management of Humanitarian Action, Accountability in Humanitarian Action, Ethics of Humanitarian Assistance and Strategic Issues in Humanitarian Affairs. Prospective students must have a bachelor’s degree, a strong academic history and three letters of recommendation for admissions consideration.

MSc in Humanitarian Studies with a concentration in Human Rights, Fordham University – New York, NY, US

Fordham University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) offers a MSc in Humanitarian Studies. This program is specifically designed for recent undergraduates and young professionals with less than five years of experience in the field of humanitarian work. Students gain an interdisciplinary perspective to relevant issues and take evening classes to complete their degree, allowing time to work in the professional field or take on an internship while completing their degree. Students can choose to concentrate in one of three focus areas, including Human Rights, in which they will take a variety of specialized courses. They also must complete an internship and a thesis to complete their degree.

Tuition rates for this 30-credit program are $1486 per credit. GSAS offers a number of scholarships and fellowships to students. Students may also apply for external financial aid in order to pay for the cost of their studies.

Humanitarian Action (University of Dublin)

The University College of Dublin in Ireland offers a Master of Science degree in Humanitarian Action through a partnership between the school’s Centre for Humanitarian Action and the Network on Humanitarian Action (NOHA). Experiential learning plays a major role in the program with students having an opportunity to participate in field placements abroad and humanitarian simulations on campus. The program requires three semesters to complete and includes coursework in public health, geopolitics, law and sociology. Completion of a master’s thesis is also required. To qualify for admission, students must hold a bachelor’s degree and submit a letter of motivation.

MA in Human Rights and Humanitarian Action, SciencesPo Paris School of International Affairs – Paris, France

SciencesPo’s Paris School of International Affairs offers an MA in Human Rights and Humanitarian Action. This program blends philosophy, history, sociology, and anthropology to help students connect the fields of humanitarianism and human rights. The program also aims to take a unique “French” approach to these issues. In addition to classes, students also complete an internship and a thesis and may also have the option to study abroad.

Fees for this 2-year program vary based on place of residence. Students in the EEA area pay on a sliding scale based on annual income. For graduate students outside of the EEA area, annual tuition is €14,500. The school states that one in three students receives a full-fee scholarship to attend. They offer various scholarship and aid programs for French students, EEA students, and non-European students, as well as income-based grants and scholarships.

MPA or MIA with a concentration in Human Rights and Humanitarian Policy, Columbia University – New York, NY, US

Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs offers a concentration in Human Rights and Humanitarian Policy for its Master of Public Administration and Master of International Affairs programs. This concentration is designed to create a more focused course load and experience for students interested in these particular areas of study. Students can choose to focus on either Human Rights or Humanitarian Policy through the curriculum, in addition to taking a few elective courses. Students are able to take courses from a variety of schools and institutes at Columbia within the subject areas of human rights and humanitarian policy, including the Law School, Mailman School of Public Health, and the Institute for the Study of Human Rights.

The 2-year MPA and MIA programs cost $57,576 in tuition per year. The School of International and Public Affairs offers scholarships and assistantships for students that can help finance their studies. Columbia also have several fellowships and scholarships available for students to apply for.

Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s Degree Programme in International Humanitarian Action, Multiple universities – Multiple locations

The Network on Humanitarian Action International Association of Universities offers the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s Degree Programme in International Humanitarian Action through multiple universities throughout Europe. This program is designed to provide a theoretical, analytical, and practical approach to issues of humanitarian action, taught by experts in-house and in the field. The program is offered in English, French, and Spanish. In addition to taking courses at the Uniwersytet Warszawski and the student’s home university of choice, they will also have the opportunity to get regional training at one of the partner universities around the world and participate in a research project to complete their degree.

This 2-year program costs a total of €12,000 for the entire duration. This does not include expenses and fees, especially for the regional training semester. Students may be able to seek out financial aid and scholarships through their host university. This program is offered by the following universities: Aix-Marseille Universite (France), University of Malta (Malta), Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (the Netherlands), Ruhr-Universitat Bochum (Germany), Universidad de Deusto (Spain), University College Dublin (Ireland), Uniwersytet Warszawski (Poland), Uppsala Universitet (Sweden).

MA in Humanitarian Assistance, Tufts University – Boston, MA

Tufts University Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy offers an MA in Humanitarian Assistance. This program is designed to prepare professionals in the humanitarian field for future challenges and a changing landscape. In addition to core classes and electives, students must also complete a capstone project and pass a foreign language proficiency test in order to graduate. Students must also pass an online test in research ethics.

This 1-year program costs $43,144 in tuition. Some scholarships and assistantships may be available. This program is also designed for current professionals to be able to continue to work during the day, so employment is another option for financing the degree. Students may also be able to apply for graduate loans.

Interested in other issues as well? Check out our page on human rights masters!

About the author

Allison Reefer

Allison Reefer is a young professional living in Pittsburgh, PA. She works with a refugee resettlement agency to help refugees and immigrants in the city, and she volunteers with a local shelter for human trafficking victims. She obtained her Master in International Development from the University of Pittsburgh and a BA in Writing from Geneva College, focusing most of her academic work on human trafficking and migration in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In her free time, she loves to write, read, sing and play bass guitar, practice Russian, and explore her city.