This Executive Master programme is a unique blended learning postgraduate course on humanitarian action providing current and future humanitarian professionals with the managerial, theoretical and practical skills needed to optimize responses to humanitarian crises. 

Our programme has been developed in response to the growing need to understand, question and reform today’s humanitarian system, and it is delivered in collaboration with our partner organisations, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). The programme offers evidence-based, cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural education in the field of humanitarian action.

This blended postgraduate course combines theoretical, practical and managerial skills in a unique adult-learning environment, to empower humanitarian professionals with reflective and critical analysis for a more effective humanitarian response. The course work will focus on deconstructing the humanitarian system, on learning about its normative frameworks and reflecting on the interactions and power dynamics among humanitarian actors. It will provide expertise in assessing methods, tools and approaches used to provide assistance to affected populations in different humanitarian contexts (including armed conflicts, disasters, urban settings and migration).

The Master of Advanced Studies in Humanitarian Action is a flexible and modular course, allowing students to choose from two options to organize their studies: either a 14-month consecutive course, or a flexible 2-3 year course.

(Note for applicants: Our current Master application deadline has been extended for EU residents only until June 30, 2021. This exception is due to the short time frame until the course start date, which does not allow for visa applications for other applicants).

Option One: Master in 14 months

The MAS starts in September with a first residential term (from September to December 2021), then it continues online (from January to October 2022). The next MAS starts in September 2021 with the “core course” first residential term, then it continues with a second, online term, focusing on the quality management of humanitarian projects. Term three is composed of five elective courses and it is followed by the last term: a dissertation. 

Dates for option One: 8 September 2021 – 31 October 2022 (14 consecutive months)

Please note that participants applying for a scholarship only have access to Option One.

Option Two: Flexible option (up to 38 months)

With this option, students have the flexibility to start the MAS with the core course (term one), or with any other courses that are part of the MAS programme. Students have up to 38 months to complete the 60 ECT credits necessary for the MAS. Possible combinations can be found here. The detailed study plan needs to be discussed with the MAS Course Director.  

A printable “Course-at-a-Glance” document about the MAS (Option One and Option Two) is available here.

Objectives of the course

At the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the evolution of the humanitarian system, governance and stakeholders;
  • Demonstrate knowledge of core humanitarian values, principles, codes and frameworks;
  • Engage with major debates and critiques in the humanitarian sector;
  • Critically assess humanitarian contexts and complex emergencies (armed conflicts, disasters, urban settings and migration);
  • Assess, monitor and evaluate humanitarian projects;
  • Demonstrate key management, leadership and accountability skills.
  • Develop relevant skill-sets and competencies for the humanitarian sector, including public health, gender-based and sexual violence, communication, advocacy, negotiation, protection, finance and management.

 

Workload

Around 1,500 hours of work for the whole MAS, including:

  • 400 hours of face-to-face/online teaching (lectures, group work, round tables, debates)
  • 100 hours of external learning activities (visits, conferences, film festivals)
  • Approx. 1,000 hours of self-study time (readings, assignments, videos)

 

The Programme is made up of 4 parts for Option One, 14-month MAS which is taken in a consecutive order:

Diploma of Advanced Studies (DAS)
in Humanitarian Action Term 1: September-December 2021(25 credits – ECTS)
The Diploma of Advanced Studies (DAS) aims to offer professionals a strong understanding of contemporary humanitarian challenges through a comprehensive overview of conceptual and operational issues in past and present humanitarian crises. It is structured into five modules:

Module 1: Humanitarianism

Module 2: Contexts, Action and Consequences

Module 3: Revisiting Vulnerabilities and Needs

Module 4: Humanitarian Governance, Norms and Principles

Module 5: The Humanitarians and the Social World of Aidland

Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) Quality Management of Humanitarian Projects

Term 2: January-April 2022

(10 credits – ECTS)

The Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) addresses the essential components that guarantee the qualitative management of adapted projects and cohesive teams. It integrates fundamental principles such as inclusion, do no harm, accountability or participation into processes, methods and tools of project and people management.

The whole CAS takes place online during 12 consecutive weeks.

Executive Short Courses (ESC)

Terms 3 and 4: April-October 2022

(2 credits – ECTS / per course)

A series of short elective courses focus on key approaches and evaluative tools of humanitarian contexts. Students can select five courses to develop specific skills and learn about good practices. All courses take place online during two weeks each.

The elective courses include:

· Participatory approaches with crisis affected communities

· Designing an advocacy strategy for humanitarian action

· Media and humanitarian action

· Planetary health

· Negotiation in humanitarian crises

· Non-communicable diseases in humanitarian settings

· Cash assistance in humanitarian action: What works?

· Protection in humanitarian settings

· Sexual and reproductive health in humanitarian crises

· Health systems assessment in humanitarian crises

Final dissertation

(15 credits ECTS)

Throughout the DAS, MAS students will engage in a series of workshops designed to develop information-gathering and processing, critical thinking, analytical writing and networking skills. These workshops will help participants to write the MAS dissertation. The overall aim of the MAS dissertation is to stimulate a critical and original reflection on issues linked to humanitarian action through.

The submission deadline for the MAS dissertation is 31 October 2022.

 

The Programme for Option Two MAS Flexible Option (up to 38 months) which has a more flexible choice of courses.

 

Fall 2021 DAS in Humanitarian Action (25 credits ECTS)
2022, 2023 or 2024 The flexible option offers the choice between two different Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS). MAS students can choose one (10 credits ECTS) or both (20 credits ECTS). Both CAS are delivered online.

CAS Quality Management of Humanitarian Projects

CAS Accountability Towards Affected Populations [new course to open in 2021]

2022, 2023 or 2024 Flexible MAS students who do not want to do a CAS, or who chose to only do one CAS, can earn extra credits from a series of executive short courses. Students can select up to ten courses (2 credits ECTS each) to develop specific skills and learn about good practices. All courses take place online during two weeks each, throughout the year.

The executive short courses include:

· Participatory approaches with crisis affected communities

· Designing an advocacy strategy for humanitarian action

· Media and humanitarian action

· Planetary health

· Negotiation in humanitarian crises

· Non-communicable diseases in humanitarian settings

· Cash assistance in humanitarian action: What works?

· Protection in humanitarian settings

· Sexual and reproductive health in humanitarian crises

· Health systems assessment in humanitarian crises

· Sexual violence in humanitarian settings and emergencies

· Humane Leadership and people management

· Humanitarian Project cycle management

· Patient Safety: Addressing health-care related incidents in humanitarian crises

Final dissertation

(15 credits -ECTS)

Throughout the DAS, MAS students will engage in a series of workshops designed to develop information-gathering and processing, critical thinking, analytical writing and networking skills. These workshops will help participants to write the MAS dissertation. The overall aim of the MAS dissertation is to stimulate a critical and original reflection on issues linked to humanitarian action through.

The submission deadline for the MAS dissertation is 31 October 2024.

 

  • Entry and mid-level professionals in the humanitarian, development or social sector looking to develop their competencies as well as reflect and capitalise on their experiences
  • Professionals from other sectors (medicine, military, private sector, social services) who wish to increase their understanding of the humanitarian sector for a potential career change
  • Graduate students with relevant volunteer or intern experience, looking to undertake a postgraduate course with a view to entering the humanitarian sector

Our audience is typically junior or middle managers, 25-45 years old, expat or national staff.

Certification

60 ECTS – Credits. Once the students successfully complete the Master of Advanced Studies in Humanitarian Action’s full programme according to the Centre’s requirements, they obtain a joint degree delivered by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) and the University of Geneva (UNIGE), and accredited by the Swiss Agency for Accreditation and Quality Assurance (AAQ).

 

Admission process

The Master is open to maximum 30 students per year. Admission is based on the overall quality of the application, including academic achievement, quality of application documents, relevance of previous work experience and English language skills.

The Selection Committee examines the quality of the applications and aims to reach a balance between the number of men and women, educational profiles and professional experience, geographical distribution and financial contribution.

Applications sent after the closing date and/or incomplete, will not be considered.

Requirements

  1. a university qualification (bachelor’s degree or equivalent);
  2. at least three years of relevant professional experience;
  3. excellent command of English;
  4. motivation working in the humanitarian sector.

Language requirements

All classes at the Geneva Centre of Humanitarian Studies are delivered in English. All students must have an excellent command of English. Students whose mother tongue is not English, who do not have secondary or post-secondary qualifications taught in English or who have not spent a minimum of one year studying full-time at a university level in English (please provide transcripts certifying that courses were delivered in English), must provide a certificate to prove their mastery of English. More information on recognised tests and scores is available here.

Enrollment deadlines

  • Regular academic year (starting in September)
    • with scholarship/visa: For candidates who wish to apply for a scholarship and/or who need an entry visa for Switzerland, application deadline is 1 February 2021.
    • All other candidates: 31 May 2021 .
    • Candidates without scholarship can also enroll to the Master during the current academic year.

To submit your application:

    • Duly fill in the form on the online enrollment platform
    • Register to the correct programme
    • Upload all requested documents (check your scholarship eligibility beforehand: see Fees & Scholarship)
    • Submit

You will receive a confirmation by e-mail. Should you have any questions, please contact us at humanitarianstudies@unige.ch

Fore more detailed information about the application process visit our dedicated page.

“This one year with the Geneva Centre of Humanitarian Studies has pushed me beyond my own limits, help me position myself in the sector and decide what I want to do and how to do it.
Before enrolling for the Master, I was already working in the field but I couldn’t find answers to many questions and dilemmas that I was confronted with on a daily basis. This master gave me a chance to improve my analytical skills and academically equip me with the tools I needed to shape my thoughts and ideas on the sector.
By studying the history behind what we do and how others are doing it in different parts of the world, the course enabled me to see the global picture of our work in the field and not only to be concerned with my own organization and context. And by being in class for almost a year, you get the chance to detach yourself from your work and have the space to question what we do, criticize the actors we work with and discuss extensively with experts from different backgrounds.
This course offers a great opportunity for any passionate humanitarian professional who sees the value of their work and  perspectives, and wants to grow professionally in the sector and be recognized”.
Amera Markous,
Master alumna 2019/20 and winner of the 2019 Swiss Humanitarian Award 
Read the stories of Innocent and Ranya, two participants of our MAS 2020-2021.

  • Master of Advanced Studies in Humanitarian ActionDates 8 September 2021 - 31 October 2022 (14 months Master) / Flexible entry (Two-Three Year Master)
  • Master of Advanced Studies in Humanitarian ActionDuration 14 months / Flexible (Two-Three Year Master)
  • Master of Advanced Studies in Humanitarian ActionLocation Blended-learning (Online and residential in Geneva)
  • Master of Advanced Studies in Humanitarian ActionLanguage English: Though exams and dissertations are accepted in English or French
  • Master of Advanced Studies in Humanitarian ActionCREDITS 60 ECTS
  • Fee CHF 15,000 for One Year Option / CHF 17,000 for Flexible Option
  • Application Deadline 30 June 2021 (EU residents only)
  • If applying for a scholarship Deadline: Expired.