This 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. 


Participants will be able to critically analyse the humanitarian sector through a good understanding of the concepts of humanitarian action and the use of management and strategy tools to develop, coordinate and evaluate humanitarian projects and responses.

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

Option 1: a MAS in One academic year

The MAS starts in September with a first online term, then it continues with a second, residential term, focusing on the critical analysis of humanitarian action. Term three is composed of five elective course and it is followed by the last term: a dissertation or a work experience. 

Note: This option is the only one applying to students who have a scholarship.

Option 2: a MAS in Two-Three academic years

With this option, students have the flexibility to start the Executive Master with the core course (term one), or with any of the other courses part of the programme. For example, they could start with one of the one-week five elective courses, or with term two. The detailed study plan is to be discussed with the course coordinator.  A dissertation has to be handed in to complete and obtain the MAS. 

Note for Option One and Two: The three research weeks are mandatory and to be taken according to the pre-established schedule.

The Master programme is a modular executive training of 60 ECTS credits composed of four terms:

Term One: Critical Analysis of Humanitarian Action 
(Diploma of Advanced Studies: 25 ECTS Credits)

  • Module 1: Humanitarianisms
  • Module 2: Contexts, Actions and Consequences
  • Module 3: Revisiting Vulnerability and Needs
  • Module 4: Humanitarian Governance, Norms and Principles
  • Module 5: The Humanitarians

Term Two: Quality Management of Humanitarian Projects
(Certificate of Advanced studies: 10 ECTS Credits)

This course 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.

Term Three: Key approaches in humanitarian responses and contexts
(Certificate of Advanced Studies: 10 ECTS Credits)

Duration: one week for each course, between April and June 2022.

The third term offers a series of short elective courses focusing on key approaches and evaluative tools of humanitarian contexts. Students can select five courses to develop specific skills and learn about good practices. The elective courses include:

Term four: Workshops and dissertation (15 ECTS Credits)
Dissertation to include:

  • A series of 14 online workshops organised from September 2021 to January 2022 to help students design their dissertation project (5 ECTS credits).
  • MAS dissertation for August 2022(10 ECTS credits).
  • 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 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 post-graduate course with a view to entering the humanitarian sector.

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).

Options and Entry Dates
  • Option I: One year Master  (Only this option is available for students applying for a scholarship).

Duration: from 14 September, 2020 to 30 August, 2021

  • Option II: Two/Three year Master

Entry date flexible.

For more details on the enrollment process visit this page.

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.

Incomplete applications will not be considered.


Hold a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent university degree requiring three years of study, plus a minimum of two years work experience in the humanitarian, social or development sector OR hold a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent university degree requiring three years of study and at least five years work experience in another sector and wish to transfer to 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: 15 December 2020 (early bird discount), 31 May 2021 (final deadline).
    • 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

“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 

  • Master of Advanced Studies in Humanitarian ActionDates 13 September 2021 - 31August 2022 (Option 1 Year Master) Flexible entry (Option Two-Three Year Master)
  • Master of Advanced Studies in Humanitarian ActionDuration 12 months (Option One Year Master) Flexible (Option 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 written 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 15 December 2020 (early birds 10% discount) 31 May 2021 (without scholarship)
  • If applying for a scholarship Deadline: 1 February 2021