This Executive Master in Humanitarian Action is a unique postgraduate course that blends online and residential learning. It provides current and future humanitarian professionals with the skills they need to respond to crises.

It has been developed in response to the growing need to understand, question and reform today’s humanitarian system, 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 coursework will focus on deconstructing the humanitarian system, learning about its normative frameworks, as well as reflecting about 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 (armed conflicts, disasters, urban settings and migration).

To allow students to tailor their studies to their individual needs and preferences, the Master of Advanced Studies in Humanitarian Action is flexible and modular. Students can chose from two options:

Option 1Master in 14 months
The MAS starts in September with a first residential term (from September to December ) and then continues online (from January to October 2024).
Course dates: 1 September, 2024 – 31 October, 2025

Option 2
Flexible, up to 38 months
This option allows participants to start the MAS with the core course (term one) or any other courses that are part of the MAS programme. Students have up to 38 months to complete the 60 ECTS credits necessary for the MAS.
Possible combinations can be found in the ‘Option 2‘ section below. If you wish to apply for the MAS flexible option, please answer “flexible” to the question ‘Which program format are you applying for?‘, in your application form. After that, a team member will contact you to discuss your study plan.

The scholarship applications for the MAS 2024-2025 are now closed. Learn more about the scholarship programme here.

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

  • Final dissertation (15 credits ECTS)
    Throughout the DAS, MAS students will engage in 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. The submission deadline for the MAS dissertation is the end of October, 2025.


The study plan for Option 2 MAS Flexible Option (up to 38 months) has a more flexible choice of courses:

The flexible option offers a choice between two different Certificates of Advanced Studies (CAS):

      1. CAS Quality Management of Humanitarian Projects
      2. CAS Accountability To Affected Populations

Both CAS are delivered online.

    • 2024, 2025 or 2026
      Flexible MAS students who do not want to do a CAS or choose to only do one CAS can earn extra credits from a series of executive short courses. Students can select up to five courses (2 credits ECTS each) to develop specific skills and learn about good practices. All courses take place online for two weeks each throughout the year.
      The executive short courses include:
    • Final dissertation (15 credits -ECTS)
      Throughout the DAS, MAS students will engage in 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 aim of the MAS dissertation is to stimulate a critical and original reflection on issues linked to humanitarian action. The submission deadline for the MAS dissertation is the end of October 2026.
  • 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, the 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.

  • Admission criteria
    • A Bachelor’s degree or equivalent from a Swiss or foreign university;
    • At least two years of relevant professional experience;
    • Excellent command of English (see below)
  • Required documents
    • CV (Resume)
    • Highest educational qualification obtained
    • Proof of English language competence to be dated less than 2 years (see details below)
    • Work certificates/official document from your current and the previous two job positions
    • Two recent letters of recommendation (academic and/or professional) signed and with direct mention of the programme of your choice
    • Portrait photo (ID format)
    • Scanned copy of passport
  • Language Requirements

The minimum required English level is C1. Providing a language certificate is mandatory, except in the two following cases:

      1. If you are a native English speaker, please provide a copy of your passport as proof.
      2. If you have worked for at least five years in English with MSF or ICRC, please provide a copy of the English test you have undertaken internally with your employer.

Recognized Tests and Scores:

      • Cambridge English Advanced (CAE): 180-199
      • Cambridge English First (FCE): 180-190
      • C1 Business Higher
      • IELTS: 6.5-7.5
      • TOEFL iBT: 95-120
      • TOEIC Listening & Reading: 945
      • TOEIC Speaking & Writing: 360
      • PTE General Level 4
      • PTE Academic: 76-85
      • Duolingo: 130
      • EF SET (CEFR): C1
  • 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, the application deadline is 1 February 2024.
      • 31 May 2024 for non-countries/ 30 June 2024 for EU/EFTA countries
      • Candidates without scholarships can also apply to the Master during the current academic year.
  • Application procedure

To submit your application, please follow the four steps below:

      1. Go to the page of the course of your interest and click “apply”
      2. Fill in the application form on the online platform
      3. Upload all requested documents (check your scholarship eligibility beforehand)
      4. Submit

Please note that the processing of an application may take up to three weeks.
Applications sent after the closing date and/or incomplete will not be considered.

Once you have submitted your application, you will receive a confirmation by e-mail. Please note that the Selection Committee may take up to three weeks to validate an admission request.

We kindly ask you to take note of our cancellation policy.

For more information about the application process, please send us an email.


“In September 2020 when I joined many other great professionals for the Master of advanced studies in Humanitarian Action.
It has been an incredibly intense yet enriching experience. We had the chance to listen, learn and discuss with a great number of professionals from the humanitarian system. I have been often challenged by the process of deconstruction and critical analysis of the humanitarian system itself however, I feel this has made me not only a better worker of the sector but a better human in general”.
Gloria Vezzani,
Master alumna 2020/21
“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.