This Executive Master programme 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.

Our programme was developed to address the need to understand, question, and reform the humanitarian system. It offers evidence-based, interdisciplinary education from a range of cultural perspectives.

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).
Dates for option One: 1 September, 2023 – 31 October, 2024

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 here. If you wish to apply for the MAS flexible option, you can apply for the MAS via our platform and select the MAS flexible. After that, a team member will contact you to discuss your study plan.

Please note scholarships are now closed for the 2023-2024 Masters course.

A printable “Course-at-a-Glance” document about the MAS (Option 1 and 2) is available here.

Jump to ObjectivesWorkloadOption 1, 14-month MASOption 2, MAS Flexible option

Objectives of the course

At the end of the course, you 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.


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

  • 400 hours of face-to-face teaching (lectures, group work, round tables, debates, visits)
  • 750 hours of self-study time (e-learning modules, readings, assignments, videos, quizzes, etc.)
  • App. 350 hours for the MAS dissertation


Option 1, 14-month MAS

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

    • Term 1:  Diploma of Advanced Studies (DAS) in Humanitarian Action
      September-December (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.


    • Term 2: Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) Quality Management of Humanitarian Projects
      January-April  (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.
    • Terms 3 and 4 Executive Short Courses (ESC)
      April-October  (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:


    • 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 2023


Option 2, MAS Flexible Option

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

    • Autumn 2023
      DAS in Humanitarian Action (25 credits ECTS)
    • 2024, 2025 or 2026
      The flexible option offers two different Certificates of Advanced Studies (CAS):
      1. CAS Quality Management of Humanitarian Projects
      2. CAS Accountability Towards Affected Populations [new course to open in 2023]

MAS students can choose one (10 credits ECTS) or both (20 credits ECTS). 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 ten 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:
      • A relationship at stake: media and humanitarian action
      • Negotiation in humanitarian crises
      • Sexual and reproductive health in humanitarian crises
      • Cash and voucher assistance in humanitarian action: What works?
      • Health systems assessment in humanitarian crises
      • Humanitarian advocacy: from bearing witness to activism
      • Protection of civilians, from humanitarian to peace operations
      • Planetary health
      • Digital innovations in the humanitarian sector
      • Sexual violence in conflict settings and emergencies
      • Humanitarian Leadership and people management [already included in the CAS Quality Management]
      • Humanitarian project cycle management [already included in the CAS Quality Management]
      • Patient safety in humanitarian crises: addressing healthcare-related incidents [new course to open in 2023]


    • 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.


  • 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.


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).


  • Dr Valérie Gorin Dr Valérie Gorin Designation: Senior Lecturer and Researcher in History and Communication // Head of Learning

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.


  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

Please provide a proof of your English language level according to the following conditions:

(1) You are a native English speaker: please provide a copy of your passport.

(2) You have been working 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.

(3) You do not meet the conditions (1) or (2): please provide an English language level certification. Please refer to for recognised tests and scores.

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 2023.
    • 31 May 2023 for non-OCDE countries/ 30 June 2023 for OCDE countries
    • Candidates without scholarships can also enrol 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

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

“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.

  • Master of Advanced Studies in Humanitarian ActionDates 1 September, 2023 - 31 October, 2024 (14 months Master) / Flexible entry (2-3 Year Master)
  • Master of Advanced Studies in Humanitarian ActionDuration 14 months consecutive or Flexible 2-3 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 Flexi Option
  • Application Deadline Excluding EU/EFTA citizens 31 May, 2023 / EU/EFTA citizens: 30 June, 2023
  • If applying for a scholarship Deadline: Closed
  • Resources Study Regulations