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. The programme offers evidence-based, croos-disciplinary and cross-cultural education in the field of humanitarian action.

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.

Option One: Master in 14 months

The MAS starts in September with a first residential term (from September to December ), then it continues online (from January to October 2023).

Dates for option One: 8 September 2022 – 31 October 2023

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

Option Two: Flexible option (up to 38 months)

This option gives participants 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 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, select the MAS flexible. After that, a member of our team will contact you to discuss your study plan.

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.



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 (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 

(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 

(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 for two weeks each.

The elective courses include:

· A relationship at stake: media and aid organisations

· Planetary health

· Negotiation in humanitarian crises

· Non-communicable diseases in humanitarian settings

· Cash assistance in humanitarian action: What works?

· Protection of Civilians, from Humanitarian to Peace Operations

· 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.

The submission deadline for the MAS dissertation is 31 October 20


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


Fall 2022 DAS in Humanitarian Action (25 credits ECTS)
2023, 2024 or 2025 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]

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 2025.


  • 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).


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.


  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

Fore 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 8 September 2022 - 31 October 2023 (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 31 May 2022 for non-OCDE countries / 30 June 2022 for OCDE countries
  • If applying for a scholarship Deadline: 1 February 2022