Master of Science in Humanitarian Action (MSHA) < University of San Diego (2023)


Units: 3Repeatability: No

The course introduces students to a series of big ideas for making the world more peaceful and just, and how to apply them in shaping their own lives and careers of purpose. The first half of the course features lectures and discussion sections that explore foundational theories behind peace, justice, and social innovation; where they overlap; and where they are in tension. The second half of the course explores specific fields of inquiry and practice in a more intimate setting, with an emphasis on comparing diverse approaches to common problems. Throughout the course, students will be challenged not simply to learn a spectrum of ideas and practices, but to understand how they fit together, where and how to learn more, and how to craft their own educational and professional trajectories so that they can be part of the change they want to see in the world.


Units: 3Repeatability: No

The distinction between development aid and humanitarian aid is fast dissolving as complex humanitarian emergencies (CHEs) become protracted and global climate change leads to the increasing scope and frequency of natural disasters. This course will discuss the principles and politics that shape humanitarian practice and give students the tools to pursue positive outcomes in an increasingly complex humanitarian space. The course will provide an overview of the evolution of humanitarian assistance and an analysis of how this evolution shaped the current humanitarian regime. It will give students a sophisticated sense of the current humanitarian landscape and its different actors, from government donors to UN agencies and local and international NGOs. It will discuss best practices in key humanitarian sectors and give students the knowledge necessary to engage the key conversations and controversies currently shaping humanitarian practice and policy.


(Video) M.S. in Humanitarian Action Information Session | Fall 2022

Units: 3Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: MSHA500 with a minimum grade of C- and MSHA501 with a minimum grade of C-

Humanitarian interventions take place in conflict-affected and politically-sensitive contexts. Humanitarian actors have the ethical responsibility to ensure that their work has a positive impact and avoids doing harm. Moreover, there is increasing pressure from donors that limited resources are used in programs to maximize relevance, effectiveness, efficacy, efficiency, impact, and sustainability of funded programs. Accordingly, design, monitoring, and evaluation (DME) have become indispensable parts of humanitarian and peacebuilding programming. This course is designed to prepare students to design, monitor, and evaluate humanitarian interventions. It will feature case studies, hands-on exercises, and specialist guest lectures to develop familiarity with planning tools, evaluation types and designs, metrics and indicators, data collection methods, and human subjects research ethics. Students will be required for their final project to produce an evaluation plan for an appropriate intervention of their choosing.


Units: 3Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: MSHA500 with a minimum grade of C- and MSHA501 with a minimum grade of C-

Climate change and ecological collapse pose growing threats to people, states, and economies. It has been estimated that a 1-degree increase in global temperatures would require a near tripling in disaster response spending over 15 years just to match the current level of humanitarian coverage. However, it has also been shown some truth to the old proverb about ounces of prevention: for every dollar spent on reducing vulnerability to disaster, two dollars are avoided on future damages. This course is designed to introduce students to the basic theories, strategies, and best practices for reducing the risk of hazards and technological disasters in an age of environmental and political instability. Along the way, it will encourage students to think critically about the so-called “triple nexus” between humanitarianism, development, and peacebuilding.


Units: 3Repeatability: No

(Video) 2020 SOHL Annual Conference- Session One: Executive Leadership During COVID-19

Prerequisites: MSHA500 with a minimum grade of C- and MSHA501 with a minimum grade of C-

This course is designed to provide students with two critical frameworks for accessing and operating in humanitarian crises. On the one hand, it explores official, state-level (Track I) bi- or multi-lateral diplomatic efforts to prevent, mitigate, or resolve humanitarian crises. On the other hand, it explores the unofficial (Track II) and micro-level initiatives of humanitarian negotiations engaged in by non-state actors to obtain access to crisis-affected populations, facilitate dialogue among parties to conflict or rivals for resources, and even broker truces, peace agreements, or other arrangements with the potential to reduce human suffering in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies.


Units: 3Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: MSHA500 with a minimum grade of C- and MSHA501 with a minimum grade of C-

Climate change is one of the urgent challenges of our time, and disaster displacement is one of its most devastating consequences. Populations worldwide are suffering the impacts, affecting people living in some of the most fragile and conflict-affected countries disproportionately. This course is designed to address the increasingly important links between climate change and mass migration, illustrating key challenges to, and new horizons of, humanitarian action in the coming decades.


Units: 3Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: MSHA500 with a minimum grade of C- and MSHA501 with a minimum grade of C-

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This course will introduce students to basic concepts, strategies, and practices for promoting safety and security in a humanitarian emergency. It will include modules on international humanitarian law, the system of global governance designed to tackle “problems without passports,” the responsibility to protect (R2P), humanitarian access negotiations, and best practices in the field.


Units: 3Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: MSHA500 with a minimum grade of C- and MSHA501 with a minimum grade of C-

Long considered a “soft” area of practice, more art than science, humanitarianism and adjacent professional fields increasingly rely on using data to design, garner support for, and evaluate their initiatives. Data visualization comprises a powerful set of tools and techniques used to explore and present information. Combined with program research skills and fluency in statistics, it can help us understand problems we confront, interventions we craft to solve them, and the effects of those interventions. It can help us to communicate, telling visual stories that can convince our target audience, be they colleagues, policymakers, funders, or the general public. This course is designed to cultivate basic data visualization and statistical skills that can provide a solid professional advantage in the job market.


Units: 0Repeatability: No

This orientation course introduces students to the University of San Diego and provides important information about the program. Throughout the orientation, students will learn to successfully navigate through the online learning environment and locate helpful resources. Students will practice completing tasks in the online learning environment as preparation for success in their online graduate courses. This orientation course will be available to students as a reference tool throughout the entirety of your program.


Units: 1-6Repeatability: Yes (Repeatable if topic differs)

A special topics course in areas within humanitarian action.

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Units: 3Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: MSHA500 with a minimum grade of C- and MSHA501 with a minimum grade of C- and MSHA520 with a minimum grade of C- and MSHA530 with a minimum grade of C- and MSHA540 with a minimum grade of C- and MSHA550 with a minimum grade of C- and MSHA513 with a minimum grade of C- and MSHA590 with a minimum grade of C-

This course serves as an introduction to many of the most common technical aspects of humanitarian aid delivery, including camp coordination and camp management (CCCM), water & sanitation, food aid, public health planning, and rapid needs assessments.


Units: 3Repeatability: No

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Prerequisites: MSHA500 with a minimum grade of C- and MSHA501 with a minimum grade of C- and MSHA520 with a minimum grade of C- and MSHA530 with a minimum grade of C- and MSHA540 with a minimum grade of C- and MSHA550 with a minimum grade of C- and MSHA513 with a minimum grade of C- and MSHA590 with a minimum grade of C-

This multi-day simulation will begin with a workshop on humanitarian standards for delivery, operations, and accountability, and culminate in an online simulation of a complex humanitarian emergency in a virtual environment.


How to study humanitarian? ›

Education Requirements for Humanitarian Work

Some undergraduate degrees include economics, sociology and political science. Examples of graduate degrees are humanitarian affairs and international relations. Generally, the coursework provides the communication and analytical skills that lead to positive change.

Why do we need to study humanitarian aid? ›

Studying Humanitarian Studies is a rewarding experience. Humanitarian Action is about saving lives and alleviating suffering caused by conflict and natural disasters. In a humanitarian Master's you will learn to address the multidimensional challenges during humanitarian crises.

What is considered humanitarian aid? ›

Humanitarian aid spans a wide range of activities, including providing food aid, shelter, education, healthcare or protection. The majority of aid is provided in the form of in-kind goods or assistance, with cash and vouchers constituting only 6% of total humanitarian spending.

Do humanitarian jobs pay well? ›

Entry-level professionals earn an average of $27,000 to $32,000 per year. Mid-career professionals and those with more field experience can expect a salary of $35,000 to $45,000. Senior-level positions typically have an annual salary of $60,000+ with some positions earning more than $100,000.

How much do you get paid for humanitarian studies? ›

Humanitarians earn an average yearly salary of $37,610.

Is humanitarian aid a job? ›

A Day in the Life of a Humanitarian Aid Worker

CARE states that working as a humanitarian professional “is more than just a job. It's a mission and a passion.” Nearly every day, aid workers witness the suffering of people caught in conflict areas or in the aftermath of natural disasters.

Where is humanitarian aid needed the most? ›

10 Humanitarian Crises That Demand Our Attention Now
  • YEMEN. ...
  • SYRIA. ...
  • SOUTH SUDAN. ...
  • HAITI. ...
  • VENEZUELA. ...
  • LEBANON. An unprecedented economic and financial crisis means that people in Lebanon can no longer afford basic commodities and services.

What is the difference between humanitarian aid and aid? ›

How humanitarian aid and development aid differ. Humanitarian aid is a rapid intervention designed to save lives, alleviate hardship, and get disaster victims back on their feet. Development aid is an effort to help people in their efforts to lift themselves out of poverty and develop further.

What are the 5 principles of humanitarian? ›

The principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence are fundamental to humanitarian action. Humanity means that human suffering must be addressed wherever it is found, with particular attention to the most vulnerable.

How do I become a Humanitarian Aid Worker? ›

How to become an international aid worker
  1. Earn an undergraduate degree. Earning an undergraduate degree is important for aspiring international aid workers because it can help them harness the skills and technical knowledge required for this role. ...
  2. Develop critical skills. ...
  3. Work or study abroad. ...
  4. Volunteer for organizations.
Dec 12, 2022

What is the largest humanitarian organization? ›

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world's largest humanitarian network.

Can you make a living as a humanitarian? ›

Humanitarian jobs are available in many different fields and at many different organizations. What they all have in common is the goal of saving and improving lives while helping communities become more resilient to future crises. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some humanitarian jobs are in high demand.

Do humanitarian aid workers travel? ›

Humanitarian aid workers work early mornings and sometimes long days doing physical labor. Most humanitarian aid opportunities last a few weeks to a few years. International aid workers live abroad with and learn from people and other cultures as they help them throughout a crisis.

What can you do with a humanitarian degree? ›

20 Humanitarian Careers to Make a Real Difference
  • Foreign aid worker. ...
  • Social worker. ...
  • Nurse. ...
  • Nutritionist. ...
  • Midwife. ...
  • Health officer. ...
  • Human resources specialist. ...
  • Training coordinator.

How long does it take to get a humanitarian degree? ›

The three-year-long undergraduate program offers a wholesome study of disaster management, humanitarian aid, as well as development practice. It is designed to give students all necessary skills and knowledge that would enable them to work in a humanitarian crisis.

How much does a humanitarian earn in USA? ›

How much does a Humanitarian make in USA? The average humanitarian salary in the USA is $85,750 per year or $41.23 per hour. Entry level positions start at $40,950 per year while most experienced workers make up to $128,650 per year.

Can you become a humanitarian without a degree? ›

If you want to get a humanitarian job but don't have a degree, it is important to have professional experience related to humanitarian aid. Crucially, this does not need to be actual international aid experience, it is more important to have transferable skills that the aid industry needs.

What are humanitarian workers called? ›

Aid workers (also known as humanitarian workers) manage projects in areas suffering from war, natural disasters and other complex problems. Save. Share. What do aid workers do? Aid workers typically operate in front-line conditions, distributing humanitarian aid to people who have been hit by human or natural disasters ...

What do you call someone who does humanitarian work? ›

A philanthropist is a person who donates time, money, experience, skills or talent to help create a better world.

What skills do you need to be a Humanitarian Aid Worker? ›

Skills and knowledge
  • sensitivity and understanding.
  • the ability to work well with others.
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure.
  • the ability to understand people's reactions.
  • excellent verbal communication skills.
  • excellent written communication skills.

Who gives the most humanitarian aid? ›

Compared to other major donor countries, the U.S. provides the most development assistance worldwide by strict dollar amount, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which tracks development aid defined as Official Development Assistance.

What is the biggest humanitarian crisis right now? ›

Yemen: A crisis for women and girls

Yemen remains one of the world's largest humanitarian crises. In 2023, a staggering 21.6 million people require some form of humanitarian assistance as 80 percent of the country struggles to put food on the table and access basic services.

Who are the top humanitarian donors? ›

In 2022, the United States government donated over 12 billion U.S. dollars in humanitarian aid worldwide. Germany followed with over three billion U.S. dollars, while the European Commission donated around two billion U.S. dollars.

What is the disadvantage of humanitarian aid? ›

The Pros and Cons of Humanitarian Aid
Benefits of Humanitarian AidNegatives of Humanitarian Aid
Increases local capacityPossibility of corruption
Helps build peaceDoesn't always reach the most in need
Assists tradeDependant on donor funding
Works to alleviate povertyNot a long-term solution
7 more rows

What is another name of humanitarian? ›

On this page you'll find 61 synonyms, antonyms, and words related to humanitarian, such as: altruistic, charitable, humane, philanthropic, good, and beneficent.

What do humanitarian aid workers do? ›

Humanitarian aid workers assist people in need due to conflicts, natural disasters, outbreaks, a breakdown of healthcare or infrastructure, and more. Each year, tens of thousands of international humanitarian aid workers are deployed worldwide. Humanitarian aid deployments can last weeks to years.

How do I start a humanitarian career? ›

How to start a career in humanitarian aid
  1. Get the right education. The degree you choose will influence which skills you begin to build first. ...
  2. Develop your skills. ...
  3. Work or study abroad. ...
  4. Intern for experience. ...
  5. Volunteer locally or abroad.
Nov 16, 2022

What is a good degree for humanitarian work? ›

Many degree paths, including the ten listed below, could help you begin a humanitarian career:
  • Disaster and Emergency Management.
  • Economics.
  • Humanitarian Studies.
  • International Relations.
  • Nursing (BSN)
  • Peace and Conflict Studies.
  • Political Science.
  • Social Justice and Human Rights.
Feb 7, 2023

What degree do you need to be a humanitarian worker? ›

Qualifying for a position as a humanitarian aid worker requires a bachelor's degree or master's degree in international studies or international relations. Many such programs now include experiential learning that includes several weeks of hands-on volunteering experience.

How do you get into the humanitarian field? ›

Although jobs in the aid industry are competitive, there are some proven routes to getting humanitarian field experience.
  1. Get the Humanitarian Skills the Field Needs.
  2. Transfer to the Field from an NGOs Headquarters.
  3. Get a Humanitarian Job Directly in the Field.
  4. Apply for Field Positions Through Emergency Rosters.

What is a master program in humanitarian action? ›

What is a Master in Humanitarian Assistance? It is a graduate degree that builds on more general studies in public policy and emergency management by teaching students the core skills needed to understand the best practices for providing humanitarian assistance outside of one's own country.

What do humanitarian workers do? ›

Humanitarian aid workers assist people in need due to conflicts, natural disasters, outbreaks, a breakdown of healthcare or infrastructure, and more. Each year, tens of thousands of international humanitarian aid workers are deployed worldwide. Humanitarian aid deployments can last weeks to years.

What skills do you need to be a humanitarian aid? ›

Skills and qualities
  • A passion for helping people.
  • To be able to cope with distressing situations.
  • To get on well with all types of people.
  • Stamina - being a Humanitarian Aid Worker can be hard work and demanding.
  • Excellent listening skills.
  • A caring and empathetic nature.
  • The ability to ask the right questions to help others.

Where does a humanitarian work? ›

Humanitarians strive to alleviate suffering, promote dignity, and help people rebuild their lives after a crisis has occurred. Humanitarians may work for non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international organizations, governments, or as independent volunteers.

Who does the most humanitarian work? ›

International Federation Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC)

The world's largest humanitarian organization, the IFRC serves around 160 million people each year. Through its national societies, the organization provides essentials like water, food, and medical supplies.


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