15 Best Online Masters in Humanitarian Aid Programs [2024 Degree Guide]

By Stephanie Friedman
Edited by Briana Sukert
Updated on July 4, 2024
Edited by Briana Sukert
Ready to start your journey?
Explore the best online masters in humanitarian aid programs. Gain the skills to make a difference in crisis management and emergency response.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career where you can help people and make a difference, you might consider earning a masters in humanitarian aid.

Best Online Masters in Humanitarian Aid Programs

These programs are typically geared toward professionals who already have some experience in a humanitarian role. They aim to teach you the skills necessary to evaluate, prevent, and address emergency crisis situations.

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Humanitarian aid professionals tend to work in operational, public relations, or leadership roles, where they can make a positive impact within their organization.

Universities Offering Online Masters in Humanitarian Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

1. Arizona State University

Arizona State University is ranked in the top 10% of the best global universities according to U.S. News & World Report. ASU students can earn an MA in Social Justice and Human Rights fully online. To graduate, students must complete 11 classes for a total of 33 credit hours. Classes are offered in a 7.5 week, accelerated format.

ASU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

2. California State University – Northridge

California State University—Northridge offers an MS in Assistive Technology Studies and Human Services. The program is available fully online. To graduate, students must complete ten courses for a total of 30 credit hours. Classes are offered in the fall, spring, and summer. Potential courses include Functional Biology and Design Innovation. The program culminates with a directed comprehensive project.

CSU Northridge is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

3. Colorado School of Mines

Colorado School of Mines offers an online program for an MS in Humanitarian Engineering. The program requires at least 2 years for students who choose a thesis track and at least 1 year for students who choose the professional track. There are five concentrations offered, including Humanitarian Robotics, Humanitarian Geophysics, and Humanitarian Data Science.

Colorado School of Mines is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

4. Fordham University

Fordham University offers an MA in International Humanitarian Action. Most of the courses are available fully online, but the program begins with a residential intensive on humanitarian assistance that is 4 weeks long. The location changes each semester. To graduate, students must complete 30 credit hours, including a thesis, internship, or independent study. Potential courses include Fundamentals of Humanitarian Action.

Fordham University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

5. Georgetown University

Georgetown University offers an MPS in Emergency and Disaster Management. The program is available fully online. Students may attend full-time or part-time, and the program usually takes 2 to 5 years to complete. The program requires the completion of 33 credits. Students may enter during the fall, spring, or summer. Potential courses include Risk Perception Awareness and Ethics and Critical Decision Making.

Georgetown University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

6. Indiana University

Indiana University offers an MA in Philanthropic Studies from Indiana University. IU was the first philanthropy school in the world. The program is offered fully online. To graduate, students must complete 36 credit hours, 27 of which must be from the Philanthropic Studies Core. The remaining credits may be earned through the completion of a thesis or elective classes.

Indiana University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

7. Liberty University

Liberty University offers an MA in Humanitarian Action and Human Rights. The program is fully online, and the courses are 8 weeks long and asynchronous. Students can potentially complete the program in just 18 months. The master’s requires the completion of 36 credit hours, and students may be able to transfer in up to half of their credits.

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

8. School for International Training

The School for International Training offers an MA in Humanitarian Assistance and Crisis Management. The program offers courses online but does require a residency that is 2 weeks long. To graduate, students must complete 36 credit hours, including a practicum and a capstone project. Students can potentially finish the program in 2 years. Potential courses include Program Planning and Management.

SIT is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

9. University of New Hampshire

The University of New Hampshire offers an MS in Global Conflict and Human Security. The program is available entirely online. To graduate, students must complete 30 credit hours. The program can potentially be finished in just 12 months. Courses are available during the fall, spring, and summer with two blocks per term.

The University of New Hampshire is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

10. University of North Texas

The University of North Texas is one of the only universities in Texas that offers an MA in International Studies. The program is fully online. Applicants must have a background in international studies to qualify. To graduate, students must complete 30 credit hours. They can choose from specializations like International Development and Sustainability or Human Security.

The University of North Texas is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

11. University of San Diego

The University of San Diego offers an online program for an MS in Humanitarian Action. Students can potentially finish the program in 20 months. The program requires the completion of 30 credit hours. Courses are offered in the fall, spring, and summer in blocks that are 7 weeks long. Two blocks are offered each semester.

The University of San Diego is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

12. University of South Florida

The University of South Florida offers an MPH with concentrations in Global Disaster Management, Humanitarian Relief, and Homeland Security. The program is offered entirely online. Students must complete 42 credit hours to graduate and may participate in optional experiential learning opportunities. Potential courses include Public Health Implications and Concerns in Homeland Security.

The University of South Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

13. University of Southern California

The University of Southern California offers an MS in Human Security and Geospatial Intelligence. The program is mostly online but does require fieldwork experience on Catalina Island. To graduate, students must complete 34 credits, including two practicums and a capstone project. The program can potentially be finished in just 5 semesters. Potential courses include Remote Sensing for GIS.

USC is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

14. University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh

The University of Wisconsin—Oshkosh offers an MS in Human Services Leadership. The program is offered entirely online. To graduate, students must complete 30 credit hours. Potential courses include Global Issues in Local Communities. Applicants are not required to take entrance exams. Accepted students may enter the program during the fall, spring, or summer.

The University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

15. Wheaton College

Wheaton College offers an MA in Humanitarian and Disaster Leadership. The program is taught through a Christian lens. Students must complete 40 credit hours to graduate. Those wanting to attend online typically need at least 2 years to complete the program when attending part-time. This format requires two weeklong intensives at the beginning and end of the program.

Wheaton College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Masters in Humanitarian Aid Programs Online

Man taking Online Masters in Humanitarian Aid

Humanitarian aid masters programs are designed to equip students with the necessary knowledge to effectively respond to crises. They may teach you how to fundraise, manage programs, and direct operations for an organization, among other skills.

While in a masters in humanitarian aid program, you may study some of the following topics:

  • Resource management
  • Information management
  • Complex emergencies
  • Nutrition
  • Conflict management
  • Negotiation and diplomacy
  • Fundraising techniques
  • Peacebuilding practices

Graduates of these masters programs generally pursue higher-level roles in the humanitarian field. These jobs may include public relations specialists, emergency management directors, business operations specialists, and management positions.

Humanitarian aid professionals typically work in organizations that assist with crisis management and emergency response. These can be NGOs, government organizations, donor aid agencies, and even some sectors of the military, among others.

In general, students who pursue a masters in humanitarian aid have already received a bachelors degree in a similar major and have some relevant professional experience. These programs are usually intended to help people advance their career to the next level.

In addition to coursework, many of these masters programs provide opportunities for internships and research projects. They typically aim not only to teach you about humanitarian aid but to help you apply your knowledge in a practical way.

Humanitarian Action Careers & Salaries

Humanitarian Action Careers & Salaries

A masters in humanitarian aid management may help prepare you for a wide variety of careers in the humanitarian field. Many of these programs are best suited for students with some prior professional experience in the field.

The primary goal of many humanitarian aid roles is to help people in times of crisis. These jobs can involve disaster response, refugee assistance, emergency operations, and other means of helping people navigate humanitarian crisis.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some careers related to the field of humanitarian action and aid, along with their median wages.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Chief Executives $179,520
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers $133,380
Public Relations Managers $125,780
Fundraising Managers $100,810
General and Operations Managers $97,970
Emergency Management Directors $76,730
Business Operations Specialists, All Other $74,670
Social and Community Service Managers $74,000
Public Relations Specialists $62,800
Fundraisers $60,660

Graduates tend to work for organizations like NGOs, nonprofit organizations, and government institutions that deal with emergency response. They may also choose to pursue careers for private firms that assist with disasters or for international organizations like the UN.

Many humanitarian aid roles involve managing programs and making operations more efficient. These kinds of jobs include emergency management directors and business operations specialists. Since fundraising and communicating with the public is a vital element of humanitarian aid, graduates may also pursue roles as public relations, marketing, or fundraising managers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that many of these roles will grow faster than average over the next ten years. These growing positions include advertising, promotions, and marketing managers as well as public relations and fundraising managers.

Master of Humanitarian Assistance Curriculum & Courses

People taking Masters in Humanitarian Aid, in a group work

The courses you take as part of an online masters degree in humanitarian aid can vary, but here are some examples:

  • Contemporary Issues in Humanitarian Action: You’ll learn about various modern-day challenges that humanitarian professionals face, such as vulnerabilities and threats.
  • Principles of Nutrition Science: This course covers the basics of human nutrition so that you can understand nutritional problems that affect communities.
  • Foundations of Humanitarian Action: You’ll learn about the history of humanitarian aid in order to better understand the ideologies and best practices used today.
  • Information Management: This class teaches you how to evaluate information to identify and help prevent humanitarian crisis.
  • Gender, Culture, and Conflict in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies: You’ll learn how gender roles factor into humanitarian issues, including war and women’s rights.
  • Humanitarian Diplomacy: This course explores macro- and micro-level efforts to address humanitarian crisis and when each are used.
  • Cash, Commodities, and Services in a Humanitarian Response: You’ll learn about the history of humanitarian assistance and how it has transformed in the modern-day world.
  • Humanitarian Action in Complex Emergencies: This class delves into the various ways humanitarian organizations help in crisis situations, and it encourages innovation in this field.
  • Humanitarian Safety and Security: You’ll learn different methods for helping to create safety in an emergency environment.
  • Leadership and Management in Humanitarian Assistance: This course covers essential leadership strategies that managers can use to direct teams in crisis situations.

Depending on your school’s program, you may also have the option to participate in internships, thesis research, or independent study.

Admissions Requirements

Woman preparing requirements for Masters in Humanitarian Aid

The admissions requirements for an online masters in humanitarian aid program can vary, but here are a few common ones you may encounter when applying:

  • Undergraduate transcripts
  • Official GRE test scores (only some schools require them)
  • Personal statement
  • Resume
  • Letters of recommendation

Many masters programs want to see completion of a bachelors degree and some professional experience in the field, so they may ask for undergraduate transcripts and a resume. Other requirements can include a writing sample or an English proficiency test for international students.

Accreditation

University offering Masters in Humanitarian Aid

When choosing a program for your masters in humanitarian aid, it’s strategic to make sure the school is regionally accredited. This status means that the school has met a series of academic quality standards.

Earning your masters at an accredited school could be helpful when looking for jobs down the line, as many employers look for this when reviewing your degree. In addition, federal financial aid is often only given to qualifying applicants who attend accredited schools.

To find out if the school you’re interested in is regionally accredited, you can visit the US Department of Education’s website.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Masters in Humanitarian Aid financial aid

There are a variety of financial aid options available to qualifying graduate students. Common options include student loans, grants, scholarships, and more.

You may be able to qualify for a work-study program, where your skills and experience may help determine how much you would earn. Scholarships may be available to students who qualify based on a variety of factors, such as academic merit or area of study.

Graduate-level students have the option to apply for direct unsubsidized loans. Your school determines how much assistance you can get with these types of loans. To explore your federal aid options, you can visit the Federal Student Aid website.

What Is a Humanitarian Aid Master’s Degree?

Chief Executives discussing about the business

A humanitarian aid master’s degree is a graduate-level program that teaches students to lead humanitarian efforts in various types of organizations.

Graduates tend to pursue roles in NGOs, government organizations, and international institutions. This type of masters degree typically builds upon previous academic and professional experience students possess in the humanitarian field. You can develop advanced skills in identifying, preventing, and responding to crisis situations.

Humanitarian aid masters programs are typically multidisciplinary. They may teach you about nutrition, emergency response, safety best practices, and more.

What Can You Do with a Humanitarian Masters Degree?

Fundraising Manager discussing to the team

You may choose to pursue a wide variety of careers in the humanitarian field with a humanitarian aid masters degree. Masters students typically build upon an already existing career in this arena.

Roles associated with humanitarian aid include emergency management directors, social and community service managers, public relations specialists, and promotions, marketing, and fundraising managers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many of these roles are expected to experience faster than average job growth over the next ten years.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Masters in Humanitarian Aid Online?

Man pursuing Masters in Humanitarian Aid online

The timeframe for completing an online masters in humanitarian aid depends on the school and program you choose, but there are a few factors that may make a difference.

For instance, if you enroll full-time in a 36 credit hour program, including during the summer, you may be able to graduate in as little as 1 year, provided a thesis is not required. If your program involves completing a thesis, or you enroll part-time, it may take longer to get your masters. Programs that require more credit hours may take up to 2 years to complete with full-time study.

Is a Masters in Humanitarian Aid Worth It?

Operations Manager meeting with the Marketing team

Yes, a masters in humanitarian aid is worth it for many professionals. Humanitarian aid professionals have an important role in helping people during emergencies, disasters, and other crisis situations. A masters program may help your resume stand out when applying to roles in this growing field.

In these programs, you’ll cover a wide range of subjects, including nutrition, diplomacy, and leadership, as they relate to humanitarian assistance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, community and social service positions are expected to see 10% job growth over the next ten years, which is faster than average. Management positions overall are projected to have 8% job growth.

Getting Your Master in Humanitarian Degree Online

Woman taking Masters in Humanitarian Aid Degree online

Humanitarian aid is an important, much-needed field. These professionals are the ones responding to disasters or crises and helping people in need. An online masters in humanitarian aid can help you further your skills and expertise in this arena.

If you are seeking a rewarding career and enjoy project management, social work, communications, or fundraising, you may be interested in a humanitarian degree online or on campus program. Online human services degree programs can also help you elevate an already existing career in this field.

To take the next step in your professional journey, you can start exploring accredited schools to see which humanitarian aid graduate programs best match your interests and goals.

Ready to start your journey?