Master of Science in Humanitarian Action 


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Master of Science in Humanitarian Action

Courses Relevant to Today’s Humanitarian Crises

The Master of Science in Humanitarian Action (MSHA) curriculum is designed to prepare action-minded professionals with the skills, knowledge and tools to help solve some of the world’s biggest challenges. Through our program’s multidisciplinary approach, you will gain the insight and experience to become a valued resource, critical thinker and dedicated leader ready to take on the most complex global humanitarian emergencies. 

Designed to be completed in 20 months over five semesters, the MSHA program requires students to complete 30 academic units.

All courses in the program are instructor-led and asynchronous, enabling you to work on your assignments on your own schedule while still meeting deadlines. If you are balancing coursework with a full-time job or other time commitments, asynchronous learning offers you a great deal of flexibility. Materials needed for assignments are readily accessible so you can complete your coursework when the time is right for you.

At a Glance

Position yourself for leadership and success in the humanitarian field with a master’s degree you can earn online in just 20 months.

20 months
30 Units
September 3
August 2


Students take two courses each term, focusing intensively on one seven-week course at a time. The curriculum includes such topics as:

  • Assessing humanitarian needs
  • Managing complex global emergencies
  • Aid delivery, management and logistics
  • Emergency preparedness
  • Humanitarian leadership
  • Effective communication 

The courses offered in the Master of Science in Humanitarian Action include:

Course Units

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 …

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The distinction between development aid and humanitarian aid is fast dissolving as complex humanitarian emergencies (CHEs) become protracted…

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Climate change and ecological collapse posed growing threats to people, states, and economies. It has been estimated that a 1-degree increas…

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This course is designed to provide students with two critical frameworks for accessing and operating in humanitarian crises. On the one hand…

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Climate change is one of the urgent challenges of our time and disaster displacement one of its most devastating consequences. Populations w…

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This course will introduce students to basic concepts, strategies, and practices for promoting safety and security in a humanitarian emergen…

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Humanitarian interventions often take place in conflict-affected and politically-sensitive contexts. Humanitarian actors have the ethical re…

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Long considered a “soft” area of practice, more art than science, humanitarianism and adjacent professional fields increasingly rely on …

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This course serves as an introduction to many of the most common technical aspects of humanitarian aid delivery, including camp coordination…

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This multi-day simulation will begin with a workshop on humanitarian standards for delivery, operations, and accountability, and culminate i…

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Academic Calendar 

Degree candidates are admitted throughout the year to begin their degree during one of three terms (Spring, Summer, Fall). Students take two courses each term, focusing intensively on one seven-week course at a time. This degree program can be completed in 5 terms (20 months).

Program Development

The Master of Science in Humanitarian Action program has been developed in collaboration with an exceptional team of University of San Diego professors and leaders in the humanitarian field. Our faculty possess the comprehensive education, hands-on experience and global knowledge that will prepare future humanitarian leaders to take action and make a lasting impact. 

Instead of focusing on a particular discipline, this program emphasizes a multidisciplinary approach that covers everything from humanitarian analysis and management to social innovation and resilience. 

learner outcomes


Students will be able to integrate and apply the complex skills and thematic knowledge required to navigate and address complex humanitarian crises effectively.

Diverse Perspectives

Students will be able to apply logistical, legal, political, economic, cultural, and environmental lenses to humanitarian affairs, and to appreciate the values and strengths of people from different cultural/ethnic/political/religious backgrounds and perspectives.

Critical Inquiry

Students will be able to analyze and research the historical, structural, and cultural parameters in which humanitarian crises develop.

Applied Learning

Students will be able to apply interdisciplinary skills to navigate, manage, and address a variety of humanitarian crises in both national and international contexts.


Students will be able to communicate effectively in challenging humanitarian contexts, clearly communicating their knowledge while demonstrating intercultural awareness, trauma awareness, and conflict sensitivity.

Ethical Reasoning

Students will be able to apply ethical reasoning to assess humanitarian problems, their possible solutions, and impacts on various stakeholders.