MSc Humanitarian Action

Graduate Taught (level 9 nfq, credits 120)

The Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s Degree Programme in International Humanitarian Action is an inter-university multidisciplinary postgraduate programme that provides high quality academic education and professional competencies for personnel working or intending to work in the area of humanitarian action.

This Masters offers students the opportunity to grow both academically and professionally within the field of crisis relief and development. Offering access to a worldwide professional network, the NOHA Masters is an inter-university and multidisciplinary postgraduate programme that combines the provision of high quality academic education with skills and competencies needed to work in the area of humanitarian action and related areas. It is a postgraduate course which aims to develop skilled professionals who have both the theoretical and practical knowledge needed out in the field.  

Created in 1993 through the concerted efforts of the NOHA Universities in close collaboration with the DG for Humanitarian Action and Civil Protection (ECHO) and the DG for Education and Culture, the initiative was a response to a growing need for higher educational qualifications specifically suited to addressing complex humanitarian emergencies.

Collaboration is one of the most unique elements of the programme and is central to the NOHA experience. Students study at different universities and benefit from rich cultural interaction and exchange of ideas and languages. It is an integral part of the NOHA teaching-learning process. The partner universities have gradually integrated the joint training and research programme into their respective curricula, achieving a high degree of co-operation and integration, while preserving their speciality and traditions.NOHA students come from all over the world and register in the NOHA network. They are admitted following a highly competitive selection process agreed by the Network and can therefore enrol for courses jointly recognised by each of the participating universities, with the assurance of good communication links between them.

Careers & Employability

Some 3,500 NOHA graduates currently work in the field of humanitarian relief and international co-operation. They hold various positions of responsibility in humanitarian relief and international co-operation for organisations and institutions in the field and at HQs globally.

Such positions include programme managers, protection officers, field/country directors, delegates, emergency team leaders, administrators, researchers, academics and consultants.

Curricular information is subject to change

Full Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. Yes

Humanitarian action is regarded as a boundary discipline, occupying a space on the margins of several academic disciplines. This Masters in Humanitarian Action is an inter-disciplinary programme welcoming students from a diverse range of backrounds including management, politics, public health, international law, social anthropology, agriculture, science and engineering. 


The 2-year programme is divided into four semesters and structured around five main components:

Intensive Programme Semester 1  (5 ECTS credits)
An initial inter-university joint course that brings together all NOHA students, introducing  them to the key principles and concepts underlying humanitarian action and the main actors in the field of humanitarian relief, their policies and strategies, as well as contemporary issues and challenges facing humanitarian actors. Location: Warsaw, Poland.

Humanitarian Disciplines Semester 1 (25 ECTS credits)
Common courses (NOHA Modules) which provide a space to debate the essentials of humanitarian action and its current trends: World Politics, Legal Dimensions of Humanitarian Action, Management, Public Health, Anthropology and Intercultural Aspects. Location: Home University.

Thematic Specialisation Semester 2 (30 ECTS credits)
Allows students to gain deeper knowledge and competences in specific aspects of humanitarian action (e.g. protection, international humanitarian law, forced migration), and is supplemented by a set of common courses (Advanced Management, Methodology & Research Methods in Humanitarian Studies). Location: European Host University.

Individual Specialisation Semester 3 - Research Track or Professional Track) - 30 ECTS credits

Research Track                             
Elective courses in regional humanitarian studies at a partner university in or outside of Europe 

Professional Track 
Advanced career development training and placement at a humanitarian organisation 

Master Project & Thesis Semester 4 (30 ECTS credits)
Aims to prepare students to select and analyse research material, confront new problems in their multifaceted dimensions, understand reality and elaborate innovative solutions.

The MSc. in Humanitarian Action (NOHA Masters) is an inter-university, multi-disciplinary postgraduate programme that provides high quality academic education and professional competencies for personnel working in or intending to work in the area of humanitarian action. The programme aims to provide students with a broad foundation in the area of international humanitarian action, in which both critical thinking and research skills are emphasized. The goal is to deliver high level, committed, interdisciplinary trained personnel who can function with enhanced professionalism in the broad field of humanitarian relief, and are informed by their theoretical insights and humanitarian principles.  The programme design integrates professional and research orientation that is intended to bridge the gap between academic research and the humanitarian work-field.  It adopts a competence-oriented, interactive and student centred approach to learning. Teaching practices include group and project work, lectures and seminars, student presentations, simulation exercises, individual study; individual internship and individual thesis research. The programme is suitable for both recent graduates and experience practitioners working or intending to work in the field of humanitarian relief and international co-operation as project managers, administrators, researchers, evaluators, consultants in national and international organisations, both in the field and at headquarters around the world.

  • Demonstrate a sound understanding of the humanitarian principles, and the ethical, legal and emancipatory rationales for humanitarian action
  • Established competence in the theory, policy and discourse of humanitarian action as it relates to a range of related disciplines, including programme management, international law, geo-political science, public health and social anthropology
  • Demonstrate a sound understanding of the international humanitarian system, the main stakeholders that comprise this system, together with the main challenges faced by the system in addressing global humanitarian need
  • Apply research knowledge and analytical skills that support evidence-based humanitarian action
  • Critical analysis of humanitarian action to optimise local engagement and support ‘people-centred humanitarian action’
  • Demonstrate an understanding of and capacity to work in a humanitarian context (Field Visit)
  • Design and develop an appropriate research study to strengthen resilience in a humanitarian context

Tuition fee information is available on the UCD Fees website

Erasmus Mundes Scholarship Opportunities:

The NOHA master’s programme has been proudly supported by the European Union for almost two decades. It was one of the first 19 Master programmes selected at the start of the Erasmus Mundus programme in 2004. In July 2020, the NOHA Master was once again selected as an Erasmus Mundus programme and will continue to offer Erasmus Mundus scholarships for the next 4 editions, starting with the 2021-23 cohort.

For the first course edition, starting in September 2021, 15 scholarships will be funded by the European Union; 5 are targeted to students from Programme Countries, and 10 are targeted to students from Partner countries. Additional scholarships may also be funded by the European Union.

Additional information on the scholarship programme is available by contacting the UCD Programme Director.

How do I apply for the Erasmus+ Scholarship?

Erasmus Mundus Scholarship applicants must follow the joint application procedure as established by the NOHA consortium, submit a complete application and comply with all eligibility criteria. Only candidates who have graduated before the application deadline are eligible to apply for an EM scholarship. A completed application must have been received by the deadline indicated (15 December).

​Candidates are chosen on the basis of the quality of their education and professional background, their experience in and concern for humanitarian issues, their multicultural sensitivity and their linguistic abilities.

Admission may be granted to applicants who meet the following entry requirements and common minimum eligibility criteria:

  • All applicants must follow the joint application procedure as established by the NOHA+ consortium. Please contact the Programme Director for more information. 
  • Candidates must have obtained, as a minimum, a university first cycle degree (Bachelor, EQF level 6) in a discipline of relevance to humanitarian action (medical sciences, foods sciences, economics and management, engineering, law, social sciences, education sciences, humanities).
  • Candidates are required to have a recognised qualification in the language(s) of instruction of the universities they plan to attend - English is the language of instruction in all universities during all semester except for Aix-Marseilles (French - 1st & 2nd Semester) and Deusto (Spanish - 1st semester only).

Raghda Alhaddad | Palestine

I am originally from Gaza, Palestine, and have been working as a school principal for over ten years. The massive economic decline in Palestine as a result of conflict provoked a series of humanitarian crises which compelled me to consider working in the humanitarian field. This programme has expanded my knowledge and awareness of the bigger picture of the international humanitarian field which will certainly help me in

my future career as a humanitarian worker. I had the opportunity to study new concepts in management, public health, and gender-based violence. I was exposed to some of the most important aspects of my society such as localisation, resilience and the legal dimensions of humanitarian action which enriched my knowledge and insight and has also had a huge impact on my way of thinking. My professional work and volunteer experience have taught me to see hidden opportunities in difficult situations and have inspired me to establish an NGO focusing on gender equality issues when I return to Gaza.

The following entry routes are available:

Joint Masters in Humanitarian Action FT (D061)
2 Years
Full Time

* Courses will remain open until such time as all places have been filled, therefore early application is advised