Master's Programme in International Humanitarian Action

Academic year 2022/2023

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The Master's Programme in International Humanitarian Action is a multidisciplinary and international programme given in association with different universities in Europe and the rest of the world. It provides high-quality academic education and professional competences for a career in humanitarian action, emergency and disaster relief, and development at both national and international levels. The programme also has an alumni network which can support new students in their career.

Why this programme?

The Network on Humanitarian Action - NOHA - is the organisation responsible for this joint European Master's programme.

The Master's Programme in International Humanitarian Action was launched in 1993 because of a growing concern about the increase in disasters and conflicts in the world and the complex consequences for society. In order to address these questions, it was felt that a more professional approach was required, combining academic higher education and professional competences. The programme is administered by the Department of Theology, but is multidisciplinary.

The education is one of the best-established Master's programmes in humanitarian action. NOHA links eight core universities in Europe with many partner universities around the globe. The Master's programme has on three occasions been awarded Erasmus Mundus Programme status, thus facilitating student and scholar mobility within the network. Moreover, NOHA's Graduates Platform offers a mentoring scheme linking students to alumni (subject to resources).

Key features

  • Develop core competences for a career in humanitarian action
  • Study at least one semester abroad
  • The option of taking a work placement.

The Master's Programme in International Humanitarian Action offers a multidisciplinary education which seeks to teach you as a student core competence for a career in humanitarian action. The overall aim is to train you to develop the analytical and practical skills needed by professional humanitarian workers - for example, an interdisciplinary understanding of emergency situations and a capacity to organise and plan humanitarian relief operations. The duration of the Master's programme is two years of full-time study.

Study abroad
​In the second semester you will go on exchange to one of seven NOHA partner universities in Europe. In the third semester you can either choose exchange studies again, primarily at universities outside Europe, or take a work placement with a national or international organisation in the humanitarian sector and follow a career development course.

Student profile
The Master's Programme in International Humanitarian Action has been designed for people working or intending to work in the field of humanitarian action. 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. We welcome students from all over the world and with a wide range of backgrounds - for example, Anthropology, Business Management, Development Studies, Human Rights, International Relations, Languages, Law, Medicine, Peace and Conflict Studies, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology and Theology.

Related programmes
Master's Programme in Humanitarian Action and Conflict (a one-year programme)
Master's Programme in Religion in Peace and Conflict
Master's Programme in the Humanities - Cultural Anthropology
Master's Programme in Holocaust and Genocide Studies
Master's Programme in Peace and Conflict Studies
Master's Programme in Political Science


The programme leads to a Master of Arts in Theology (120 credits) with International Humanitarian Action as the main field of study.


The first semester kicks off in September with the Intensive Programme (IP), which is usually held in Warsaw. The semester then continues with five core courses to provide you a grounding in humanitarian action. The core courses in the first semester are studied and examined one at a time. The lay-out and pace of courses at partner universities will vary.

In the second semester, you move to a partner university within the Network on Humanitarian Action (NOHA) and study that university's specialisation. Learn more about the universities within NOHA and their respective specialisations. A good knowledge of French will be necessary for Aix University, whilst a knowledge of Spanish is an advantage if you wish to go to Deusto.

In turn, Uppsala receives exchange students from other NOHA universities who will study our specialisation: Conflict, Peacebuilding and Religion.

In the third semester you will either move to a partner university in or outside Europe for courses or conduct a work placement and take a course in career development.

The fourth and final semester is devoted to writing your Master's thesis. The thesis module ends with a seminar where you will defend your thesis and critique another. See the topics our previous students have written about.

Courses within the programme

First semester
In Warsaw:
The Intensive Programme, 5 credits

In Uppsala:
Anthropology and Intercultural Aspects of Humanitarian Action, 5 credits
Legal Dimensions of Humanitarian Action, 5 credits
Management, 5 credits
Public Health in Humanitarian Action, 5 credits
World politics and Humanitarian Action, 5 credits

Second semester
Uppsala students must go on exchange to another NOHA member university in Europe and take 30 credits of studies there.
In Uppsala, exchange students from other NOHA universities are offered:
Conflict and Peacebuilding, 15 credits
Religion and Humanitarian Action, 5 credits
Advanced Management, 5 credits
Methodology, 5 credits

Third semester
Regional Training at a European or non-European partner university, 30 credits
Placement, 20 credits
Career Development, 10 credits

Fourth semester
Thesis, 30 credits

Learning experience

This is a campus-based, full-time programme, which means around 30-40 hours of study per week. It is not possible to study this programme part-time or as distance learning. You must study at least one semester at a partner university outside Sweden.

Swedish academic culture is fairly informal. This means that university lecturers are considered as more like partners in students' educational and learning processes. Less time is dedicated to traditional classroom lectures and more to personal reading and individual and group tasks. The aim is to give students a balanced workload between taking part in lectures, reading the assigned course materials, critical consideration of the readings, and group discussions, all of which are important parts of the advanced learning experience. Active participation in class discussions and student interaction outside the classroom are encouraged, giving therefore a substantial amount of responsibility to students in their preparations for their future lives as professionals.

You will write your Master's thesis with guidance from a supervisor and present it at a defence seminar.

The language of instruction at Uppsala is English; French and Spanish are used at certain partner universities.


This programme provides you with a high-quality academic education and professional competences tailored to a career in the areas of international humanitarian action, emergency and disaster relief, and development.

A Master's degree in International Humanitarian Action could be a suitable qualification for work in non-governmental organisations and in large international organisations.

Our graduates work, for example, in organisations such as:

  • The Middle East Children's Institute
  • Doctors Without Borders (MSF)
  • Red Cross
  • Save the Children
  • Terre des Hommes Foundation
  • United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA)
  • United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

Examples of some of the job titles our alumni have are ECHO Partnership Manager, Head of Programmes, Gender-Based Violence Programme Officer, Team Leader - Protective Apartments and Resettlement Senior Legal Officer.

In Sweden, there are also career possibilities in the public sector such as in the County Councils and Municipalities and the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB).

Interviews with some of our alumni:

Career support
During your time as a student, UU Careers offers support and guidance. You have the opportunity to take part in a variety of activities and events that will prepare you for your future career. Learn more about UU Careers.

NOHA's Graduates Platform offers a mentoring scheme linking students to alumni (subject to resources).


Read about the application procedure and apply for the programme at the NOHA Consortium's website.

The application period starts on 1 October 2021 and ends on 15 April 2022. If you wish to apply for an Erasmus Mundus scholarship for the programme, you must apply no later than 15 December 2021.

All students who study the programme (including students from Sweden and other EU or EFTA countries) are required to pay tuition fees to the NOHA Consortium. For more information on application and fees, please see the NOHA Consortium's website.

Those interested in a local programme in Uppsala, not included in a consortium, with similar content are referred to the one-year Master's Programme in Humanitarian Action and Conflict (60 credits).

Master's Programme in International Humanitarian Action

120 credits

Autumn 2022, 100%, Campus

Location: Uppsala

Application deadline: 15 April 2022


Language of instruction: English

Academic requirements
A Bachelor's degree, equivalent to a Swedish Kandidatexamen, from an internationally recognised university.

Language requirements
All applicants need to verify English-language proficiency. This is usually done through an internationally recognised test such as TOEFL or IELTS or through previous university studies.
The minimum test scores are:

  • IELTS: a minimum overall score of 6.5 and no section below 6.0;
  • TOEFL internet-based: minimum score of 24 (scale 0–30) in the written test and a total score of 93;
  • Cambridge: CAE (C1), CPE (C2).
Knowledge of other languages and practical experience in the area of humanitarian action are recommended.

Selection: See the NOHA website for information about the selection procedure.

Contact and further resources

Is this programme right for you?


For programme-specific information, please contact administrator Cameron Ross:

+46 18 471 22 36

For admissions-related or general information, please contact our applicant support team:

Department of Theology

Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3 B

Box 511, 751 20 UPPSALA

018-471 2295

Programme start and registration

Registration for courses on this programme will be carried out by the Department of Theology.

If you have been conditionally admitted, please send proof to as soon as possible and in any case by no later than 29 August that you meet the qualification requirements in order to be registered.

Last modified: 2022-05-13