Master's Programme in International Humanitarian Action

120 credits

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 competencies for a career in humanitarian action, emergency and disaster relief, and development at both national and international levels. You will study at a minimum of two universities and can do an internship at a relevant organisation.

Autumn 2023 Autumn 2023, Uppsala, 100%, On-campus, English

Autumn 2024 Autumn 2024, Uppsala, 100%, On-campus, English

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 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 competencies. The programme is administered by the Department of Theology but is multidisciplinary.

This 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).

Some key features of the programme are:

  • developing core competencies for a career in humanitarian action,
  • studying at least one semester abroad,
  • having 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 emergencies and a capacity to organise and plan humanitarian relief operations. The duration of the Master's programme is two years of full-time study.

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 based on 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 educational backgrounds.


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

The first semester kicks off with an introductory course called the "Intensive Programme" (IP). The IP is held at one of the Network on Humanitarian Action's member universities in Europe and brings together students and staff from across the network; it lasts for a week. The semester then continues in Uppsala with five core courses - in anthropology, legal dimensions, management, public health and world politics - to provide you with a grounding in humanitarian action. The core courses in the first semester are studied and examined one at a time.

In the second semester, you move to a NOHA university in Europe and study that university's specialisation. Learn more about the universities within NOHA and their respective specialisations on NOHA's website. In addition to the specialisation, you will take courses in methodology and advanced management. A very good knowledge of French is needed to study the semester at Aix, since all teaching there is in French. The layout and pace of courses at partner universities will vary.

In the third semester, you can choose to do exchange studies again, this time at a partner university outside Europe. Alternatively, you can take a work placement with a national or international organisation in the humanitarian sector, while following a career development course online.

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.

Courses within the programme

First semester

At a NOHA member university in Europe:

  • 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

Exchange studies at another NOHA university in Europe, 30 credits (specialisation, methodology and advanced management).

Third semester

  • Regional Training at a non-European partner university, 30 credits


  • Placement, 20 credits
  • Career Development Training (online), 10 credits

Fourth semester

  • Thesis, 30 credits

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

This programme provides you with a high-quality academic education and professional competencies 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 large international organisations. 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).

Our graduates work 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.

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. See also NOHA's Graduates Platform.