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NOHA Joint Master's Programme in International Humanitarian Action
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The Joint Master's Programme in International Humanitarian Action is an inter-university, multidisciplinary postgraduate programme that provides high quality academic education and professional competences for personnel working or intending to work in the area of Humanitarian Action. It was the first Master's programme in the area of Humanitarian Studies, having been established in 1993 in collaboration with the European Commission, and combines analytical and theoretical knowledge and skills with a hands-on approach. 

The Joint Master's Programme offers interdisciplinary, multicultural and multilingual teaching and training by 150+ faculty members, a combination of in-house experts and field-experienced guest lecturers. It boasts of over 3,500 graduates working in humanitarian relief and international co-operation for (inter)national organisations and institutions, both in the field and at HQs around the world.  

Programme Information 


The Master Programme was created in 1993 as a result of concerted efforts on the part of the NOHA Universities, working in close collaboration with two Directorates-General of the European Commission: 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.

More than two decades of experience has proved the Network's commitment and capacity to educate and train highly committed and interdisciplinary persons who can act at all levels of humanitarian relief operations and who can function in a variety of ways to enhance the delivery of humanitarian assistance and sustainable actions.

Mobility 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 assurance of good communication links between them. 


Degree Profile

Graduates of the NOHA Joint Master's Programme in International Humanitarian Action have the capacity to act at all levels of humanitarian relief operations and to function in a variety of ways to enhance the professional delivery of humanitarian assistance and sustainable actions. After completion of the NOHA Joint Master's course, graduates will have acquired the following learning competencies:

Vision: Global and comprehensive vision of the humanitarian world

1. Capacity to develop global and comprehensive visions of conflict, disaster and related vulnerable situations, in terms of theoretical approaches, as well as the responses and their effects.

2. Capacity for critical thinking, conceptualising, analysing, assessing and judging complex humanitarian situations.

3. Ability to integrate knowledge and handle complexity responding to new humanitarian challenges and paradigms with innovative approaches.

4. Capacity to identify and investigate new trends in humanitarian action and do applied research to create new knowledge and thinking, promoting new ideas, developments and solutions.

Strategic Management: Capacity to manage high-impact organisations and complex humanitarian responses

5. Capacity to apply knowledge and understanding to manage humanitarian operations in complex and uncertain environments, including risk assessment.

6. Capacity to manage policies, strategies, and programmes according to humanitarian principles and values.

7. Capacity to understand and promote constructively global coordination of humanitarian efforts in a set of multiple and diverse actors on global, national and local levels.

8. Capacity to make humanitarian action accountable to beneficiaries and other humanitarian stakeholders.

9. Excellent communication skills and ability to build and lead diverse teams, moving them to the highest collective performance.

Personal Integrity: Capacity for self-management and to inspire and provide humanitarian strategic leadership

10. Knowledge of key international humanitarian principles and values and professional codes of conduct, and commitment to their implementation in practice.

11. Capacity to make informed and reasoned complex decisions and take action upon them.

12. Ability to deal with ethical and moral dilemmas and take responsibility for decisions on them.

13. Ability to cope with humanitarian crises on a personal level in relation to oneself and to those one is responsible for: being flexible, adaptable and dealing with stress.

14. Sensitivity to culture, gender and diversity in humanitarian action.


Admission Criteria

The NOHA Master's 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.

Admission may be granted to applicants who meet the following minimum eligibility criteria:

  • All applicants must follow the joint application procedure as established by the NOHA consortium.
  • A completed application must have been received.
  • Candidates must have obtained, as a minimum, a university first cycle degree (Bachelor, EQF level 6) in a discipline of relevance to humanitarian action.
  • Candidates are required to have a recognised qualification in the language(s) of instruction of the universities they plan to attend.
  • English: C1 certificate (according to the Common European Framework or Reference for Languages - CEFR) or TOEFL (550-600 paper, 215-250 computer and 93 internet) or IELTS (6-7) certificate.
  • Spanish: B2-C1 certificate (according to CEFR).
  • French: C1 certificate (According to CEFR).

Candidates are chosen on the basis of the following selection criteria:

  • Type and level of academic qualifications,
  • Type and level of research experience,
  • Type and level of professional experience, such as practical experience in the area of humanitarian action in governmental, inter-governmental and/or non-governmental organisations and institutions,
  • Motivation and concern for humanitarian issues,
  • Multicultural sensitivity,
  • Level of linguistic abilities,
  • Recommendations,
  • Results of interviews (if applicable),
  • Nationality and gender balance.

Application Procedure

All applications must be made on-line on the NOHA website. Applications MUST include the following documents:

  • Copy of passport (only the main pages)
  • Certified copy of Diploma (if this document is not in English, an official translation should be attached) and, if available, of the Diploma Supplement
  • Certified copies of academic transcripts (if this document is not in English, an official translation should be attached)
  • Curriculum vitae in English (Europass model)
  • Official proof of language abilities, where applicable
  • Two reference letters (in English)

Important: Some of the NOHA universities (Uniwersytet Warszawski, Universidad de Deusto, Uppsala universitet) have a specific list of national requirements which have to be met in order to conclude the admission procedure. Please read the information before applying in order to be prepared in advance. These requirements apply also to students undertaking mobility to the universities in question during the second semester. 

Step by step instructions

1. ALL APPLICATIONS for the NOHA Master must be made online, through the on-line NOHA application form

2. Click here to access the NOHA application form

3. No print application documents shall be submitted unless requested or authorised by NOHA

4. Read through the online application form and prepare all of the data you are asked to provide for each section of the form as well as all of the documents that you must attach to your application.

5. Fill in the online application form, completing all of the sections as requested

6. Attach all of the compulsory documents

Timeline and deadlines for applications 

1st January 2017: Opening of the call for all candidates

30th April 2017: Application deadline for all candidates

Note: Application deadline for Uppsala universitet is on 31st March 2017. Also note that some universities are running late admissions beyond the central application deadline. Please contact the NOHA university of your choice for more information.  


Participation Costs

Participation costs (as of academic year 2017/18): €12,000 (for both EU and non-EU students) for the entire programme (4 semesters). Fees can be paid in four instalments, each time before the beginning of each new semester.

The participation costs are defined as all costs related to and including tuition fees, library and laboratory costs, basic insurance coverage and any other mandatory cost related to the student's participation in the Joint Master's Degree Programme in International Humanitarian Action for the standard duration of the degree programme, including support in administrative and organisational issues by the consortium partners, costs for enrolment at the consortium partner's institutions, all examinations and issuing the final diploma. 

Student participation costs do not cover accommodation, subsistence, travel to and from partner universities and travel documents (visa, passport) included within the framework of the mobility programme and any costs beyond the standard duration of the degree programme.


Programme Structure 

Foundation Period

Foundation Period (Semester 1) is composed of two elements:

1. NOHA Intensive Programme (5 ECTS): An initial inter-university joint course that brings together all NOHA students, introduces them to key principles and concepts underlying humanitarian action and 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

When: Beginning of September

Language of instruction: English

2. Common courses (25 ECTS): Jointly developed NOHA modules which provide a space to debate the essentials of humanitarian action and its current trends: World Politics, Legal Dimensions of Humanitarian Action, People & Culture, Management, Public Health. The content of the modules, their layout and the complimentary capacity-building and problem-solving activities aim at providing the required knowledge and skills in a complex interdisciplinary and international learning framework respecting the different historical teaching backgrounds and the variety of expertise in the NOHA partner universities.

Language of insturction:

English: Ruhr-Universitat Bochum (RUB), Germany • University College Dublin (UCD), Ireland • Uppsala universitet, Sweden • Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RUG), The Netherlands • Uniwersytet Warszawski (UW), Poland • L'Universita ta Malta (UM), Malta 

French: Aix Marseille Universite (AMU), France

Spanish: Universidad de Deusto (UD), Spain


Specialisation Period

Upon successful completion of the Foundation Period at their home universities, students follow the Specialisation Period (Semester 2) in another NOHA university of their choice. It allows students to get deeper knowledge and competences in specific aspects of humanitarian action and to strengthen the areas of particular importance to them. Each university offers 20 ECTS of courses based on their unique expertise which are supplemented by a set of common courses: Advanced Management and Methodology & Research Methods in Humanitarian Studies.  

Location: Any of the NOHA universities (host university)

When: February to June 

Available specialisations:

Contextualisation Period

During the Contextualisation Period (Semester3) the student can choose between two options:

a) Regional Training (30 ECTS)

This component introduces students to humanitarian action approaches in regional contexts, gives them the opportunity to cooperate, function and work in a different cultural setting, and helps students to develop and adapt their research project to the regional context in preparation for the students' project in the fourth semester.

Regional training is offered at any of the following partner universities (more information soon):

  • Asia-Pacific: Deakin University (Australia)
  • Latin America: Pontifica Universidad Javeriana (Colombia)
  • South-East Asia: Univeritas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)
  • East Asia: International Christian University (Japan)
  • Middle East: German-Jordanian University (Jordan)
  • Middle East: Universite Saint-Joseph (Lebanon)
  • Post Soviet States: Viliaus universitetas (Lithuania)
  • Eastern Europe: Uniwersytet Warszawski (Poland)
  • South Africa: University of Western Cape (South Africa)
  • North America: Fordham University (USA)

b) Work Placement (30 ECTS)

Students follow a training module on career development and a supervised, mentored and monitored placement which are jointly designed with the partner organisations and formalised through individual written traineeship agreements 

  • Career Development Training (10 ECTS)
  • Placement (20 ECTS)

Note: The list of available placements will be published at a later stage.

Location: Home university/Partner university/Humanitarian organisation

When: September to January


Research Period

In the context of international humanitarian action, new professionals must be:

  • Able to select and analyse research material;
  • Trained to confront new problems in their multiple dimensions;
  • Able to understand reality and to elaborate innovative solutions; and
  • Accustomed to assessing their results.

The aim of the Research Period (Semester 4) is to provide key competences required to research the humanitarian action context and ensure that interventions are based on systematic information collection, analysis and synthesis. The Master thesis must be assessed by at least two examiners. In principle, the examiners should be a member of the first semester university and the second semester university of the student or the partner university or institution. Supervision and assessment is to be conducted in line with the joint Master Thesis Guide. 

Location: Home university

When: February to June. 


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