Get the skills to conduct effective humanitarian interventions.

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Unprecedented levels of forced displacement and natural disasters in recent years have created humanitarian crises on a massive scale. These impact the health, safety, and well-being of disaster-affected populations and have far reaching impacts on world peace and stability. The demand for professional humanitarian aid workers has increased tremendously, fueled by the need to deliver humanitarian response in line with legal, ethical, and professional guidelines.

Community meeting with refugee returnees

What you’ll learn

Understand the legal and professional principles, standards, laws, and frameworks governing humanitarian action as well as the theory behind it.

Grapple with the major critiques of humanitarian action and its ensuing reform and review process.

Learn ethically sound qualitative research methods and practice identifying needs and gaps and providing evidence-based recommendations for interventions and response in the various humanitarian sectors.

Design and implement a crisis management plan and humanitarian response that will aid and protect populations affected by disaster and forge collaborative relationships that will create more successful responses.

How it works

In this one-year program, get hands-on, graduate-level training in humanitarian assistance and crisis management. You’ll spend a semester each in Jordan and Uganda, which together host nearly three million refugees, meeting with NGO workers, observing humanitarian assistance in action, and conducting fieldwork. You’ll also experience a 10-day field visit to Geneva, a global hub for humanitarian assistance, where you’ll learn about humanitarian policy and advocacy and contrast the work of humanitarian and UN agency headquarters with hands-on work conducted on the ground.

In the final semester, you’ll put your learning into practice during a field practicum at a humanitarian aid organization in either Jordan or Uganda.

As someone with over 30 years of humanitarian experience, I know that skilled and thoughtful management of crises and disasters is sorely needed. We live in a time with unprecedented numbers of people displaced from their homes around the globe, and with a tragically steady stream of emergencies coming at us through conflict, disease, famine, and natural events, many significantly worsened by climate change. This new SIT program responds to a global demand for compassionate, highly competent professionals.

—Abby Maxman, President and CEO of Oxfam America


With SIT’s experiential curriculum, you’ll learn how to put theory into practice. In addition to core courses, a broad range of elective choices let you focus on courses that will help you meet your career goals.

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In this full-time program, you’ll earn 36 credits in one year.


Semester One: Jordan (15 Credits)

Issues in Humanitarian and Refugee Studies (3 credits)

Crisis Management and Leadership in Humanitarian Response (3 credits)

Practitioner Inquiry (3 credits)

Program Planning and Management (3 credits)

Humanitarian Policy and Advocacy (3 credits)


Semester Two: Uganda (12 Credits)

Developing and Maintaining Collaborative Relationships (3 credits)

Safety and Wellbeing Challenges in Emergency Context (3 credits)

Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning: Concepts and Practices (3 credits)

International Humanitarian and Refugee Law, Standards, and Principles (3 credits)


Semester Three: Field Practicum in Jordan or Uganda (9 Credits)

Field Practicum/Placement (6 credits)

Capstone Paper & Seminar (3 credits)


Get hands-on training in different learning contexts.

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You’ll spend the fall semester in Jordan, home to millions of refugees and displaced populations from Palestine, Iraq, and Syria. It currently houses 661,000 Syrian refugees registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), although it is estimated that the total number is closer to 1.5 million. Here, you’ll get firsthand exposure to the humanitarian response of various UN agencies in Jordan, most notably UNHCR, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nation’s International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), during emergency, post-emergency, and resettlement phases, in collaboration with the host government.


At the end of the first semester, you’ll spend 10 days in Geneva learning about humanitarian policy and advocacy and seeing the operation of United Nations headquarters firsthand.


For more than five decades, Uganda has provided asylum to people fleeing war and persecution. When renewed conflict broke out in South Sudan in July 2016, an unprecedented number of refugees came to Uganda, doubling the refugee population in less than seven months. Uganda has since become the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa, with refugees making up 3.5% of the country’s total population of 39 million. It currently hosts more than 1.35 million refugees, the majority from South Sudan (75%), the Democratic Republic of Congo (17%), Burundi (3%) and Somalia (3%). 

Uganda maintains one of the most progressive refugee protection policies. With an open-door policy, the government grants refugees freedom of movement and the right to seek employment, establish businesses, and access public services such as education on par with nationals. Uganda is also party to key refugee conventions and international human rights treaties.

You’ll spend the spring semester learning from Uganda’s approach to refugees and comparing its refugee policies with Jordan’s.

Professional Practicum

A cornerstone of SIT degree programs is the practicum. This allows you to apply learning from the classroom in real-world settings while getting hands-on, professional experience.

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Get valuable experience and enhance your skills in an international professional environment. In the final semester of the program, you’ll put your learning into practice during a 12-week practicum. SIT will support you in finding an approved practicum with an institution providing humanitarian assistance and development aid to refugee and local communities for your final semester.

The organization and your practicum activities must be approved by the program’s director. You’ll attend regular reflection and assessment meetings to review the progress of the practicum and learning associated with it.

Admissions Criteria

We strive to create a diverse and experienced student body to enhance the learning experience both inside and outside the classroom. To be considered for admission to this program, you must meet the following criteria:

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To be considered for admission to the MA in Humanitarian Assistance and Crisis Management program, an applicant must meet the following criteria:

  • US bachelor’s degree or an equivalent that demonstrates academic ability
  • Demonstrated English language ability (see details below)
  • Intercultural and professional experience
  • Demonstrated ability to use experience as a source of learning

English Language Ability
Applicants whose first language is not English and who did not graduate from an English-speaking institution in a country whose official language is English submit test scores for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), or the PTE (Pearson Test of English). (Applicants can access free TOEFL and IELTS  practice tests online.)

  • Applicants taking the TOEFL must receive a minimum score of
    • 600 on the paper-based test (PBT)
    • 250 on the computer-based test (CBT), or
    • 100 on the internet-based iBT.
  • Applicants taking the IELTS must receive a score of Band 7.0 or higher.
  • Applicants taking the PTE must receive a minimum score of 68.

These scores are considered the minimum proficiency needed to undertake graduate-level work. Scores must be dated within two years of the start date of your academic program at SIT.

SIT Graduate Institute’s Selection Process
Our admissions staff work one-on-one with every applicant to facilitate a highly informed and multidimensional admissions experience: applicants are encouraged to talk with SIT faculty and staff and hear from current students and alumni. As applicants become familiar with the attributes of an SIT education — grounded in the experiential learning model and focused on social justice and leadership skills in intercultural environments — they determine for themselves in what ways SIT can help them meet their educational and career objectives.


See a breakdown of the costs for this program.

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Direct Costs

Semester 1

  • Tuition: $14,500
  • Visa fee: $120

Semester 2

  • Tuition: $14,500
  • Visa fee: $100

Semester 3 (Reflective Practice Phase)

  • Tuition: $14,500
  • Visa fee: $110

Total MA degree tuition and fees (all terms combined): $43,830

Indirect Costs

Semester 1

  • Room and board: $3,000
  • Books: $300
  • Personal expenses: $2,000
  • Transportation costs: $1,050
  • Contingency: $500

Semester 2

  • Room and board: $4,000
  • Books: $300
  • Personal expenses: $1,500
  • Transportation costs: $450
  • Contingency: $500

Semester 3 (Reflective Practice Phase)

  • Room and board: $3,500
  • Books: $300
  • Personal expenses: $1,500
  • Transportation costs: $500
  • Contingency: $500

Additional Costs

Estimated Student Loan Fees

  • Semester 1: $500
  • Semester 2: $500
  • Semester 3: $500

Estimated fees are based on the average amount borrowed by SIT Graduate Institute students. See details on student loan options.