The humanitarian system comprises international, national and local entities who work together to alleviate suffering and save lives of people affected by conflict, displacement and natural disasters.

Our certificate in humanitarian assistance provides students with the theoretical and practical underpinnings for humanitarian work that is technically sound, partners with affected communities, responds to diverse needs, and sets the stage for sustainable and inclusive development efforts. Through this certificate, you'll be able to explore your specific interests in the humanitarian field and develop relevant skills, experiences, and professional networks.  

The certificate offers personalized advising, exclusive networking, and unique experiential learning opportunities including a simulation and the Humanitarian Assistance Applied Research Group. Graduates pursue humanitarian careers abroad and in the US working with international organizations, government, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector.


Degree Requirements

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    Required Courses

    Two courses that introduce students to key aspects of humanitarian assistance (one focused on humanitarian systems and the other on field operations) are required, as well as two additional courses directly related to humanitarian assistance.

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    You must complete two elective courses in one of three tracks:

    • Management & Operations
    • Monitoring, Evaluation & Analysis
    • Policy & Advocacy

    Personalized tracks are also possible with the program director's permission. 

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    A 150-hour internship focused on international humanitarian aid with an organization whose core work includes international humanitarian assistance or humanitarian policy/advocacy is required for the Humanitarian Assistance Certificate.

Experiential Learning Opportunities

Humanitarian Assistance Applied Research Group

The Humanitarian Assistance Applied Research Group (HAARG) provides students with supervised opportunities to be involved in needs assessment, program evaluation and other forms of applied research with humanitarian organizations.

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Annual Crisis Simulation

During Spring quarter, the Humanitarian Assistance Program offers students from the program and other selected graduate programs at DU an opportunity to engage in a two-day international humanitarian crisis simulation. This unique two-day voluntary immersive exercise helps students prepare for humanitarian careers.

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Experiential Learning Opportunities

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Featured Faculty

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Chen Reis

Clinical Associate Professor; Degree Director, Human Rights; Director, Humanitarian Assist

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Featured Alumni

  • Adedamola (Damola) Ladipo

    Adedamola (Damola) Ladipo is an M.A. graduate in International Development with a certificate in Humanitarian Assistance from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies. While at Korbel, Damola focused on monitoring and evaluation (M&E), GIS, data analysis, and information management. He currently works at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Data Services at DevTech as a Data Visualization Specialist.

    Before his current role with USAID, Damola worked as an M&E Coordinator in Nigeria, Assessment Officer in Jordan on Syria, M&E Specialist in Tajikistan, Research Assistant for The Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures, and an Analyst for ICF International as a contractor with the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Working in various contexts in Central Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and work based in the U.S. on conflict, climate change, disaster risk reduction, displacement, health, shelter, food security, and water sanitation and hygiene issues granted him vital experience. Today, Damola leverages his international opportunities, technical skills, and passion for data analysis, reporting, and data visualization to inform evidence-based decisions for sustainable impact.

    Damola graduated with a B.S. in Psychology focusing on Disaster Behavioral Health from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University."


  • Brinser Award for Humanitarian Assistance

    Josef Korbel School of International Studies' students completing the Certificate in Humanitarian Assistance are eligible for consideration for The Chester Lee Brinser III Endowed Scholarship Fund. Recipients are selected from Humanitarian Assistance Certificate students based primarily on their contributions toward and demonstrated commitment to humanitarian service.

    Chester Lee Brinser III is a well regarded alumnus of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies (formerly Graduate School of International Studies) who was devoted to a life of helping others. He completed a master's degree, emphasizing development issues, and graduated with honors in 1997. After completing his studies, he spent the next four years working in Nicaragua.

    Upon Chester Lee's unfortunate and untimely passing (in March of 2006), his mother, Joann Upchurch, and sister, Allison Jeffords, graciously created a fund in his honor. Although the Program in Humanitarian Assistance was not in existence at the time of his matriculation and graduation, he very much exemplified the principles of humanitarianism throughout his life.

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