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Master of Applied Science in Humanitarian Health

Dec 17, 2019

This degree in humanitarian health prepares students to tackle important global health issues working as public health professionals for many types of organizations. This article includes common course descriptions and admittance requirements.

A master's degree in humanitarian health comes in several forms and is referred to at various schools by different names such as the Master of Public Health, Master of Arts in Humanitarian and Disaster Leadership, or Master of Arts in International Humanitarian Affairs, as well as the Master of Applied Science in Humanitarian Health. The degree prepares students to be leaders in humanitarian aid careers and to respond effectively in the face of disasters. Below are common courses and admittance requirements for this master's program.

Courses Students May Encounter

Students may find these 40 to 50 credits, two to four years long, master's degree program available online. The courses like those described will offer a robust curriculum with a focus on public health, diseases, disaster and emergency, food assistance, human rights, mental health, and ethics.

Issues and Concepts in Public Health

Often an introductory course, the content should provide a broad framework of the concept of public health and issues surrounding it. Students may touch on many topics like planning, leadership, and types of assistance that will later be taught in more depth. Current global crises, disasters, and trends in providing assistance might also help provide students with a big-picture view of humanitarian health.

Sanitation, Water, and Hygiene

In this type of course, students should learn about global issues and conditions related to clean water, healthy sanitation, and personal hygiene. Tools humanitarians need to help resolve such issues might be another focus of the course and include practical knowledge like safe water supplies, latrine building, and disinfection. Students may also learn about the psychological and behavioral issues connected to sanitation and hygiene.

Social, Ethical, and Cultural Issues

Students will learn about topics like the connections between personal or group social, ethical, and cultural beliefs and public health issues. The way these factors affect both the onset of crises and disasters, as well as their impact on possible solutions should be some of the critical information students learn in such a course. Another focus may be the way these issues should be addressed when planning humanitarian assistance to people in crisis.

Needs Assessments, Planning, Organization

This type of course prepares students to be ready with evidenced-based strategies for preparing for humanitarian assistance. Students should learn ways to respond to assessing situations, planning assistance, and organizing human and physical resources to strengthen the response to the situation involved. Topics addressed in such a course may include how to measure demographics, identify possible health issues, and calculate provision needs.

Food and Nutrition Assistance

The important issues of food procurement, security, and nutrition needs should be the main topics addressed in a course on food and nutrition assistance. Students may explore the different ways low-income countries address public nutrition needs and how those apply to humanitarian assistance situations. Other areas of study in the course could include food deterioration, organizations that assist with nutrition needs, and long-term food assistance strategies.

Disease and Medical Assistance

Disease and medical issues can be a large part of humanitarian aid and in such a course, students learn some of the principals of disease investigation and control. Students may learn methods for identifying the cause of disease, risk estimations, disease sources, mortality, and tracking the spread of disease. Tools for identifying the risks and impact of chronic diseases can also be a part of such a course.

Leadership and Management

Students who wish to pursue leadership roles in humanitarian organizations may find helpful information in this type of class which covers methods for leading, administering, and managing humanitarian action. Proven leadership approaches for managing diverse populations, international laws, effective utilization of resources, and accountability should be covered in the course. Students may learn strategies for modifying standard leadership strategies that work in high-income locations so that they are successful in developing countries.

Field Work, Project, or Independent Study

Some programs require a culminating element that could include a field assignment, service-learning project, independent study, or a type of practicum. Students should find that they are expected to synthesize the skills and knowledge learned in the course and apply them to a current issue or problem in the world. Some programs may have a thesis research requirement.

Admittance Guidelines

Students will need to apply to the school's graduate studies department and pay any application fees. Most of the admission requirements may be those that apply to the entire graduate studies department at the school but there may also be requirements specific to the program. Program-specific requirements often include past academic or professional experience and letters of recommendation that support student's entrance into a humanitarian focused program. General admission guidelines likely include a bachelor's degree, minimum GPA of 2.75-3.0, official transcripts, letters of recommendation, GREs, resume, and personal statement of interest or goals.

Programs in this field prepare students to be leaders in global, humanitarian response to disasters. Coursework prepares students for identifying, assessing, procuring, organizing, and leading disaster response teams with practical, researched-based skills.

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