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Humanitarian Health- MPH



Humanitarian action is a citizens’ response to political failure. The purpose of humanitarian action is to save lives, minimize suffering, and protect the integrity of the people, usually but not always in a short period of time. The mission of the Humanitarian Health Program is to prepare a well-versed corps of global health professionals as humanitarian practitioners to address health and related issues in humanitarian settings. This program will equip students with necessary knowledge, attitudes and self-efficacy/skill-sets to assess needs, design and implement programs, and contribute to better decision-making, performance efficiency, and sound policy making within aid system and in humanitarian settings. The main strength of this program is in its breadth in building a wide range of skill-sets and to address the implementation challenges in humanitarian aid.


The overarching goals of the program are to train students to be public health practitioners and leaders in design, implementation, and evaluation of humanitarian programs and policies through learning to:

  • Understand and assess the fundamental causes of humanitarian situations and their public health challenges
  • Understand and analyze the interdependence of health science, socio-political science, economics, and global governance in humanitarian situations
  • Identify and apply common healthcare and socio-political and ethical tools and policies to assess and address the burden of a wide range of health and social conditions in humanitarian situations
  • Produce data and evidence with scientific rigor, and assess the efficacy and effectiveness of wide range of social and health care interventions in humanitarian settings
  • Generate and use best local and global level evidence for sound healthcare and socio-political policy formulation and program management, and to translate recommendations into actions that support on- the-ground humanitarian programs
  • Develop strong cultural sensitivity and cross- and inter-cultural competencies within diverse health and political systems in humanitarian aid
  • Develop understanding of and assume leadership positions in humanitarian aid industry and related disciplines
  • Work with methodological rigor in and apply ethical frameworks and contribute to international-level priority setting, program design, implementation, and evaluation
  • Communicate effectively the results of research and practice to a diverse group of stakeholders in humanitarian settings



MPH Core Requirements

PUBH 6000 | MPH Applied Practice Experience (0 credit)
PUBH 6002 | Biostatistical Applications for Public Health (3 credits)
PUBH 6003 | Principles and Practice of Epidemiology (3 credits)
PUBH 6007 | Social and Behavioral Approaches to Public Health (2 credits)
PUBH 6009 | Fundamentals of Program Evaluation (2 credits)
PUBH 6011 | Environmental & Biological Foundations of Public Health (3 credits)
PUBH 6012 | Fundamentals of Health Policy: Public Health and Healthcare (2 credits)
PUBH 6021 | Essentials of Public Health Practice & Leadership 1: Leading Self and Teams in Public Health (1 credit)
PUBH 6022 | Essentials of Public Health Practice & Leadership 2: Managing Organizations & Influencing Systems in Public Health (1 credit)
PUBH 6023 | Interprofessional Education Experience (IPE) (0 credits)
PUBH 6418 | GH Culminating Experience I: Proposal Development (1 credits)
PUBH 6419 | GH Culminating Experience 2 (1 credits)



Course Descriptions

Program Specific Requirements

PUBH 6400 | Global Health Frameworks (2 credits)
PUBH 6410 | Global Health Study Design (1 credit)
PUBH 6412 | Global Health Quantitative Research Methods (3 credits)
PUBH 6416 | Ethical & Cultural Issues in Global Health Research & Programs (1 credit)
PUBH 6462 | Nutrition and Food in Large Humanitarian Emergencies (1 credit)
PUBH 6467 | Ethics, Accountability, and Current Topics in Humanitarian Assistance (3 credits)
PUBH 6468 | Preparation & Response to Epidemics, Pandemics, Mass Health Emergencies, and Disasters (2 credits)
PUBH 6480 | Public Health in Complex Emergencies (2 credits)


SPH Course Descriptions

Humanitarian Health Selectives 

Choose at least 6 credits from list below:

PUBH 6132 | WASH/Disaster Relief Management and Development (2 credits)
PUBH 6463 | Communication Strategies & Planning in Humanitarian Settings (2 credits)
PUBH 6464 | Mental Health and Psychosocial Issues in Humanitarian Settings  (1 credit)
PUBH 6465 | Reproductive Health and Gender-Based Violence in Humanitarian Settings (1 credit)
PUBH 6492 | Global Health Programs and Control of Chronic Diseases (2 credits)


Humanitarian Health Electives

5 credits - any PUBH graduate level course. 



Course Descriptions.

Non-Academic Requirements

Professional Enhancement

Students in degree programs must participate in eight hours of Professional Enhancement. These activities may be Public Health-related lectures, seminars, or symposia related to your field of study.

Professional Enhancement activities supplement the rigorous academic curriculum of the SPH degree programs and help prepare students to participate actively in the professional community. You can learn more about opportunities for Professional Enhancement via the Milken Institute School of Public Health Listserv, through departmental communications, or by speaking with your advisor.

Students must submit a completed Professional Enhancement Form to the student records department

Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Training

All students are required to complete the Basic CITI training module in Social and Behavioral Research prior to beginning the practicum.  This online training module for Social and Behavioral Researchers will help new students demonstrate and maintain sufficient knowledge of the ethical principles and regulatory requirements for protecting human subjects - key for any public health research.

Academic Integrity Quiz

All Milken Institute School of Public Health students are required to review the University’s Code of Academic Integrity and complete the GW Academic Integrity Activity.  This activity must be completed within 2 weeks of matriculation. Information on GWSPH Academic Integrity requirements can be found here.

Past Program Guides

Program Guides from prior Academic Years

Students in the MPH in Humanitarian Health program should refer to the guide from the year in which they matriculated into the program. For the current program guide, click the "PROGRAM GUIDE" button on the right-hand side of the page.

To view sample schedules and learn about the core competencies developed within the program, see the degree program guide.


As practitioners in humanitarian health, the graduates of this program will have the competencies to pursue positions with:

  • The international and national non-governmental organizations and governmental agencies that provide healthcare services in domestic or international humanitarian settings,
  • Academic institutions focusing on global health research and development,
  • Foundations and private sector entities that provide direct services or support related organizations in global health and humanitarian activities. 


Examples of these organizations include:

International Rescue Committee, American Refugee Committee, IFRC, ICRC, Action Against Hunger (AAH), Doctors of the World (DOW, MDM), Doctors Without Borders, OXFAM, Save the Children, Mercy Corps, NRC, IMC, American Red Cross,  USAID, DFID, ODI, Swedish International Development (SIDA), NORAD, SDC, DANIDA, Refugee International, World Bank, UNDP, UNCHR, UNICEF, WFP, IDRC, CARE, World Vision International, Canadian International Development, ActionAid, WHO, People In Need, Global Fund for Malaria, TB and HIV, IMC, Catholic Relief Services, ALIMA, CONCERN Worldwide, Helen Keller International, Pathfinder International, Plan International, PCI, RTI, Women’s Refugee Commission, Mothers-to-Mothers, Worldwide Orphan Foundation, World Connect, etc.


Examples of these positions could include but not limited to:

Program officer, direct healthcare provider, executive officer, health advisor, technical advisor, country director, faculty researcher, faculty educator, operational officer, operational director, head of mission, medical or healthcare coordinator, emergency coordinator, program or project coordinator, policy advisor, logistical coordinator, board of director, chief of service, program manager, president or executive director, resident advisor, senior advisor, senior consultant, care coordinator etc. 

Practicum and CE

Students in the GW MPH programs gain practical skills and knowledge through their practice experiences. It is important for MPH Humanitarian Health graduates to feel confident in their skills and gain real-world experience during their studies. Students in the Humanitarian Health MPH program complete both an Applied Practice Experience (Practicum) and a Culminating Experience to practice their knowledge and skills in real-world settings.

Your Applied Practice Experience (Practicum)

In the Department of Global Health, the Practicum is designed to engage students in a Practice Activity—a planned, supervised, and evaluated experience in a public health organization. The Practice Activity can be related to either primary research or public health practice. It might include activities such as conducting literature reviews, writing proposals, designing ad campaigns, or collecting and analyzing data.

The Practice Activity for the MPH Global Health Policy degree may not be directly related to the student's day-to-day work. This is to ensure that students learn and apply new skills in the context of public health. If the student does conduct the Practice Activity at his/her place of employment, it must be work for which the student is not remunerated.

In recent years, students in the Department of Global Health have worked with over 200 organizations, in more than 50 countries.  The following organizations regularly host our practicum students:

  • Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
  • Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO)
  • Peace Corps
  • Population Services International (PSI)
  • Save the Children
  • World Bank
  • World Health Organization (WHO)
  • United States Agency for International Development (USAID)


Your Culminating Experience

The Culminating Experience (CE) integrates the knowledge and skills students acquire through their academic work and the Practice Activity. The CE requires students to identify and define a specific public health issue and formulate hypotheses to address that issue. Students work with data obtained through either primary research or from an existing dataset. The process of proposal development, data analysis, interpretation, and extrapolation of the results culminates in a written report or manuscript and an oral presentation.


Students pursuing an MPH in Humanitarian Health have access to a world-class faculty with decades of real-life humanitarian operations and practical expertise, and diverse experience in research, governmental and non-governmental, clinical, and educational settings. The professors and lecturers in the Humanitarian Health MPH have vast areas of interest as well as research experience to provide value to the students in the  program including needs assessment, program planning, program design and implementation, program evaluation and research methods, and policy and advocacy in humanitarian services.

Program Director:

Ramin Asgary

Practicum Director

Advisor & Advising Info

Apply Program Guide