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Humanitarian Assistance

Educational Objectives

This certificate program focuses on humanitarian assistance in the international health context. The program is a major educational activity of the Center for Refugee and Disaster Response. The Center receives technical assistance from the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Pan American Health Organization, the UN High Commission for Refugees, and various humanitarian agencies and organizations. Graduates will be able to:

  1. Assess an emergency situation to identify immediate and longer-term assistance needs and additional resources required.
  2. Identify specific health (including psychosocial and mental health) needs of populations affected; plan and implement activities to meet these needs, and monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of assistance provided.
  3. Understand the principles of organization and administration of relief services in collaboration and cooperation with local and international non-governmental organizations, host governments, military forces and United Nations agencies.
  4. Use epidemiologic skills to collect, analyze, and use information about natural and man-made disasters.
  5. Plan and implement disaster preparedness, response and mitigation activities.
  6. Identify disease outbreaks and to know how to contain them in a timely manner.
  7. Know the public health consequences of natural disasters and their management.
  8. Outline the basic requirements for a food and nutrition program for a disaster-affected population.
  9. Use the basic principles of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and human rights principles to understand the protection needs of displaced populations and to identify and document abuses.
  10. Have a basic understanding of the political environment and use this to explain the various forces that affect population displacement.


The certificate program is open to masters and doctoral students currently enrolled in a degree program at the Bloomberg School of Public Health who may be working to improve the health of displaced populations in the future. MAS degree students are not eligible to apply. MPH students who have a major career interest in humanitarian emergencies and human rights are encouraged to pursue the MPH Health in Crisis concentration. The concentration is more extensive and includes a seminar and regular discussion opportunities.

Admissions Process

Applicants should review the How to Apply page for information about eligibility and special instructions. The certificate program's review committee will review the applications and notify each applicant of their admissions decision.

Requirements for Successful Completion

The certificate program requires a minimum of 18 credits. All required and elective courses must be taken for a letter grade and a minimum overall grade point average (GPA) of 2.75 in all certificate courses is required. The certificate program length is flexible; it varies from student to student; however, the certificate must be completed within three years.

The student should review the section of the website that addresses completion before completing certificate program requirements.  The student's transcript will not indicate that the certificate was earned until the Notification of Completion has been submitted and verified by the certificate program and processed by the Registrar. In addition, students completing the certificate must submit this form via e-mail to the certificate faculty sponsor.

Course of Study

Students should check the course catalog to confirm when the course is offered. The term and time may change from what is listed in the table below and some courses are only offered every other year. Students should also check for pre-requisites and whether instructor consent is required. 

Course No.Course TitleNo. CreditsOnline TermCampus Term

Introduction to Online Learning

All students are required to complete this free course before taking other online courses


Academic and Research Ethics at JHSPH

All students are required to complete this free online course during their first term of study

Required Courses
221.611Food  Nutrition and Livelihood in Humanitarian Emergencies2-4
221.613Introduction to Humanitarian Emergencies2-1
221.639Health Care in Humanitarian Emergencies312
221.641Measurement Methods in Humanitarian Emergencies2-2
Elective Courses: Students must take at least nine credits from the courses listed below
182.626Issues for Water and Sanitation in Tropical Environmental Health2-3
221.614International Political Science for Public Health Practitioners2-2
221.627Issues in Reduction of Maternal and Neonatal Mortality in Low-Income Countries4-2
221.634Stress Management for Relief Workers2-3
221.642Mental Health Aspects of Disaster: Public Health Preparedness and Response2-4
221.643Armed Conflict and Health2-3
221.661Project Development for Primary Health Care in Developing Countries4-4
223.680Global Disease Control Programs and Policies444
340.639Assessing Epidemiologic Impact of Human Rights Violations2-4
380.640Children in Crisis: An Asset-Based Approach to Working with Vulnerable Youth3-3

Contact Information

Sponsoring Department 
International Health

Faculty Sponsor and Contact Person for the Certificate Program
Name Gilbert Burnham

Faculty Co-Sponsor
Name Courtland Robinson

Gainful Employment Program Information

At this time non-degree students enrolling in this certificate program are not eligible for federal aid. You may, however, pursue private education loans to assist you in meeting your program costs. Contact our Financial Aid Office with any questions.