Why This Program?

There is pressure on aid agencies to base humanitarian assistance on solid empirical evidence as well as establish field research programs to measure program efficiency, effectiveness and impact.

This program will enhance a practitioner’s ability to carry out needs assessments in the food security and nutrition fields, design and carry out field research programs to measure the effectiveness of programming, and assess the impact of programming in both short and long term humanitarian crises. Students will learn to apply data-driven methodologies to the needs assessment, program design and implementation, and program impact assessment phases of aid projects.

This program is ideal for individuals who are engaged in critical jobs in countries around the globe and are ready to advance their knowledge and skills. The courses complement real-time work experiences as students benefit from peer insights and interaction.

Download the Information Sheet


The certificate program consists of the following three courses:

Field Research Methods in Humanitarian Settings (Offered Fall Semester)

This course will address primary data collection in field settings; particularly those characterized by conflict and forced displacement where data collection methods confront logistical and ethical challenges.  At the end of the course students will be prepared to conduct their own fieldwork, and assess the value of others field research.

Food Security and Nutrition in Emergencies (Offered Spring Semester)

This course will support participants to develop the skills to conduct a good analysis of food security and nutrition crises, and equip participants to make evidence-based intervention choices, and implement and monitor those interventions. Students will be able to synthesize these skills for improved overall program management and impact.

The course will review the central role and importance of food security, nutrition and related public health interventions and care factors, in recent humanitarian crises. It will combine practical case-examples, good practice principles, and wider policy frameworks to consider both the assessment and analysis of crises (causes and outcomes) and strategic international humanitarian response, with a particular focus on the sectors relating to food security, nutrition and livelihoods.

The course will take a practical programming approach by first, reviewing issues of food security and nutritional assessment, interpretation and response analysis, followed by a focus on the core food security and nutrition actions including food assistance, direct nutrition interventions and interventions to protect and promote food security and livelihoods more broadly. Programming examples explored cover a range of applications from acute emergencies to protracted crises, recovery, and in some cases, food security and nutrition elements of social protection. The evidence base for these actions will be reviewed, along with related international policies, standards and guidelines. A broader range of related and topical issues will also be considered, including humanitarian protection, disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness, coordination, capacity development, recovery and transition.

This course will examine the central role and importance of food security and nutrition in emergencies where the implications for nutrition assessment, policy development, program design and implementation will be examined. Students will gain an understanding of the nutritional outcomes of emergencies (malnutrition, morbidity and mortality); and also the causes of malnutrition and mortality in emergencies (the process and dynamics of an emergency). The course will also develop a broader knowledge of food security management in humanitarian response initiatives.

Assessing and Measuring the Impact of Humanitarian Aid (Offered Summer Semester)

While progress has been made on monitoring and evaluation of humanitarian programs, very little has yet been achieved in the field of measuring and understanding the impact of aid, both short and long term; leading to limited evidence of the effectiveness of humanitarian aid.This problem relates to both the methodological challenges of measuring impact in complex, remote or insecure humanitarian contexts, and, a set of institutional constraints that hinder organizational and personal learning.

This course will explore the problems of impact assessment for emergency operations and will provide students with training in some of the most promising methodologies of impact assessment, paying particular attention of participatory assessment methodologies. The course also explains the trade-offs between conventional ‘hard’ quantitative approaches and methods in humanitarian situations, and ‘soft’ qualitative approaches and methods, leading to understanding of the benefits of mixed methods for impact assessment. Finally, through analysis of institutional constraints to impact assessment, the course provides guidance on ways to use evidence to influence policy and programming in humanitarian contexts.


How to Apply

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and as space permits. Please send any questions or concerns about the process to


Start Your Online Application Now!


There is no fee to apply.

Your full application to the program will include the following items:

  • Completion of the Online Application
  • Official academic transcripts (translated into English) sent directly from every university or institution from which you earned a degree
    • Transcript(s) should indicate completion of a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, with a preferred grade point average of 3.0 (out of a 4.0 equivalent)
  • Current resume or curriculum vitae (CV)
  • Personal statement - please describe your reasons for applying and indicate how this course/certificate program will enhance your career or help you in the future 
  • International students must also submit TOEFL or IELTS scores (see below for more info)

Standardized test scores (i.e., GRE) and letters of recommendation are not required. There is no application fee, but a non-refundable $50 deposit is required upon your acceptance into the program to reserve your space. 

All applications are reviewed by the Friedman School Graduate Certificate Program Admissions Committee. The Admissions Committee takes into consideration all coursework, grades, experience and reasons for taking the program.

If you need to send materials to the Friedman School, please send to the following address:

Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
Office of Admissions
150 Harrison Ave. Boston, MA 02111

*Students who would like to register for just a single class without committing to an entire program should contact the Program Director at

Admissions Deadlines

Applications for Spring 2016 admission into the Friedman School Graduate Certificate Program will be reviewed on a rolling basis through December 1, 2015, and after as space permits.  

Applications for Fall 2016 admission into the Friedman School Graduate Certificate Program will be reviewed on a rolling basis through July 1, 2016, and after as space permits.

TOEFL/IELTS Requirements

International students who earned their degree from a university in a country where English is not the primary language must submit either official TOEFL or IELTS scores
directly to the Friedman School as a part of the Online Application.

  • TOEFL minimum score is 600 (paper based), 250 (computer based), 100 (internet based)
  • IELTS minimum score is 6.5

Tuition & Payment Options

  • Tuition for courses offered during the 2014-15 academic year (i.e. the Fall
    2014, Spring 2015, and Summer 2015 semesters) is $2420 per course. The
    total tuition for all three required courses within a certificate
    program is $7260.

Please note that the Friedman School Graduate Certificate Programs are not eligible for Title IV Federal
Student Aid. The program does qualify for private student loans from lending institutions, and a Tuition Payment Plan is available through our Bursar’s office. Under the Tuition Payment Plan you may budget all or a portion of your semester tuition over five monthly installments prior to your enrollment. For example, for the fall semester, you make payments from May 1st through September 1st, and for
the spring semester, you make payments from October 1st through February 1st. The Tuition Payment Plan has a small enrollment fee, but no interest charges. Please contact Student Financial Services at Tufts for more information on billing and payments including payment plans.

Tufts University currently does not accept credit card payments for tuition.

We encourage students who are working professionals to contact their employer’s human resources (HR) department for their policies and procedures regarding tuition benefits.


Program Faculty

Image of Online Graduate Certificate Faculty MemberKaren Jacobsen, PhD is an Associate Professor and Academic Director at the Feinstein International Center, Tufts University, and teaches at the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy (Tufts). She is also Director of the Refugees and Forced Migration Program at the Feinstein Center. Jacobsen’s current research focuses on urban refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), and on livelihood interventions in conflict-affected areas. She works with the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on surveys of urban IDPs. Her most recent book, "The Economic Life of Refugees" was published in 2005. She directed the Alchemy Project from 2001-2005, which provided grants and conducted research and impact evaluations on micro-enterprise initiatives in displaced communities in Africa. She holds a BA from University of Witwatersrand (Johannesburg) and a PhD in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Image of Online Graduate Certificate Faculty MemberDaniel Maxwell is the Research Director for Food Security and Complex Emergencies at the Feinstein International Center and a Professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Dan joined the Feinstein Center in 2006 to lead the Food Security and Livelihoods research program and teach courses in the same area. From 2008 to 2011, he was the Chair of the Department of Food and Nutrition Policy at the Friedman School and in 2012 became the Director of the Master of Arts in Humanitarian Assistance Program.

Prior to joining the Feinstein Center, he was the Deputy Regional Director for CARE International in Eastern and Central Africa, based in Nairobi. In addition to his primary responsibility for the oversight of Country Offices, he was responsible for program development, disaster preparedness and emergency response in ten countries in the Great Lakes and the Greater Horn of Africa. His recent research has focused on food security, famine, chronic vulnerability, and humanitarian response in complex emergencies. Dan has held Fulbright and Rockefeller Fellowships. He is the co-author, with Chris Barrett of Cornell University, of "Food Aid After Fifty Years: Recasting Its Role" (2005), which had far-ranging impacts on food aid practice and policy. He is also the co-author, with Peter Walker, of "Shaping the Humanitarian World" (2009). He holds a BSc Degree from Wilmington College, a Master’s Degree from Cornell, and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin.

Image of Online Graduate Certificate Faculty MemberKate Sadler is the Research and Development Manager at Valid International (VI) and was previously an Assistant Professor of nutrition at the Tufts Feinstein International Center in 2007-2012. She is a public nutritionist with more than 15 years of experience in the design, management and evaluation of nutrition interventions in sub Saharan Africa. Kate completed an MSc in Public Nutrition at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in 1997 and went on to work for Concern Worldwide as a nutritionist in several countries in Africa, including Ethiopia, Rwanda and Burundi. At the Feinstein Center Kate worked on several projects including the community case management of severe acute malnutrition in Bangladesh; linking livestock interventions to child health and nutrition in pastoralist areas of Africa; and the strengthening of nutrition across multi-sectoral programs (including HIV, health and livelihoods) in Ethiopia. Kate completed her doctorate in 2008 with the Institute of Child Health, University College London and Valid International. For this her work focused on improving approaches for the identification and treatment of children and adults suffering from acute malnutrition. In her position at VI she is now supporting development of an innovative and applied research strategy that addresses important gaps in the area of addressing under-nutrition.

Image of Online Graduate Certificate Faculty MemberJohn Burns joined the Tufts Feinstein Center in early 2006. He is working in partnership with seven organizations in Africa, looking at the development and application of an approach and tools to measure the impact of humanitarian assistance programs. He holds a Bachelors degree from Rhodes and a joint Masters degree from the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy and the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Since early 2006, John has been working on developing, adapting, and applying impact assessment tools and methods in the humanitarian and development sectors. John has designed and carried out a variety of assessments using both quantitative and qualitative methods, to measure the impact of a wide range of livelihoods interventions in diverse contexts. These include emergency food assistance, agricultural and livestock support interventions, agro processing, value chain and microfinance projects. John has presented the findings of his impact assessment research both locally and internationally. He has co-authored a practitioner's guide to participatory impact assessment, and participated on an advisory board reviewing impact measurement in the humanitarian sector. Prior to joining Tufts, John worked as a consultant for the European Commission and was responsible for their food security initiatives in southern Sudan. He has also worked in various capacities for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme in Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East.