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The Master of Arts in Humanitarian Assistance (MAHA) is a one-year joint degree offered by the Friedman School and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. The program is geared toward mid-career professionals who have significant field experience in humanitarian assistance. The program offers an academic setting where professionals can develop their knowledge and skills in the areas of nutrition, food policy, and economic, political and social development as they relate to humanitarian action in complex emergencies and other disasters. Practitioners study, read about, reflect on, and write about humanitarian theories, programs, and policies.

Educational Mission

The mission of the MAHA program is to provide an academic setting for humanitarian practitioners seeking to develop their knowledge and skills in the areas of nutrition, food policy, and economic, political and social analysis. The one-year program provides an opportunity for practitioners to study, read, reflect and write about current issues and trends of in humanitarian theories, programs and policies as they relate to famines, complex emergencies and other disasters..

The Need

Major shifts have occurred in the field of disaster interventions over the past several years. Humanitarian assistance constituted a web of responses that change and evolve over time, in complex socio-economic and political situations. The emergencies in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Haiti, Kosovo, Rwanda, Somalia, and Sudan have posed major challenges to development and relief theory and approaches. There is growing appreciation of humanitarian assistance as an independent field rather than an appendage to development studies, and a growing need for innovative analysis and research on new models for effective humanitarian assistance.

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Master of Arts in Humanitarian Assistance

The Master of Arts in Humanitarian Assistance consists of two semesters of academic work, requiring students to complete eight semester-long courses and one Masters thesis.

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The Master of Arts in Humanitarian Assistance is offered to mid-career professionals from government, international, national and private organizations and agencies, as well as independent professionals. The program is tailored for practitioners who expect to continue working in related fields, including those who will return to their agencies upon completion of this degree program and those who are between jobs or anticipating a change of focus in their humanitarian assistance careers. The recruitment and admissions process seeks to attract a mix of people from different countries, backgrounds, and experience, creating an environment where participants learn from both the classroom experience and from each other.

Prerequisites

Candidates must hold an undergraduate degree, have significant experience in the field of humanitarian assistance and have a demonstrated commitment to furthering their career in the field of humanitarian assistance. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required.

Please note, if you are a native English speaker, passing a reading comprehension and an oral language exam is required in order to graduate. Non-native English speakers who were primarily educated in an English speaking environment may also be required to demonstrate their proficiency in a second language by completing a reading and oral foreign language examination

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Mandatory Courses

Students must take all three of these Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy courses:

  • NUTR 223: Seminar in Humanitarian Issues
  • NUTR 229: Humanitarian Action in Complex Emergencies
  • NUTR 308: Nutrition in Complex Emergencies

Core Electives

Students must take three of the following courses in the Friedman School or the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy:

  • NUTR 0201: Fundamentals of Nutrition Science
  • NUTR 0207: Statistical Methods for Nutrition Policy
  • NUTR 0231: Fundamentals of GIS
  • NUTR 0310: Qualitative Research Methods
  • NUTR0304: Nutrition, Food Security, and Development
  • DHP D232: Gender, Culture and Conflict in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies
  • NUTR 217: Seminar on Program Monitoring and Evaluation (Coates)
  • NUTR 0301: Nutrition in the Life Cycle
  • NUTR 0324: Humanitarian Studies in the Field
  • DHP D206: Ethics of Development and Humanitarian Aid
  • DHP D221: Seminar on International Mediation
  • DHP P222: Development Aid in Practice
  • DHP D225: Conflict Resolution Practice
  • DHP P227: Advanced Seminar in Development and Conflict Resolution
  • DHP D235: Field Research Methods
  • EIB E241: Development Economics: Policy Analysis
  • EIB B242: Market Approaches to Economic and Human Development
  • EIB B241: Microfinance and Financial Inclusion
  • ILO L210: Human Rights Law
  • NUTR0238: Economics of Food Policy Analysis
  • DHP D239: Forced Migration
  • PLEASE NOTE: Some of these courses may not be offered. Substitutions may be used upon permission by Dean of the Friedman School

Capstone Project

For the capstone project requirement, students must apply theoretical and analytical skills acquired during the program to their previous experience. The written capstone project is then orally presented at the end of the year, as part of a group MAHA presentation of work. Each student is assigned an adviser from the Feinstein International Center, who will help tailor the program to the interests and professional needs of the student, advise students on course selection, provide guidance on writing, and ensure that degree requirements are met.

Prior to academic year 2012-13 a thesis was required. This has been replaced by the capstone project which allows for more options such as writing a policy paper, strategic plan, or a traditional thesis. Theses by past MAHA students are available at the Tufts Digital Library website.

In addition to the course and capstone project requirements, students whose native language is English are required to pass a reading and oral foreign language examination in order to graduate. (Non-native English speakers who were primarily educated in an English speaking environment may also be required to demonstrate their proficiency in a second language by completing a reading and oral foreign language examination.) All students are also expected to pass a short online course on research ethics.

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Additional Faculty from the Fletcher School

Name Title Email General Research
Karen Jacobsen Academic Director; Associate Research Professor karen.jacobsen@tufts.edu Refugee and migration issues; humanitarian assistance, livelihoods in complex emergencies, field methods, Africa; developing countries.
View full profile at: http://fletcher.tufts.edu/faculty/jacobsen/default.shtml
Dyan Mazurana Associate Research Professor dyan.mazurana@tufts.edu Civilian populations' experiences of armed conflict; women's human rights; war-affected children; armed conflict; human security; protection; ex-combatants; and peacekeeping.
View full profile at: http://fletcher.tufts.edu/faculty/mazurana/default.shtml



Name Title General Research
Maxwell, Daniel Professor

Famine, food security, livelihoods; Food aid; Humanitarian programs in both assistance and protection; Emergency...

Walker, Peter Irwin H. Rosenberg Professor of Nutrition and Human Security

Humanitarian crises

Young, Helen Professor

Livelihoods and conflict: vulnerability and risk among different livelihood groups. Pastoralism, from...

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Most student come to the MAHA program from the aid, diplomatic and  military communities. After receiving the degree they return, usually to positions of more managerial and program-design responsibility. Recent graduates are running country-level aid programming for major NGOs; filling key advisory posts within donor aid agencies; managing emergency operations for UN agencies;  holding ministerial level responsibility for refugee and asylum seeker portfolios; and advising on military civil affairs in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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Feinstein International Center

The MAHA program is administered by the Feinstein International Center; as a joint program between the Friedman School and the Fletcher School. This center was established on the conviction that emergency responses grounded in solid political, economic, social, and military analysis can better contribute to durable survival strategies for people coping with violent social change. The center is committed to building strong partnerships with academic, international, national, indigenous, private, governmental, and nongovernmental organizations throughout the world. Applied research and field operations are designed to: 1) strengthen knowledge and promote innovative analysis, 2) build institutional and local capacity, and 3) influence policy. The center has taken a leading role in working with the United States Agency for International Development/Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, the United Nations, and nongovernmental agencies to train staff in key areas of humanitarian intervention. They have implemented projects including the emergency livestock vaccination, health and nutrition program in countries such as Sudan, Burundi, Kenya and Uganda. Other projects at the Center include the Displacement and Social Change and Public Nutrition programs.

Web site: http://fic.tufts.edu

The Fletcher School

The Fletcher School is a leading professional graduate school of international affairs distinctive for its collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to theory and practice. Students representing over 70 countries join with an experienced faculty to inform classroom discussions with diverse viewpoints. Immersed in this dynamic environment, broadly knowledgeable and inquisitive leaders develop a thorough and nuanced grounding in the latest political, economic, business, and legal thinking and translate it into practical successful actions that shape international issues and events.

Web site: http://fletcher.tufts.edu