Humanitarian Distance Learning CAS (Certificate of Advanced Studies): Designing Strategies and Projects for Humanitarian Action

Humanitarian Distance Learning (CERAH-HDL) is a distance-learning programme offering accredited interdisciplinary courses for professionals in the humanitarian sector, positioning Geneva as the international capital of humanitarian education and training.


URD Urgence Rehabilitation Developpement Logo SMALLMSF SmallCERAH Logo VERY SMALLThis certificate course is is jointly organised with CERAH (Geneva Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action), Médecins Sans Frontières and URD (Urgence Réhabiliation Développement). Participants can obtain 15 ETCS credits.

Course overview

This programme is aimed at humanitarian personnel both at head offices and in the field and at both expatriate and national staff. In particular, it is designed to build competencies amongst national staff in countries in crisis. The programme will provide an opportunity for managers, project managers and/or teams in NGOs or international organisations involved in humanitarian work to develop an individual, accredited training portfolio, geared to obtaining ECTS credits as defined in the Bologna agreements.

Designed for humanitarian middle and senior managers with at least 2-3 years of experience, this new Certificate of Advanced Studies enables students to reflect on their current individual professional situation and practice and improve it.

Key features

  • 7-8 months course:
    • 3 months and a half – Distance: You learn through e-learning courses and distance collaborative interactions
    • 10 days in Kampala, Uganda: You practice and share issues through face to face sessions
    • 3 months – Distance: You design and implement your plan of action, at your workplace, with the support of a coach
  • Personalised training path based on individual needs and working reality
  • Based on current & future humanitarian challenges
  • Partnership with top humanitarian organisations
  • Expert speakers
  • University degree with ECTS credits
  • Fees: CHF 6,000 (Swiss francs) including accommodation and food during the residential session in Kampala, Uganda
  • Credits: 15 ECTS (European Credit Transfer Systems)
  • Possibility for partial scholarships : deadline 18th July 2015
  • Deadline for registration: 01 December 2015

Learning objectives – How you and your organisation will benefit


At the end of the CAS, participants will have developed the relevant competencies to design and adapt humanitarian strategies and projects in line with the specificities of each context. They will be able to provide coherent, flexible and creative humanitarian responses taking into account ethical issues, context prerogatives.

Learning outcomes in terms of knowledge

  • Understanding of the link between an institutional strategy, an operational strategy and its concrete implementation
  • Understanding of the global humanitarian context as well as the sociology of humanitarian actors and fundamental elements of a specific crisis context
  • Understanding of the type of humanitarian interventions, humanitarian dilemmas and humanitarian options

Learning outcomes in terms of practical skills

  • Capacity to analyse a context
  • Capacity to frame an adequate strategy of intervention regarding both a specific crisis and the global strategy of the organisation
  • Capacity to use specialised problem- solving skills
  • Capacity to develop creative and flexible procedures to implement a strategy of intervention
  • Capacity to monitor and evaluate strategies and projects
  • Capacity to communicate and negotiate with stakeholders as well as facilitate participative processes

Learning outcomes in terms of analytical competencies

  • Ability to choose and adapt best options in challenging and moving complex contexts
  • Ability to analyse and critically review strategies of intervention
  • Ability to design a plan of action and implement it in your working situation


The course takes into account the three major contexts for humanitarian action: armed conflict, “natural” disasters, social exclusion. In addition, the relationship between humanitarian and development actions will be given due consideration.

Work Dimensions

Approximately 450 hours of individual work are required in the context of the course, including:

  • E-learning (lectures, personal reading, case study exercises, writing, serious game/ individual and collective work),
  • Face to face sessions (lectures, personal reading, group work, case study/ individual and collective work),
  • Personal work (reflective analysis, writing and implementation of an individual plan of action/ individual and bilateral work).

At the end of this course, participants will master the competencies to design and adapt humanitarian strategies and projects in line with specificities of each context.

Next course

  • 8 February 2016 – 2 October 2016, Geneva Switzerland (8 months course, including 3 months distance learning)
  • Including 10 residential days in Kampala, Uganda (17-27 April 2016)


Registration and course fees*

Registration and payment deadline: 01 December 2015.

Course fee :

  • CHF 6,000 including accommodation and food in Kampala, Uganda

Above fees are in Swiss francs (CHF) and include tuition, training materials, handouts and a Certificate in Advanced Studies. Please note that accommodation, lunch and coffee breaks are not included in this course (apart from the 2 residential weeks in Uganda).

Practical Information and Registration on CERAH website