Humanitarian Studies Program Revisions

The School of Humanitarian Studies recently completed an extensive consultation process that has led to revisions and harmonization within three graduate degree programs; the MA in Disaster and Emergency Management, the MA in Conflict Analysis and Management, and the MA in Human Security and Peacebuilding. These changes come into effect with the programs that will begin in August, 2014. As well, we offer a one-year Graduate Diploma (GD) in each of these program areas. GD students take the first 18 credits in the program of study and do not attend the second residency.

While the core concepts within each program remain the same, the revised programs will provide an opportunity for students to enhance their learning experience through an expanded set of elective options from across the three program disciplines.

Aligning Credits and Course Timing

Changes were made to better align the programs, including: (a) all graduate degrees will be 36 credits; (b) all online courses will be 9 weeks in length, with a 2-week break between courses; and (c) all residencies will be 2 weeks in length, and will include 7 weeks of pre- and post-residency work. In addition, the program start dates for all graduate programs have been aligned, which allows for an increase in the number of elective offerings to students.

Foundational Work

To prepare students from diverse educational and professional backgrounds for their graduate program of study, the new program structure includes an online Foundations Course at the start of the program, prior to the first residency.

Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes for all graduate programs will focus on five common domains:

  1. Critical thinking
  2. Communication
  3. Research
  4. Knowledge
  5. Professional skills and practice

New Pathways to Success

We recognize that there are different pathways into the professions associated with the graduate programs we offer. Hence, students may choose from different pathways within their programs of study.

During the first year of the program, all students in each of the three graduate programs complete a sequence of required program-specific courses. They complete 18 program-specific credits during their first year, consisting of six credits delivered in residency and 12 credits delivered online.  Students must successfully complete all first-year courses before proceeding to the second residency.

In the second year of the program, students either pursue a thesis option (which requires pre-approval during the first year) or a course-based option offering electives open to all graduate students in the School of Humanitarian Studies. It is expected that there may be students from all three programs in each of the courses. This reinforces the interdisciplinary nature and interconnectedness of these professional fields of study.

Students on the course-based track select elective courses that are open to all graduate students across the three MA programs. Students select from online courses or a combination of online courses and a Professional Field Placement. The Professional Field Placement is delivered both on location and online. Finally, all students on the course-based track complete a Short Paper course.


Admission criteria has also been standardized across all three programs.

Standard Admission

A four-year undergraduate degree in a relevant field of study, with a cumulative GPA of 3.33 (B+) or higher, is required for standard admission to the program. Students who meet the degree requirement, but not the GPA requirement, will normally be required to take the RRU Academic Writing and Critical Thinking course and obtain a grade of B+ or prior to being given final acceptance into their program.

Flexible Admission

While an undergraduate degree in a relevant field of study is recommended, applicants may be assessed for admission on the basis of their skills, knowledge and background developed outside traditional learning structures. This flexible-admissions approach opens doors to higher learning for qualified candidates who otherwise might not meet traditional admission requirements, and thereby serves the needs of a diverse group of students. Flexible admission applicants will normally have 10 years of work experience, with a minimum of two years of relevant professional experience in a leadership or management position, or an equivalent combination of education and experience. All flexible admission students will normally be required to have taken the RRU Academic Writing and Critical Thinking course and to have obtained a grade of B+ or higher prior to being given final acceptance into their program.

Program Information

Learn more about each graduate degree program within the School of Humanitarian Studies.