Core Professional Humanitarian Training Program

from Humanitarian U
Ongoing course More Information


Humanitarian U is a Canadian company founded in 2011 in response to the need to increase the preparedness and effectiveness of humanitarian aid workers in disaster situations. Humanitarian U does this by providing competency-­based, accessible, affordable, high-­quality, performance-­measured online training courses made by humanitarians for humanitarians. Humanitarian U works collaboratively to leverage the expertise and ideas of specialized technical and educational partners in addition to those in the humanitarian sector to provide maximum accessibility and usability for humanitarian aid workers around the globe and to promote best practices and recognized standards for performance in humanitarian action. Humanitarian U leverages state-­of­‐the­‐art technology to enable humanitarians to access training and support anytime, anywhere -­ even in the most challenging situations. Through its courses, Humanitarian U is developing an online community of humanitarian workers to encourage the sustainability of the initiative and share field learning and experience. Humanitarian U is an industry leader for the innovative design of standardised performance-­based professional accessible online training products, meeting a need in the global sector of humanitarian response.


The Core Professional Humanitarian Training program offers a complete competency-based curriculum that prepares both aspiring humanitarians and those who are already working in the sector for the challenges they will face in the field.

Designed and taught by experts from around the world, Humanitarian U’s Core Program combines academic rigor, evidence-based practice, standardized learning objectives and content that is globally recognized as “core” to all humanitarians. This professional training program streamlines the essential competencies that every humanitarian must achieve.

The complete professional certificate program is made up of 4 courses, with each course comprising several modules. All four courses must be successfully completed with a final score of 80% or higher in order to obtain a certificate of competency. However each course is stand-alone, meaning that each course can be registered for separately.

Course 1 Humanitarian Context, Systems and Standards

Course 1 sets the scene for humanitarian action, providing a portrait of the contemporary humanitarian environment while highlighting the complexity and diversity of humanitarian contexts and response. Course 1 explores the Humanitarian Context, Humanitarian System, Humanitarian Actors and Humanitarian Principles and Standards. As we delve deeper into these 4 areas, you will get a fascinating insight into the workings as well as the challenges associated with humanitarian action.

Course 2 Building Blocks for Humanitarian Practice

Course 2 introduces the values, ethics and principles that underpin humanitarian action. It provides an overview of the bodies of law that inform humanitarian response including international humanitarian law, human rights law, refugee law, and international disaster response law. In Course 2 you will also learn about the Project Cycle – the life of a humanitarian project. We will answer questions such as: how do we decide where to run a humanitarian project? What tools and methods of data-gathering can we use to assess these projects? And finally, how do we ensure our projects are successful? From this Course, you will come to understand how projects are financed, how they are run, and what it means to be a successful leader in a humanitarian context. Throughout this course, you will learn to a much greater extent what the legal basis is of humanitarianism, as well as how we can lead effective and successful humanitarian projects that service beneficiaries when disaster strikes.

Course 3 Cross cutting Themes and Future Directions

Course 3 addresses important trends and crosscutting issues that must be considered in all humanitarian operations. A cross-cutting issue is an issue that is of relevance to all areas of concern meaning that these need to be kept at the forefront of how humanitarians think in the field. The cross-cutting issues that we will examine in Course 3 include gender, disability, environment, protection, HIV/AIDS and DRR (disaster risk reduction). Trends in humanitarian technology including the innovations that change and impact the way humanitarians do their work through crowd-sourcing, and GPS-mapping to name a few will also be covered in this cutting edge course. Humanitarians must work in incredibly insecure environments and as such security must play an important part in training and preparation for deployment. Course 3 covers security in the field – both pre-departure and on-site and includes risk assessments, what to do in specific situations and how to come home safe. Finally Course 3 offers a portrait of the emerging trends in humanitarianism touching on demographic shifts, climate change, the global burden of disease and the changing nature of conflict.

Course 4 Simulation Exercise

Students will have the opportunity to apply the knowledge and core competencies they have acquired in an online simulated humanitarian emergency. They will become familiar with the technical sectors as they respond to the simulated natural disaster. Students will apply their skills in a rapid needs assessment, summarize their findings and will produce deliverables for funding agencies.

This course is about how to practice what you have learned in the other courses of this program and, if you have been in the field already then it will give you the chance to apply the knowledge and skills you have gained in humanitarian action. Course 4 starts with in the early hours of a complex emergency and guides you through an initial assessment of the affected population. You will encounter the UN Cluster system and issues pertaining to logistics and leadership. Each technical sector: nutrition, food, livelihoods, shelter, health, water and sanitation and the cross-cutting issues will be addressed in the context of the emergency. Course 4 will help you to understand the fundamentals of response, familiarize you with some of the common tools of assessment, as well as understand how critical your information is towards directing the necessary resources including funding so as to help those most affected by crises.

Target audience:

  • Students
  • Humanitarian practitioners
  • Professionals from all disciplines

Course fee: $750 for the complete 4 course program OR $200 per individual course

How to register:

If you are interested in completing one of the courses or would like to complete the entire program please visit our website to register and pay online. Once payment has been processed you will be issued your login details and can begin the course.

For more information please contact

Lisa Oddy at