10 Best Online Humanitarian Degree Programs

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Humanitarian careers are for those passionate about service work. These careers give you a rich global perspective. They also expose you to leadership roles where you provide humanitarian aid on a worldwide scale.

But what humanitarian studies help launch a career as a humanitarian?

Some humanitarian degrees benefit you more than others. They equip you with knowledge you can use in international humanitarian efforts. They cover topics in law and conflict response. They also explore innovative solutions to the unique challenges humanitarian action faces.

But once you have the right degree, you can go to work and make a difference in society and the world. Read on to find out which humanitarian degree programs can help you land a job as a humanitarian.

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What Is a Philanthropy and Humanitarian Degree?

Humanitarian and philanthropy degrees focus on human rights injustices. They cover how disastrous events can impact a population of people. In a humanitarian program, you learn about:

  • Conflicts
  • Diseases
  • Poverty
  • Social science

You also study crime, gender, and third world politics. There are many topics covered in a humanitarian or philanthropy degree program. But there are many degrees to choose from.

If you don’t know which degree to get, it’s important to explore your options. You can find your career path by volunteering and networking. You can open doors to opportunities and uncover your interests by volunteering at a homeless shelter or fundraising for a nonprofit.

But first, take a look at these popular degrees for humanitarian work.

10 Best Online Humanitarian Degree Programs

The best humanitarian programs prepare students for the jobs they want to do. Their focus is on humanitarian studies and getting students ready for work as an international humanitarian. Whether you want to work in the Peace Corps or in international humanitarian law, the right degree can help you fulfill your dreams.

If you want to know what to major in to become a humanitarian, take a look at these ten possible degree options.

10. Online Bachelor’s in Political Science

We need humanitarians in every field, especially law and politics. An online bachelor’s degree in political science helps students who want a career in humanitarian aid.

This program teaches you the skills you need to work in a democratic system. It also teaches you about globalized political institutions. You take courses that cover many different subjects, such as:

  • Comparative politics
  • Environmental politics
  • Humanitarian studies
  • International humanitarian affairs

The program prepares you to face humanitarian crises. You learn about humanitarian emergencies and how conflict resolution works. You also learn what kind of humanitarian action to take and when to take it. This bachelor’s degree is one of the best for aspiring humanitarians and aid workers. It is also a good choice for international students who want to take international humanitarian action.

Schools Offering This Degree

9. Online Bachelor’s in Sociology

An online bachelor’s degree in sociology can help launch your career as a humanitarian. Sociology covers a broad range of topics. Sample classes you can take as a sociology major include:

  • Cultural and social diversity
  • Global social processes
  • Government

These classes improve your critical thinking skills through humanitarian and development studies. You explore many social issues and figure out how to digest them in papers and presentations.

A bachelor’s degree in this field prepares you for work in international humanitarian aid, as well as domestic humanitarian aid. Because your topics span disciplines, sociology is a great choice for humanitarian careers.

International students interested in humanitarian international law and humanitarian relief efforts find this major helpful. It is a top choice for aspiring humanitarians.

Schools Offering This Degree

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8. Online Bachelor’s in Economics

Looking for something different than a degree in philanthropy and humanitarian studies, but still want to work as a humanitarian? An economics degree can help.

In this program, you won’t study humanitarian aid, but you will gain practical skills that can benefit your humanitarian career.

Economics programs cover topics such as:

  • International economics
  • Labor economics
  • Social and behavioral sciences

It is a popular major for international students seeking humanitarian work. Your focus is economics, but your classes teach you about conflict response. Economics is a foundational degree that can benefit a humanitarian assistance career.

With this degree, you can work in nonprofits or humanitarian aid organizations as:

  • Administrators
  • Conflict resolution managers
  • Economic experts
  • International students affairs agents

Schools Offering This Degree

7. Online Master’s in International Relations

Do you want to influence the lives of people around the world? If so, this online master’s degree in international relations can help.

Depending on your specialization area, you can pick up a humanitarian focus. This means many of your classes will cover international humanitarian action and humanitarian work.

Some of the specializations this online master’s degree in international relations offers include:

  • Global health
  • Humanitarian intervention
  • International aid and security
  • Nonprofit management
  • Sustainable international development

Studies help improve your critical thinking skills through writing papers and giving presentations. You also complete a thesis or capstone project with a focus on local, regional, or global policy issues.

An international relations graduate degree is a good choice for a humanitarian career in:

  • Diplomatic relations
  • Foreign policy
  • International affairs
  • Universities (Western Sydney University and University College Dublin)

Schools Offering This Degree

6. Online Bachelor’s in Gender Studies

If you want to take humanitarian action for gender equality, consider a degree in gender studies. Once taught exclusively as women’s studies, this program teaches you how to advocate for suppressed voices in your humanitarian work.

What makes this degree good for humanitarian work is that it’s interdisciplinary nature. It covers topics in:

  • Economics
  • Government
  • History
  • Law
  • Literature
  • Politics
  • Science

Once class might cover global feminist theory while another focuses on race and gender equality. In these courses, you learn how to advocate for human rights and provide humanitarian relief to diverse populations.

Gender studies is a popular degree for international students and graduate students interested in working for government agencies. If you’re interested in human rights, this is a good degree choice.

Schools Offering This Degree

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5. Online Bachelor’s in Spanish

Another top degree for humanitarians is the bachelor’s in Spanish. Do you enjoy learning a foreign language? Want to put your knowledge into a humanitarian aid career?

A Spanish program prepares you with Spanish-speaking communication skills. You learn about Spanish culture, history, and politics. Your required courses cover topics such as:

  • Global civic culture
  • Latin American studies
  • Spanish conversation

You can study abroad and gain hands-on experience working with people in different cultures. Your volunteer work can also give you experience in a Spanish-speaking environment. And if you want to earn a graduate degree, you can. Many undergraduate programs prepare you for graduate school.

But if you want to graduate college and go to work, you have the option. Nonprofit agencies and government organizations hire Spanish majors right out of school. Places you can find jobs include:

  • International affairs agencies
  • International NGOs
  • United Nations Institute
  • Universities (Western Sydney University and University College Dublin)

This degree is also a good choice for an international student who wants to use their Spanish language skills on the job.

Schools Offering This Degree

4. Online Bachelor’s in Social Work

The BSW degree is a good choice for humanitarians. It offers specialized training for professional practice and humanitarian aid.

In this program, you take online courses that cover topics like:

  • Ethical considerations in social work
  • Human behavior and the social environment
  • Humanitarian aid and services
  • Social welfare policy

You also take part in field practicums and research projects. Your experience gives you an edge when going after your dream humanitarian career.

But the online program not only prepares you for work in the field; it also helps you get accepted to an MSW program.

Schools Offering This Degree

3. Online Master’s in Human Services

An online graduate degree in human services prepares you for a career in human rights. The program focuses on humanitarian and development studies that teach you how to face humanitarian crises. You graduate prepared for a humanitarian career.

The program digs into deep humanitarian topics. Your classes cover subjects such as:

  • Humanitarian emergencies
  • Nonprofit administration
  • Social and cultural diversity
  • Taking humanitarian action

Schools Offering This Degree

2. Online Master’s in Public Health

Bringing positive change to the public is what drives graduate students toward public health. The MPH degree is one of the best degrees for those wanting a career in humanitarian aid.

In this program, you can turn your passion for helping communities into action. The program teaches you the latest tools you need to impact the public health of society.

Your online courses cover many different humanitarian career topics. These include:

  • Health policy and ethics
  • Health services administration
  • International humanitarian affairs efforts
  • Social contexts of health care

It is one of the most popular humanitarian degrees for international students. You can take what you learn in your online courses and help your local community. The online graduate degree does not have a residency, but you can complete it online.

You can also take part in many service oriented concentrations. You can study a niche area of public health that you have an interest in. You can also specialize your studies to show off the practical skills and training you have. Popular concentrations include:

  • Conflict response
  • Human services in public health
  • International humanitarian action
  • International humanitarian affairs

Schools Offering This Degree

1. Online Master’s in Human Rights

For international students who want to make a difference in today’s society, a human rights degree makes sense. It is a top degree choice for humanitarians. It helps you find jobs as advocates in human rights and global leaders.

In a graduate human rights program, your courses cover many different topics. Online classes include:

  • Economic development
  • Foreign policy
  • Humanitarian aid efforts
  • Humanitarian studies
  • Issues in human dignity

In this program, you learn thematic perspectives and theory that relate to the field. You also gain practical experience through internships. Some of these internships can take you around the globe. And when you graduate, you can show potential employers the experience you have.

Schools Offering This Degree

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4 Soft Skills You Need For Humanitarian Careers

You know which international aid worker majors you need to land as a humanitarian, but do you know what other skills help? There are soft skills that can benefit your career.

  • Ability to Analyze
  • Ability to Communicate
  • Initiative
  • Innovative Curiosity

What do each of these soft skills bring to your career?

Ability to Analyze

This evidence-based field requires access to facts and reliable data. You must be able to analyze information and apply it to your work. Since good information evolves, you should also have the drive to continue learning.

Ability to Communicate

The world needs good communicators. But proper language and grammar skills aren’t the only ways to communicate. If you want to advocate for people and communities, you should have sharp communication skills. You want to inspire others to see your vision. A shared vision will strengthen your human rights efforts.


It takes initiative to work as a humanitarian. The job itself has many demands. You should be able to work tireless hours solving complex problems. Because no matter what job you have as a humanitarian, you will face challenges. Your initiative can lead to your success.

Innovative Curiosity

What is innovative curiosity? A powerful imagination that hungers for knowledge. If you have a curious mind and like to find creative solutions to problems, you can make this skill work for you as a humanitarian.

Common Career Choices for Humanitarian Graduates

Now that you know which online degrees can help you become a humanitarian, it’s important to know what jobs are out there. Humanitarian aid jobs vary. Your political science degree can take you into the security field. Your humanitarian studies and online courses can also lead you into work in government agencies.

Read on to find out what jobs are available for humanitarian graduates.

Foreign aid worker

Want to travel to different countries? Advocate for underprivileged people? Foreign and financial aid work is one of the jobs available to humanitarian graduates.

In this job, you take humanitarian action with you to other places. Your work can take you around the globe. After countries face natural disasters or humanitarian crises, they need financial aid and assistance. Your efforts can include:

  • Fundraising
  • Planning
  • Project management
  • Other humanitarian action efforts

Humanitarian aid program director

Organizations and nonprofits hire program directors to take humanitarian action in local and global communities. They address issues long-term after natural disasters and humanitarian crises.

In this role, you can work in:

  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Sanitation

Security officer

Once you have a philanthropy and humanitarian degree, you can qualify for work in security. Military organizations hire military analysts and officers to protect civilians. With a humanitarian degree you can investigate security issues. You can also work as a liaison for other security divisions.

Your work as a security officer can take you to different countries and states where you provide humanitarian aid in the form of security. The field is diverse and offers many career choices.

Related Resources:

This concludes our article on the 10 best humanitarian degrees to get for work as a humanitarian.

Brenda Rufener

Julie McCaulley

Carrie Sealey-Morris