International Development and Humanitarian Assistance

Message from
Jens Rudbeck
Clinical Associate Professor

Dear Prospective Student,

As a school of professional studies our approach to international development and humanitarian aid is shaped by the current trends within the aid industry. Today, these trends are closely linked to the Sustainable Development Agenda. This agenda, which the international community seeks to implement by the year 2030, contains 17 major goals and no less than 169 specific targets. The sheer scope of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) makes the development field one of the most dynamic and interesting areas of global affairs for years to come.

If successful, the SDGs promise a world that will be radically different from the one we live in today. It will be a world where absolute poverty has been eradicated, no one will go to bed hungry, every child – boy or girl - will be enrolled in primary school, the epidemics of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria will be history, everyone will have access to clean water, everyone will have access to reproductive healthcare, hundreds of millions will have access to renewable energy. And the list goes on and on. While such a plan might seem overly ambitious it is also a deeply important plan, because the sad fact is that every day 30,000 people die from poverty related causes. They die from malnutrition, drinking unsafe water, and they lack of access to health care - half of the 30,000 deaths are children under 5.

I believe that NYU’s Center for Global Affairs is better prepared than any other graduate program in the U.S. to provide you with the academic insight and the technical skillset that you need to work in today’s development industry. I say that because we have created a concentration structure that reflects how the international aid community approaches the SDGs. If you read the goals carefully you will see that they revolve around issues related to gender, peace-building, security, energy and environment, international law and human rights, and international relations. These are the very same issues that our concentrations are based upon. Our courses cut across the concentrations and address some of core issues of the new development agenda. We have courses on sustainable development; on peace-building and development; on gender and development; on food security; social impact investment; children and youth in conflict; public-private partnerships; authoritarian rule and corruption; global health; international political economy, etc. We also have global field intensives that allows students to experience how international aid workers operate on the ground. Students have visited refugee camps in Tanzania and Uganda, they have studied sustainable development in Bolivia, and they have traveled to countries such as Ghana, South Africa, and India to learn first-hand how these countries are approaching development and humanitarian issues. "If the prospect of having a career in a field where your work will have a real impact then I hope you will consider joining the International Development and Humanitarian Assistance concentration.


The international development and humanitarian field is currently undergoing significant change in order to deal with the tremendous challenges arising around the globe. On one hand, the international community seeks to meet the goals of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda—an initiative that promises to solve some of humanity's worst scourges such as poverty, hunger, and gender-based violence. On the other hand, more people in the world are refugees or internally displaced than at any other time since WWII. The International Development and Humanitarian Assistance concentration provides you with an in-depth understanding of the dynamics behind these challenges. As a student enrolled in this program of study, you will learn about the underlying causes, the politics that shape international development and humanitarian assistance, and the newly introduced technologies that are reshaping the way humanitarian aid and development assistance are delivered. The curriculum covers a wide range of issues—sustainable development, food security, gender and development, youth and development, and refugees and internally displaced people—among others. Beyond the required Developing Countries in the Global Economy course, you'll have a great deal of flexibility in designing your own curriculum to meet specific career goals.


The concentration in International Development and Humanitarian Assistance will provide you with the theoretical and practical knowledge, the analytical skillset, and the technical expertise for a successful career in the international humanitarian field. You will develop a critical approach to current development policies and on-the-ground solutions, and will learn to master skills such as project management and data analytics. You also will be introduced to some of the most recent technologies—which are redefining the way humanitarian work is done—including among others, crisis mapping, Blockchain, and the Cluster Approach.


Graduates who successfully complete the criteria for the concentration will be well-prepared to participate in any job setting within the aid industry. Traditionally, students who have graduated with this concentration have moved on to pursue successful careers within NGOs, where they are involved in aid and advocacy; and at the United Nations and other multilateral or governmental aid organizations. Some students go on to pursue a doctoral degree. 


Concentration: International Development and Humanitarian Assistance

Among the issues explored in the International Development and Humanitarian Assistance concentration are global poverty, the state and civil society in development, foreign aid, the role of gender in poverty alleviation, and the principles and politics of humanitarian assistance and intervention, including those aimed at refugees and internally displaced persons. This concentration prepares students for careers with NGOs involved in aid and advocacy, the United Nations, and other multilateral or governmental aid organizations. Students in the International Development and Humanitarian Assistance concentration are required to take the first course listed below. Students must then select five concentration elective courses (3 credits each) that are offered on a regular basis.