Following the 1994 Rwandan genocide, leaders in the humanitarian community recognized an acute need for the training and professionalization of humanitarian aid workers to ensure more effective, informed, and consistent response to future crises. In response, the Mellon Foundation funded the establishment of Columbia University’s Program on Forced Migration and Health in 1998 to begin training the next generation of refugee health and humanitarian response workers. The Program on Forced Migration and Health has since grown into one of the world’s leading centers on humanitarian research and teaching, and has helped to build a knowledge base that is improving humanitarian action and health during global disasters and conflicts. Our 300+ graduates have worked in over 70 countries and with dozens of organizations.
Students in the Program on Forced Migration and Health work towards a Master in Public Health (MPH) degree through Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health with a required Certificate in Public Health and Humanitarian Assistance (PHHA). This two-year course of study offers 13 courses designed specifically for humanitarian workers, taught by experts who have spent years in the field responding to emergencies. Students also complete a 2-month skills-based practicum in a humanitarian setting. Our classes provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary for research, implementation, and evaluation of humanitarian programming. Students will learn to improve the delivery of food and nutrition, water and sanitation, reproductive health, child protection and survival, control of communicable diseases, mental health, and human rights monitoring and programming during complex emergencies.