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If you want to work helping refugees, the most important thing is to develop the knowledge and skills needed. Refugees and displaced people affected by crises and disasters need a wide range of support, so choosing to study a course that gives you the right tools and experience is crucial. Some of the best courses to study for a career in refugee aid include:
- Refugee and Migration Studies
- Humanitarian Aid
- Human Rights
- International Development
- Global Security
- Humanitarian Education
- Humanitarian Engineering
- Peace and Conflict Studies
- Global Health
- Social Work and Child Protection
- Gender Studies
- Public Policy
- International Relations
We’ve broken down why each of these courses are the best if you want a career working with refugees. We’ve also highlighted some of the best places to study each subject…
Refugee and Migration Studies
Your first option of courses to study if you want to work with refugees is a degree in Refugee and Migration Studies. These courses are specially designed for people wanting careers in refugee aid. Courses in Refugee and Migrations Studies explore the root causes of forced migration, the theory of assisting refugees and displaced people and successful projects that help refugees.
If you want to work helping refugees, taking a course in Refugee and Migration Studies should be one of your top options. A degree in Refugee and Migration Studies allows you to investigate historical and ongoing refugee crises, as well as understand the challenges refugees and displaced people face, alongside learning practical methods refugees can be assisted.
There are many courses available in Refugee and Migration Studies. Most of the degrees are at master’s level, with some of top courses being the University of East London masters in Refugee Studies and the Oxford University MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies. Another top course is the Chicago’s DePaul University’s course in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies.
As well as degree level courses, there are also short-online courses and that can be taken in Refugee and Migration Studies. We’ve put together a full list of these, check out our page.
If you want to work helping refugees a great choice of study is humanitarian aid. When people are displaced by disasters or conflicts, they urgently require humanitarian assistance. Studying a course in humanitarian aid is a great start to a career in the aid sector and one of the best ways to begin a career working with refugees.
Studying humanitarian action gives you the tools and resources needed to work abroad assisting people made refugees by crises. Humanitarian NGOs are on the front-line providing urgent aid to refugees and migrants and studying a course in humanitarian action gives you the skills and knowledge needed to be an international aid worker.
Some of the top courses in humanitarian aid that you can take if you want to work with refugees include the Western Sydney University undergraduate in Humanitarian and Development Studies and the Uppsala Universitet in Sweden’s master’s course in Humanitarian Action and Conflict. Another top course to study for humanitarian and refugee aid is the University College Dublin MA Course in Humanitarian Action.
A great thing of study if you want a career working with refugees is human rights. Courses in human rights cover the fundamental legal and ethical frameworks that protect refugees, as well as explore practical tools that can be used to protect the rights of displaced people. Studying human rights also shows you how refugees can struggle to receive their full human rights and how to help fight this.
Doing a course in human rights is a great choice of study to work in refugee aid. Studying human rights means you know how refugees can be supported in protecting their human rights, as well as the human rights violations refugees can face. Studying a course in human rights is one of top ways to get the knowledge needed to work assisting refugees.
Lots of colleges offer human rights courses, including short courses, bachelors and masters. The London School of Economic (LSE) has a MSc in Human Rights, which is one of the best courses. University College London also has a leading MA in Human Rights.
Amnesty International has a list of free online courses on human rights. This is fantastic resource for short courses related to human rights and refugees.
Refugees and Migration Online Courses
If you are looking to study refugee issues, we highly recommend taking an online short course. We think the Sciences Po International Migration: A Global Issue online course is one of the best ways to learn about the key issues facing refugees and displaced people, as well as the communities that host them. Follow the link to the course’s page.
Another online short course on refugees and migration we highly recommend is the University of Glasgow’s Interpreting for Refugees: Contexts, Practices and Ethics. It looks at both the theory and practice of assisting refugees and migrants. The link is to the course’s page with more information.
The University of Glasgow also offers an online short course on Working Supportively With Refugees. Students on the course learn the principles, skills, and perspectives needed to provide assistance to those forced to flee their homes. Click the link to go to the course’s page.
Another good choice of study if you want to work in refugee aid is international development. Courses in international development teach how unequal global development has occurred and the economic, political and social impacts. Many international development courses link global development to refugee issues, exploring how events caused by poor development can lead to human displacement.
International development is a highly relevant area of study for work in refugee aid. Courses in Development Studies teach you the practical skills needed to work on projects helping refugees, as well as the theories behind human displacement and refugee assistance. If you want to work helping refugees, definitely consider studying international development.
International development is a widely taught course and many colleges and university’s offer it at undergraduate and post-graduate level. Some of the best international development courses include the Portland State University International Development undergraduate and the SOAS online MSc in International Development. Manchester University also has a leading master’s course in International Development related to refugee aid.
Coursera has tones of online courses on international development, check them out!
Choosing to study global security can be a great start to a career helping refugees. Security studies explores the historical and current security challenges the world faces, whilst investigating the latest theories and ideas of how insecurity can be improved. Understanding global security is highly linked to refugee aid so a course in Security Studies can be a good choice if you want a career helping refugees.
Studying global security teaches you the social, economic, historical, political, military and legal causes of insecurity. Security Studies allows you to understand how global security affects populations and causes displacement, as well as learning the core theories in how security can be maintained and refugees can safely return.
We’ve got pages detailing the top Security Studies bachelors and Global Security PHDs. If you’re interested in master’s courses in Global Security, check out the University of Glasgow Global Security MSc and the University of Sydney master’s course in International Security.
When children are displaced by war or disasters, their education becomes disrupted. Many NGOs work to provide schooling to refugee children. Studying a course in humanitarian education gives you the skills and knowledge to set-up and run projects around the world providing education to refugee children.
Doing a course in humanitarian education can be a great way to learn how to work helping refugees. Courses in humanitarian education gives you with an understanding of how refugees and displaced children can receive an education, even during times of crises. A highly needed skill in the humanitarian sector, studying humanitarian education can be a great choice for starting a career in refugee aid.
We have a full page on Humanitarian Education master’s degrees. Manchester University also hosts the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI) which has a short course in Humanitarian Education for teachers, educators, and practitioners.
A great choice of study if you want to work helping refugees is humanitarian engineering. Courses in humanitarian engineering show how applied sciences can be used to address the needs of people affected by crises and disasters. Studying humanitarian engineering gives you the technical skills needed to help refugees in a wide range of areas, including shelter, sanitation and infrastructure.
Courses in humanitarian engineering teach the skills needed to utilise engineering skills in the aid sector. Studying humanitarian engineering means you can strive to use engineering knowledge to help refugees. The specialised understanding developed by studying humanitarian engineering can be highly sought by NGOs working in refugee aid.
We’ve put together a full page of the top humanitarian engineering master’s courses.
Peace and Conflict Studies
War is one of the main reasons for human displacement. Studying peace and conflict gives you the theoretical and practical tools needed to work in refugee aid. Peace and Conflict Studies explores the causes and impacts of armed violence, as well as the historical, political and societal contexts that drive conflict. This is highly relevant if you want a career helping refugees.
A course in Peace and Conflict Studies goes into details of how refugees are created by armed violence. Peace and Conflict Studies also shows how the impact of war can be reduced on civilian populations and how refugees can be assisted during times of conflict. Peace and Conflict Studies is a great choice of course if you want to work in refugee aid.
There are lots of Peace and Conflict Studies courses on offer. We have a full page on Peace and Conflict bachelors. A few of the top masters courses include the Coventry University Peace and Conflict Studies MA, the University of Waterloo, Canada, Peace and Conflict Studies masters and the University of Sydney masters in Peace and Conflict Studies.
Refugees and displaced people often need urgent access to healthcare. Refugee populations also require significant public health initiatives. Studying global health gives you the knowledge needed to work effectively helping refugees access healthcare. There are many organisations working and advocating for refugee health and recruit people who have studied global health.
Studying global health can be a great start to a career in refugee aid. Learning the tools and practices used to create effective public health outcomes is highly relevant to assisting refugees. Doing a course in global health teaches you the challenges refugees can face in accessing healthcare as well as effective methods for helping them gain medical assistance.
There are courses in global health at bachelors, masters and PhD level, as well as short courses taught online and in-person. At undergraduate level, check out the Imperial College London bachelors in Global Health. At post-graduate level, a few of the top courses are the Manchester University MSc Global Health and the John Hopkins University master of science in Public Health. There is also the University College London Global Health master’s course among others.
Social Work and Child Protection
When people are displaced, their vulnerabilities increase. There is a high demand for trained social workers and protection experts in refugee aid. Many NGOs working with refugees run projects protecting vulnerable groups, including women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities, and studying social work or child protection can give you the skills needed to help refugees.
If you want to work directly assisting refugees, choosing to study social work or child protection can be a great option. Courses in these areas train you in the theories and methods of protecting vulnerable people and are highly applicable to working in refugee aid. Studying social work or child protection also gives you the option to work with refugees abroad or in your home country.
Many colleges and university’s offer a wide range of social work and child protection courses most of which are relevant to working with refugees. The University of London offers a masters course in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies.
Women are especially vulnerable when displaced. Doing a course in Gender Studies gives you knowledge and understanding of women’s issues and teaches how economic and societal events can negatively affect women. This is very relevant to working with refugees and especially for helping women who are forcible displaced.
Gender Studies is a great choice of course if you want a career in refugee aid. Many humanitarian NGO’s run projects protecting refugee women from violence and exploitation and Gender Studies gives you the practical skills and theoretical knowledge needed to do this work. If you are interested in how forced displacement can negatively affect women and want to help, do a course in Gender Studies.
There are loads of top courses in Gender Studies. The University of Leeds offers a Gender Studies MA and Sussex University has a master’s course in Gender Studies – these are considered some of the top courses. Queens University, Canada, also has a top Gender Studies course as does the University of Melbourne. There are also short and online courses that can be taken in Gender Studies that are relevant to working in refugee aid.
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A great area to study if you want to work in refugee aid is public policy. National and international policies can have massive impacts on refugees, how they receive assistance and their ability to return home. Effective public policy can have a huge positive impact on refugees and working in this area can be a fantastic way to make a large contribution to helping refugees in your career.
A course in public policy is a good choice of study if you want to work with refugees. Public policy courses teach you how to develop strong policy initiatives, the challenges that can occur in creating policy, and the impacts bad policies can have. All these areas are highly relevant to helping refugees and make public policy a great area to study.
Many public policy courses are taught at university level. The London School of Economics (LSE) has one of the top undergraduate degree courses in International Social and Public Policy. At master’s level, some of the best courses are the University College London (UCL) MSc in Public Policy and the masters of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia in Canada.
The final area you should definitely consider studying to work in refugee aid is international relations. Refugee crises are global issues that require international attention to resolve. Studying international relations gives you the knowledge needed to work to have a global impact on refugees and displaced people. Many top international bodies that work helping refugees recruit people with international relations qualifications.
International relations is a good choice of study if you want a career helping refugees. Gaining a strong understanding of how global diplomacy works means you can use these skills to advocate effectively for better refugee rights and protections. You also gain a good understanding of how poor international relations can affect refugee populations and this also makes it a good choice of study for a career in refugee aid.
There are many leading international relations courses. The Kings College London BA in International Relations is one of the top courses, as is the Westminster University undergraduate in International Relations. The Hertie School in Berlin master’s course in International Affairs is highly respected. There is also the London School of Economics (LSE) MSc International Relations.
One of the best ways to improve your CV and learn more about working with refugees is to take an online short course. Explore our recommended online courses on refugees and migration here.