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MSc in Humanitarian Programme Management

Program duration
One academic year (on campus) including final management project (12 months)
Degree level
Entry requirements
Bachelor level degree or professional experience
Full program fees
€ 10,100
Teaching location
12 rue Pierre Sémard 38000 Grenoble

This program is delivered in Bioforce Institut, Vénissieux (69).

The MSc in Humanitarian Programme Management aims at training NGO’s managers within the humanitarian and development sector (NGO, associations, foundations, etc.). The generic job title is Humanitarian Programme Manager. According to the specificities of each organisation, the corresponding job title may be Country Director, Programme Coordinator or Head of mission.

Programme is taken here to mean the activities planned and undertaken through or by an organisation, in a specific geographical area, over a specific time, with specific objectives and an overall coherence, within a general organisational strategy. The programme includes the staff, volunteers, and others working on or directly affected by the programme, programme activities (often organised in a set of related projects), the programme’s material and financial resources, the programme’s reputation, and its place in the local context.

Management is taken here to include the use of tools and techniques required to plan, organise, and monitor programme activities and resources, and the creation and maintenance of relationships, dynamics, personal motivation, and personal development required to ensure the programme succeeds in a challenging and changing environment.

It is currently difficult for many organisations to recruit and retain skilled programme managers in order to ensure continuous and consistent effective management of humanitarian and development programmes. Both humanitarian and development organisations and individuals expressed the need for a training programme that enables potential and current managers to develop their technical, analytical and personal skills.

The partnership between Bioforce and Grenoble Ecole de Management permitted to create a substantial management training programme for the humanitarian and development sector, offering to trainees the academic qualification and specific expertise they seek.

This academic expertise is completed by a strong involvement of professionals from the humanitarian and development sector.

Modules Bioforce / ESC Grenoble Hours ECTS
Opening sessions Bioforce 3,5 0
Immersion internship Bioforce 21 0
Framework of humanitarian aid Bioforce 35 3
Managing People and Organisations Bioforce 105 10
Managing Programmes and Projects Bioforce 105 10
Managing Finance and Funding Bioforce 105 10
Training of trainers for capacity building in the sector Bioforce 35 3
Field exercise Bioforce 35 0
Advanced Decision Techniques ESC Grenoble 45 1
Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship ESC Grenoble 87 3
Corporate Governance ESC Grenoble 87 3
Geopolitics ESC Grenoble 87 3
Global Marketing and Strategy ESC Grenoble 45 1
Leadership and Responsible Management ESC Grenoble 87 3
Applied research project (September-Mid-November) Bioforce/ESC Grenoble 65 10
Assignment (May-December) ESC Grenoble  700 30
TOTAL   1647,5 90

Modules Contents and Objectives

In Bioforce

Opening sessions 

Objectives: To introduce the pedagogical objectives and contents to participants. To ensure that the expectations of trainees are coherent with the learning objectives defined for the programme.

Contents: Bioforce presentation. Introduction of the learning programme and objectives.

Immersion internship

Objectives: To facilitate group cohesiveness and participant involvement within the programme.
To make a detailed presentation of the components of the MSc in HPM.
To encourage a joint reflection about humanitarian and development issues.
Show awareness of its own strengths and limitations as a humanitarian programme manager.

Contents: Presentation, preparation and organization of the immersion internships. Discussion and group work on Humanitarian topics.

Framework of Humanitarian Aid

Objectives/Learning outcomes: To provide participants with thorough knowledge of the humanitarian sector and issues at stake: stakeholders, systems, coordination mechanisms, legal and ethical framework, Q&A initiatives and applications relating to programme management.

Contents: Humanitarian actors, systems and challenges. International humanitarian law, ethics & principles. Quality & Accountability initiatives, methods & practical tools.

Managing People & Organisations

Objectives/Learning outcomes: To enable participants to choose and apply appropriate tools to manage themselves, other people, and organisations involved in humanitarian programmes.

Contents: Strengthening organisational capacity. Change management. Quality & Accountability in people management. Creating & developing trust in diverse teams. HR processes : HR organisation, recruitment, performance management, staff development. How to lead: leadership, management & delegation. Managing team safety and security.

Managing Programmes & Projects

Objectives/Learning outcomes: To enable participants to choose and apply appropriate tools to manage all stages of the project cycle in humanitarian contexts.

Contents: Programme Cycle Management (PCM):

  • Assessment & analysis
  • Planning & implementation
  • Monitoring & evaluation

Cross-cutting issues in PCM (participation, targeting...) Quality & Accountability in programme management.

Managing Finance & Funding

Objectives/Learning outcomes: To provide participants with the critical skills and confidence required to raise funds for humanitarian programmes, and to manage financial resources accountably.

Contents: Donors & donor strategies. Quality & Accountability in finance management. Budgeting & proposal writing. Funding strategies & opportunities. Key principles & concepts of financial management. Practical aspects of financial management.

Training of trainers for capacity building in the sector

Objectives/Learning outcomes: To provide participants with the appropriate methods & tools to develop, facilitate, monitor & evaluate capacity building activities.

Contents: Designing & implementing training activities.

Field exercise

Objectives/Learning outcomes

Develop, through a field scenario-based exercise, operational capacity and autonomy of the trainees.


Within an operational framework, students will have to implement capabilities developed during the training period. The exercise is based on 5 days role play scenario. Students are placed in the position of aid actors in a context of humanitarian/emergency intervention. They have to implement several programs in the field on behalf of different NGOs. They operate in a complex emergency context where multiple players are involved.

In ESC Grenoble

NB : For the ESC Students it is possible to follow “English track programme” described bellow or to follow a second semester in an English spoken abroad university.
For the other students, they must follow the “English track programme”.

Advanced Decision Techniques

Objectives/Learning outcomes: Good knowledge of quantitative tools for decision-making.

Contents: This course presents the main quantitative modelling and simulation tools to help in decision-making.

Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship

This course focuses on the strategic choices: the decisions that shape the future of an organization. This course will address first the strategic choices that the manager must operate in an entrepreneurship environment (opportunity, business model design), then different options for development and growth patterns (growth internal / external growth, mergers and acquisitions, alliances).

Corporate Governance

Objectives/Learning outcomes: At the end of the course, the students:

  • will know how to position and use concepts and techniques in finance, accounting, management control and law learnt during the common core subjects in a more global framework of analysis,
  • will have learnt the legislation covering corporate governance,
  • will be aware of the present developments in practice and the principal discussions concerning corporate governance,
  • will be able to establish a diagnosis on the quality of a company's corporate governance.

Contents: It is essential for every manager to understand who determines the objectives of corporations and of other organizations, how they are governed and how their managers are incentivized and monitored. The course covers the following themes: value creation, the legal rules and the practices of company management(remuneration, ethics, social responsibility, governance "codes"), the legal rights and the behaviour of shareholders, the impact of financial markets on governance (shareholders activism, takeovers, LBOs). In addition the students have the opportunity to apply the main concepts and techniques of finance, accounting and management control to the case of a listed company.


Objectives/Learning outcomes: At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • acquire the basics of a geopolitical culture allowing them to develop a reading list for current geopolitical and economic affairs,
  • understand the geopolitical conditions for undertaking business in certain emerging and/or risk-laden geopolitical situations.

Contents: The object of this course is to allow students to acquire knowledge about geopolitical and economic affairs in certain zones and emerging and risk-related countries in the world. During the course, the following themes will be covered:

  • the globalisation of the economy and its players, notably national States, and international and non-governmental organisations,
  • geopolitical and economic analysis of certain countries and zones: Brazil, Russia, China, the Mediterranean and Africa,
  • the problems of Afghanistan and Pakistan will also be discussed,
  • Europe will be studied through analysis of the different themes mentioned above.

Global Marketing and Strategy

 Objectives/Learning outcomes : Students will be able to:

  • critically analyse and propose well-justified solutions to key Global Marketing Strategy issues.
  • develop a Strategic Marketing plan to go global.

Contents: This module takes a decision-making perspective to Marketing Strategy issues, specifically in the global context.
The course will cover:

  • Globalization decision and process,
  • International market selection,
  • International marketing research,
  • International market entry strategies and expansion,
  • Standardization versus Adaptation of 4 Ps.

Leadership and Responsible Management

Objectives/Learning outcomes: At the end of this course, students will:

  • understand the organizational and managerial specificities of contemporary organizations,
  • know about recent developments in organizational thinking relating to institutional theory, power and politics, routines, and organizational cognition,
  • be able to reflect on the specific challenges to leadership and corporate social responsibility in contemporary organizations.

Contents: This course addresses key issues for understanding and managing contemporary organizations. It seeks to move beyond simple managerialist views by integrating recent developments in organizational thinking with the dual challenges of organizational leadership and corporate social responsibility. Topics covered in this course include institutionalized environments, innovation and entrepreneurship, social movements, networks and social capital, power and politics in contemporary organizations, organizational routines and decision making, sense making and cognition in organizations, and organizational change. Each topic will be introduced through case studies alongside theoretical readings, and each of the course sessions will discuss the consequences of these topics for both leadership processes and corporate social responsibility.
The course will be demanding in terms of class preparation, contribution and after-class work, and hopefully rewarding in terms of generating novel insights into contemporary organizational and managerial challenges.



During the whole training period, the students, divided into sub-groups of 2-3 students, work on a problematic related a strong issue in the humanitarian and development sector. It is an applied research which leads to a written report in English and its presentation before a jury composed by the tutor and the partner if possible and relevant. This applied research is an integral part of the training programme and it is monitored by a tutor.
The month of December will be specifically dedicated to work on this project.
During the second semester, even if students are abroad, they have to organize themselves to work on this project.
The grade given on this work will be included in the final transcript.


To work as a team during the whole training period to sort out a humanitarian and/or development management issue. 

This project will require:

  • To write a report in English (20,000 – 25,000 words) which may remain confidential; it is possible to write a summary for the organisation in a foreign language if required. Students have to submit the final report to the tutor 15 days before the oral presentation. The deadline for the oral presentation is mid-november 2014 (15 November 2014);
  • To write a case study-based summary;
  • To prepare the oral presentation to the jury in English.

Students’ profiles

Students involved in this applied research are from the MSc in Humanitarian Programme Management delivered by ESC Grenoble and Bioforce.

 Expected results

  • A specific humanitarian and/or development management issue is defined.
  • A bibliographical research is consolidated.
  • Concrete proposals and outlooks are drawn up.
  • A critical analysis is provided.
  • Relevant recommendations are made.

The definition of the issue has to be validated by both Bioforce and ESC Grenoble. A specific deadline will be communicated by Bioforce.

Rigor in diagnostic, analysis and facts interpretations, as well as recommendations will be required.
This work aims to support organizations in their development and functioning. In this way, we expect students to be creative (while being realist) and to practice benchmarks. This research work is neither an operational mission nor a counseling one. The report presented is not an internship report.

Exemption of “Grand mémoire” – for the ESC students

Usually, ESC Grenoble students have to write a “Grand mémoire” during their enrollment. As they already write a specific applied research report, they benefit from an exemption of this “Grand mémoire”.


Students from the MSc in HPM have to realize an assignment, after their study period, during 20 weeks at least. The presentation before a jury must be done before the 15th of November 2014.
The aim of this assignment is to reinforce students’ autonomy and to further develop their skills as a humanitarian programme manager in the humanitarian and development sector.

Students are to submit to Bioforce assignment terms of reference in order to be validated. As a second step, the ESC Grenoble will give the final validation.

The ESC Grenoble is in charge of all administrative issues regarding the assignment.

The evaluation process for the assignment is the following:

  • A written report including :
    • a context (region, country, organisation, programme, …)  presentation,
    • a description and analysis of the objectives and results obtained,
    • an analysis of the key challenges faced during the assignment,
    • an analysis of the impact of the training period on their professional capacities as a humanitarian programme manager.
  • An oral presentation before a jury.

The final mark will be a global mark including the written report and the oral presentation.


Assessment process in Bioforce

The assessment process includes the following exams:

  • An individual written exam for the “Managing people and organizations” module. This exam may consist of theoretical questions, exercises or case study linked with the module’s learning outcomes. The student has to obtain a minimum of 10 out of 20 to successfully complete the module.
  • An individual written exam for the “Managing programmes and projects” module. This exam may consist of theoretical questions, exercises or case study linked with the module’s learning outcomes. The student has to obtain a minimum of 10 out of 20 to successfully complete the module.
  • An individual written exam for the “Managing finance and funding” module. This exam may consist of theoretical questions, exercises or case study linked with the module’s learning outcomes. The student has to obtain a minimum of 10 out of 20 to successfully complete the module.

Assessment process in Grenoble Ecole de Management

It is a two-stage process:

  • For each module, a continuous assessment is managed by a Grenoble Ecole de Management’s permanent professor.
  • For some modules, an exam is organized.

To be successfully completed, the student has to obtain a minimum of 10 out of 20. Each module’s responsible define the share of continuous assessment and exam.

Conditions of graduation

The diploma is delivered to the students:

  • Having obtained a minimum of 10 out of 20 to all exams;
  • Having produced and supported the presentation of a report demonstrating analysis and synthesis skills.

To participate to the MSc in Humanitarian Programme Management, the prerequisites are the following:

  • Master 1 level or Bachelor’s degree (four years of higher education after baccalauréat) for applicants justifying at least 1 year of professional experience as a project coordinator, administrator or logistician in international solidarity
  • By special dispensation, a L3 (licence) level or Bachelor’s degree (three years of higher education after baccalauréat) for applicants justifying an outstanding work experience (more than one year).
  • have an English language proficiency level of B2 (according to European language levels - Self Assessment Grid).
  • Have a profesional project in programme management (Programme coordinator, Logistics coordinator…)

Please note that these prerequisites provide a base for any validation of the application form. The final decision lies with the Coordinators of the training programme.”