What is Humane Education?

Humane Education is a unified course of study that explores the connections between human rights, environmental preservation, and animal protection and provides learners with the knowledge, tools, and motivation to become conscientious and engaged citizens for a healthy, just, and humane world. Humane Educators foster creative and critical thinking, respect and responsibility, civic engagement, informed decision-making, and problem-solving in classrooms, workplaces, personal lives and the world.

For a broad overview of the concept of Humane Education, please view a YouTube video of the president and co-founder of the Institute for Humane Education, Zoe Weil.

An Online Program Taught by Top Visionaries in Humane Education

The graduate programs in Humane Education are the only programs of their kind in the United States. They represent a collaboration between Valparaiso University and the Institute for Humane Education (IHE), a non-profit leader and pioneer in the field of Humane Education. The coursework for these programs is offered in an online format, enabling students from the United States and abroad to complete the program remotely, with the exception of a one-week Humane Education residency held at the Institute for Humane Education’s headquarters in Surry, Maine (required for two of the programs). This hands-on, experiential training week is a very popular part of the program. For more information on IHE and the summer residency, click here.

All Humane Education courses at Valparaiso University have earned the prestigious Valparaiso Signature Online Program (VSOP)designation, which signifies that all courses are independently certified to meet best practices in online education (VSOP badge forthcoming).

The Humane Education Programs

There are five programs offered. Humane Education may be taken as a 36 credit degree for a:

1. Master of Education (M.Ed.)

2. Master of Arts (M.A.)

Or a student may take just the 15 credit Core Requirements as a:

3. Concentration for the M.Ed. in Instructional Leadership (see Education programs)

4. Concentration for the MALS degree (see Liberal Studies programs)

5. Credit-bearing Graduate Certificate (either stand-alone or added to an existing degree)

While the coursework is similar for both the M.Ed. and the M.A., courses differ in their assignments: for example, assignments for M.Ed. students focus on classroom applications whereas assignments for M.A. students allow projects that best fit the students’ personal/professional interests. In addition, M.A. students have greater flexibility in their curricula by having the option of taking two electives rather than one.

In general, the Humane Education program emphasizes introspection and self-inquiry, the importance of change-making and modeling humane education principles as defined by each student, participation in the online learning community that connects educators to each other worldwide, and student-faculty mentoring. Students submit all assignments electronically through Valparaiso University’s online course system. Throughout their studies, students have complete access to the extensive Valpo bibliographic databases as well as other services typically provided to online students.


The curriculum for the M.Ed. and M.A. degrees in Humane Education are similar, although course assignments are tailored to the needs of the respective groups. Students typically complete the program through a two-year, six semester sequence (fall, spring, summer each year) by taking about two courses each session. However, in consultation with the program adviser, students may accelerate their progression through the program, or they may take fewer than 6 credits each semester and extend their study over a longer period of time. Students are required to enroll in HUED 501 Introduction to Humane Education during their first semester in the program and must complete HUED 601/ED 612 Research Methods before beginning thesis work. In addition, elective coursework should generally be taken after most of the core requirements have been fulfilled.

A set of core courses (15 cr) is required for both the M.Ed. and the M.A. degrees. Beyond these basic courses, M.Ed. students are required to take 15 credits of pre-specified coursework and may choose one 3-credit elective (this elective may be an online course or, for those living near Valparaiso, one offered on campus). M.A. students fill in with 12 credits of pre-specified coursework and may choose two (6 credits) free electives on any topics germane to Humane Education or their professional development.

Core Requirements (15 credits) for M.A. and M.Ed. degrees
HUED 501 Introduction to Humane Education 3 Cr.
HUED 610 Environmental Ethics 3 Cr.
HUED 620 Animal Protection 3 Cr.
HUED 630 Human Rights 3 Cr.
HUED 640 Culture and Change 3 Cr.
Experiential Component (6 credits)
HUED 650 Humane Education Residency 3 Cr.
HUED 685 Practicum in Humane Education 3 Cr.
Thesis Preparation and Project (9 credits)
HUED 601 Research Methods 3 Cr.
HUED 692 Research Project 3 Cr.
HUED 795 Master’s Thesis 3 Cr.
Electives (6 credits)

With the approval of their academic adviser, students may choose from a wide
variety of courses offered through the Graduate School. A number of these
courses are regularly offered online.

View course descriptions for the above courses.

The standard admission requirements for the Graduate School apply, including a minimum 3.0 GPA (with exceptions considered on a case by case basis), two letters of reference or recommendations forms, official transcripts of all college coursework, and a personal statement of 2-3 pages. In addition, all applicants interview with one of the program faculty. International students from non-English language countries must provide evidence of English language proficiency by submitting a TOEFL score of 80 or higher or an IELTS score of 6.0 or higher.

Students applying to the M.Ed. in Instructional Leadership with a concentration in Humane Education need to follow the admissions guidelines for the Instructional Leadership program. This includes submitting a copy of a current, valid teaching license.

Students may begin the program in the summer, fall or spring semester.

Thesis in Humane Education

A thesis may involve academic or applied research, or creative work. Research projects may be primarily analytical, critical, and synthetic in nature, or they may be primarily empirical. The thesis itself should represent a significant contribution to the field and be of publishable or exhibition/exposition quality. Upon completion, the thesis is reviewed by the faculty of the thesis committee and defended by the student. Thesis work is encouraged during summer sessions when both faculty and students typically have more time available for intense intellectual interaction.

Students may take the certificate in Humane Education as a stand-alone program, or may add the certificate to an existing degree. The certificate requires completion of the 15-credit core requirements.

Financial Considerations

Students may be surprised to discover the affordable tuition rate at Valparaiso University. Please visit the Student Financial Services website for current tuition rates. Financial aid may be available for students taking 6 credits or more during fall and spring semesters.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email