College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences > Academics > Refugee & Forced Migration Studies > About


​​​​​What is Refugee and Forced Migration Studies?

The MS in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies at DePaul University is the first program of its kind in the US and continues to be an academic leader in the field. It offers students the chance to study the causes and consequences of forced migration and gives them hands-on experience, working with area organizations like Refugee One and the Heartland Alliance. Forced migrants – including refugees, internally displaced people and climate refugees – are increasing at a rapid pace: the UNHCR estimates that there are 84 million people displaced all over the world. Syria, Colombia, Pakistan, Turkey, Uganda, Somalia, Afghanistan – these are all familiar news stories. But how do you move beyond the statistics to actually making a difference? Our degree studies forced migration and refugee studies within concrete historical, global, and human contexts and seeks durable responses to the protracted and harrowing crises of forced migration.

Why Refugee and Forced Migration Studies?

War, famine, development: all these cause flight, health issues, and homelessness. Starting in 1945, world governments decided to do something about this trend. The 1951 Convention on Refugees​ was the first document to hold governments responsible for the protection of refugees. In spite of the UN’s best efforts, the crises of forced displacement have consumed tens of millions of lives, challenged and/or ruptured socio-economic and political institutions, provoked widespread xenophobia, and, in some instances, destabilized national, regional, and international communities and institutions. In RFMS, we study the legal, political, and humanitarian resources that can be used to address the crises.

What Do We Do?

The MS in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies​ trains committed individuals in academic and practical skills relevant to a career related to refugee and forced migration. Students gain ​valuable research and analysis skills that enable them to pursue research at a professional level and be a leader in the field, and complete their degree with hands-on experience working directly with refugees and refugee-serving organizations​​. The degree will enable you to work at diverse sites: on-field refugee organizations, government, and non-governmental institutions, pursue further research, or engage with community development, social justice, immigration issues, trauma and health providers, among many others.

We aim to help students:

  • Develop an understanding of the causes and consequences of refugees and forced migration
  • Apply conceptual methodologies and legal frameworks towards an analysis of refugee protection regimes and human rights law
  • Understand health issues related to refugees, internally displaced persons, and forced migrants
  • Acquire skills to work at non-governmental agencies and non-profit institutions in the field
  • Pursue original research
  • Gain practical ​​experience in the field of forced migration​

Why DePa​​ul?​​​

​DePaul University's position in the heart of Chicago provides students with proximity to ​large immigrant populations and the many organizations that serve them. The city is a center of refugee support​​​, including groups ​like Refugee One​, ​REACH​,​ National Immigrant Justice Center​,​ Catholic Charities, and more.​ RFMS has built numerous connections with these organizations through DePaul's Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic, the DePaul Sanctuary student group, the program's work with Roger​ C. Sullivan High School​​ in helping immigrant students ​apply for college.

 Our faculty ​also bring an interesting array of intellectual and practical backgrounds to the program that reflect and reinforce the integrative nature of the degree.​ Their thorough understandings of immigration histories, policy, and law, and their work with a variety of national and Chicago-based organizations make our faculty a key benefit of the program.​​