The Heller School for Social Policy and Management


A COEX student in the field poses with members of Innovation for Poverty Action.

The COEX program offers a unique blend of theory and practice. This mix is achieved of course through hands-on courses but also mostly through fieldwork that students are engaged in all around the world after their year of residence.

Under supervision of faculty and partners, students carry out fieldwork that is designed to test their application of theory to practice, to expand their policy and practical experience, and to increase their security and comfort levels in dangerous places. In addition, participants improve the breadth and depth of professional skills and significantly increase their networks of collaboration.

The fieldwork takes place over a minimum of three months under the direction and supervision of the program director and Heller faculty members. Students are either in a working placement in peacebuilding organizations or carrying out independent field research. 

Students are encouraged to carry out domestic or international fieldwork. The Slifka Foundation helps support student travel to their fieldwork location (except those students who are already fully funded).

Fieldwork Options

Students have three options for their fieldwork:

1) An Internship of at least three months in an organization, which can be international, governmental or non-governmental. Such working placement includes terms of references which are defined by the supporting organization and which aim at the development and implementation of a peace building policy or a program. The student then writes an Internship Report.

2) A Field Project of at least three months where the student focuses on his or her own specific peace building research question within an organization.  The student then produces a Master’s Paper.

3) Independent Field Research for at least three months in a conflict area. Such fieldwork is designed to assist the generation and development of new coexistence and conflict management intervention and is undertaken in partnership with policy makers or practitioners who are already working in the area. Approval for this option must be granted by the Director and students then write a Master’s Thesis.

The internship report, master’s paper or master’s thesis, depending on which option students choose, will discuss the development, activities, outcomes and recommendations from the field work. Students are required to submit their final papers to the director by a due date. Satisfactory completion of this report is essential for completion of the MA degree.