Master's degree

Master's Degree Programme in NGO and Youth Work
, 90 ECTS

yhteisöpedagogi (ylempi AMK), Master of Humanities

  • Programme
  • Curricula
  • Implementations

Xamk - the students' university of applied sciences

Master’s degree programmes at Xamk are provided by Master School. Master School is a multidisciplinary, international and change-oriented learning and RDI environment. You can choose from a number of different learning paths to develop your expertise and skills and promote your career.

Graduates from Master School are experts in understanding and recognising changes in work environments. At Master School, you have the opportunity to study in multidisciplinary learning and development environments that are closely linked to work-related development and innovation. You can flexibly choose courses from the selection offered by Xamk’s Master School.

Your teachers provide guidance and counselling, encouraging critical thinking, argumentation and generation and application of new knowledge.

Employment and career opportunities

Graduates of the master’s degree programme find employment mainly in similar fields to those of the youth educators (bachelor’s degree) programme, although the nature of the duties and responsibilities differs a lot. 85% of graduates are working in a position of specialist or manager (Väisänen & Määttä 2016). Employment situation also good. 97% of graduates are employed after six months of graduation. The employment situation is even better than average (Ojala & Ahola 2009; Rantanen, Isopahkala-Bouret & Järveläinen 2010). A community educator can work in the following fields:

* Municipal youth work (instructing, planning and management positions)

* Non-governmental organisations (coordination and project management positions)

* Child welfare

* Schools (youth work at school, youth guidance and councelling activities)

* Workshops for young people (individual trainers)

* Entrepreneurs (leisure services)

Curriculum objectives

The general and programme-specific learning outcomes and the process of students’ professional growth and learning are specified in the curriculum of the university of applied sciences. The curriculum is based on the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and National Qualifications Framework (NQF). Level 7 corresponds to the knowledge and skills achieved by completing a Master’s degree. The curriculum is based on the needs and development of the world of work and the overall strategic choices of Xamk.

The competence-based curriculum consists of the programme’s learning outcomes, modules and courses. The objectives, contents, teachers, learning and teaching modes, arrangements, work required, timetables and evaluation methods for courses are specified in implementation plans. The implementation plans provide the foundation for students’ personal study plans (‘HOPS’ in Finnish) and individual choices. In addition, they provide the basis for fruitful co-operation between students representing different fields of study.

Degree programme learning outcomes

The general goal of the Master's degree programme in Non-governmental Organizations (NGO) and Youth Work is to give you the expertise and competences necessary for youth education and improving young people's living conditions. You will become able to work in various specialist positions and to develop and lead the field of youth work and NGOs (Non-governmental Organizations) at local, national and international level Studies in programme broaden your skills in youth education, pedagogy, youth policy, management and research and development issues. The degree programme gives you the skills needed to work in more diverse and theoretically challenging positions. These abilities include predicting, studying, initiating and coordinating development projects to enhance the wellbeing and participation of young people.

The competence developed through the degree programme is divided into core competence and supplementary competence.

Core competence (must know) comprises the knowledge, skills and aptitude required of graduates by employers. All graduates should possess this competence. In addition to this, supplementary competence is necessary for deepening or expanding the core competence. Core competence is developed through programme-specific advanced professional studies and the Master’s thesis. In degree programmes of 90 and 60 credits, core competence accounts for 60 and 50 credits, respectively. The thesis (30 credits) is included in core competence. Core and supplementary competences are specified at the module level.

Supplementary competence (should know) deepens and/or expands core competence. Supplementary competence allows students to specialise in a certain area. Supplementary competence is acquired through advanced professional studies that are common for all degree programmes in Master School. In degree programmes of 90 and 60 credits, supplementary competence accounts for 30 and 10 credits, respectively.

The curriculum consists of programme-specific core studies (30 credits), supplementary studies common for all programmes (30 credits) and a Master’s thesis (30 credits), which is a development project.

In accordance with your personal study plan (HOPS), you may choose supplementary competence courses as follows:

1) courses common for all Master School students, including research and development studies, leadership studies, entrepreneurship studies, Russian studies, communication skills training and courses on topical themes

2) core competence courses from other Master’s degree programmes (specifically agreed)

3) courses corresponding to Level 7 provided by other higher education institutions.

Common Master School courses are provided as online courses, courses taught in English, intensive courses and on a blended learning basis. Student groups are multidisciplinary, which promotes the development of your networking skills.

The Master’s thesis (30 credits) is a research or development project. You will study topical questions associated with your field of study and produce development data through research. Thus, the Master’s thesis is always a project that aims to develop the work environment, workplace or field of industry/business.

The degree programme is built on the European (EQF) and National (NQF) Qualifications Frameworks. Master School is Xamk’s multidisciplinary, international and change-oriented learning and RDI environment.

The studies that develop core competence are specifically designed for each degree programme. This work is led by the person in charge for the programme – Principal lecturer Pekka Penttinen. The planning of the degree programme has been made with cooperation made by lecturers in NGO and youth work.

The supplementary courses provided are common for all Master’s degree programmes. Xamk’s Master School team together with the persons in charge of the degree programmes are responsible for designing these studies. See the Student intranet for the composition of the team and the persons in charge.

Common competence map, Master’s degree programmes

Competence map for Master’s programmes

* Learning skills

o can systematically assess and improve their expertise in multiple ways

o can find, process, produce and evaluate information critically and from perspectives of different fields of business/industry

o can take responsibility for the promotion of goal-oriented learning within the organisation

* Ethical competence

o can take responsibility for the operations of the organisation and their consequences

o can apply the principles of professional code of conduct as an expert and developer of the workplace

o can make decisions while taking into account the perspectives of the individual and the organisation

o can promote the principles of equality in the workplace community

o can promote the principles of sustainable development and corporate social responsibility

o can lead socially influential operations adhering to ethical values

* Workplace community skills

o can improve the functioning of the workplace community and promote well-being at work

o can develop multidisciplinary communication and interaction at work

o can utilise information and communication technology at work

o can create networks and partnerships

o can work as a leader and improve operations in complex environments and unforeseen circumstances

o can manage demanding expert, leader or entrepreneur jobs

* Innovation skills

o can generate new knowledge and improve working methods by combining skills from different fields of business/industry

o can lead projects

o can lead research, development and innovation projects and knows research and development methods

o can develop customer-driven, sustainable and profitable business

* Internationalisation skills

o can manage international communication at work and when developing the operations

o can work in international environments

o can anticipate effects of internationalisation and related opportunities in his/her field of business/industry

The curriculum of the degree programme comprises the following competences: operational environment skills, development skills, and leadership and management skills. Each of these competence areas includes knowledge-based, skill-based and social learning outcomes.

* Operational environment skills

o you can recognize and understand the connection of legislation, economics, social, technical basis to youth education, youth work, and NGO, and understand the ongoing changes on your work and profession

o you can utilise multi-occupational knowledge to understand challenges of NGO and youth work

o you can predict the future of NGO, youth education and youth work by recognizing on developmental needs of work life

o you are able to utilize NGO, youth education and youth work networks and partnerships in developing the professional field

* Development skills

o you are able to recognize, describe and evaluate current state of youth education, youth work and NGO and their needs and possibilities of improvement

o you are able to use various research and development methods and use the information gained by them in planning and development in a field of youth work and youth education

o you are able to apply and use theoretical knowledge and the research and development methods in master thesis and improving practices of work life and personal competences

o you are able to work in multi occupational research and development processes

* Management skills

o you are able to recognize comprehensively the concepts of management and leadership in a field of youth education, youth work and NGO, evaluate and make critical use in work life

o you can manage successfully development processes and manage multi occupational work communities

Degree studies

The degree is carried with multi-mode studying, which includes independent or group working methods, lectures, e-learning and virtual working. Studies include 30 credits of the degree-specific studies, 30 credits optional studies and the master thesis (30 credits). Degree-specific study courses have on average one contact period of three days per month. Those courses are scheduled on consecutive days. Optional studies are placed on the different weeks.

Optional studies (Master School studies) can be include according the personal study plan from the wide choice of options offered in South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences or other higher universities. All students are making personal study plan in a beginning of studies. You Courses of optional studies are always carried out in multi-disciplinary groups.

The master thesis (30 ects) starts in the beginning of studies. The aim of the thesis is to develop the working life, promote the changes in the work and generate new innovations. By connecting

the studies and the thesis to research and development work of Xamk it is possible to take part in more comprehensive development and research projects.


Competence-based curricula require competence-based evaluation.

Your degree programme applies Xamk’s common evaluation criteria for Master’s programmes, from which course-specific evaluation criteria have been derived. Students receive grades for courses in accordance with the degree regulation. Course-specific evaluation criteria can be found in the course description.

The most important objective of evaluation is to inform students of the level of their knowledge and skills and help them to improve their skills. Various assessment methods are used for the evaluation of learning, including course- and module-specific evaluation by the teacher, peer evaluation and evaluation by the employer. In addition, students evaluate themselves. Self-evaluation is part of the process of professional growth which is promoted through guidance discussions between the group tutor and the student.

Student counseling

Study counselling is an important tool for achieving the goals of students by supporting students’ self-direction and commitment to their learning process. Counselling enhances collaboration between the partners involved in the learning process. With the help of counselling, students’ inner growth and development towards becoming professionals will be enhanced.

At the beginning of the studies, there will be an orientation day, which starts the drawn of personal study plan. Mentor teachers are responsible for that planning. Personal study plan supports students personal learning process and development in a goal-oriented and professional growth. The personal study plan will be updated second school year and later if necessary. There are also optional staff members at each unit, who are responsible for coordinating optional studies, personal study plans and international studies. Help is also available in social an health matters. Additional information can be obtained from mentor teachers, peer tutors and study secretaries.

The degree programme uses the Moodle learning environment, where you can find study material, study support, guidance and counselling. The Moodle learning environment is in Finnish.

Learning environments

Xamk offers excellent facilities to support your learning. A significant part of studies take place outside the classroom. Innovation and project environments (e.g. Xinno, Xentre, CampusIT and Logistiikkaverstas Logistics Workshop), different kinds of simulation environments and teaching restaurants, eLearning environments and working-life and RDI projects will facilitate your learning. You can also conduct your studies in two authentic local environments: in the forest and at sea.

Quality evaluation and development

Xamk values quality and the improvement of quality is integral part of the work of all staff and students. Xamk continuously improves the quality of teaching, guidance, learning environments and degree programmes.

The feedback collected on a regular basis from students, staff and stakeholders is very important for the quality improvement work. As a student, you have a central role in the continuous development of quality at Xamk. During your studies, you will be asked to answer a number of quality surveys. Course feedback, the entry and development surveys carried out during your

studies and the feedback collected at the graduation stage constitute part of our quality assurance system.

Staff and students process quality feedback together on various collaboration forums, deciding on new methods and discussing the effects of previous development measures. These forums provide an efficient channel for students to express their views on performance and planned measures. The figure below illustrates the path of course feedback.

Student Teacher Director of Education





Our quality assurance system is based on the so-called circle of continuous development, or quality circle: Plan – Do – Check – Act. For more information about quality assessment and improvement, see the Student intranet.