Human Rights Masters Programs Study Blog

5 Top Masters in Human Rights Law in the USA

LL.M. Concentration in Human Rights, The Human Rights Programme at Harvard Law School

The Human Rights Programme at Harvard Law offers an academic programme centred around international human rights learning, scholarship and research. The ‘Concentration in Human Rights’ is offered by the Human Rights Programme as one of four concentrations for LL.M. students at the university. The LL.M. is a one-year degree and students are expected to take classes in ‘International Human Rights’ and ‘Human Rights in the UN Treaty Bodies’ amongst other electives as well as to submit a long paper on a subject related to human rights.

The programme also offers reading groups for students which focus on specific human rights topics and are led by experts in the concerned field. The Harvard Human Rights Programme aims to create a community of scholars and practitioners engaged in critical reflection and discussion around international human rights issues. This environment provides excellent exposure and opportunity for LL.M. students to network with a broad array of human rights thinkers.

LL.M. In Human Rights and Social Justice, University of Connecticut (UCONN)

As a relatively new programme, this LL.M offered by the UConn School of Law allows students the opportunity to pursue study that integrates the international and domestic dimensions of human rights and social justice lawyering. The programme will provide students with an in-depth study of the international human rights legal frameworks as well as the U.S civil rights movements. In this way, students will engage with how both domestic and international human rights blend within the business, non-profit and public policy sectors. The programme aims to equip students with a rigorous understanding of the norms and methods of the human rights and civil rights movements. The university prides itself on small and intimate class settings and allowing flexibility for students to design their course of study according to a full or part-time programme.

Human Rights Law as an Area of Interest at Yale Law School

The LL.M. programme at Yale Law School allows students to tailor their legal education towards their specialised area of interest. One such ‘area of interest’ is the Human Rights Law stream. As a one-year, full-time degree, students are encouraged to use the resources from the Law School to design a programme of study that will best fit their interests. The study of human rights law at Yale is centred around the Orville H. Schell. Jr. Center for International Human Rights which coordinates a diverse range of human rights programmes and activities for students, scholars and the broader community of human rights practitioners. Additionally, the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic is a Law School course which allows students to engage practically with on-going projects and gain first-hand experience dealing with and on behalf of practicing human rights organisations. The structure of the LL.M. degree at Yale, and the various resources available, allow students to develop their own academic programme around International Human Rights Law.

Human Rights LL.M. Fellowship at Columbia University

The Columbia Law School has introduced a ‘Human Rights LL.M. Fellowship’ for the class of 2018-2019. This programme is targeted at individuals who have a keen interest and show great potential in the field of international human rights. The Fellowship will provide students with a tailored and rigorous programme of practical skills training, academic scholarship and career mentoring in order to produce a class of innovative and dedicated human rights leaders. Jointly coordinated by the Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute, this fellowship encourages students to engage with practitioners, lawyers and academics alike. Applicants are expected to demonstrate a strong commitment to the field of international human rights and previous experience in some form is advantageous. The university offers plenty of opportunity for students to engage with human rights issues and become active participants in the protection of human rights.

LL.M in International Human Rights Law, University of Notre Dame

The International Human Rights programme at Notre Dame Law School offers students the technical skills and theoretical grounding required for strategic human rights lawyering. Students will be trained in the substantive and procedural aspects of international human rights law with the aim of developing skills that can be applied practically in their professional pursuits. The programme is one year and requires the completion of 24 course credits which can be structured according to student’s specific interests. The university prides itself on nurturing compassionate individuals who wish to pursue a career fighting for human rights and against social injustice.

About the author

Claire McDonald

Claire McDonald is currently a Masters student studying Migration and Displacement at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg. She has a firm background in social science research and writing, having completed her undergraduate in Politics, Philosophy and Economics and her honours degree in Justice and Transformation, both at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

Her professional experience includes almost two years work as the lead research assistant for a research organisation based at UCT – the Safety and Violence Initiative (SaVI). In 2014 she completed an internship with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Claire has since spent time travelling solo through parts of South America as well as Spain and Portugal.

Upon finishing her Master’s degree, Claire hopes to continue her career in the field of social justice, working specifically in South Africa after gaining experience working abroad.