Human Rights Masters

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Why study a master in human rights?

Studying human rights is a rewarding experience. Many jobs at intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations require a master degree. They often explicitly mention human rights as the qualification they are looking for. A human rights master opens up employment opportunities in international organizations, non-governmental organizations, governmental institutions and more recently also companies and businesses.

What can I do after I studied a master in human rights?

People who study human rights often work for intergovernmental organizations like the United Nations (UN), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) or the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Human rights master graduates also often work for Non-governmental human rights organisations like Amnesty International, Oxfam, Save the Children or Human Rights Watch. The third most common employer are governments themselves and the scope of employment varies depending on the country. More recently, companies and businesses also seek to hire human rights experts to ensure compliance with human rights laws and standards. We have compiled a list of human rights career paths.

What will I learn in a human rights master?

In most cases a master in human rights will give you knowledge about the human rights system, how it is applied and how you can use it to tackle human rights violations. You will learn about the scope and application of specific rights, gain insights into the work of human rights organisations on various levels and you will study various human rights bodies, their mandate and how they create change. You will be exposed to emotionally draining stories of human suffering and uplifted by the successes when human rights made a real impact in peoples lives.

How much does a masters in human rights cost?

The cost of human rights masters varies strongly. In some countries like Sweden and Norway there are no tuition fees. This essentially means you can study human rights for free. Human rights masters can be quite expensive in the United States and in the United Kingdom. Tuition fees can reach an amount of $50000 and above. Luckily there are scholarships and other funding options available.

What scholarships and stipends are available to study a human rights master?

Many human rights masters around the globe offer scholarships and stipends. Most commonly these scholarships will cover the entirety or parts of the tuition fees, the accommodation and the living costs. We have collected a list of human rights master scholarships for you to save you some time.

How can I get work experience while studying a human rights master?

Practical experience is important. Some human rights master programs have internships included in their curriculum and you will work during your studies, report back to your supervisor and share your experiences with your study colleagues.

Can I study a human rights master without a law degree?

It depends on the type of human rights master. When you are studying a human rights master you could receive a Master of Arts, a Master of Science, a Master of Laws and other types of academic accreditation. The Master of Laws (LLM) do require a Bachelor degree in law, while a Master of Arts normally does not have this requirement. All types of degrees offer a vast array of options for employment and further specialization.

What specialisations are available in human rights master programs?

There are various different specialisations available for human rights master programs. We will only outline a rough overview to help guide your thoughts.

Regional specialisations: The international human rights regimes and mechanisms vary depending on your location. That’s why some master programmes specialised in human rights in a particular region. If you have a special interest in the Middle East and North Africa, the Americas, Europe or Asia you may want to study a degree that accommodates that.

Specialisation on specific issues: Some human rights masters’ programmes are specialised in a specific aspect of human rights, such as the Gender dimension of human rights, Children’s Human Rights or Human Rights Activism. Other Masters combine human rights with another subject such as criminal justice, bioethics, climate change or humanitarian action.

Can I study human rights part-time?

Many human rights masters take only one year, offer a part-time solution or have a flexible schedule.

I am already slightly older, should I still study human rights?

If you are passionate about human rights the answer is simple: Yes, you should. Human Rights Masters generally have an above average age median because many people choose it as their second career path to transition into a more meaningful career. Additionally, your previous work experience, no matter if you worked as a waiter, as a soldier, as a teacher, or anything else, will be very valuable for your human rights work. Human rights relate to every single aspect of our lives, consequently whatever you did before, will be relevant.

Where should you study a human rights master?

Many people choose to leave their own country to study human rights. The experience of studying abroad will provide you with a wealth of incredible memories. You may have the opportunity to study a language, discover a new city, network with other students from around the world. Some people also find it easier to make friends when they are outside of their typical routines. The choice of location is also important with regard to the specialisation of the master’s programme. A master in The Hague will likely offer a field trip to the International Criminal Court, while the Masters in Vienna for example offers a field trip to Kosovo.

Is the tutoring language of the human rights master important?

Yes, because it will define in which language you can best handle human rights terminology and ultimately communicate about a specific subject matter. The official UN Languages are Spanish, English, Arabic, Chinese, Russian and French. If you are working towards a job at the UN, choosing one of these languages is a good choice.

Is a human rights master required to work in human rights?

The short answer is ‘no’. Since organisations need all kinds of skillsets many people who work in human rights do not have a master in human rights. Although it might not be a requirement, studying human rights is incredibly useful for working in human rights. If you work as a graphic designer you will be more sensitive to gender, identity and sexuality issues; as a social media manager you will be much better in handling terminology and know that “violations” and “abuses” aren’t the same; as a junior campaigner you will know about many examples how people were inspired to take action and what worked and what didn’t.

Should I choose a human rights master that offers internships, legal clinics and field trips?

Some human rights masters offer internships through collaborations with partnering institutions, legal clinics where students can support on real cases and field trips for students to engage with human rights workers on the ground. All of these should be considered a great asset to your studying experience but in no way a requirement.

Where can I search for human rights masters?

We have compiled several articles for you that relate to human rights masters. For example the page you are currently reading but we also published other articles that are more specific. If you are undecided consider taking one of the free online course in human rights that can help you get inspired.