Human Rights Masters

A human rights masters will equip you with the attitudes, knowledge, and skills to work for the defense, promotion, and protection of human rights. You will learn about human rights laws and protection mechanisms, standards, and instruments, and you will develop practical skills in education, research, campaigning, advocacy, policy, and activism. You will examine the rights of specific groups such as women, children, and refugees, and you will learn about specific rights such as the right to life, the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom from torture. After completing a master’s in human rights, you can work for the United Nations, international NGOs such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, governments, or corporates to have a tangible positive impact on people’s lives.

Intro | What you’ll learn | What you can do | Where you can work | Funding | Salary | Types of Masters | Help me choose | Pros & Cons

Master of Laws (LL.M) in Human Rights

University of Hong Kong
🚩 Hong Kong
⌛ 24 months
🕔 Full-time, Part-time
🎓 Blended
▶ Apply by February 28, 2022
The Master of Laws (LL.M) in Human Rights Programme (‘Programme’) was established in 1999 in response to the growing demand for knowledge about human rights in the Asia-Pacific region. The Programme focuses on human rights issues of global concern, including in the Asia-Pacific region, and aims to foster an active learning environment....

Arab Master in Democracy and Human Rights

University of Saint Joseph
🚩 Lebanon
⌛ 10 months
🕔 Full-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by February 28, 2022
The Master is a multidisciplinary programme offered by leading experts in the field and a consortium of universities including St Joseph University (Lebanon), the International University of Rabat (Morocco), Birzeit University (Palestine), University of Carthage (Tunisia), the University of Jordan (Jordan), the European Inter-University Centre (Italy), and a...

Vienna Master of Arts in Applied Human Rights

University of Applied Arts
🚩 Austria
⌛ 24 months
🕔 Full-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by February 13, 2022
The Vienna Master of Arts in Applied Human Rights was established in 2020 in reaction to present-day challenges generated by digitalisation, globalisation and neoliberalism. Global crises like the migration crisis, socio-economic inequalities, climate change or threats to data protection can only be exposed and confronted through an interdisciplinary discour...

Theory and Practice of Human Rights

University of Oslo
🚩 Norway
⌛ 24 months
🕔 Full-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by March 1, 2022
This programme focuses on human rights in both theory and practice from legal, historical, philosophical, political and social science-based perspectives. Students are provided with specialised knowledge about human rights law, including the relationship between that law and other types of human rights initiatives and activities....

Master of Arts in Law: International Law and Human Rights

University of Tartu
🚩 Estonia
⌛ 24 months
🕔 Full-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by March 15, 2022
The MA Human Rights, Globalisation and Justice offers students an opportunity to learn about human rights through an interdisciplinary approach and in the context of law, politics and philosophy. The program is designed for those working in related areas, such as law, government and public sector, social services, human resource management, and human rights ...

European Master's Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation

Global Campus of Human Rights
🚩 Italy
⌛ 10 months
🕔 Full-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by February 15, 2022
The European Master’s Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation (EMA) is a one-year course aimed at educating up to 100 professionals annually in the field of human rights and democratisation. It provides the foundation for a career in national, international, governmental, inter-governmental and nongovernmental organisations, as well as academic institu...

Human Rights Studies

Lund University
🚩 Sweden
⌛ 24 months
🕔 Full-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by January 15, 2022
Our multidisciplinary research environment studies human rights in all their complexity, from historical, philosophical, ethical, political, and legal perspectives. We are particularly interested in human rights in society, their role in democratic and non-democratic political systems, and what it means for institutions to respect and promote human rights. ...

Master's Degree in Human Rights, Interculturality and Development

Universidad Internacional de Andalucía UNIA
🚩 Spain
⌛ 12 months
🕔 Full-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by May 31, 2022
In collaboration with the Pablo de Olavide Univeristy, Universidad Internacional de Andalucía launched a master program in Human Rights, Interculturality and Development, which sets out a comprehensive picture of the concept of human rights in Europe. The goal of the program is to connect international standards to international jurisprudence on human rights...

Master of Arts in International Human Rights

University of Denver
🚩 United States
⌛ 24 months
🕔 Full-time, Part-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by December 15, 2022
The MA in International Human Rights provided by the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver teaches students to explore issues affecting human dignity while critically assessing institutions, norms, and processes designed to promote and protect human rights. This interdisciplinary program aims to connect human rights to secu...

Master Social Work as a Human Rights Profession

Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences Berlin
🚩 Germany
⌛ 24 months
🕔 Full-time
🎓 Blended
▶ Apply by March 1, 2022
Through a combination of research and practice, this master program offers an in-depth understanding on implementation of the idea of human rights in theory and practice of social work. This interdisciplinary program combines social sciences with standards and instruments of international human rights with a focus on the triple mandate of social work: world ...

Master's Degree Programme in International Law and Human Rights

Åbo Akademi University
🚩 Finland
⌛ 24 months
🕔 Full-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by January 19, 2022
Designed to prepare students for successful and challenging careers in international organizations, non-governmental organizations, legal practice, or public administration, this master program provides an in-depth understanding and knowledge of international and human rights law....

MA in Human Rights

University of London
🚩 United Kingdom
⌛ 24 months
🕔 Part-time
🎓 Online
▶ Apply by January 13, 2022
This master program was designed and developed by the University of London in cooperation with leading human rights activists to produce and empower new generations of human rights professionals. The program is intended for those who wish to develop or enhance their careers in a range of professional settings within the human rights or humanitarian fields. ...

Master’s in Human Rights Education

University of San Francisco
🚩 United States
⌛ 24 months
🕔 Full-time, Part-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by March 1, 2022
Master’s in Human Rights Education is a program that offers a rigorous human rights education in the community and classroom while being grounded in positive action and critical thinking. It aims to prepare graduates to teach about and tackle issues related of race, class, gender, religion, sexual identity, and nation....

Master of Arts in Law with Specialization in Human Rights and Transitional Law

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
🚩 Israel
⌛ 12 months
🕔 Full-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by November 19, 2022
This program offers 20-25 academic courses taught and led by legal experts from Europe, North America and Israel. The courses mainly deal with international humanitarian law, counter terrorism law, international courts and tribunals, transitional justice, the law of the United Nations, legal aspects of the Middle East conflict, international criminal law, in...

Master in Conflict Studies and Human Rights

Utrecht University
🚩 Netherlands
⌛ 12 months
🕔 Full-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by April 1, 2022
Master in Conflict Studies and Human Rights is an international graduate selective program that combines the learning of theory with an in-depth case study analysis. During the courses, students learn about both the dynamics of violent armed conflicts and the problems linked to international and national humanitarian or military intervention by organizations...

Master of Arts in Governance and Human Rights

Leuphana University Luneburg
🚩 Germany
⌛ 24 months
🕔 Part-time
🎓 Blended
▶ Apply by May 31, 2022
The master program in Governance and Human Rights connects the practical application with the theory of science. During seven modules, the students engage in analysis of political and legal theories of governance and regional and international human rights systems and their interconnectedness. The master is designed for students with professional experience ...

MSc in Human Rights and Data Science

The American University of Paris
🚩 France
⌛ 18 months
🕔 Full-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by February 1, 2022
This master program aims to prepare students to be able to tackle ethical questions with are at the forefront of today’s high-tech industries like artificial intelligence and data protection, while ensuring that developments in this area rather complement than impinge human rights protections....

European Regional Master’s Programme in Democracy and Human Rights in South East Europe

University of Sarajevo
🚩 Bosnia and Herzegovina
⌛ 12 months
🕔 Full-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by September 1, 2022
The European Regional Master’s Programme in Democracy and Human Rights in South East Europe (ERMA) is an interdisciplinary program coordinated by the University of Sarajevo, Center for Interdisciplinary Studies and the University of Bologna. Students attending this program have an opportunity to study in an international environment...

MSc Human Rights and Diplomacy

University of Stirling
🚩 Scotland
⌛ 12 months
🕔 Full-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by January 1, 2022
This program is the only human rights and diplomacy master program in the world designed and taught in partnership with the UN agency-the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). The program is designed to teach students about the UN human rights institutions and the theory and practice of human rights law and politics. The program is taught by some ...

MSc Human Rights

The London School of Economics and Political Science
🚩 United Kingdom
⌛ 12 months
🕔 Full-time, Part-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by December 1, 2022
The MSc in Human Rights offered by the London School of Economics and Political Sciences is a multidisciplinary master program that connects theory and practice and teaches students about important philosophical, legal, and sociological issues linked to human rights....

Master of Human Rights

University of Manitoba
🚩 Canada
⌛ 16 months
🕔 Full-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by September 22, 2022
The Master of Human Rights is an interdisciplinary program that trains students academically and practically for future careers in the area of human rights. The program was launched in 2019 and it is the first of this kind in Canada. It is executed in collaboration with multiple University of Manitoba faculties, including social work, arts and education, as ...

Human Rights MA

University of London
🚩 United Kingdom
⌛ 12 months
🕔 Full-time, Part-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by March 31, 2022
The Human Rights MA offered by the University College London is a program that provides students with the necessary skills to carry out human rights research. This is achieved through introducing students to policy, legal and philosophical issues and through encouraging them to engage in a critical way....

MSt in International Human Rights Law

University of Oxford
🚩 United Kingdom
⌛ 24 months
🕔 Part-time
🎓 Blended
▶ Apply by December 1, 2022
This part-time master’s program is designed for human rights advocates and lawyers who want to advance their education in the area of international human rights law, but still need to do so alongside work responsibilities....

Master of Human Rights

Auckland University of Technology
🚩 New Zealand
⌛ 12 months
🕔 Full-time, Part-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by December 1, 2022
The Master of Human Rights offered by Auckland University of Technology is a unique program that attracts students from different backgrounds, such as communications, social sciences, and law. The program is interdisciplinary in nature and can open doors for future careers in international human rights organizations, policy agencies, non-governmental organiz...

Master in Human Rights and Humanitarian Action

Paris School of International Affairs
🚩 France
⌛ 24 months
🕔 Full-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by September 1, 2022
The Master in Human Rights and Humanitarian Action is an innovative master program that intertwines human rights and humanitarian action. It combines a blend of core social science practical and theoretical approaches and includes disciplines such as anthropology, history, sociology, and philosophy to human rights and humanitarians with ‘’an intent to decons...

Master in European Union Studies and Human Rights

Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia
🚩 Spain
⌛ 12 months
🕔 Full-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by November 30, 2022
The Master program in Social Justice and Human Rights deals with emerging social issues such as human security, labor, children, family, education, migration and the environment. It is a rigorous theoretical and methodological program that tackles the social issues defined by gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, and nationality....

MA in International Law and Human Rights

University of Peace
🚩 Costa Rica
⌛ 12 months
🕔 Full-time
🎓 Blended
▶ Apply by December 1, 2022
The MA is International Law and Human Rights offered by the University for Peace provides students with an in-depth understanding of knowledge and understanding of the procedures and practice of international human rights bodies, including the UN and regional level....

MSc Politics of Conflict, Rights & Justice

SOAS University of London
🚩 United Kingdom
⌛ 12 months
🕔 Full-time, Part-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by December 1, 2022
The MSc Politics of Conflict, Rights and Justice offered by the SOAS University of London is designed for those working or intending to work in international organizations, international non-governmental organizations, advocacy groups and think tanks in the fields of rights, transitional justice and humanitarian assistance. ...

MA in Development and Human Rights

Swansea University
🚩 United Kingdom
⌛ 12 months
🕔 Full-time, Part-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by November 25, 2022
This master program is taught by some of the leading experts who apply political perspectives, legal theory and research development in the analysis of human rights and human development. The courses examine some of the most critical global issues in the current century through a combination of insights of international law, politics, and development studies...

MA Human Rights, Globalisation and Justice

Keele University
🚩 United Kingdom
⌛ 12 months
🕔 Full-time, Part-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by November 30, 2022
The MA Human Rights, Globalisation and Justice offers students an opportunity to learn about human rights through an interdisciplinary approach and in the context of law, politics and philosophy. The program is designed for those working in related areas, such as law, government and public sector, social services, human resource management, and human rights ...

Social Justice and Human Rights, MA

Arizona State University
🚩 United States
⌛ 24 months
🕔 Full-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by November 24, 2022
The Master program in Social Justice and Human Rights deals with emerging social issues such as human security, labor, children, family, education, migration and the environment. It is a rigorous theoretical and methodological program that tackles the social issues defined by gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, and nationality....

MA Human Rights Studies

Columbia University
🚩 United States
⌛ 12 months
🕔 Full-time, Part-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by March 10, 2022
The Human Rights MA offered by the Columbia University was established in 1998 by the Liberal Studies MA program was transferred to the Institute for the Study of Human Rights (ISHR) in 2011. This master program, held at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, has an interdisciplinary nature and focuses on the academic study of human rights practice and th...

Master of Human Rights

University of Minnesota
🚩 United States
⌛ 24 months
🕔 Full-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by September 1, 2022
The Master of Human Rights offered by the University of Minnesota is an interdisciplinary program supported by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the College of Liberal Arts. It prepares students to tackle global human rights challenges through policy analysis, research, and advocacy....

MA Human Rights Law

SOAS University of London
🚩 United Kingdom
⌛ 12 months
🕔 Full-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by June 30, 2022
The MA Human Rights Law offered by the SOAS University of London provides a unique opportunity for students to engage with relevant issues in this discipline. This MA program was designed to provide a specialization in a continually evolving area of law that deals with several issues relate to major present debates and developments. The program is taught by ...

Master’s Program in Human Rights and Democracy

University College Stockholm
🚩 Sweden
⌛ 24 months
🕔 Full-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by January 22, 2022
The Master’s Program in Human Rights and Democracy is a two-year course that provides students with knowledge and equips them with skills in interdisciplinary human rights studies, with a special focus on correlation between democracy and human rights....

Master in Human Rights and Conflict Management

Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna
🚩 Italy
⌛ 15 months
🕔 Full-time
🎓 On-Campus
▶ Apply by October 20, 2022
Designed to provide a deep understanding of human rights and conflict management in both theory and practice, this master program aims to prepare students coming from different cultures and backgrounds for future employment at non-governmental organizations, government agencies, humanitarian organizations, the UN agencies and regional organizations....

Master of Arts in Human Rights

Gratz College
🚩 United States
⌛ 18 months
🕔 Part-time
🎓 Online
▶ Apply by December 15, 2022
The Gratz College M.A. in Human Rights prepares students for careers in NGOs and nonprofits, advocacy, disaster relief, government relations, public health, civil rights, and diplomacy. It is designed for those committed to social justice and the equality of all people, which is especially urgent in today’s troubled world. This online degree gives...

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a human rights masters?

A human rights masters is most commonly a one or two year academic program that awards an accredited degree upon successful completion. Human rights masters tend to be interdisciplinary and draw on the expertise from multiple other disciplines such as law, philosophy, anthropology, history, sociology, psychology and religion. A masters requires the study of a bachelors degree first. Human rights masters can be offered on a full-time or part-time basis and are available in English and multiple other languages including Spanish and French. For many human rights jobs a master's degree is a requirement.

Examples of human rights masters:

  • Master of Arts in Applied Human Rights
  • Master of Laws in International Human Rights Law
  • Master of Philosophy in Theory and Practice of Human Rights
  • Master of Science in Human Rights and Data Science

What you will learn in a human rights masters

A master in human rights will equip you with foundational knowledge and skills to promote, defend and protect human rights. You will learn about the theory of human rights from a multidisciplinary perspective and develop practical skills for their application. While some masters are highly specialized on topics such as Child Rights, Women's Rights or Refugee Rights, others provide a more holistic perspective. In a human rights masters you will learn how to critically engage in current human rights issues and develop the tools and strategies to have a tangible positive impact on people's lives. This includes studying human rights laws, documents and protection mechanisms, and developing hands-on, practical skills to research human rights violations, analyze human rights cases and advocate for human rights.

Examples of topics a human rights master covers:

  • The history, origin and evolution of human rights in theory and practice as well as human rights principles, standards and instruments.
  • Scope and application of specific human rights such as the right to life, the right to liberty and security, the right to freedom of expression or the right to freedom from torture.
  • Mandate and functioning of the International Human Rights Protection Mechanisms such as the UN Human Rights Council, UN Special Rapporteurs, UN Treaty Bodies and regional protection mechanisms such as the European Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights.
  • Practical skills for Human Rights Education, Research, Campaigning, Advocacy, Policy, and Activism.
  • The structure, management, methods, tools and strategies of human rights organizations.
  • Scholarly values and the rules of scientific working and academic research.

Examples of skills you will learn and train in a human rights masters:

  • investigate, analyze and apply human rights to cases of human rights violations.
  • research and critically discuss current human rights issues such as climate change, refugee and asylum rights, gender-based violence or hate crimes.
  • plan, develop, manage, launch and evaluate a human rights campaign for LGBTQ rights, gender, inclusion and diversity.
  • mobilize others to advocate for the release of political prisoners and individuals at risk.
  • develop a learning experience to equip people with the skills to take action for human rights.

What you can do with a human rights masters

A masters in human rights opens up a variety of career paths. Most commonly people work in advocacy, activism, campaigning, research, policy, education and law for intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, governments and social enterprises. Beyond the tangible career benefits, a masters in human rights will change how you analyze and see the world.

Examples of what you can do with a human rights masters:

  • equip people with the knowledge and skills to claim and defend human rights.
  • advocate on behalf of victims of hate crimes, discrimination and torture.
  • fight for equality and justice for refugees and migrants.
  • investigate human rights violations in a specific country or region.
  • mobilize and engage supporters for a cause.

Where you can work with a human rights masters

Human rights graduates often work for intergovernmental organizations (United Nations, Council of Europe, ASEAN, OSCE), international NGOs (Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Save the Children, International Committee of the Red Cross), governmental entities (UK Mission to the United Nations, Permanent Missions to the United Nations) or social enterprises. More recently also companies such as Facebook and Google employ human rights professionals.

Examples of employers for human rights graduates:

  • Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
  • Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
  • Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) or Council of Europe (CoE)
  • Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch or Save the Children

How you can fund your human rights masters

Most human rights masters offer a limited amount of scholarships for international applicants. These scholarships will cover the entirety or parts of the tuition fees. Scholarships can either be merit-based (e.g. good marks in your bachelor), which is more frequent in the United States or needs-based (e.g. financial aid). Because masters have limited scholarships available, you may want to consider applying for a scholarship offered by the government. A third option to obtain scholarships for a human rights masters are individual grants from organizations. We have compiled a list of a variety of scholarships here.

Examples of scholarships for human rights masters:

What you will earn with a human rights masters

Salaries of human rights graduates vary strongly. However, the general consensus is that human rights professionals earn less than their business counterparts. Recent graduates will normally earn between USD 30,000 and 50,000. Salaries of USD 45,000 to USD 70,000 are common for mid-career positions. With increasing seniority, and depending on the size and location of the organization, salaries can reach low to mid six figure compensation.

Examples of salaries in the human rights sector:

  • Secretary-General, Amnesty International (USD 190,000)
  • UN Entry Level Jobs (USD 70,000 - 120,000)
  • Save the Children median pay ( ≈ USD 55,000)
  • Human Rights Watch Associate positions (≈ USD 52,000)

What types of human rights masters exist

Human rights masters award a variety of degrees. Most frequently Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Laws (LL.M.), Master of Science (M.Sc.) and less frequently Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.), Master of Research (M.Res.), Master of Education (M.Ed.). Masters are offered as full-time, part-time degrees or both. Whilst most masters take 1-2 years to complete, part-time masters can take up to five years to finish. Human Rights Masters can be offered fully online, on-campus or in a blended mode.

Examples of degrees that human rights masters provide:

  • LLM in Human Rights Law (Master of Laws)
  • MA in Human Rights and Democratization (Master of Arts)
  • MSc in Human Rights (Master of Science)
  • MPhil in Human Rights (Master of Philosophy)

How to choose a human rights masters

With the broad variety of masters available, it can be difficult to choose. The first and most important decision is whether you study a LL.M or any other human rights masters. An LL.M will be required for a legal career. If you want to become a human rights lawyer you first have to become a lawyer and then specialize in human rights. All other human rights masters (M.A., M.Sc. M.Phil., M.Res.) will set you up for any other career path in campaigning, education, advocacy, research and activism. There are other aspects of a human rights master that you can include in your decision, such as the country where you study, the language in which you study, etc.

  • Country: Studying in particular country can give you access to organizations, courts, culture, language and extra-curricular activities.
  • Pace: Depending on your current schedule a full- or part-time masters will be the better choice.
  • Regional Specialization: Masters with a regional specialization can give you an edge when you want to work in that region.
  • Mode: Online masters are more flexible but on-campus masters enable you to build deeper relationships with your classmates.
  • Internships: Some masters maintain relationships to human rights organizations making it easier to get internships.
  • Field Trips: Occasionally, masters offer field trips to post-conflict countries or courts, which can be a very valuable experience.
  • Legal Clinic: In a legal clinic students support on real cases and gain hands-on experience.
  • Moot Courts: Some masters offer Moot courts that are simulated court or arbitration proceedings.
  • Focus: Some masters are broad, others very specific. Choose the masters that suits your interests best.

Pros and Cons of a human rights masters

While studying a human rights master has many advantages, there are also some disadvantages you should be aware of before you make your decision. The biggest advantage of a human rights masters is that it qualifies you to work for a variety of intergovernmental organizations, international NGOs and government positions. Beyond the improved career prospects, a human rights masters will likely shift and disrupt your worldview.

Pros of studying a human rights masters:

  • equips you with tools and skills to change the world
  • opens career paths in campaigning, education, advocacy, policy, law, activism etc.
  • enables you to meet educational requirements of human rights jobs
  • may disrupt your worldview and influences your own behaviors

Cons of studying a human rights masters

  • lower pay than in a comparable position in the for-profit sector
  • many jobs require the ability to work under high pressure
  • costs of human rights masters can be high
  • exposes you to cases of immense human suffering and cruelty