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5 Human Rights Studies with Fully-funded Scholarships

Obtaining a Master’s degree in Human Rights or a related subject is frequently a necessary qualification for many amazing human rights and humanitarian jobs. In most cases, such programs are expensive and can even have different rates for those who come from abroad. For this reason, interested candidates can feel discouraged to pursue their dreams study.

Still, there are ways to get a high-quality Human Rights degree without any costs. With these five fully-funded programs in Europe and Australia, studying Human Rights and Human Rights Law at a Masters-level is accessible to all.

Human Rights MA and LLM (Central European University, Hungary)

Central European University (CEU) is the pearl of education in Central Europe. Located in the beautiful Budapest, this university offers an array of Master’s and Ph.D. courses. Students from all over the globe study Human Rights at Legal Studies Department at CEU through two courses – a Master’s of Arts degree for those candidates without an undergraduate degree in Law, and an LLM degree for those with a legal background.

MA and LLM students essentially study together with very few different lectures. This means that students who have never studied law have an incredible opportunity to master human rights law and international law as well as human rights advocacy and research, while law students have the opportunity to approach human rights from a multidisciplinary perspective. The programs run for 10 months after which candidates have some extra time to write a Master’s thesis on a relevant, under-researched topic. Students also have an opportunity to complete an internship at one of the national and international human rights organizations in Budapest, such as Terre des hommes.

Perhaps the best thing about CEU is how much funding it offers to its students. Prospective candidates from any country in the world who hold an acceptance letter for Human Rights MA or LLM programs are eligible for financial aid, provided that they have submitted a separate financial aid application. Financial aid packages vary – some, such as CEU Master’s Tuition Award, cover tuition costs (amounting to 13,000 EUR per year) only, while CEU Master’s Scholarship also includes a stipend for living costs, accommodation in CEU Residence Center, and health insurance. Admitted students also qualify for a range of other scholarships and awards, such as the one given by CEU alumni. All scholarships are awarded on the basis of merit without any distinction between different countries of origin.

Other relevant information about how to fund your Human Rights studies at Central European University is available on the website.

European Regional Master’s in Democracy and Human Rights in South East Europe (University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and University of Bologna, Italy)

ERMA, the European Regional Master’s Program in Democracy and Human Rights in South East Europe is a part of the Global Campus of Human Rights co-financed by the European Union and managed by the European University Centre for Human Rights and Democratization. It is a year-long, interdisciplinary program after which successful candidates receive diplomas from both University of Sarajevo and University of Bologna.

The program has a mission to combine practical knowledge and field research experience on a variety of human rights issues. Consequently, in addition to completing courses on human rights law, refugee law, transitional justice and other topics, students also do mandatory internships in another country in Southeastern Europe, such as Croatia or Serbia.

In addition to having a unique structure, ERMA studies are also affordable and frequently fully covered by a generous scholarship. Each year, 36 students are admitted to the program. The majority (25) come from Southeast European countries; however, 5 places are reserved for candidates coming from the European Union countries, Russia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. All admitted students from these countries receive study grants to cover their costs of living (4,500 euros) until July, costs of living for the period they will spend in Italy, and health insurance. Additionally, another 6 places are for citizens of all other countries who have to pay tuition costs amounting to 2,000 euros.

More information about applying for ERMA is available on the official website.

Erasmus Mundus Human Rights Policy and Practice (The UK, Sweden and Spain)

Three European universities have come together to create a unique Master’s program on Human Rights Policy and Practice. The Erasmus Mundus program, run by the University of Roehampton in the UK, the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and the University of Deusto in Spain, provides a two-year study to candidates who aspire to work in civil society as well as for governments and businesses. Successful candidates receive certificates from all three universities upon completion.

In addition, three partner universities from outside Europe – the University of Balamand in Lebanon, the University of Calcutta in India, and the University of Botswana in Botswana – allow students to get hands-on experience related to the rights of indigenous people and globalization.

During the course, students participate in several modules, learning about politics, ethics and law, ethno-cultural diversity, social structures, as well as gaining more practical knowledge about how to lead and manage in the human rights sphere. Additionally, all Master’s students are required to write a dissertation and take a course on research methods prior to it.

To be a fully-funded student of this joint Human Rights program, candidates will have to apply for a scholarship via the program’s website. In addition to a relevant undergraduate degree and a proof of an appropriate English language level, candidates should demonstrate some human rights-related work experience. The universities are interested in admitting professionals who can show how their interests and ambitions are put into action, so every volunteering engagement and internship counts.

Students from all over the world are encouraged to apply, however, to promote geographical diversity, the European Union allows for up to two applicants per country to be admitted. Those residing in one of the 28 European Union member states, Norway, Iceland, Turkey, Liechtenstein, or the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia qualify for Erasmus+ Program country scholarships, while all others should apply for Erasmus+ Partner country scholarships.

Master’s in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law (Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights)

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights is a leading academic institution which has trained a great number of world-renowned academics and practitioners in the field of human rights.

Qualified international students come to Geneva to complete either the LLM program in International Humanitarian Law and Humanitarian Law or Master of Advances Studies program in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law. Both programs combine high-level theoretical education with fieldwork and practice. As a part of their programs, many students do internships for one of the institutions present in Geneva, including the International Committee of the Red Cross and UNICEF. The Geneva Academy has been labeled as having one of the best human rights programs in the world and has served as a gateway to successful and impactful international careers for many.

The Geneva Academy programs are not only famous for their excellence, but also for their funding opportunities. To selected candidates admitted to attend one of these two programs, the Geneva Academy offers partial and full scholarships. While partial scholarships cover only tuition fees (amounting to 18,000 Swiss francs), full scholarships provide students with a tuition waiver and a generous stipend for living expenses. Both programs last for one year.

These limited scholarships are extremely competitive and are awarded both on the basis of merit and the student’s financial need. As a rule, candidates coming from the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Western Europe qualify for partial scholarships only.

More information about these scholarships is available here.

Master of Human Rights Law University of Melbourne, Australia

The University of Melbourne’s Human Rights Law program trains students with both legal and non-legal backgrounds. The program targets future human rights lawyers as well as professionals working in development agencies and human rights organizations. Over the course of nearly one year, students take eight subjects, including International Human Rights Law, which is a core course, and a variety of electives such as Women, Peace and Security and International Refugee Law. Those with a non-legal background will have a chance to attend a course of the Fundamentals of the Common Law at the beginning of their studies. In that way, students gain an advanced knowledge of both international and domestic human rights frameworks. There is also an opportunity to undertake an international legal internship during the study.

There are several ways to fund your human rights study at the University of Melbourne. International students are eligible for the Melbourne Graduate Scholarship which can offer up to 100% tuition waivers. That way, the scholarship fully covers the tuition fees determined for this program, which amount to $41,024. Furthermore, for citizens of selected countries outside Europe and North America, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade administers Australia Awards Scholarships. These scholarships not only fully covers students’ tuition fees, but they also include a stipend for living expenses, health insurance cover, and establishment and travel allowances. In addition, the Endeavour Leadership Program, run by the Australian government, offers successful international candidates funding to cover their tuition fees, travel allowances, establishment allowances, health insurance, and living costs.

Finally, the University of Melbourne also gives Human Rights Scholarship to students who are undertaking graduate research on a human rights topic. The total value of the scholarship can be up to $94,200 and is designed to offer a living allowance, relocation grant, and a student health insurance cover to all successful candidates. This scholarship can be combined with another award listed above.

More information about entry requirements and course subjects is available here.

About the author

Maja Davidovic

Maja Davidovic is a Serbian-born independent researcher and Human Rights graduate. She holds her M.A. degree from Central European University in Budapest, and had previously lived and worked in Greece, Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Maja mostly researches about women’s rights, child protection and transitional justice, and has been involved with organizations such as MSF and OSCE, as well grassroots initiatives. You may follow her on her newly-made Twitter profile @MajaADavidovic, where she aspires to open discussions on a variety of human rights-related issues.