Disclosure: Human Rights Careers may be compensated by course providers.

Choosing A Human Rights Degree

  1. How long should the MA be?

In most cases Human Rights Master Degrees build on a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and have a duration of one or two years. Some people, especially those with a non-legal background, prefer a two years study because it gives them more time to familiarize with the legal aspects of human rights. Also note that more and more master programmes are adopting a flexible system, enabling students to choose between part- or full time studies, which stretches the study time to a 4 years maximum. You can search for MAs with a specific duration in our Study Browser.

  1. Do I want an internship included?

Today many Human Rights degrees offer different levels of support in obtaining an internship. Often, internships are included in master programmes and are an integral part of the academic curriculum. The amount of support the MA is offering in finding and getting the right internship varies strongly. Some MAs have reserved internship positions for their best students in prestigious organizations while other help you with recommendation letters and personal connections.

  1. What shall be the teaching language of the MA?

If you consider obtaining a Human Rights MA, you may have to decide whether you want to study in a different language than English. If your MA is not in English keep in mind that revising all the human rights terminologies in English at a later stage might be more difficult than the other way around.

  1. How can I afford the tution fees?

There are scholarships for many human rights degrees in all areas of the world. However, if you prefer to have no tuition fees from the very beginning, head for the Scandinavian countries Sweden, Finland and Norway where several MAs are offered without tuition fee.

  1. Where shall I conduct my studies?

This is one of the most important questions. Strongly keep in mind that the region of a MA might shape the way it teaches and what it teaches. Choosing a human rights MA in the UK might ensure a good academic level but might also make your experience more eurocentric, choosing a degree in Pretoria might bring you more relevant practical experience but in some places less resources might be available for writing your thesis.

  1. What specialization shall I choose?

Degrees in human rights are generally already specialized enough to enter various career paths related to human rights. If you aren’t  sure yet if you would prefer to work for refugees, gender equality or on anti-corruption, that is no problem. However, make sure you understand some of the differences between human rights, humanitarian law and international development before you settle on a human rights study. You can study all these subjects independently and, while they all are interconnected to a certain degree, their focus is different.

  1. What extras am I looking for?

This is an important point. Human Rights Master programmes nowadays rarely only offer you on campus studying. Some include field trips, moot courts, competitions, internships, fellowships etc. etc. Check out our advanced search for Human Rights Masters Programmes here. Some Master programmes offer unique field trips in post conflict zones like the Vienna Master of Human Rights or prepare you for a full year to participate in a prestigious and competitive moot court. These extras will significantly shape your experience.

If you have any questions about a specific MA programme feel free to ask on our facebook page.

About the author

Human Rights Careers

Human Rights Careers (HRC) provides information about online courses, jobs, paid internships, masters degrees, scholarships and other opportunities in the human rights sector and related areas.