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10 Human Rights Graduate Programs For Your Consideration

Many human rights jobs require a bachelor’s degree, but for those committed to a career in this field, a graduate degree is a wise idea. After a human rights graduate program, you’ll have more knowledge, more opportunities, and more access to high-level jobs working on issues like poverty, gender equality, human rights law, and more. Here are ten human rights graduate programs to consider:

Human Rights MA (Columbia University)

The Institute for the Study of Human Rights offers the Human Rights Studies MA. It’s an interdisciplinary program focusing on human rights theory and practice. The Institute and departments like History, Sociology, and Political Science host classes. Students can also take classes offered by the other schools at Columbia, like the law school. There are 30 credits in the program, which can be taken part-time or full-time.

Master of Human Rights (Curtin University)

This master’s program prepares anyone interested in human rights for work in the field. It uses theoretical and practical learning methods to analyze modern institutions, political development, social movements, and more. To apply, you must have a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) in the arts/humanities, psychology, education, law, journalism, health, or social work. If you have a bachelor’s degree in another discipline, you should have one year of paid or unpaid work experience. The full-time program takes 1.5 years.

Master of Human Rights (University of Minnesota)

This 2-year program at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs offers classes at a variety of departments and schools. Instructors teach students the practical knowledge and theoretical knowledge of human rights. To graduate, students need to take 45 credits, complete a 400-hour non-credit internship, and complete a capstone project or professional paper.

MA In International Human Rights (University of Denver)

Offered by the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, the MA in International Human Rights includes a handful of method and theory courses. Core courses cover methods and skills, human rights, and international studies. Specializations include human rights themes, economic development and health rights, regional focuses, and more. The program takes 2 years to complete.

European Master’s Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation (Global Campus of Human Rights)

This 1-year, full-time course provides students with a multi-disciplinary study of human rights and democratization. Academics representing different EMA participating universities – as well as representatives from NGOs – prepare students to work in human rights organizations and research institutions. The program is open to just 90 candidates from EU and non-EU countries. You must have a university degree related to human rights and a certified knowledge of English.

The Master’s Programme in Governance and Human Rights (Leuphana University of Luneburg)

A 2-year distance learning program, this master’s program educates students on the theory and practice of governance and human rights. Over seven modules, students will design and complete their own project addressing a challenge related to governance and human rights. Project-based learning is essential to this program. Students come from everywhere, so the program is supported by online resources, technical infrastructure, and distance-learning staff.

Arab Master in Democracy and Human Rights (Global Campus of Human Rights)

This program is designed for students interested in the field of democratic governance and human rights in North Africa and the Middle East. It’s coordinated by St. Joseph University and supported by partner universities from the area. Students take an intensive advanced course that combines action and policy-oriented approaches. The first semester is held in Beirut, while the other is at a participating university.

Theory and Practice of Human Rights (University of Oslo)

Offered by the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, this 2-year program earns students a master of philosophy in the theory and practice of human rights. Students must complete nine courses and a written master’s thesis. There are a variety of courses to choose from, as well as five mandatory courses. By the program’s end, students will be prepared to work in the human rights field, pursue an academic career in human rights, and work with various human rights institutions.

The LLM/MPhil in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa (Global Campus of Human Rights)

This 1-year intensive course is open to only 25-30 students each year. For six months, students study in Pretoria at the Centre for Human Rights (University of Pretoria, South Africa) and then the next six months at one of the partner universities in Africa. Students will earn an LLM/MPhil degree when they’ve completed the program. Graduates also become members of the HRDA Alumni Association. It is open to students from African countries with law degrees or an Honours degree in a discipline aligned with human rights and democratization.

MA in Applied Human Rights (University of Applied Arts Vienna)

Taught in English, this 2-year, full-time MA program requires students to take 120 ECTS. It was established in 2020 as a response to the current human rights challenges presented by digitalization, neoliberalism, and globalization. Using an interdisciplinary approach, students examine the legal and diplomatic practices of human rights, as well as the impact of culture and art in promoting human rights. Students will be ready to work in the human rights field or take their knowledge into the arts and culture space.

More human rights masters are available here.

About the author

Emmaline Soken-Huberty

Emmaline Soken-Huberty is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She started to become interested in human rights while attending college, eventually getting a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and climate change are of special concern to her. In her spare time, she can be found reading or enjoying Oregon’s natural beauty with her husband and dog.