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Top 12 LL.M. Programs for Human Rights Law

An LLM in human rights is an internationally recognized advanced law degree that focuses on the laws that protect and guarantee human rights at the local, national, regional, and international levels. Programs are often offered by universities that have established human rights research centers on their campus. In addition to providing educational opportunities, many programs also include mandatory or optional internships with non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations.

What you’ll learn in a LL.M. in Human Rights Law

Students in LLM human rights programs can expect to learn about a variety of legal fields, including human rights law, international law, humanitarian law, international criminal law, and refugee law. Moreover, they will learn about international courts, human rights protection mechanisms and the functioning of international organizations. Schools may have a particular regional or topical focus or offer a broad introduction to human rights law.

How much does an LLM in Human Rights Law cost?

The cost of LLM programs varies from university to university. Often, students can receive financial aid, scholarships, fellowships, grants and loans to offset the costs. Generally, costs are in the range between 10,000 and 20,000 USD in Europe and can reach more than 50,000 USD in the USA. Fees for programs often depend on your status e.g. whether or not you are a domestic or international student. In addition, some LLM programs require students to pay a fee for their application.

What are the career prospects for graduates of an LLM in human rights program?

Graduates of LLM in human rights degree programs often work for international law firms focused on human rights. Moreover, they may find employment with non-governmental organizations such as Oxfam and Amnesty International, advocacy groups, the United Nations (UN), and other international organizations or human rights entities including human rights courts. There are plenty of options available for LLM graduates.

Best 12 LLM programs in Human Rights Programs

You can find LLM human rights programs all over the world, but many of the best programs are based in the United States, the United Kingdom and continental Europe. Students often prefer schools that are located near The Hague, Geneva, Washington, D.C., New York City or London, as these are areas where human rights entities and organizations are headquartered.

Let’s take a look at some top universities where you can study a human rights LL.M.

#1 University of Law (United Kingdom)

LLM International Human Rights – Full-time
LLM International Human Rights – Part-time

University of Law campus in Bristol at Temple Circus House, Temple Way. CC BY-SA 4.0 Assimifne
Key information
University University of Law
Country United Kingdom
Learning mode Online, On-Campus
Pace Full-time, Part-time
Duration 12 to 24 months
Tuition fee £9,200 (Domestic), £12,360 (Non-Domestic)
Application deadline(s) September
Funding ✅ Scholarships and Bursaries
Official Website Click here

The University of Law (ULAW) is UK’s largest law school. Founded in 1876, ULAW is among the top universities to study a LLM in International Human Rights Law globally. The curriculum of the LLM focuses on international human rights law, human rights protection and includes practical training on human rights advocacy, international criminal law and dispute resolution. Moreover, the masters programme offers a comprehensive module on research methods. The LLM in International Human Rights Law opens up a variety of career paths for those who want to become human rights lawyers, researchers or advocates.

The LLM is offered in a full-time (12 months) and part-time (21 months) track and accepts students from legal and non-legal backgrounds. Students from non-legal backgrounds are required to do an additional entry exam. Students can choose to study on-campus or online. University of Law offers a range of funding options for prospective students, including scholarships, bursaries and student loans.

The university of Law has nine campuses all over the UK, including in Birmingham, Bristol, Chester, Guildford, Leeds, London, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield, as well as an international branch in Hong Kong.

Features

  • 97% Student Satisfaction (1st in the UK)
  • Suitable for Law and Non-Law Graduates
  • Scholarships and Bursaries
  • Online or On-Campus
  • Full-time or Part-time

#2 Columbia University (United States)

General LLM with specialization in Social Justice and Human Rights

Morningside Heights, NYC CC BY 2.0 ajay_suresh
Key information
University Columbia University
Country United States
Learning mode On-Campus
Pace Full-time
Duration 10 months
Tuition fee $82,467
Application deadline(s) September
Funding ✅ Scholarships and Fellowships
Official Website Click here

Open to lawyers from around the world, Columbia University is offering a general LLM programme where students can choose from various specializations, including social justice and human rights. For this programme a limited amount of scholarships is available for outstanding students. If you would like to be considered for financial aid, the submission of a Fellowship essay is required upon application.

In the first part of the programme you will receive an Introduction to American Law and develop your skills in legal and research writing. Moreover, you will attend introductory programs on career development where you can explore careers in the private sector, social justice and the office of Judical Clerkships.

Students are required to pay $85 for application.

Features

  • Personalized learning paths
  • Scholarships and Fellowships available
  • Strongly career-focused

#3 Geneva Academy (Switzerland)

LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Villa Moynier in Park Moynier ADHGA CC BY-SA 3.0
Key information
University Geneva Academy
Country Switzerland
Learning mode On-Campus
Pace Full-time
Duration 12 months
Tuition fee CHF 18,000 (≈ 18,700 USD)
Application deadline(s) November
Funding ✅ Scholarships and Bursaries
Official Website Click here

The Geneva Academy offers both full and partial scholarships for its LLM program in Human Rights. Full scholarships cover the cost of tuition and living expenses in Geneva for ten months. This is a one-year postgraduate degree and one of the most innovative LLM programs in international human rights law in Europe. Students are presented with intellectually challenging material on some of the most essential human rights issues of the day.

The program provides practical training in both international humanitarian law and human rights law, as well as international criminal law, and highlights the ways all three affect each. Faculty includes renowned institutions and human rights entities, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

While core classes offer a firm foundation in a variety of legal areas concerning human rights, students can tailor their program to a specific interest. Examples of these interests include armed non-state actors, the regulations concerning international courts or tribunals, and counter-terrorism.

Features

  • Scholarships and Fellowships available
  • Includes a study field trip
  • Awards recognizing student projects

#4 Leiden University (The Netherlands)

LL.M. in European and International Human Rights Law

The academy building of Leiden University in modern days CC BY 3.0 Rudolphous
Key information
University Leiden University
Country The Netherlands
Learning mode On-Campus
Pace Full-time, Part-time
Duration 12-24 months
Tuition fee €19,300 (Full-time), €9,650 (Part-time)
Application deadline(s) Before September
Funding ✅ Scholarships and Bursaries
Official Website Click here

University of Leiden in The Netherlands offers a LLM in European and International Human Rights Law. The programme is offered in a full-time and part-time version and costs €19,300 (Full-time) or €9,650 (Part-time)

The master is specialised on the comparison of human rights protection systems in Europe and around the world. You will study international law in action and also explore different strategies for the promotion of human rights. The master aims to turn students into effective advocates for promoting the basic rights and fundamental freedoms that are inherent to all human beings.

The lectures and workshops during the study are taught by in-house academic staff and by renowned human rights experts working for the UN, the EU, NGOs or other organisations. The LLM includes a study trip to Strasbourg and Geneva to experience international courts first-hand.

Features

  • Scholarships and Fellowships available
  • Full-time or Part-time
  • Great location for field trips

#5 Queen Mary University (United Kingdom)

Human Rights Law LLM

The Queens’ Building CC BY-SA 2.0 Ewan Munro
Key information
University Queen Mary University
Country United Kingdom
Learning mode On-Campus
Pace Full-time, Part-time
Duration 12-24 months
Tuition fee £17,250 and £26,250
Application deadline(s) Before September
Funding ✅ Scholarships and Bursaries
Official Website Click here

Queen Mary’s program is the first association between a graduate school and a non-governmental organization. It’s designed to offer cutting-edge theory to students pursuing scholarship in human rights. Tuition costs between £17,250 and £26,250. The School of Law at Queen Mary offers a range of funding opportunities (scholarships and studentships) for postgraduate study.

The program focuses on issues that are currently at the forefront of the world stage. These issues include international women’s rights, socio-economic rights and issues, the rights of children, and the rights of other just as vulnerable groups based on economic status, culture, language, and other areas.

It’s one of the top ten law schools in the UK, and many of the staff are nationally recognized experts, both in law and NGO experts in socio-cultural theory. The law center also offers specialized training in critical thinking and writing to give you the skills necessary to write effective briefs and hone your academic, legal writing skills. You’ll also have access to some of the best databases and brick and mortar libraries in the world to do your research. The law center is located within walking distance to many law firms and the University of London Library at Senate House.

Features

  • Scholarships and Fellowships available
  • Full-time or Part-time
  • Focus on legal writing skills

#6 University of Dundee (Scotland)

Business and Human Rights LLM

The Harris Building on the Geddes Quadrangle CC BY-SA 3.0 Ydam
Key information
University University of Dundee
Country Scotland
Learning mode On-Campus
Pace Full-time
Duration 12 months
Tuition fee £19,900 (International Students), £8,350 (England, Ukraine, Scotland)
Application deadline(s) July for International Students / August for UK students
Funding ✅ Scholarships and Bursaries
Official Website Click here

The University of Dundee offers two full scholarships for students demonstrating honors level work in law and a commitment to work in human rights. The University of Dundee is one of the top-ranked law schools in Scotland and focuses on areas such as business and human rights, climate change and gig economy. Students can choose from optional modules in corporate governance, investment law and water law.

Classes are taught by staff members nationally ranked in their field and dedicated to their work. Students have a combination of classes, seminar, and research methods. Students also participate in legal research courses to hone vital academic research skills in this field, culminating in a written dissertation at the end.

Law students can apply for a global internship with Pagoda Projects to develop employability skills and gain valuable international work experience.

Features

  • Scholarships and Fellowships available
  • Focus on business and human rights
  • Pagoda Projects Internships

#7 American University (United States)

LL.M. in International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law

American University Washington College of Law’s Capital Building from Tenley Circle CC BY-SA 4.0 Rockhead126 
Key information
University American University
Country United States
Learning mode On-Campus, Online, Hybrid
Pace Full-time
Duration 12 months
Tuition fee $58,724
Application deadline(s) May and October
Funding ✅ Scholarships and Bursaries
Official Website Click here

American University’s Washington College of Law offers many opportunities for LLM students to apply for full tuition funding and fellowships. It offers scholarship assistance to students showing aptitude for law and a dedication to the areas of human rights and advocacy.

The LLM program is a hybrid masters program with both onsite and online curriculum offerings, allowing students a wide range of flexibility to acquire their advanced degree. It’s offered in both English and Spanish, making it one of the most accessible LLM programs in international human rights law in the world.

The residential component of the degree is taught by experts from the Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian law during its summer intensive courses. These are specialized courses designed for an intensive introduction to the world of international human rights, and students are required to be available for two three-week sessions during the summer term.

The virtual courses are taught in live two-hour sessions in which students from around the world interact with the faculty and each other. Students participate in the coursework and benefit from working with their peers from around the world.

The faculty themselves are experts in the field and practicing lawyers in Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. They are essential contacts for future employment and include NGO members, international tribunal judges, and members of UN treaty bodies, among other experts.

Note: Online and hybrid students who receive the LL.M. in International Human Rights & Humanitarian Law will not be eligible to sit for the NY bar exam.

Features

  • Scholarships available
  • Offered in Spanish and English
  • Flexible study options

#8 University of Bristol Law School (United Kingdom)

LLM in Human Rights Law

The Great Hall of the Wills Memorial Building CC BY-SA 3.0 Mike Buck
Key information
University University of Hong Kong
Country Hong Kong
Learning mode Hybrid
Pace Full-time, Part-time
Duration 1-2 years
Tuition fee £20,900 (overseas students) / £10,900 (UK students)
Application deadline(s) July/August
Funding ✅ Scholarships and Bursaries
Official Website Click here

Ranking among the top 10 UK Law School’s, University of Bristol is offering a LL.M. in Human Rights Law that can be completed within 1-2 years. The curriculum of the programme is focused on learning about human rights frameworks and protection mechanisms at regional and global level. Moreover, the programme offers specalised modules on employment law, mental health, migration and other optional topics. The Master of Laws also aims to equip students with excellent legal, analytical and research skills.

Taught by leading academics from the Human Rights Implementation Centre, the LL.M. offers students the opportunity to participate in legal clinics to hone their practical skills. Alumni of the programme work as solicitors, barristers, lawyers and researchers in international and European organisations, such as the United Nations or the European Commission.

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a 10% reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study.

Features

  • 10% reduction in tuition fees for previous students
  • Human Rights Clinic

#9 University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong)

Master of Laws in Human Rights

The University of Hong Kong (Eliot Hall & Meng Wah Complex) CC BY-SA 2.5 Baycrest 
Key information
University University of Hong Kong
Country Hong Kong
Learning mode Hybrid
Pace Full-time, Part-time
Duration 12-24 months
Tuition fee 42,100 and 171,000 HK$ per year
Application deadline(s) February
Funding ✅ Scholarships and Bursaries
Official Website Click here

The Master of Laws (LL.M) in Human Rights 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.

Lecturers of the programme include experts in the human rights sector from around the world including eminent scholars, judges, United Nations employees and directors of NGOs.

The programme attracts students from a broad range of backgrounds including lawyers, judges, human rights professionals working for international organizations, NGOs or institutions. Moreover, investigative journalists, human rights scholars, government officials and doctors are among the alumni of the Masters.

Features

  • Scholarships available
  • Focus on Asia-Pacific Region

#10 Europa-Universität Viadrina Frankfurt (Germany)

Master of International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law – LLM

Europa-Universität Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), Brandenburg, Germany CC-BY-3.0 RudolfSimon
Key information
University University of Europa-Universität Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder)
Country Germany
Learning mode Hybrid
Pace Full-time, Part-time
Duration 12-24 months
Tuition fee € 6.100 for LL.M. Program (full- and part-time study)
Application deadline(s) February
Funding ❌ External Sources
Official Website Click here

The Master of International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law aims to prepare students for careers in policy making, international, public and governmental service as well as public and private legal practice. Moreover, graduates of this programme work for non-governmental organizations or pursue an academic teaching or research career.

The programme is focused on human rights protection in the context of armed conflict. Many of its modules are designed to explore the linkages and occasionally contradictions of human rights law and international humanitarian law. In addition to developing theoretical knowledge, the master aims to equip students with reliable practical skills in the application of their theoretical knowledge.

Students will learn to apply international standards of protection in specific circumstances, in particular in international court proceedings and other institutional procedures, the investigation of facts, or conflict resolution.

Features

  • Lower Tuition-fee

#11 University of Edinburgh (Scotland)

LLM in Human Rights

Exterior of the McEwan Hall CC BY-SA 2.0 dun_deagh
Key information
University University of Edinburgh
Country Scotland
Learning mode On-Campus
Pace Full-time
Duration 12 months
Tuition fee £14,400 (UK), £25,300 (International / EU)
Application deadline(s) Every 3-4 months
Funding ✅ Scholarships and Bursaries
Official Website Click here

The LLM in Human Rights is designed to provide you with a theoretical and practical understanding of international human rights law in its broader political context, with a particular emphasis on human rights in times of transition, including conflict situations or other political and societal movements.

You will have the opportunity to not only explore the global role of human rights and the international and domestic machinery that promotes and enforces rights, but also how academic debates connect to the practice of human rights.

The programme has a flexible structure, including some interdisciplinary options, that enables you to tailor your curriculum to best suit your individual interests and career plans, drawing from a choice of specialised courses from the Law School and the School of Social and Political Science.

Features

  • Wide research and network centers

#12 University of Essex (United Kingdom)

LLM International Humanitarian Law

Wivenhoe House Hotel, University of Essex CC BY-SA 4.0 Sayanaka
Key information
University University of Essex
Country United Kingdom
Learning mode On-Campus
Pace Full-time
Duration 12 months
Tuition fee £9,200 (Domestic Students), £19,740 (International Students)
Application deadline(s) October
Funding ✅ Scholarships and Bursaries
Official Website Click here

The School of Law at the University of Essex in Colchester, England, United Kingdom, runs the Essex Human Rights Center, a major hub for cutting-edge research in the field of human rights. Students in the International Humanitarian Law LLM program have an opportunity to participate in these studies. In addition, the school offers a Master of Arts degree in Human Rights and Cultural Diversity, and a Master of Arts degree in Theory and Practice of Human Rights.

Features

  • Scholarships available
  • 51st in the THE World University Rankings 2021

Find out more about human rights masters

About the author

Robert Fellner

Robert is founder of Human Rights Careers (HRC). A platform with the aim to support human rights students, alumni, graduates and professionals in pursuing and developing their career in human rights. Prior to launching HRC, Robert worked as Global Human Rights EdTech Manager at Amnesty International in London and as consultant for international human rights organizations globally. During 2011 and 2012, Robert worked as lecturer at Ain Shams university in Egypt. Robert has a masters in literature and human rights.