Schools with Human Rights Degree Programs

Students interested in human rights can find degree and certificate programs offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Human rights curriculum does not have a standardized set of criteria across institutions. Students will need to investigate specific programs case by case to evaluate and compare course offerings.

How to Choose a Human Rights School

Several universities and colleges across the country offer human rights programs at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. Students can also find shorter certificate programs in human rights. Many schools offer students the opportunity to tailor their curriculum according to their interests.

Students interested in human rights may want to consider the following when looking into a program:

  • Since it is a relatively new field, majors in human rights might be difficult to find and it may be necessary to select it as a minor instead.
  • A student with a strong interest in human rights in a region, such as Africa or the Middle East, may only want to consider schools that offer courses in these areas or have professors who have published papers on these topics.
  • Students interested in how human rights relates to other fields, such as public policy or gender, should look for combined programs or dual major programs.

Human Rights Program Overviews

Bachelor of Arts in Human Rights Studies

Human rights bachelor's degree programs stress research and analysis, and they concentrate on issues of law, social justice, conflict resolution and dignity. Programs are interdisciplinary, meaning that multiple departments coordinate. Central to the field is human rights law, particularly international human rights law. Many programs offer internships and study abroad opportunities. The program explores areas such as:

  • History
  • Political studies
  • Literature
  • Advocacy

Master's Degree in Human Rights

A master's program in human rights can include research and advocacy, fieldwork, guest lectures and even international travel. Programs are typically offered in conjunction with a closely related field, such as social justice. In addition to required courses and scholarly research, students complete a thesis requirement in an area of human rights. Curriculum focuses on:

  • International issues
  • International law
  • Regional conflicts
  • Geography
  • Culture

Doctoral Degree with an Emphasis in Human Rights

Doctoral programs are available as concentrations or combined with other fields of study. Much of the program focuses on a dissertation topic, which is researched, written and presented to an academic board. The doctoral degree with emphasis in human rights is suited for students who wish to obtain teaching positions at universities and colleges. Courses explore:

  • Human rights law
  • Gender
  • Globalization
  • Education
  • Immigration

Ten Schools with Human Rights Programs

College/UniversityInstitution Type
Indiana University Bloomington4 year, Public
University of Denver4 year, Public
University of San Francisco4 year, Public
University of Nebraska-Lincoln4 year, Public
UC San Diego4 year, Public
Barnard College4 year, Private
Southern Methodist University4 year, Private
Trinity College4 year, Private
University of Dayton4 year, Private
University of Chicago4 year, Public

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