Top Schools for Human Rights Law Degree Programs

Aug 16, 2018

Find out which top schools offer programs in human rights law, a specialized field that examines social, economic, and educational freedoms within a national and international context. Learn about the degree options at four high-profile universities, and find a list of other schools in the U.S. that offer programs in human rights law. View article »

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  • 0:04 Degree & School Information
  • 0:45 University of Notre Dame
  • 1:18 Northwestern University
  • 1:46 Columbia University
  • 2:14 American University
  • 3:08 Top US Schools for…

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Video Transcript

Degree & School Information

Human rights law degree programs may lead to a Master of Laws (LL.M.), Juris Doctor (J.D.), or Doctor of Juridical Science (J.S.D.). Law clinics and other enrichment options are also available. Education is available for aspiring lawyers and for experienced professionals who want to redirect their careers toward this aspect of the law.

The schools feature a leading Catholic institution, an Ivy League school, and two private institutions. All fours schools offer master's or doctoral programs in human rights law or international human rights, and they were all highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report or Forbes for 2017.

University of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame is a Catholic university that Forbes ranked 13th on its list of America's top colleges. The university's law school offers an LL.M. in International Human Rights Law and has a full-time branch campus in London and programs in Chile and Italy. Once admitted, students take courses in international law and learn about the regional systems used to protect human rights. The law school also offers a J.S.D. program for educators and researchers that undergraduates may pursue after completing their degree.

Northwestern University

Northwestern University is a private institution that was one of the first U.S. law schools to offer a joint degree in international human rights and law. The program is a four-year J.D./LL.M. in International Human Rights Law and includes an externship as part of the curriculum. In the classroom, students study criminal law as well as legal issues concerning human rights. The U.S. News & World Report ranked the institution 12th on its list of national universities.

Columbia University

Columbia University is an Ivy League institution that U.S. News & World Report ranked 5th on its national universities list. Columbia's law school offers an LL.M. program that allows students to create an individualized track in human rights law. This program is highly respected, since it is the oldest human rights degree in the U.S. Additionally, the school offers an LL.M. Human Rights Fellowship, which is a 1-year program with the goal of assisting students committed to the field of human rights.

American University

American University's Washington College of Law was founded by Ellen Spencer Mussey and Emma Gillett in 1896. It offers a LL.M. in International Rights and Humanitarian Law for lawyers who want to specialize and is available in a hybrid learning format. Another option for law students is to work for the International Human Rights Law Clinic, which provides J.D. students with real-world experience in this aspect of the law. Students can contribute to the Human Rights Brief, which is a student-run publication focusing on the subject, or join the Student Advisory Board on human rights law. Each year the school also offers the Program of Advanced Studies on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, a two-week continuing education program for lawyers that can lead to a certificate or diploma. American University was ranked 74th among national universities by U.S. News & World Report.

Top Schools for Human Rights Law in the U.S.

Here are some more law schools with educational offerings in human rights law:

School Name Location Distinction
Emory University Atlanta, GA Offers a student clinic in IHL (international humanitarian law)
St. Thomas University Miami Gardens, FL Students who graduate with an LL.M. in Intercultural Humans Rights may enroll in the J.S.D. in Intercultural Human Rights program
University of Connecticut Storrs, CT Offers an LL.M. in Human Rights and Social Justice
University of California, Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA The international human rights law program includes clinical work, internships, externships, and public programs
University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX Home of Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice
University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA Students have access to resources like the Hands-on Human Rights Program

Through top universities, aspiring and experienced lawyers can find excellent opportunities to study human rights law.

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