The Best Human Rights Programs in the US and UK

10/01/20205 minute read
The Best Human Rights Programs in the US and UK

With the increasing global activism for human rights, it’s no surprise degrees specializing in that subject area have become more popular. Human rights covers a variety of issues including climate change, internet freedom, health care, LGBT rights, asylum seekers and gender equality, just to name a few topics.

Those considering a career focused on human rights often already have an undergrad degree in another subject (related to human rights), then seek further education to help them find a career advocating for one of the mentioned topics above.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the best human rights programs, which include interesting and proactive concentrations. Many of these programs are well-suited for students interested in pursuing law. Check out our list of the top 11 law schools in the world!

Columbia University

Human Rights, MA

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The Human Rights Studies MA at Columbia University is an interdisciplinary program at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and focuses on human rights theory and practice. The degree is part of the university’s Institute of Human Rights Studies (IHRS), one of the best human rights graduate programs in the United States. The Institute holds a strong reputation within the field of human rights, with decades of study and research into international human rights.

This 30-credit degree program can be completed part-time or full-time and requires the completion of a Masters thesis. It is designed for MA and PhD students enrolled in other graduate programs at Columbia University, particularly those interested in pursuing law.

London School of Economics and Political Science

Human Rights Law, MSc


LSE Law is one of the world's top law schools, with an international reputation for the quality of its teaching and legal research. The Centre for the Study of Human Rights partners with the London School of Economics and Political Science to offer an interdisciplinary master’s degree program in human rights law.

Students in the program can take courses in a range of subjects, including law, sociology, criminal justice, public policy and anthropology. Course requirements vary from year to year, but students are required to complete independent research and write a master’s thesis.

Boston University

Human Rights and Social Justice, MPH

Boston University

This unique degree blends public health and human rights into a single degree. This degree is perfect for students interested in studying the international disasters that could lead to critical healthcare crises. A variety of courses are available for students to experience including health care rationing, medicine, markets and morals, health and human rights, health law and more!

Harvard University

Human Rights Concentration, LLM

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Harvard offers this degree to students enrolled in a variety of programs including law, political science and international studies. This program is also available for students within the community who are not enrolled at Harvard.

Harvard has several programs associated with human rights including, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights and The Committee on Ethnicity, Migration, Rights.

University College London

Human Rights, MA/LLM


UCL offers a wide range of human-rights related courses including two postgraduate degrees in human rights, LLM in human rights (specialist degree) and MA in human rights, offered through the department of political science.

Students admitted to the LLM program are eligible to take this specialist after completing a number of pre-req modules including Children and their Rights, Comparative Human-Rights Law, Human Rights At Work and a few others.

The Masters program in Human Rights at UCL offers a number of modules both in and outside of the department including Theoretical Foundations of Human Rights, Normative Methods, Legal Analysis and Research Skills, International Law and Human Rights and a few others.

University of York

Applied Human Rights, MA

International Human Rights Law and Practice, LLM

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The Centre for Applied Human Rights and University of York offers two Masters level programs of study. The first program, MA in Applied Human Rights is designed for practitioners and would-be practitioners across this spectrum who wish to engage with applied human rights. The course focuses on the use of rights discourse and tools within the human rights mainstream and in a range of related fields.

The second, an LLM in International Human Rights Law and Practice, provides the knowledge, skills and networks necessary for mid-career professionals and recent graduates to work in the human rights field.

Yale University

Human Rights, LLM


The study of human rights law at the Yale Law School is offered in conjunction with the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights. A diverse program of human rights activities are offered to students and scholars, who contribute to the development of the human rights community locally and internationally.

A number of fellowships allow Law Students to dedicate their time to advocacy, human rights work and scholarship. These include Robert L. Bernstein International Human Rights Fellowships, Robina Foundation Fellowships, Kirby Simon Summer Human Rights Fellowships and Gruber Fellowships.

Want to study Law? Check out the top 10 Law Schools in the world!