Master's Programs for Human Rights Advocates

Learn about master's degree programs that can prepare you to become a human rights advocate, including those in law. Find information on degree options and tracks, course topics and academic prerequisites. Schools offering Human Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Types of Master's Degree Programs are Available for Human Rights Activists?

Master's degree programs for human rights activists are available as standard master's degrees and second law degrees. Standard master's degree programs in social justice and human rights typically require a bachelor's degree and a personal statement of purpose, letters of recommendation and dedication to community involvement for acceptance.

A Master of Laws in Human Rights program is considered a second professional law degree and can only be completed by students with a first professional law degree or Juris Doctor (JD). These programs are very competitive and require spoken and written fluency in English, statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, resume and transcripts.

Degree Programs Master of Arts (MA) in Human Rights, Master of Laws (LLM) in Human Rights
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree, statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation for MA; Juris Doctor, letter of recommendation, resume, and transcripts for LLM
Common Courses for MA in Human Rights Environmental justice issues, grant writing, foundations of social justice, economic crimes and community organizing
Common Courses for LLM in Human Rights Constitutional law, global justice, genocide and war crimes, juvenile rights advocacy and advanced legal writing
Median Salary (2019) $35,170 (for all victim advocates)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 18% growth (for all social and community service managers)**

Sources: *PayScale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Learn in a Human Rights Master's Degree Program?

Human rights master's degrees typically offer curriculum designed around human rights issues in the areas of education, health, work, environment, children and family. Some programs offer you the choice of a research or management track. In a research track, you will focus on developing your qualitative and quantitative research skills as well as becoming prepared for a doctorate program. In a management track, you will develop your skills in non-profit or advocacy management and take additional courses in financial management, information management, program evaluation and ethics. Students in either track will take courses similar to the following:

  • Grant writing
  • Contemporary slavery
  • Community organizing
  • Border justice issues
  • Economic crimes
  • Environmental justice issues
  • Human rights issues
  • Social analysis
  • Foundations of social justice

What Do I Need To Know About a Master of Laws in Human Rights Program?

A Master of Laws in Human Rights degree will prepare you for representing the legal issues of human rights in court through private practice or non-governmental organizations. As a law student in these programs, you will be able to design your own series of courses to best fit your interests, rather than follow a pre-described roadmap. This degree typically requires one year of full-time study and may consist of courses in topics such as the following:

  • Civil liberties
  • Global justice
  • Advanced legal writing
  • Issues in international human rights
  • Genocide and war crimes
  • Housing law
  • Juvenile rights advocacy
  • International criminal law
  • Constitutional law

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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  • Strayer University

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  • Howard University

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    • Columbia (D.C.): Washington
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    • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia