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Master’s Degree Programs in Human Rights Overview

Majors Overview November 15, 2015

This article talks about master’s degree programs in human rights and their educational requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Master’s Programs in Human Rights

Enrollees in human rights master’s degree programs gain the skills necessary for becoming researchers, advocates, and teachers of social justice and human rights. Some schools offer a human rights specialization track, instead of an entire master’s degree program in human rights, for individuals studying anthropology, history, social work, business, law, or political science. In these programs, a global look is taken at health, education, development, gender and race, in addition to surveying how human rights and social justice are affected by those issues. Program graduates are ready for careers in research or in managing organizations with a focus on human rights issues. Enrollees in some programs are allowed to choose from specializations such as social justice or community development.

Educational Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree and to submit copies of official transcripts from any graduate or undergraduate courses completed. International students must also demonstrate proficiency in English, usually through the passage of a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam.


Program coursework covers race, gender, and other social issues, such as poverty, war, environmental ethics and domestic violence. An internship is included in some programs while an applied project or thesis is in most programs. Core coursework may commonly cover topic areas such as:

•Grant writing for human rights organizations
•Fundraising for human rights organizations
•Social problems
•Human rights and the law
•International development and human rights

Career Choices

Program graduates can seek careers as administrators or researchers of private or government organizations relating to human rights, including:

•Community development organizations
•International relief agencies
•Economic development agencies

Job and Wage Outlook

In May 2012, social and community service managers brought in an average annual wage of $59,970 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, these professionals are expected to see a faster-than-average job growth of 21% (BLS).

Continuing Education Choices

Program graduates may seek entry-level jobs in teaching, either in private or public schools. Varying by state, teacher licensure may require certification or additional education. Those strongly interested in human rights and the law may seek a law degree to perform legal work on international issues and human rights. Those who wish to earn doctoral programs may opt for related fields such as political science, anthropology, and history.

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