Graduate Minor in Human Rights

The graduate minor in human rights provides students enrolled in any University of Minnesota graduate program (including professional schools) the opportunity to gain interdisciplinary expertise in the study of human rights laws, policy, and practice. The program includes both classroom and field experience in international human rights issues and advocacy.

Our cohort of minors includes graduate students from more than a dozen colleges and departments, studying fields such as health, education, social sciences, and the humanities. Students expand their knowledge to include theoretical and practical approaches to human rights problems and learn to translate their own disciplinary expertise to human rights studies. In our interdisciplinary setting, we consider questions such as:

  • What are the causes of human rights violations?
  • Why do certain issues emerge as the focus of advocacy while others do not?
  • What are the ethical implications of representing victims in reporting, artistic and literary production, and advocacy?

Our graduates use their human rights knowledge in placements across the academic and professional spectrum. Many PhD graduates have found their knowledge of human rights to be an asset in searching for academic and research positions in institutions of higher education as well as in global and regional organizations. Master's students are working in various positions in NGOs, foundations, IGOs, and governments, where they carry out research, monitoring and evaluation, fact-finding and reporting, or manage IT and communications.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the graduate minor in human rights is restricted to graduate students and professional students already enrolled in a degree program at the University of Minnesota. A GPA of 3.0 is required. Students wishing to pursue the minor will submit a letter of application to the Human Rights Program describing their background and motivation for applying to the human rights minor program and file a program form that will be forwarded to the University of Minnesota Graduate School. Doctoral students must declare the minor before taking their preliminary oral examination. Both master’s degree and doctoral students are strongly encouraged to declare the minor when filing the degree program form. In general, students must take courses listed outside their home departments (unless the courses are cross-listed with other departments) to count them toward the graduate minor.

To apply, fill out the Application Template for Graduate Human Rights Minor.

Both master's degree and doctoral students are strongly encouraged to declare the minor when filing the Graduate Degree Program (GDP) form. Students who have already submitted the GDP form should fill out the Graduate Student Petition form.

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Master's Students (Including Professional Schools)

Must complete nine credit hours, including two core courses, at least one elective course (3 credits) taken from a designated course list, and one six-week internship approved by the director of graduate studies (with a minimum total of 200 hours of work). Students may meet the total hourly requirement over the span of more than six weeks, subject to director approval. Electives must be from outside the student's major field of study.

Doctoral Students

Must complete 12 credit hours, including two core courses, at least two elective courses (totaling 6 credits), and one six-week internship approved by the director of graduate studies (with a minimum total of 200 hours work). Doctoral students pursuing the graduate human rights minor must have at least one faculty member affiliated with the minor on their oral examination committees and official dissertation committee.

Humphrey School of Public Affairs

In addition to the graduate minor offered by the Human Rights Program, the Humphrey School offers master of public policy students the opportunity to pursue a concentration in human rights. Students entering the public policy master's program may choose a global policy concentration with a focus on human rights. All students should consult their advisor and/or Mary Curtin at

Law School

Students must complete the requirements for the University of Minnesota Law School's concentration in human rights law (12 credit hours of coursework, of which at least two courses are from the core list and at least one course has a substantial writing and research component). Learn more about the human rights law concentration. Please direct questions to:

Christopher Roberts


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College Resources for Graduate Students

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