Master of Human Rights

In a world that needs visionaries, the Master of Human Rights (MHR) degree program prepares students to engage in global human rights challenges through research, policy analysis, and advocacy.

This interdisciplinary degree program provides a solid grounding in diverse substantive and methodological approaches to the study and practice of human rights. The program is designed to support emerging leaders who can draw upon many types of knowledge and experiences in a field that demands innovative responses to complex challenges. Students learn both theory and skills development from leading human rights scholars, thinkers, and activists, while gaining field experience through internships and capstone projects to apply strategic approaches to complex global and local issues.

The MHR program is jointly supported by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the College of Liberal Arts, and brings together the highly regarded offerings of the graduate minor in human rights and faculty expertise in fields ranging from non-governmental organization (NGO) management to global public policy. The program leverages the global policy, leadership and management, and social policy and policy analysis expertise at the Humphrey School.

Positions Our Graduates Hold

Career options span all levels of government, NGOs, and the private sector. Students who have completed the graduate minor in human rights have gained employment at:

Director of Education, The Advocates for Human Rights, Minneapolis
Director of Client Services, Domestic Abuse Project, Minneapolis
United Nations Development Programme, Myanmar
Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State, Beijing, China
Advisor to the Chief Strategy Officer, USAID, Washington, DC
M&E Project Officer, Perkins International, School for the Blind, Amherst, MA
Governance Specialist, World Bank, Kampala, Uganda
International Development Professional, Health Partners, Minneapolis, MN


Required Credits:  45

Human Rights Core 

(Required to be taken in the fall of your first year)

(Choose at least 2 of the following 3 courses for at least 6 credits)

and the following first-year cohort:

  • PA 5886/5887 MHR Cohort Seminar I&II (1 credit per semester x 2 semesters = 2 credits)

Professional Core (minimum 12 credits).  

Concentration (See further details below)

  • Concentration (minimum 12 credits)
  • To be drawn from a list of pre-designed concentrations (below) or developed in consultation with advisor and DGS.

Capstone/Professional Paper (3 credits)


  • As needed/available to fulfill a minimum of 45 credits needed for graduation.


  • Students must complete a 400-hour non-credit internship, generally between the first and second years of study. The Human Rights Program and the Humphrey School Office of Career and Professional Development will cooperate in assisting students in finding appropriate placements.

Pre-Designed Concentrations

The list of pre-designed concentrations below (and outlined in further detail in the next dropdown menu) is suggestive only. Students will be allowed, with approval from their advisor and the DGS, to pursue a self-designed concentration that modifies these, or departs from them entirely. In addition, as students develop their concentration, advisors must ensure that students include courses that develop relevant skills, such as public speaking; advanced statistical analysis; data visualization; languages; and more.

These pre-designed concentrations are more fully developed in the drop-down below. Current concentrations include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Human Rights, Race and Ethnicity
  • Human Rights, Gender and Sexuality
  • Human Rights in the Arts and Humanities
  • Human Rights, NGO Leadership and Management
  • Human Rights and Project/Policy Evaluation
  • Human Rights and Development
  • Human Rights in Conflict and International Security
  • Human Rights and Migration
  • Human Rights Crime, Law & Justice
  • Human Rights and Research Methods (Qualitative/Quantitative)
  • Human Rights, Languages & Area Studies (Latin America, Europe, North America, Asia, Middle East, Africa.)
  • Human Rights and Public Health
  • Human Rights and the Environment

Concentrations: Pre-Designed

Human Rights, Race and Ethnicity  

Human Rights, Gender and Sexuality 

Human Rights in the Arts & Humanities

This concentration is meant to prepare students in the understanding of the role of artistic, literary and cultural practices in the promotion of cultures that support and respect human rights.

Students will work with their faculty advisor to choose courses appropriate to their particular arts and humanities focus.

Human Rights, NGO Leadership and Management

Human Rights and Project/Policy Evaluation 

Human Rights and Development  

Human Rights, Conflict and International Security 

Human Rights and Migration  

Human Rights: Crime, Law and Justice  

Human Rights and Research Methods (Qualitative and/or Quantitative)  

Human Rights and Area Studies (Latin America, Asia, Middle East, Africa, etc.)

The potential area studies courses offered at the University are vast. Students will work with their advisor to select courses for an area studies concentration. (at least 12 credits)

Human Rights and Public Health

Human Rights and Environment  

Concentrations: Self-Designed

Students can deepen their professional interests by creating an interdisciplinary concentration that combines courses from two or more existing concentrations as well as courses from various departments across the University. Students provide a cohesive rationale for the several themes that tie coursework together into a coherent primary concentration.

Students pursuing this concentration should consult with their advisors and review the self-designed concentration form to understand the rationale and approval that is required for this concentration. The form also includes tips for choosing courses in a self-designed concentration.

Courses are chosen in consultation with advisors and other experts in the fields of interest students are pursuing. Students are encouraged to investigate the many research centers at the Humphrey School and throughout the University to find a match for professional interests.