10 Human Rights Masters in Europe

Many human rights jobs require master’s degrees. Completing a degree programme, which is usually 1-2 years, demonstrates that a person has mastery in a specific field of study. A bachelor’s degree alone only prepares someone so much for the field of human rights. If you want to expand your job opportunities, consider studying for a master’s degree. Here are ten examples of programmes based in Europe:

European Master's Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation

Offered by: Global Campus of Human Rights
Duration: 10 months
Country: Italy
This master’s programme is a one-year course for professionals working in human rights and democratisation. They’ll learn through a variety of lenses, including legal, political, historical, philosophical, and anthropological perspectives. Through this action and policy-oriented programme, students are equipped for careers in national, international, intergovernmental, governmental, and nongovernmental organizations. Experts, representatives from international organizations and NGOs, and academics from EMA-participating universities lead the course. Students spend the first semester in Venice at the Global Campus of Human Rights campus. The curriculum is based on five thematic sections, elective courses, skill-building activities, and a field trip to Kosovo. Topics include Human Rights Institutions; Human Rights in Context; Building and Protecting Democracy; and Human Rights, Peace and Security. For the second semester, students study at one of the 42 participating universities to specialize in an area of their choice. To graduate, students must complete and defend a thesis. Up to 100 students can join the programme. It’s open to EU and non-EU citizens. Students must hold a university degree of a high standard in a field relevant to human rights. Certified English fluency is also required.

Vienna Master of Arts in Applied Human Rights

Offered by: University of Applied Arts
Duration: 24 months
Country: Austria
Founded in 2020, this master’s programme explores human rights topics through an interdisciplinary framework and an applied approach. Perspectives from history, politics, philosophy, law, arts, and culture form the curriculum. Students learn from human rights experts on how to scientifically research questions, recognize human rights violations, and develop and implement human rights strategies. Both theoretical and practical knowledge are gained. The 24-month Master of Arts in Applied Human Rights is framed around three dimensions: knowledge, skills, and attitude. Coursework is divided into four semesters: Exploring the Colours of Human Rights; Mixing Colours & Creating Shapes and Shades; Applying Colour Mixes on the Human Rights Canvas; and Finishing and Exhibiting your Big Human Rights Picture. The programme admits just 30 students. To be considered, a student must have completed a first university or college degree equivalent to a bachelor’s degree, or have at least five years of relevant professional experience. They must also have a positive result of the admission procedure.

MSc Human Rights and Diplomacy

Offered by: University of Stirling
Duration: 12 months
Country: Scotland
In this programme, students learn about the UN human rights institutions, as well as the theory and practice of human rights law. It takes an interdisciplinary approach and includes law, philosophy, and the politics of human rights. Leading human rights researchers and UN staff take the lead. In addition to learning about theory and the philosophical foundations of the UN, students gain practical skills and training. Alongside lectures, students participate in a 5-day study visit to Geneva, Switzerland, where they observe the Human Rights Council in session. For eligible students, they can spend the last 3 months of the programme interning with the UN. It’s also possible to complete a traditional master’s thesis or work on projects with human rights organizations. To apply, students must have a minimum of a second-class honours degree or equivalent. For those without this qualification, significant and relevant work/life experience may be acceptable. Certified English fluency (if English isn’t a student’s first language) is required.

Human Rights MA

Offered by: University College London
Duration: 12 months
Country: United Kingdom
For over a decade, this multidisciplinary programme has equipped students to work in a variety of human rights settings. Led by practitioners and researchers, students are introduced to the theoretical foundations, legal framework, and international politics of human rights. They’re encouraged to conduct original research, think critically, and develop the skills needed for human rights practitioners. In addition to coursework and lectures, students may participate in an annual study trip to UN agencies. Required coursework includes The Theoretical Foundations of Human Rights; International Law and Human Rights: Human Rights: Politics and Practice; and a dissertation. Students also earn credits by taking optional modules such as Introduction to Quantitative Methods and Normative Methods, Legal Analysis, and Research Skills. When applying for this programme, students must have at least an upper second-class Bachelor’s degree from a UK university or an overseas equivalent. Work experience or practical experience may also be factored into admission. The programme takes place in English.

Master in Human Rights and Humanitarian Action

Offered by: Paris School of International Affairs
Duration: 24 months
Country: France
By combining history, anthropology, sociology, and philosophy, this programme blends human rights and humanitarian action. Students are equipped with analytical and strategic skills, including negotiation, monitoring, and evaluation. After graduation, they’re ready for a variety of careers, including journalism, NGO work, or work with international organizations. The programme consists of 3 semesters on-campus and 1 semester away to complete an internship, exchange study programme, or a master’s thesis. Each semester, students study master core courses on topics like international law, gender and human security, and global/regional institution frameworks. They have the option of a second concentration or an Enhanced Master track. The applications of international students are conducted on a double analysis on a rolling basis over the application campaign. Applications for French students are in two phases: an analysis of the file and an oral interview with an admissions committee.

Master in Human Rights and Conflict Management

Offered by: Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna
Duration: 15 months
Country: Italy
Under the patronage of the UN Regional Information Centre, this master’s programme is designed to prepare students for careers at NGOs, governmental agencies, and other human rights settings. The goal is to train professionals to protect human rights and prevent, mitigate, and solve conflicts. The programme consists of classroom lectures, an internship, individual studying, and a final written project. Because the programme is field-oriented, there’s a mix of advanced role-playing sessions, simulation exercises, and case study materials. To apply, students must have at least a 3-year university degree or equivalent and understand, speak, and write English at least at LEVEL B2/CEFR for Languages, CoE. Only 28 candidates will be selected for the programme.

Theory and Practice of Human Rights

Offered by: University of Oslo
Duration: 24 months
Country: Norway
This tuition-free multidisciplinary programme educates students on human rights as a branch of public international law; human rights as an object in the study of history; the role of human rights in modern issues; and scholarly values like clarity and transparency. By the programme’s end, students are equipped to take analytical and critical stances on human rights questions. Students must complete nine courses and a written master’s thesis. Five courses are mandatory and spread among three terms. At least four elective courses must be chosen from the offerings at the Norwegian Centre for Human rights, institutes within the Faculty of Law, or other departments at the university. There’s no study abroad with this programme. To apply, students must have a higher education entrance qualification and a completed bachelor’s degree equivalent to a Norwegian bachelor’s degree. Students must have a minimum grade average of C in the Norwegian grading scale or the equivalent from your degree specialization. They must also demonstrate English proficiency, which can be done in a few ways.

Master of Arts in Law: International Law and Human Rights

Offered by: University of Tartu
Duration: 24 months
Country: Estonia

Human Rights Studies

Offered by: Lund University
Duration: 24 months
Country: Sweden
Established in 2019, this multidisciplinary master’s programme encompasses historical, ethical, political, legal, and philosophical perspectives. Students will focus on human rights in society, including their role in democratic and non-democratic systems. In the programme’s first year, students take mandatory and thematic courses, so they gain an understanding of global connections and human rights, as well as political and philosophical historiography. The second semester pivots to research methods, ethics, and project management. Students complete a practical or research internship in the third semester and for the fourth, they write and present a master’s thesis. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) in human rights or a relevant major with a human rights specialization or project. English proficiency is also required.

MSt in International Human Rights Law

Offered by: University of Oxford
Duration: 24 months
Country: United Kingdom
As a part-time master’s programme, the University of Oxford international human rights law master’s is a great choice for working professionals. Students gain the knowledge and skills needed to apply human rights law. Under the guidance of human rights academics and advocates, students learn about human rights law, research, and implementation. The programme includes two periods of online distance learning and two summer residentials at New College, Oxford. The first period consists of guided online study with reading and tutor-guided seminars. For the second period, students work independently on their dissertation with one-on-one online support from a supervisor. The summer residentials are 3 weeks of tutor-led small group seminars with a week of independent revision and two exams. Applicants should have the equivalent of a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in a relevant subject. For US students, a 3.5 out of 4.0 GPA is advised. Certified English fluency is also required, as well as professional experience. Paid or volunteer work counts.

MSc Human Rights

Offered by: The London School of Economics and Political Science
Duration: 12 months
Country: United Kingdom
In this programme, students engage with some of the most prevalent human rights issues. They’re educated on structures of human rights, the role of human rights, human rights institutions, and more. Thanks to a multidisciplinary approach, theory and practice are intertwined through philosophical, legal, and sociological perspectives. Students are prepared for both academic and non-academic careers. The programme structure is built around multidisciplinary core courses providing an overview on topics like war, culture and human rights, transitional justice, and more. Students also choose from electives and complete a 10,000-word thesis on an approved topic of their voice. To apply, students must have at least an upper second-class honors (2:1) degree or equivalent in law or a social science subject. If the degree is in another discipline, students must demonstrate an interest in human rights or experience as a practitioner. English proficiency is also required. Separate entry requirements apply to international students.

About the author

Emmaline Soken-Huberty

Emmaline Soken-Huberty is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She started to become interested in human rights while attending college, eventually getting a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and climate change are of special concern to her. In her spare time, she can be found reading or enjoying Oregon’s natural beauty with her husband and dog.