Human Rights Studies Certificate

Program director: TBD;

Human Rights Studies certificate

The Human Rights Studies program presents human rights as a rich and interdisciplinary field of study. The program aims to provide students with the analytical, conceptual, and practical skills necessary for human rights study; connect students to affiliate faculty and peers; support student research projects and internships; and offer guidance for post-graduate careers and studies related to human rights. 

Students apply to the program during the fall term of their sophomore year. To fulfill the requirements of the program, students complete a gateway lecture course (HMRT 100), four electives, and a capstone seminar (HMRT 400), which entails completion of a final capstone project. The gateway course equips students with the theoretical tools necessary for studying human rights, their evolution, and their justification. It introduces several contemporary issues such as gender disparities, racial discrimination, climate change, global health, human trafficking, refugees, world poverty, and humanitarian intervention. Students then select four electives, courses that students identify from current university offerings, that meet the program's criteria, and that are approved by the program director. In the capstone seminar, students explore selected advanced issues in international human rights law, theory and practice and complete a supervised capstone project that is informed by extracurricular experience and developed in consultation with the program director and other program advisers. Consistent with the program's commitment to the interdisciplinary study of human rights, students' capstone projects include artistic work, advocacy projects and other practical projects, as well as academic papers. Students are also expected to submit three reflections on Schell Center human rights events during the spring term of their sophomore year and one reflection each term thereafter. Additional information is available at the Human Rights program website.

Elective courses The number of courses in Yale College that touch on human rights is large, and we encourage a diversity of perspectives and methodologies across departments and disciplines. More than 200 courses have satisfied the elective requirement in the past. The formal criterion for a program elective is that a course must “engage with the language, ideas, and methods of human rights.” We ask that students distinguish this from courses that address issues that affect people’s human rights, would be susceptible to a human rights analysis, or would simply be useful for understanding a human rights issue in which you are interested. Rather, the goal in assembling a group of electives is to enable a coherent study of human rights and to encourage students to focus on courses that will engage directly with and enhance their knowledge of and facility with the concepts, institutions, and development of human rights discourse. 

No more than two course credits fulfilling the requirements of the Human Rights Studies certificate may overlap with a major, a simultaneous degree, or another certificate. Additionally, no course credit may be applied toward the requirements of more than two curricular programs. For example, the same course credit may not be used to fulfill the requirements of two certificates and a major.


Prerequisite None

Number of courses 6 courses (incl senior req)

Specific courses required HMRT 100

Other requirements  4 electives and event reflections as described

Senior requirement HMRT 400