Human rights scholarship cuts across disciplines. Students pursuing this certificate take courses that cover the major conceptual, historical, and humanistic human rights questions from the perspective of different disciplines.
The program is designed to complement a student's disciplinary preparation for the M.A. or Ph.D. degree. It offers a certificate upon the completion of twenty-four points of study.
Participation is appropriate for students with career objectives related to human rights teaching, research, and professional practice and who have been admitted to an M.A. or Ph.D. degree program at Columbia University.
The program is open to registered Ph.D. or M.A. students in all disciplines for whom human rights questions bear substantively on their primary academic interests and whose career objectives are related to human rights in teaching, research, or professional practice.
Students must complete 24 qualifying credit points (generally 8 courses) to receive the certificate.
Students are encouraged to research courses of interest prior to meeting with the faculty adviser.
Each semester, ISHR publishes a course list for students engaged in human rights studies. While certificate courses are not determined by their inclusion on or exclusion from this list, it can serve as a useful reference tool for students. However, all courses that are listed as pre-approved on the Human Rights Studies M.A. course list will automatically count towards the certificate.
All courses must be approved by a faculty adviser in order to be counted towards the certificate requirements. Students can track their certificate progress with the Certificate Progress Worksheet. Students should bring this form when meeting with their faculty adviser.
All courses must be graduate level (4000 higher).
Up to two of the courses (six credit points) may be taken for R credit. Courses taken for E credit must be completed with a grade of B- or better to be counted for the certificate.
Two point courses at the law school are equivalent to 3-point SIPA courses. Internship credit cannot be counted towards the Certificate. The Certificate is not a degree; requirements for the certificate are the same for students enrolled in M.A. and in Ph.D. degree programs.
Register and Apply for the Certificate
Register for the Certificate Program
Eligible students who would like to pursue the certificate should contact Professor Andrew Nathan and submit a registration form. Your participation in the certificate program will be registered and indicated on your SSOL record.
Certification and Graduation
Students who have completed the requirements must complete and submit two forms:
1. Final Certificate Worksheet
Students must submit a completed certificate worksheet to their faculty adviser. If the student has completed all necessary requirements and submits the application for to the registrar (see below), he or she will be awarded the certificate.
2. Application for Degree or Certificate
In order to graduate, all students must submit an application to the registrar. Students apply for the certificate on the same form that they apply for their MA or PhD degree. This form is submitted to
Deadlines for completing certificate applications are September 1st for October graduation; December 1st for February graduation; and March 1st for May graduation.
Faculty Advisers and Contact Information
The primary point of contact for the certificate program is Professor Andrew Nathan. Please contact him first if you are interested in pursuing a certificate. Students can also contact ISHR’s director of education at
Professor Andrew Nathan
Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science
Chair, Board of Directors, Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Andrew J. Nathan
Professor of International and Public Affairs
Director, Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Associate Director, Institute for the Study of Human Rights