Program Planning


To obtain a joint major in Human Rights Studies, a student must complete requirements for the Human Rights program AND the major requirements for another department. The requirements for Human Rights are:

Introductory course (one required)

Designed to provide any interested student with an overview of human rights as an idea and as a major social movement, to examine the breadth of the field, and to enable them to evaluate human rights as a potential major. This course will be chosen from the list below.

  • Human Rights in Theory and Practice, or
  • Introduction to Human Rights, or
  • Historical Origins of Human Rights

Basic Issues and Methods courses (two required)

Designed to familiarize the student with the basic methods and institutions that make up the modern human rights movement.

  • International Law and the UN in Practice
  • International Law
  • Colloquium on Human Rights in a Diverse World
  • Historical Origins of Human Rights
  • Introduction to Human Rights
  • Gender, Culture and Human Rights
  • Human Rights and World Politics
  • Theories of Human Rights
  • Human Rights and Social Change in Africa
  • Human Rights and Social Justice
  • Human Rights and Global Justice
  • Gender and Rights

Related courses (three required)

These three related courses will reflect the student's personal interests and specialization in human rights with the advice and guidance of her academic advisor. To see the full list of currently available courses, please consult the Course Catalog.

A senior thesis on a human rights topic

The senior thesis or project in the area of human rights studies is written in the senior thesis seminar of the major department. Where this is not possible, it is written in Human Rights Studies Independent Study W3997x or W3998y, or in the Columbia College Human Rights Senior Seminar W3996.

All of the above requirements must be approved by her human rights academic advisor. Up to three of the required human rights courses may also satisfy requirements of the other major, but no course may count for both the joint major and a major/minor in another department.


A student can find her academic advisor among the Human Rights program faculty. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the program, an unlisted professor whose work is relevant may also be chosen.

A junior/senior looking for a thesis advisor may also consult the list of Human Rights faculty for a suitable advisor in her area of research.