The 2016–2017 Human Rights LL.M. Fellowship Program

The 2016–2017 Human Rights LL.M. Fellowship Program

The 2016–2017 Human Rights LL.M. Fellowship Program

Columbia Law School is pleased to announce its 2016–2017 Human Rights LL.M. Fellowship Program for individuals with extraordinary potential in the field of international human rights. The Fellowship is designed to support students pursuing an LL.M. degree at Columbia who show exceptional commitment and potential to use their education to become innovators and leaders in human rights practice and/or academia.

The Human Rights LL.M. Fellowship is jointly coordinated by Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute, the focal point of human rights work, education, critical reflection, and scholarship at the Law School, and the Office of Graduate Legal Studies, which manages the School’s LL.M. and J.S.D. Programs. Fellowships offer partial to full waivers of tuition, and in some cases, a living stipend, depending on the applicant’s demonstrated level of financial need.

LL.M. Human Rights Fellows will receive tailored skills and career mentoring in both practice and academic scholarship from Human Rights Institute faculty, staff, and advisers; be invited to special events with leading human rights advocates and scholars; and be afforded the opportunity to participate in the Human Rights Institute’s cutting-edge research projects. Fellows will also be given special consideration for admission to Columbia’s Human Rights Clinic, an innovative course where students learn to be strategic, creative, and critical human rights advocates while pursuing social justice in partnership with civil society and communities, and while advancing human rights methodologies and scholarship. Fellows are expected to devote a significant part of their studies while at Columbia to human rights, and to take an active part in the Law School’s vibrant human rights community.

Applicants must demonstrate experience in international human rights and a commitment to a career in the field, whether in academia and/or human rights practice. Candidates from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and candidates who face impediments to education and leadership because of their race, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic background, gender, or sexual orientation are strongly encouraged to apply.

Application Procedures

To be eligible for the Human Rights LL.M. Fellowship, applicants must first meet the admission criteria and be admitted to the LL.M. Program at Columbia Law School. For more information, visit:

  • Eligibility and Admission Standards
  • Application Instructions
  • Application Deadline

A complete Human Rights LL.M. Fellowship Application consists of:

  1. A completed application for admission to the LL.M. program through LSAC;
  2. A separate, short essay of one to two pages, describing the applicant’s qualifications for the fellowship. Applicants should discuss their current and previous human rights work, interest in and commitment to the field, career goals, and human rights vision. The essay should be uploaded to the Human Rights LL.M. Fellowship section of the LSAC online application;
  3. Letters of Recommendation that speak to the applicant’s prior work and future potential as a human rights advocate, scholar, and/or practitioner. The two letters of recommendation submitted for the LL.M. application may also be used for the Fellowship if they comment on the applicant’s human rights work and commitment. In the case that one or both of the letters of recommendation for the LL.M. Program application do not speak to the human rights aspects of the applicant’s background and future interests, the applicant may submit a third letter of recommendation through the LSAC online application from a professor or human rights practitioner who can comment knowledgeably about her or his human rights commitment, experience, and future plans; and
  4. A completed Application for Financial Assistance as part of the LSAC Online LL.M. application. In providing a candid picture of your financial resources, you are enabling the selection committee to determine the appropriate level of assistance to provide to each Fellow and to maximize the number of Fellowships it can award each year.

Eligibility and Admission Standards

In evaluating applications for admission to our Graduate Legal Studies programs, we strive to select a student body of diverse backgrounds and interests that shares a discernible commitment to excellence.

We place primary emphasis on demonstrated qualities and proven skills we regard as necessary for academic success and intellectual engagement at Columbia Law School, and also highly value personal strengths that we believe predict professional distinction and public service. We endeavor to identify how and to what extent candidates have forged their values and achieved their goals—how they have actually chosen to commit their time, energies, and talents, and how they have made use of their opportunities. Applicants are evaluated, therefore, not only on their potential but by their demonstrated motivation, self-discipline and industry.

LL.M. candidates are required to spend one academic year (two terms) of full-time study and research in residence at the school, and are admitted for studies commencing only at the beginning of the academic year, in late August-early September (there is no summer term). LL.M. candidates are not admitted on a part-time basis and may not accept or continue off-campus employment during their academic year of residence. An exception to the prohibition of part-time studies is made for students who for family reasons (the care of children or elderly parents) may spread their studies over a three-semester period, taking eight points per term. A disadvantage of this approach, however, is that since the points are charged on a per-credit basis, the degree costs more than it would over three semesters than it would if obtained in one academic year. Moreover, this approach is also incompatible with the university’s 10-point-per-semester minimum requirement to qualify as a full-time student for student visa purposes.


To be eligible for admission to the LL.M. Program, applicants must hold a first degree in law. A degree in a field other than law, even if followed by a master’s degree in law, generally does not suffice for admission. Applicants who have earned a law degree by correspondence course work or distance learning are not eligible for admission. As the LL.M. is a full-time program of study, students are not permitted to accept off-campus employment while enrolled in the program.

Admission Standards

Strong preference is given to applicants who have had at least one year of work experience after earning their first law degree. Only in exceptional circumstances are applications from candidates who are in their final year of their first law degree accepted. Applicants who have not yet graduated must demonstrate in their personal statements that their admission to the program would enable them to realize an immediate and specific career objective that would not otherwise be attainable.

A. Graduates of Law Schools in the United States
Admission to candidacy for the LL.M. degree is restricted, in the case of graduates of law schools in the U.S., to graduates of A.B.A.-accredited law schools who achieved honor status in their undergraduate legal studies as evidenced by very high academic standing, by membership on their law reviews, or by outstanding work in research. Generally, preference is given to candidates who have acquired at least one year of significant professional legal experience subsequent to graduation.

B. Graduates of Law Schools in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom or English-speaking Caribbean Countries
Admission for these degree candidates is generally restricted to those who achieved honor status in their prior legal studies as evidenced by very high academic standing, by membership on their law reviews, or by outstanding work in research. As a general matter, applicants from law schools in these countries who have not completed at least five years of post-secondary undergraduate and legal education combined must have been admitted to the bar and practiced for at least one year after completing their legal education.

C. Graduates of All Other Law Schools
The purpose of the LL.M. Program for these degree candidates is to provide an introduction to new areas of interest to them as well as the opportunity to further specialize in their current areas of practice, and is generally restricted to those who achieved honor status in their prior legal studies.

International lawyers who intend to reside permanently and to practice law in the United States should apply for the J.D. degree, the first degree in law, rather than the LL.M. The J.D. program is normally three years of full-time study. Generally, a maximum of one year’s advanced standing toward the J.D. degree at Columbia may be granted for graduate legal studies completed in the United States or another common-law country. Such standing, however, is determined on an individual basis by request of the student after an offer of admission has been made. Completion of an LL.M. degree at Columbia Law School does not guarantee admission to the J.D. program.

Application Deadline

The Application deadline for the 2016-2017 Human Rights Fellowship Program is December 15, 2015 (the same deadline as the application for the LL.M. Program).

More Information

For more information, contact the Office of Graduate Legal Studies.

Mailing Address

Office of Graduate Legal Studies
Columbia Law School
435 West 116th Street, MC 4036
New York, N.Y. 10027




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