Program level: Graduate (Master’s)

Degree awarded: MA

Unit: Department of Legal Studies

Program registration: The Program was approved and registered by the New York State Education Department in 1998.

Program length: 10 months

Type of degree: CEU

CEU credits: 36 Legal Studies credit

ECTS credits: 83.88

Start of the program: End of August

Program Chair: Károly Bárd



Since its foundation in 1998 the MA in Human Rights Program remains the first in the region to offer graduate education in international and European human rights law to students from various parts of the world, including Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and the Balkans. In recent years the number of students from Africa, the Americas and from Asia has increased considerably. The MA in Human Rights Program recruits applicants from all disciplines, who wish to understand the theoretical and policy implications of defending human rights and acquire the skills for successful human rights protection and advocacy.

The interdisciplinary MA in Human Rights degree combines social science, policy-based approach with legal science, thus non-lawyers are given an opportunity to benefit from a curriculum with a legal focus. Teaching is designed to incorporate both theoretical perspectives and concrete empirical analyses of the most important questions in human rights. The program offers practical instruction in the specific legal mechanisms and institutional processes which may be used by national human rights organizations to effectively approach human rights issues that transitional and also established democracies might confront. Courses familiarize students with the key legal concepts and enable them to use basic legal reasoning and comparative arguments. Areas of research and teaching cover – among others – international mechanisms for the protection of human rights, with particular focus on the Council of Europe and the United Nations, freedom of expression and freedom of religion, human rights and criminal justice, political rights, non-discrimination, minority protection, human rights and development politics, human rights in Africa, and the constitutional protection of rights on a basic level. The Program is modularized (the academic year is divided in six teaching modules) and students need to meet the specific program requirements on the number of mandatory, restricted elective and elective courses. Rigorous and closely monitored coursework provides the tools of analysis, critical reading and writing skills to enable students to make a significant and lasting contribution both to the protection of rights in their home countries and to enforcement of human rights at large.

The program benefits from a close cooperation with the Open Society Justice Initiative, the Open Society Foundations and leading Budapest-based NGOs which offer internship opportunities to selected students.

Students graduating from the Program demonstrate a substantial in-depth knowledge of international human rights law and fundamental constitutional rights, and a close familiarity with the institutional and procedural features of regional and global inter-governmental institutions working on the protection of human rights. The Program helps to develop an awareness and understanding of the wider context of legal issues relating to human rights; and also fosters the ability of students to provide genuine solutions to complex human rights problems by combining different disciplines. The comparative knowledge gained in the Program also strengthens their ability to elaborate policies and advocacy strategies for the effective implementation of human rights.

Entry Requirements for the MA in Human Rights

In addition to meeting the General CEU Admissions Requirements, applicants to the HR MA program must also fulfill the Program-specific admission requirements.