Why study International Human Rights?

The International Human Rights certificate is an interdisciplinary program that focuses on the wide array of issues – past and present – concerning the protection of human dignity. Approaching the study of human rights as an international phenomenon with local dimensions, the certificate urges students to think critically about human rights while preparing them for potential future roles in the field of human rights advocacy and beyond. The curriculum concentrates especially on international social movements, norms, laws, institutions, and politics that have developed over time to address such issues as genocide, poverty, torture, racism, refugees, political disenfranchisement, forced labor, environmental justice, oppression based on gender or sexual orientation, and other phenomena affecting human rights.

Admission Requirements

Students pursuing a degree at UC can add the certificate to their program by completing this online form. Students not currently pursuing a degree may declare the certificate after establishing non-matriculated status. Once enrolled in the certificate, you should carefully review the Curriculum Guide below, which not only lists the courses you may take to satisfy certificate requirements but also indicates when to seek advisement from the certificate director.

Success as a student requires effective communication skills, both oral and written, and the ability to engage in critical thinking, self-discipline, maturity, people skills and information technology literacy. Competing human rights values pose ethical and policy dilemmas that must be resolved by clear moral reasoning. The most effective human rights advocates also have a strong commitment to the rule of law, a clear sense of justice, empathy for the oppressed, a solid grasp of history and commitment to public service.

IHRC recipients have pursued a wide and fruitful array of paths. These include:

  • graduate degrees in preparation for careers in law, education,  science, health care, business, and public service.  
  • work in government agencies, including the Justice Department and Department of State.
  • work in international intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations and international courts.
  • work in non-governmental organizations and institutions, such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, and the Red Cross.
  • work in the medical field, helping refugees and other dispossessed communities.
  • work in private firms that specialize in representing victims of human rights.

In addition, graduates in other career paths may find their jobs involve human rights issues that arise in the workplace and/or in their volunteer community service activities and religious communities.

A certificate in international human rights is an interdisciplinary credential comparable to a minor in an academic discipline, but UC does not offer either a major or a minor in human rights.

Contact the program director, whose name and information appear on this page. See the Curriculum Guide for moments when you should contact the program director for advisement.


Students in the UC College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) enjoy many benefits afforded through study at a research-intensive institution ranked among the nation's top 25 public research universities. UC's urban, Tristate location offers exciting opportunities for global education, research and service learning, while its student-centered focus includes an 11:1 student-faculty ratio, a nationally recognized Center for Exploratory Studies and a highly successful First Year Experience program that teaches critical skills for first-year students and provides connections with important campus resources.

Certificate candidates occasionally have been invited to special events sponsored by the College of Law’s Morgan Institute for Human Rights, including special dinners with distinguished visitors. Selected individuals have worked on the Human Rights Quarterly, a journal edited by the Morgan Institute. Others have had a range of study abroad and internship experiences as part of the program.

Periodically check your academic record to confirm that you are getting credit for the courses you have taken to satisfy the various certificate requirements, consulting with the certificate director if there are problems or questions. Assuming you are pursuing a bachelor’s degree in addition to this certificate, then your certificate will be reviewed at the time that you submit your separate degree application to determine if you have satisfied all requirements.

Admission for this certificate program is limited to those that are currently in the United States, as this program is not available to pursue on a full time basis.  No visas can be provided for this educational opportunity.  The UC Admissions website provides information for international applicants.

The University of Cincinnati and all regional campuses are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Contact Information

Dr. Rebecca Sanders
Clifton Court Hall, 5th Floor
Cincinnati, OH 45221
(513) 556-3316

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Program Code: 15CRT-IHR-C2