Human Rights

Human Rights

Certification of Professional Achievement in Human Rights

Developed in conjunction with the Institute for the Study of Human Rights (ISHR) at Columbia University, the first academic center in the world founded on an interdisciplinary commitment to the study of human rights, the non-degree Summer Certification of Professional Achievement in Human Rights emphasizes the interaction between human rights theory and practice, and lets students explore human rights both inside and outside the classroom. Throughout the summer, students are invited to attend discussions, training, performances, films, and other events that engage with the human rights community of New York City. Students also have the opportunity to learn from human rights practitioners through in-class guest lectures and optional site visits to human rights organizations.

The certification program is ideal for professionals, graduate students, and advanced undergraduate students wishing to further their knowledge and understanding of human rights. Students in the certification program include those seeking to complement their training in other fields or disciplines, such as law, public health, or fundraising, development, etc.; individuals with academic or professional experience in human rights wishing to obtain more specialized knowledge through graduate-level study; and students preparing for further graduate study.

Students may also take Certification of Professional Achievement in Human Rights courses individually. Those students already enrolled in Columbia degree programs are not eligible to apply for the certification.

Previous coursework or knowledge of human rights is not required to apply but ISHR offers an optional half-day introductory class at the beginning of each summer session that reviews key human rights concepts, laws, and institutions for interested students. This class is not offered for academic credit and no tuition fees are charged.


In order to receive the certification, students must complete the following requirements:

Students are required to maintain an overall minimum GPA of 3.0 (B). Every course creditable toward the certification must be taken for a letter grade. Courses with a grade below a C will not count toward the completion of the certification.

Eligibility Requirements
  • This certification program is offered at the graduate level. Undergraduate students are eligible to apply if they are rising juniors or seniors and have strong academic records and a foundation in political science and/or international studies.
  • Current Columbia students are not eligible to earn the certification while enrolled in a degree program; however, they are eligible to take the individual courses for credit.
  • U.S. bachelor’s degree or international equivalent. If your post-secondary credentials are from an institution outside the United States, the Office of Admissions requires you to submit all post-secondary credentials (undergraduate and graduate) to World Education Services, Inc. (WES), a third-party verification agency for a course-by-course evaluation for admission consideration. The Office of Admissions will use the credential evaluation provided by WES to determine if your undergraduate degree is the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor's degree. 
  • Students must be comfortable with rapid and idiomatic spoken English. Please review the English language proficiency details for your program of interest to determine if proof of English language proficiency is required. To be considered for admission, applicants required to provide test scores must have a minimum TOEFL score of 100 (600 paper-based) or receive a 7.0 or higher on the IELTS. 
  • Demonstrated ability for critical thinking and analysis 
  • Strong written and oral communication skills

To apply, follow the Summer Sessions application instructions for your admissions category:

Visiting Students Undergraduates or graduates at another institution. See Details >
Adults & Professionals Individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher degree. See Details >

Contact the Department

General Information, Admissions Questions, and Advising

humanrights [at]
Other Program Contacts

Application Document Submission and Application Processing Questions

Mailing Address and Campus Location

Office of Enrollment Management
School of Professional Studies
203 Lewisohn Hall
2970 Broadway, Mail Code 4119
New York, NY 10027-6902
Office hours: Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.