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 will participate in virtual events that engage with the human rights community. Students also have the opportunity to learn from human rights practitioners through guest lectures.

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. Rising juniors or seniors who have a strong academic record and a demonstrated interest in human rights are eligible to apply.
  • 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.
  • Students enrolled in (or on leave from) a degree program at SIPA are not eligible to receive the certificate. Should SIPA students wish to take classes associated with the certificate they must first consult with their assigned academic advisor for guidance and approval. A person who earns the certificate and then later enrolls in a degree program at SIPA may not count any of the certificate courses towards the SIPA degree.
  • 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. 
  • To be considered for admission, students must be comfortable with rapid and idiomatic spoken English. If the language of instruction of your undergraduate degree conferring institution is English and you completed two or more years at the institution, you need not take further steps to prove fluency. However, if your undergraduate education is not conducted in English, or you completed fewer than two years at your degree conferring institution where English was the language of instruction, you must provide official scores on the TOEFL or IELTS.

    Applicant total scores must meet the Columbia SPS minimum requirement of 100 (TOEFL iBT) or 7.0 (IELTS). You will be required to enter your test scores or your anticipated testing date within the online application, and official test score reports will be required for your application to be considered complete and ready for admission review. TOEFL and IELTS scores are valid for two years after your test date. Applicants receiving scores below the posted minimums may be advised to apply directly to the American Language Program. (Use school code 2594 to report TOEFL scores.)

    If you are unable to provide official scores on the TOEFL or IELTS due to the closing of testing centers, please email with the specific details of your situation.
  • 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

Undergraduate, graduate and postbaccalaureate students.

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Contact the Department

Non-Degree Admissions Counselor

summersession [at]
Other Program Contacts

Meet with an Admissions Counselor

Are you a prospective student interested in learning additional information about this program? Schedule an on-campus or phone appointment with an Admissions Counselor online. 

Appointment Hours: 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m., ET, Monday–Friday

Schedule an Appointment

Currently, the Office of Admissions offers Virtual Walk-In Hours for prospective degree and non-degree students from 12:00 p.m.–2:00 p.m. ET (15-minute sessions), Monday through Thursday.

Walk-In Hours: Monday to Thursday (excluding University holidays), 10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m. ET


If you are a current student or an admitted student starting next term, contact a member of our SPS Student Advising Team for information and guidance.

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.