Frequently Asked Questions

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This page addresses questions regarding program eligiblity and the application process. Due to the high volume of applications we receive, we ask that you read these FAQs before emailing us personally. Please email further questions to hradvocates@columbia.edu.

ISHR strongly recommends completing your application well in advance of this the application deadline. We will not be able to accept late applications, even in the event of technical problems.

Applicant Eligibility

Am I eligible?

We cannot definitively assess your eligibility without reviewing your completed application. If you consider yourself eligible, please apply and demonstrate your eligibility in your answers to application questions.

The Program is designed for lawyers, journalists, doctors, teachers, social workers, community organizers, and other human rights activists working with NGOs on issues including sexual and gender-based violence, domestic violence, minority rights, LGBT rights, labor rights, migration, health, social exclusion, environmental justice, and corporate social accountability.

Participants are selected on the basis of their previous work experience in human rights, commitment to the human rights field, and demonstrated ability to pursue graduate-level studies. Full-time students or government officials will not be considered. Applicants holding full or part-time jobs pursuing their advocacy efforts are preferred.

Advocates must work at the grassroots level. Applicants from high-income countries will not be considered except for those representing marginalized communities. Fluency in English is required. Preference is given to those who have not previously had opportunities to travel and study internationally.

Advocates must provide proof of institutional endorsement from their organizations for their participation in the Program and must commit to returning to that organization upon completion of the Program. Only one application per organization should be submitted. More than one application means all applications from that organization will be disqualified. It is up to the applicant to make sure he/she is the sole applicant from his/her organization.

I plan to work for an NGO, but do not currently. Am I eligible?

We can only consider applications from advocates currently employed at NGOs. You must have a letter of institutional support from the organization for which you currently work.

What are high income countries?

The World Bank maintains a list of high income countries. More information about the list is available from the World Bank's website, which includes a downloadable spreadsheet of countries' income ranking.

May students or professors apply?

Only advocates who are employed by a grassroots organization are eligible to apply. Students and university professors are not encouraged to apply.

How do I know if I work with marginalized communities?

HRAP is designed for Advocates working with marginalized communities. Please review the Program Overview, and use your judgment to determine if the program would be beneficial to your work. In your answers to applications questions, you are given the opportunity to explain how the program will be beneficial to your organization and those for whom it advocates.

Program Dates

When are the start and end dates of the program?

The program typically starts in late August/early September and ends before the middle of December. Exact dates vary year to year and will be listed on the application.

The Application

Why should I use the Save button?

Clicking the Save button will store the information you have entered up to that point. This allows you to leave your application and return to it, and protects against unexpected interruption.

It is highly recommended that you click the Save button on each page before proceeding onwards.

I am having difficulty uploading documents. Can you help?

Documents can be no larger than two megabytes (mb) and must be one of the formats listed on the upload page. PDF is highly preferred. If your file is too large, you may need to convert it to a different format, reduce the file size, or scan the file with different settings.

If your file is under two megabytes and not uploading, the file format may have been written incorrect. Try re-saving or re-scanning the file.

How do I return to my application after I have begun and saved?

You may continue to edit to your application until the submission deadline. Please take the following steps to review or edit your completed form:

  1. Log in to the ISHR website using your username and password.
  2. You will automatically be directed to your personal user page that contains a link to your application. Alternatively, you can access your application by clicking the Manage link in the menu.

After the deadline, neither you nor HRAP can make further changes to your application. Be certain to review your application before submitting.

Can I return to my application after I have submitted it?

You may continue to make changes to your application, even after submitting, up until the deadline. The online application system will automatically close at the deadline.

What should I use for end dates for affiliations and collaborations that are ongoing?

Please give the end date as February of the current year and mention in your description of that the relationship is ongoing.

What do you mean by 'proof of institutional endorsement'?

The letter of institutional endorsement should be from the applicant's supervisor at his/her current organization.

To whom and to what address should letters of recommendation be addressed?

Letters may be addressed to ISHR, HRAP, or "To whom it may concern." As they are uploaded to our online system, details such as an address block are not particularly important.

May I use the same recommendation letter as from a previous HRAP application?

Recommendation letters may be the same as from a previous year's application. However, the letter of institutional support must be current to this year's application.

Can the two references also work for the organization of which the applicant is affiliated? 

While the references can be from the applicant's current organization, it is advised to seek letters from others who can attest to the applicant's work as a human rights advocate. 

Is there a separate scholarship form?

There is NOT a separate form to be considered for full funding to attend HRAP. All questions regarding funding are included in the HRAP Application. No additional documentation is necessary.