B.A./ M.A. Program


Applicants interested in the Human Rights Studies B.A./M.A. option should apply the semester before the one in which they intend to begin taking courses that will count toward the M.A. The Human Rights Studies Master of Arts (HRSMA) program has an early and regular admission deadline in the spring. Please refer to the Graduate School of Arts and Science (GSAS) admissions website for deadlines and additional information.

Applicants must be current Columbia (Columbia College, SEAS, and General Studies) or Barnard undergraduates to be considered. Applicants do not need to have a background in human rights, but must demonstrate the ability to handle graduate-level coursework.

Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 to be eligible and must maintain a 3.0 in order to be in good academic standing.

The requirements for Columbia and Barnard undergraduates seeking early admission are otherwise the same as the regular admissions requirements.

For more information about the application materials and admissions process, please visit the Human Rights M.A. page.

Credits & Requirements

All students must complete the 30 credit points and 2 Residence Units required of the M.A. program, but the joint option allows students to receive an M.A. one semester earlier than would normally be possible.

Coursework taken to satisfy any requirement of the undergraduate degree - i.e. courses taken to complete a major, a concentration, or the 124-point requirement - cannot be applied towards the requirements of the M.A. program. However, students can apply up to 0.5 Residence Units and 3 graduate-level courses (9-12 points) completed as an undergraduate at Columbia University toward the M.A. degree.  All transfer courses must be approved by the program. Additional information about transfer credit may be found in the GSAS policy handbook.

After the student’s senior year, an undergraduate dean will certify what specifically did not count towards the undergraduate degree and therefore can be applied to the M.A. degree. However, students should consult with deans and advisors before their senior year when designing a course of study for completion of the B.A. and then the M.A. degree.

Course Planning & Selection

Human Rights Studies students must complete 30 credit points and 2 Residence Units, including the thesis, to graduate. The breakdown of points is as follows:

  • Three core required courses – 9 points
  • Three concentration courses – 9 points
  • Three elective human rights courses – 9 points
  • Thesis – 3 points

Students should consult with the ISHR education director as well as his or her undergraduate advisor prior to enrolling in courses intended to fulfill requirements of the HRSMA program.

First year of program

Admitted students should complete 3 graduate-level courses (9-12 credits) of coursework for the M.A. program in their final year of undergraduate study prior to enrolling in the program. Students should take HRTS GR6020 Introduction to Human Rights and at least one concentration course. 

Second year of program

Students are permitted to enroll part-time or full-time, but must take a minimum of 6 credits of coursework in their first fall semester after completing their undergraduate degree.

However, as the program is designed to allow students to receive an M.A. one semester early, students are advised to enroll full-time their first semester in the M.A. program.

Sample schedule

Year 1: Final year of Undergraduate Study

Fall (3 Credits)

  • HRTS GR6020 Introduction to Human Rights

Spring (6 Credits)

  • HRTS GR6800 International Human Rights Law/Concentration Course
  • Concentration Course
Year 2: Enrolled as GSAS Student

Fall (15 Credits)

  • HRTS G6990 Human Rights Research Seminar Core Course
  • Concentration Course/HRTS GR6800 International Human Rights Law
  • Concentration Course
  • Elective Course
  • Elective Course

Spring (6 Credits)

  • Thesis Course
  • Elective Course