Human Rights Concentration


Inga Winkler and students visit UN.
Professor Inga Winkler and human rights students attend a visit to the United Nations.

Concentration Requirements

Regulations for human rights concentrators are available on the Undergraduate Requirements section of the human rights bulletins for Columbia College and General Studies.

The concentration in human rights requires a total of 8 courses for a minimum of 24 total credits. To fulfill the requirements of the concentration, students must take the following:

Introduction to Human Rights (HRTS UN3001)

International human rights is a powerful idea in our time, but also the focus of numerous controversies: it not only embodies a set of ideals but also functions as a political tool, which different forces try to bend to their own ends. The result of this struggle is a process of norm contestation and norm change that the course seeks to understand. The course looks at the laws and institutions that define human rights as an international regime, in the context of key intellectual controversies and political puzzles surrounding human rights theory and practice. It discusses how human rights norms change, and it analyzes some of the challenges of contemporary human rights advocacy.

Seven additional human rights courses

One of these seven courses must be a seminar course.

Please see the undergraduate course list for the current list of courses that fulfill the concentration requirements, and any stipulations.

Guidelines for all Human Rights Concentrators

Student should also consult the general academic policies of their school.

Course Planning & Approval

Students should consult with the program prior to each semester's registration period in order to verify that selected courses will fulfill remaining degree requirements. To facilitate this process, students are asked to use the concentration worksheet to plan and track degree progress. Please consult the course list for additional information.


No course with a grade of D or lower is credited towards the concentration.

One course, with the exception of Introduction to Human Rights, can be taken for Pass/D/Fail. The student must receive a grade of P for the course to count toward the requirements of the concentration. All other courses must be taken for a letter grade.

All seminar courses must be taken for a letter grade.


Transfer Credit/Study Abroad Credit

Human rights concentrators may transfer a maximum of two courses from other institutions. This includes study abroad credit. No more than one Advanced Placement course can be counted for the concentration. The application of transferred courses to the concentration must be approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies or the undergraduate adviser.

Students wishing to count transfer courses toward the concentration should email with their Transfer Credit Report, the syllabi of the courses they want to count toward departmental requirements, and a statement of how they want to apply the transfer credits to the requirements.


Students may double count concentration courses towards the fulfillment of degree requirements in accordance with the academic policies of their school.

Normally, courses for one program of study (i.e. major, concentration, special concentration, etc.) may not be used to satisfy the course requirements for another program of study. Students should consult the academic policies of their school for specific information.