LL.M. in International Human Rights Law

More than 400 lawyers from over 100 countries have graduated from our LL.M. Program in International Human Rights Law at Notre Dame Law School. Our graduates’ commitment to human rights — as well as the rigor and richness of their academic life at the CCHR — has established our LL.M. Program as among the most prominent in the world.

Applicants to our LL.M. are inspired by their compassion for victims of human rights violations, but often lacking in the technical skills and theoretical grounding required for strategic human rights lawyering. Ensuring that our students gain competency in the substantive and procedural aspects of international human rights law is our first priority. As Fr. Hesburgh said of lawyers during the dedication of the Notre Dame Law School library, “compassion without competence would be a cruel hoax upon those they serve.”

For questions about the LL.M. program or application process, please contact the LL.M. Program Director, Sean O’Brien, at sobrien2@nd.edu.

Research

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Notre Dame law students have the opportunity to provide pro bono assistance to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San Jose, Costa Rica. Students in the LL.M. program provide assistance through legal research on specific issues or preparation of Amicus Curiae, contributing high quality research to the Court’s work in deciding leading human rights cases. Notre Dame Law School is one of the few academic institutions with this special relationship to the Court.

The framework agreement between the two institutions contemplates a wide range of other activities around scholarship and practice, such as co-edited research publications and co-sponsorship of conferences and courses. Additionally, The Court and CCHR exchange personnel for short-term visits, thereby enriching the theoretical and real-world perspectives of Notre Dame law students, academicians, and legal officers of the Court.
 

Internships

The Center’s LL.M. program is unique in that its commitment to its graduates extends beyond commencement. Upon completion of the LL.M. degree, all students have the opportunity to apply for additional funding from the Center – up to $6,000 – to seek an internship with an appropriate human rights institution or non-governmental organization. In recent years, students have completed internships at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, the International Center for Transitional Justice, the ad hoc International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and various other United Nations bodies. Our internship assistance – in addition to our faculty expertise, intimate class size, and research initiatives – contributes to Notre Dame’s international reputation.

As we have for the past several years, the Center continues to partner with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington, DC (the primary human rights body of the Organization of American States) to sponsor an eight month internship for up to two graduating LL.M. students each year. The cost of funding the internships is split equitably between both parties. The Center and the Commission’s sister body, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San Jose, Costa Rica, have arranged for one year-long clerkship at the Court for a recent LL.M. graduate. Center representatives have met with officials from the African human rights system, who are eager to replicate this successful model at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the nascent African Court. These standing relationships with international tribunals attract students to our program each year and ensure that these tribunals are staffed with the best-educated human rights lawyers available.

Curriculum

As approved by the University of Notre Dame, our LL.M. students enroll for one academic year, during which they must complete a minimum of 24 credit hours of course work. Courses are assigned from 1 to 4 hours of credit depending upon the number of hours scheduled each week for the course.

Our program is carefully crafted to meet the intellectual and practical needs of lawyers practicing human rights law in their home countries and in regional or international institutions. Therefore, our curriculum is not designed for those seeking admission to the bar in the United States.
 


 

Fall Semester

 

The following courses are required of students pursuing the LL.M. in International Human Rights Law:

  • International Law (3 credits)
  • International Human Rights Research and Writing (2 credits)
  • Foundations of International Human Rights Law (3 credit hours)
  • Accountability for Gross Human Rights Violations (3 credits)

At the discretion of the Director, students may receive an exemption from one or more of these required courses.

In addition to the required curriculum listed above, students design their own concentration of fall semester study from a wide range of courses both within the Law School and in other University departments, such as:

  • Civil Rights Law (3 Credits)
  • International Environmental Law (3 credits)
  • Catholic Social Thought (2 credits)
  • Globalization and Multinational Corporate Responsibility (2 credits)
  • Ethnic Conflict Peace Process (3 credits)
  • International Labor Law (3 credits)
  • Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (3 credits)
  • Politics of Reconciliation (3 credits)
  • Women’s Human Rights (3 credits)
  • Law of International Trade (3 credits)

 


Spring Semester

The following courses are required of students pursuing the LL.M. in International Human Rights Law:

  • Human Rights Practice (3 credits)
  • Regional Human Rights Protection (3 credits)

At the discretion of the Director, students may receive an exemption from one or more of these required courses.

In addition to the required curriculum listed above, students design their own concentration of spring semester study from a wide range of courses both within the Law School and in other disciplines.

  • LL.M. Thesis (4 credits)
  • Gender Issues and International Law Seminar (3 credits)
  • International Criminal Law (3 credits)
  • Intellectual Property and International Justice (3 credits)
  • Law of Terrorism (3 credits)
  • Legal and Ethical Issues Regarding the Use of Force (2 credits)
  • Transnational Corporations and Human Rights (3 credits)
  • Restorative Justice (3 credits)
  • NGO Management (3 credits)
  • Intensive Trial Advocacy (4 credits)

Tuition and Fees

Tuition for the 2017-2018 academic year is $55,802.  In addition to tuition, students will incur fees in the amount of $490. (It should be noted that, due to increasing costs, annual increases in tuition and fees are possible.) In additional to tuition and fees, the University’s Graduate School estimates that an unmarried student needs a minimum of $18,700 to cover basic living expenses – i.e., housing, food, books, supplies and personal expenses.  Many of our students receive a significant tuition scholarship and living stipend. All applicants will be considered for a scholarship and stipend; there is no separate application.

To Apply

PLEASE NOTE: Applicants to the LL.M. in international human rights law MUST possess a J.D. degree from an American law school approved by the ABA Section of Legal Education or an LL.B. (or equivalent degree) from an accredited law school in a foreign country.

Our program is carefully crafted to meet the intellectual and practical needs of lawyers practicing human rights law in their home countries and in regional or international institutions. Therefore, our curriculum is not designed for those seeking admission to the bar in the United States.

The Center for Civil and Human Rights (CCHR) uses the online Graduate School Application. Online applications and accompanying materials are due by February 15. Decisions will be transmitted to applicants as soon as they are available. Acceptances will normally be sent out by April 15. All decisions will be transmitted by email.

A complete application will include:

  1. University of Notre Dame Graduate School Application
  2. TOEFL or IELTS (for non-native speakers of English only)
  3. Transcripts with proof of J.D. or LL.B. or equivalent degree (and English translations if necessary)
  4. Statement of Intent
  5. Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  6. CCHR Supplemental Application
  7. 3 letters of recommendation
  8. Application fee (online by credit card or check by mail)

Note: CCHR does NOT require the GRE.


Submission procedure instructions

Important: Your name should be entered as it appears on your passport. Please capitalize your Last Name (family name or surname) when completing the application forms.

All documents to be uploaded must be no larger than 2500 KB or 2.5 MB. Acceptable formats include .doc, .docx, .wpd, .rtf, .xls, .xlsx, .pdf, .txt, .jpg, .pict, .gif, .bmp, .tif or .png.

1) University of Notre Dame Graduate School Application
All applicants must complete the online application. When completing the online application, if a required field does not apply to you, enter the word “none” in the field. Required fields cannot be left empty, but any text you enter in the field will be accepted by the system. The online application can only be submitted once. However, you do not have to complete the application in one sitting. You may access your application and change your responses as many times as you like with your PIN and password from any computer with Internet access.

Once you have completed the application, click the “Submit” button at the top. This will take you through the steps to pay the application fee and submit your application electronically to the CCHR. Remember: Each online application can only be submitted once. After you submit your application, you will not be able to go back and make changes or additions using the online application system. However, you will be able to access your online application in order to check which materials have been received.

2) TOEFL or IELTS score
All applicants must submit TOEFL or IELTS score unless:
the applicant is a native speaker of English or
the applicant has completed a degree in which English was the medium of instruction (i.e. all classes were taught in English).

If you have your TOEFL or IELTS scores, enter the scores and upload your report in the section labeled “English Proficiency Exam”.

To have your TOEFL scores sent directly to the University, use institution code 1841. TOEFL scores are valid for up to two years after the test date. The IELTS (International English Language Testing System) does not have or use institution codes.

The CCHR does not have a minimum requirement for TOEFL or IELTS scores; however, successful candidates typically score 600 (paper-based), 250 (computer-based) or 100 (Internet-based) on the TOEFL or 7.0 on the IELTS.

Remember: If the test is taken after your application is submitted, please email your self-reported TOEFL or IELTS score to cchr@nd.edu as soon as it is available.

3) Transcripts
Unofficial copies of all your (university level) transcripts should be uploaded to your online application in the “Academic History” section. Applicants should upload their J.D. or LL.B. transcript under the “Baccalaureate Institution”. There are 3 additional “other” institution sections where additional transcripts may be uploaded.

(Please include a certified English translation, if necessary.) If your J.D. or LL.B. is currently in progress, upload transcripts for all coursework completed. If an undergraduate transcript does not show proof of degree and date earned, a diploma showing award of the degree should also be uploaded. Your unofficial transcript copies will suffice for the purposes of the Admissions Committee. The university only requires official transcripts from accepted students.

4) Statement of Intent
Submit a statement of intent (3 double-spaced pages/approximately 1500 words) that outlines your reasons for wishing to pursue the LL.M. The statement of intent plays a critical part in the evaluation of applicants, so we encourage you to dedicate sufficient time to prepare a clear, well-written and informative personal statement. Submit your statement of intent in the “Uploads” section of the online application.

5) Résumé or CV
Submit a document showing the chronological progression of your work and studies via the “Uploads” section of the online application.

6) CCHR Supplemental Application
Download the form from the CCHR website, complete, save and submit in the “Uploads” area of the online application under “Program Upload” located directly after the Curriculum Vitae section.

7) Three letters of recommendation
Recommendations play a critical role in evaluating applications. Your recommendations should come from faculty members, professors, lecturers or others who can substantively comment on your academic performance, intellectual capacity and personal character.

Your recommenders should submit their letters electronically through the online application system. Please enter the full name, email address and complete contact information for each provider in the “Recommendation” section of the online application.

Once the recommendation provider information is saved, an e-mail will be sent to each recommender with instructions on how to proceed with the online recommendation.
When the recommendation provider submits the form online, it will become a part of your application.
You can view the status of your online recommendations each time you log into your application account.

The online system contains a set of questions for your recommenders to answer and a method by which the recommenders can upload a letter. The CCHR prefers letters on letterhead from your recommenders.

8) Application fee of $75
Applicants may pay the fee online by credit card after completing the online application, or by sending a check to: Office of Graduate Admissions, Attention: Center for Civil and Human Rights, University of Notre Dame, 502 Main Building, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA. Checks should be made payable to the “University of Notre Dame”. If the check is not written by the applicant, or is mailed separately, the name of the applicant must be included with the check. International applicants who do not have access to a credit card or a U.S. checking account may pay using an International Postal Money Order or a bank draft on a U.S. bank. It is not possible to pay by bank transfer.

Applicants who are not able to pay the application fee may request a fee waiver from the CCHR. To do so, email a letter outlining your circumstances to cchr@nd.edu prior to submitting your application. If you request for a fee waiver is granted, the CCHR will provide you with a code to enter during the fee payment stage of your application.

Once you have submitted your online application, you will receive a confirmation email listing the materials received. After the initial notice, you will be able to log back into your online application to check the status of recommendations received, etc.