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 Notre Dame Law School — 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 lack 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 program or the application process, please contact the director of the LL.M. Program in International Human Rights Law, Sean O’Brien, at sobrien2@nd.edu.

Internships

The LL.M. Program in International Human Rights Law is unique in that its commitment to its graduates extends beyond commencement. Upon completion of this LL.M. degree, all students have the opportunity to apply for additional funding from the program – 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, CEJIL, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and various other United Nations bodies. Our internship assistance – in addition to our faculty expertise, intimate class size, and research opportunities – contributes to Notre Dame’s international reputation.

As we have for the past several years, our program 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. We have a similar arrangement for a one year-long clerkship at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San Jose, Costa Rica. Program representatives have met with officials from the African human rights system, and we 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 coursework. 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 or in regional and 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:

  • Human Rights and Sustainability (3 credits)
  • 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)
  • Politics of Reconciliation (3 credits)
  • Women’s Human Rights (3 credits)
  • Law of International Trade (3 credits)
  • United Nations Global Compact (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)
  • Protection of Cultural Heritage (2 credits)
  • Restorative Justice (3 credits)
  • NGO Management (3 credits)
  • Intensive Trial Advocacy (4 credits)

Tuition and Fees

Tuition for the 2018-2019 academic year is $57,868.  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 addition to tuition and fees, the University estimates that an unmarried student needs a minimum of $17,950 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 LL.M. Program in International Human Rights Law uses the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) online application system. Applications and accompanying materials are due by March 1. Late applications may be accepted, but admission is subject to availability. Decisions will be transmitted to applicants as soon as they are available. 

The LSAC application is available now. 

Apply Now

General Requirements to Apply

  • The application period begins September 1 and applications must be received no later than March 1.
  • Applicants must complete the online application found on the Law School Admission Council’s website.
  • A Juris Doctor from an A.B.A. approved American law school or a Bachelor's Degree in Law from an accredited college or university 
  • Personal Statement addressing your specific interest in the LL.M Program in International Human Rights Law 
  • Resume 
  • Three Letters of Recommendation 
  • English Language Proficiency 
  • Application fee of $75 USD (The Law School offers need-based application fee waivers to those with extreme financial need: https://law.nd.edu/llmwaiver/