Programs in International Human Rights Law

Joint programs of Notre Dame Law School and the Klau Center, the LL.M. and J.S.D. Programs in International Human Rights Law offer Master’s and Doctoral degrees to human rights defenders from around the world. Each year, human rights lawyers come to Notre Dame to deepen their knowledge and refine their skills, often from countries where such skills are difficult to obtain and greatly in need. Since 1989, the programs have awarded advanced degrees to more than 400 lawyers from over 100 countries.

The alumni network from these prestigious programs stretches across the globe, bringing Notre Dame values to bear in international human rights bodies and local institutions in their home countries. Our graduates promote respect for human rights and human dignity at senior levels in international tribunals, intergovernmental bodies, government, academia, and non-governmental organizations.


LL.M. Program in International Human Rights Law

Geared toward lawyers from outside the United States, this joint program of Notre Dame Law School and the Klau Center provides specialized study and research in international human rights law. Students in this program analyze human rights issues with members of the faculty who are specialists in the field, while also drawing upon the resources of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs. These collaborations allow our students to study both the legal processes that pertain to the pursuit of human rights as well as the social, economic, and political contexts in which human rights are violated, protected or promoted.

More than 400 lawyers from over 100 countries have graduated from the 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 — 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.”

Visit the LL.M. program page


J.S.D. Program in International Human Rights Law

The J.S.D. program, a joint program of Notre Dame Law School and the Klau Center, is designed for those who intend to teach and research at the university level. Applicants admitted to the J.S.D. program have demonstrated potential for writing a dissertation of publishable quality—one that will make a significant scholarly contribution to the field.

Unlike the LL.M. program, which is designed for human rights practitioners, the J.S.D. Program in International Human Rights Law at Notre Dame Law School is designed for those who want to teach and research at the university level.  Admission to the J.S.D. program is highly competitive. Typically, only one or two of the 15 applicants each year are accepted.  This selectivity allows our faculty to provide individualized support to our doctoral students during their three to five years of study.

This approach has produced a very successful alumni network of over 20 J.S.D. graduates from 14 different countries who now serve as faculty, deans and high ranking government officials.

Visit the J.S.D. program page