The LL.M. and J.S.D Programs in International Human Rights Law

LL.M. Program in International Human Rights Law

Geared toward lawyers from outside the United States, this program 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 Kellogg Institute for International Studies, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, and Department of Political Science. 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.”

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

The J.S.D. program is designed for those who intend to teach and pursue 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 pursue 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.

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