Human Rights Fellowship

Columbia Law School’s Human Rights LL.M. Fellowship supports individuals with extraordinary potential in—and commitment to—the field of international human rights.

Become an innovator and leader in human rights practice and/or academia with the help of the Human Rights LL.M. Fellowship.

The Human Rights LL.M. Fellowship is jointly managed by Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute (the focal point of human rights work, education, critical reflection, and scholarship at the Law School) and the Office of Graduate Degree Programs (which manages the Law School’s LL.M., Executive LL.M., and J.S.D. Programs). Fellowships offer partial to full waivers of tuition.

Benefits include:

  • Receive tailored career mentoring and skill development in both practice and academic scholarship from Human Rights Institute faculty, staff, and advisers.
  • Attend special events with leading human rights advocates and scholars.
  • Participate in the Human Rights Institute’s cutting-edge research projects.
  • Receive special consideration for admission to Columbia’s Human Rights Clinic—an innovative course that teaches students to be strategic and creative human rights advocates while pursuing social justice and advancing human rights methodologies and scholarship.

Fellows are expected to devote a significant part of their studies to human rights and play an active role in the Law School’s vibrant human rights community.

Eligibility Requirements

Fellowship awardees must first be admitted to the LL.M. Program at Columbia Law School. For more information, visit the LL.M. Application Process and Frequently Asked Questions pages.

Applicants must demonstrate experience in international human rights work and a commitment to a career in academia and/or human rights practice. 

How to Apply

The application deadline for the 2024-2025 Human Rights Fellowship is December 1, 2023 (the same deadline as the application for the LL.M. Program).

Submit a completed application for admission to the LL.M. Program through LSAC, including your résumé/CV.

The application must include:

  • The "Financial Aid Essay" (maximum 500 words) addressing the reason(s) in support of your candidacy for the Human Rights LL.M. Fellowship. 
  • Letters of recommendation that speak to your prior work and future potential as a human rights advocate, scholar, and/or practitioner. The two letters of recommendation submitted for the LL.M. application may also be used for the fellowship if they comment on your human rights work, commitment, and future plans. If they do not, you may submit a third letter of recommendation through the LSAC online application from a professor or human rights practitioner. 

Our Current Cohort

LLM Priscilla Aling

Priscilla Aling

Name: Priscilla Aling

Home Country: Uganda

What motivated your decision to join the LLM Human Rights Fellow Program at Columbia Law School, and how do you see your time at Columbia advancing your human rights goals?

Joining this esteemed fellowship would allow me to be a part of the Human Rights Institute’s dedication to promoting human rights and develop a global network of professionals in this field. The current social and political climate, which has created more opportunities for violations of people's rights, makes it crucial for practitioners like myself to be part of a dynamic program. As an LLM Human Rights Fellow, I will have access to esteemed experts and the chance to collaborate with participants from diverse backgrounds. These sessions will broaden my knowledge, deepen my understanding, and provide an intersectional advantage in my profession. My idealistic views and approaches have been tested, and despite the frustrations that come with working in the human rights field, my commitment has only grown stronger.


What human rights issues do you care about, and what work have you done before coming to Columbia?

With a background in indigenous land justice and international criminal justice, I have noticed an interconnectedness of these two fields, as land tenure insecurity often, at least in my experience, stems directly from conflicts. From my previous work experiences, my skills include engagement at the International Criminal Court, victim representation, witness engagement, legal research, project management, advocacy, community engagement, field research, and collaboration with diverse stakeholders. During my time as an LLM Human Rights fellow, I hope to expand my knowledge and practical skills in strategic litigation, policy advocacy, and human rights research methodologies. Currently, my focus is peace, justice, and accountability, as I firmly believe that security is the foundation upon which society thrives. However, I am keen to diversify while I am at Columbia University. I am eager to learn innovative approaches and strategies for advocating for human rights, especially in societies facing repressive and oppressive regimes.

LLM Amra Ismail

Amra Ismail

Name: Amra Ismail

Home Country: Sri Lanka

What motivated your decision to join the LLM Human Rights Fellow Program at Columbia Law School, and how do you see your time at Columbia advancing your human rights goals?

I  decided to join the LLM Human Rights Fellow Program because 1) The yearlong human rights clinic equips us to face practical challenges in advocacy such as digital security risks and develop effective strategies to advocate for human rights issues; 2) The individualized mentorship by human rights experts and; 3) The ability to network with persons of similar interest and share my work in Sri Lanka with a global audience.  At Columbia, I intend to delve deeper into human rights issues such as media rights, digital rights, corporate accountability, international justice, women’s rights and socio-economic rights. I am keen to explore the use of interdisciplinary, intersectional, participatory and critical research approaches to the investigation of human rights abuses. This will enable me to conduct investigations into human rights violations and use the research findings in advocacy and litigation before local and international human rights mechanisms. I am confident my time at Columbia will empower me to achieve these goals.


What human rights issues do you care about, and what work have you done before coming to Columbia? 

I have advocated for human rights particularly women’s rights, media freedom, rights of detainees and economic and social rights, among others. I worked as a consultant researcher/research assistant at several local, regional and international human rights organizations including Amnesty International, and South Asians for Human Rights. At Amnesty International, I authored a research briefing on the impact of the unprecedented economic crisis in Sri Lanka on access to maternal health and nutrition. I have also worked on issues including discriminatory aspects of the Muslim Family Law and the Prevention of Terrorism Act in Sri Lanka, and violations of freedom of expression and religion in South Asia. I briefly practiced law in the area of fundamental rights and prior to that was a supreme court judicial law clerk. Further, I worked as a journalist for several years, reporting and investigating human rights abuses across Sri Lanka. I received a merit award from the Sri Lanka Press Institute for my reporting in 2017. This firsthand reporting of human rights issues motivated me to become a human rights lawyer and researcher.

LLM Maryam Jami

Maryam Jami

Name: Maryam Jami

Home Country: Afghanistan

What motivated your decision to join the LLM Human Rights Fellow Program at Columbia Law School, and how do you see your time at Columbia advancing your human rights goals?

I come from a country where human rights do not have any meaning or existence. In Afghanistan women are deprived of their very basic rights. However, the saddest thing is that those women and girls never had an impartial platform to speak up. When it comes to Afghanistan and Afghans, unfortunately, most platforms are politicized. Columbia Law School is one of the first universities to develop an impartial platform for advocates from around the world to reflect the struggles of their societies and people. When applying to Columbia, I had zero doubt that the dedicated team of the LLM Human Rights Fellowship Program at would provide me and my fellow advocates with the platform, experience, and knowledge that we need to turn the voice of the underrepresented into a story that everyone can listen to.  


What human rights issues do you care about, and what work have you done before coming to Columbia?

Before coming to Columbia, I worked with women’s rights organizations. I am a member of the Alliance for International Women’s Rights (AIWR) and also worked with UN Women and USAID’s gender justice project at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. After the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, I founded my own human rights mentorship program for Afghan women and girls to instruct them on how to conduct research in the field of human rights. I believe that research, recording human rights violations, and raising awareness are the best public actions against violators and oppressors.