Studying Human Rights beyond the Undergraduate Major

The human rights major will develop skills and expertise that are of relevance to employers in government, the NGO sector, international development, and education. Some students, though, will be looking for career pathways that allow them to study human rights theory beyond the completion of the undergraduate major. Some career pathways that you can pursue .

Graduate Law Degrees

The Human Rights major lays a strong foundation for further vocational or theoretical study beyond the Undergraduate Arts degree. One area that’s of particular interest to many students majoring in Human Rights is human rights law. Monash offers a prestigious graduate-level entry Law Degree (Juris Doctor, or JD), and an increasing number of Australian universities are following suit by offering formal qualifications in Law as a degree at the postgraduate level rather than the undergraduate level. Students who have completed the Human Rights major will have a rich store of knowledge, skills, and areas of interest, which will put them on an ideal footing to excel in graduate-entry law programs.

The Monash Master of Human Rights Law

The Monash law school offers a dedicated Master of Human Rights Law via the Melbourne city campus.  This program is open not only to students graduating from undergraduate law degrees, but also to students graduating from other undergraduate degrees including the BA program. Entry from the BA normally requires the completion of an honours year as part of your undergraduate degree (see information under ‘Postgraduate Research Opportunities’, below). The comparative benefits of pursuing a standard graduate law degree (JD) versus a specialised graduate degree in human rights law will depend on precisely what kind of career path you’re interested in pursuing. Students interested in these options are strongly advised to contact course advisors within the Monash Faculty of Law to discuss the options available to them.

Other Vocational Postgraduate Pathways

Outside of studies in law, a number of Australian and international universities now offer postgraduate Masters degrees in Human Rights Policy, typically with an orientation towards work in the NGO and international development sector. Students who are interested in deepening their skills and experience in the human rights sector, but without transitioning over to law, will be well-placed to pursue study in these sorts of programs.

In addition, there’s a wide array of graduate MA programs in Australia and internationally which focus more explicitly on international development and health. These sorts of programs often examine issues closely linked to human rights, even though they’re not overtly geared around this topic.

Finally, Students who have a particular interest in peace and conflict studies, and those who did well in the second-year cornerstone on the Ethics of Global Conflict, may be interested in a new Masters Degree in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Queensland.

Postgraduate Research Opportunities

Students who excel in and are passionate about scholarly research are advised to speak to the convenor of the Human Rights major about opportunities for graduate study focusing on research (as in a research MA or PhD), rather than the kind of skills and vocational training that are emphasised in graduate MA programs in law, human rights, or international development.

At present there isn’t an Honours program in Human Rights, so students aiming to transition towards a PhD will need to arrange a transitional program that suits their needs and interests. Depending on what other units they’ve completed in their major, some students may be able to enrol in the Honours program either in Philosophy or International Studies. Again, students with interests that angle towards scholarly research – in other words, students whose dream job is to be a professor at a University – are advised to speak to the convenor of the Human Rights major about their options.