Financial Resources

Financing Your Education

The Institute for the Study of Human Rights strives to maximize financial support to our students. ISHR provides tuition fellowships, along with funding for research, conference participation, and unpaid internships in the human rights field. Some of these awards are also matched by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Students can access additional information, including deadlines and relevant application forms for the following ISHR funding opportunities, on the HRSMA Canvas page. Calls for applications are also sent out to current students via email.

Current and prospective students are also encouraged to explore external funding opportunities well in advance of the academic year, as scholarship and fellowship deadlines can sometimes be 6-12 months earlier than the start of an academic term. 

Tuition Awards

The Institute for the Study of Human Rights together with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences are aiming to provide substantial tuition scholarships for HRSMA students. Up to 50% of students receive a tuition scholarship during their studies.

Selected incoming students are awarded up to 25% of total tuition costs as part of their admissions offer. Up to a quarter of the incoming class may receive this award in a given year. Decisions are based on merit. Prospective students do not need to submit a separate application, as decisions are based upon a review of general admissions applications. Recipients of the tuition award will be notified in their admissions decision letter. 

Other Tuition Support

Students may also be eligible to apply for the GSAS Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) award and Fulbright opportunities. In addition to these internal awards, current and prospective students are strongly encouraged to explore external funding opportunities. For more information, please refer to the GSAS External Fellowships page.

For information on the cost of attendance, loans, and student employment, please refer to the Financing Your Education on the Graduate School of Arts and Science (GSAS) website. Please note that tuition for the HRSMA program is charged based on the Residence Unit model. Please refer to the Cost of Attendance page for tuition rates and other fees.

Thesis Research Stipend

The graduate research stipend is awarded to select HRSMA students in order to help offset certain costs associated with research they choose to undertake for their thesis. These may include travel or other expenses that are essential for the student's thesis research. Students can also apply to receive matching funds up to $300 from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Students are also encouraged to explore research funding opportunities available through other Columbia University Center's and Institutes engaged in related research.

To apply, students should send this application form and supporting documentation to with the subject line “HRSMA research stipend.” Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.

Human Rights Research Award

The ISHR Human Rights Research Award provides students with an opportunity to gain valuable research experience, while supporting the work of Columbia faculty conducting human rights-related research. Students who receive the award are expected to complete approximately 80-120 hours of research assistance during the academic year. The research opportunities selected for each academic year are circulated to students in the Fall semester. ISHR will award one stipend per research opportunity in the amount of $1,500. Priority will be given to HRSMA and UHRP students.

Conference Stipends

Students who are invited to present their research at academic conferences may apply for a HRSMA conference travel stipend. Students may also be eligible to receive an award from the GSAS Conference Matching Travel Fund or a GSAC travel grant. Students must first complete the Conference Stipend Application and return it to ISHR.

Internship Stipends

The graduate internship stipend provides support to select HRSMA students to undertake an unpaid internship that is related to their concentration and research interests. To apply, students should send this application form and supporting documentation to with the subject line “HRSMA internship stipend.” Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.

In addition to this stipend, HRSMA students are also eligible to apply to the Student Volunteer Program.

Student Volunteer Program

Through the Student Volunteer Program (SVP), human rights students can apply for eight-week funded summer internships with alumni of the Human Rights Advocates Program (HRAP) and the Alliance for Historical Dialogue and Accountability (AHDA) program. These internships provide students the opportunity to gain field experience and engage in the work of grassroots human rights advocacy efforts while enabling HRAP to support its alumni's advocacy work around the globe.

Essay Contest

Each spring, ISHR sponsors the Human Rights Essay Contest and Colloquium. The contest aims to encourage and acknowledge students who have written exceptional academic papers that address issues related to human rights. Cash prizes are awarded and contest winners are invited to present their papers during the human rights student colloquium.

Papers may be written in any discipline or be interdisciplinary. All students currently enrolled in a Columbia University degree program are eligible to apply.

Click here to read more about the Essay Contest.