Student Volunteer Program


Wu Chen
2016 Graduate student Wu Chen interviews Chief Rwot of the Acholi tribe as part of a documentary project in Uganda.

Please refer to the opportunities on this page for more information on relevant application deadlines and how to apply.

The Institute for the Study of Human Rights (ISHR) invites advanced undergraduate and graduate human rights students to apply for an eight-week summer internship with alumni of the Human Rights Advocates Program (HRAP). Students selected to participate in the Student Volunteers Program (SVP) will receive a grant of $2,200 from ISHR.

SVP enables students to expand their own professional skills and human rights knowledge and experience through fieldwork with participating grassroots human rights organizations.

Application Details

To apply, students should email a cover letter and resume to with the subject line “SVP application - [Name of Organization].” Please submit your application as soon as possible but no later than May 1, 2024. Please indicate the organization(s) that you are interested in working with, the relevance of this work to your studies and how your qualifications relate to each opportunity you are applying for. If you apply for more than one opportunity, please indicate in your cover letter your first and second choices. Applications will then be sent to the hosting organizations, which will request interviews with those students who they feel are the right match. The organizations will make the final decisions which will be announced by the end of May. 
ISHR students selected for in-person SVP placement are also invited to apply for the Miller Human Rights Award. Please note that the recipients of the Miller Award will not be eligible for other SVP funding.


Margo Goll
In 2015, graduate student Margo Goll volunteered with the Hope Development Initiative in Uganda.

Please note that the disbursement of the $2,200 stipend may take 4-6 weeks. There is no way to expedite this so you should have funds available to move forward if chosen. Students are solely responsible for arranging and purchasing their own plane tickets, accommodation, and other expenses incurred during their internship. Students are solely responsible for identifying their own accommodations, although some organizations may assist students in finding housing options. Students are solely responsible for obtaining a visa if one is necessary.

Please make sure to read each internship description carefully and to review each organization’s website. If selected for an interview with the host organization, be sure to identify questions in advance regarding both the internship itself and accommodation options.

Students coordinate the exact start and end dates of their internship directly with the hosting organization prior to their departure, but must commit to volunteering for a minimum of 8 weeks. 

Preference is given to advanced undergraduates and first-year graduate students at ISHR who are current students and expect to continue their studies at Columbia University in the fall, unless otherwise specified in the posting. Upon their return, students will be expected to discuss their volunteer experience at brown bags sponsored by ISHR as well as a written report to ISHR about their volunteer experience. We encourage participants to contribute an analytical article to ISHR's human rights blog, RightsViews, based on their experience as well. Please review the RightsViews submission process and policies if you are interested in contributing.

Please contact with any questions. Please do not directly contact the organizations or their affiliated personnel.