Henigson Human Rights Fellowships

The Henigson Human Rights Fellowships are for Harvard Law School students and recent graduates with a demonstrated commitment to international human rights and an interest in working in the field. They are intended to enable students to make a valuable contribution to human rights during the year of the fellowship and to help students to build human rights work into their careers.

The Henigson Fellowships were made possible by a generous gift to the HRP from Robert ’55 and Phyllis Henigson. Henigson Fellows spend twelve months working with a nongovernmental human rights organization in the developing world. Each full fellowship carries a stipend of $27,000 and $1,500 toward international health insurance. Fellows may supplement the fellowship from other grants and awards up to a limit of $18,000. Fellowship awards are made without regard to financial need. Fellows
are required to keep HRP informed of funding.

Download a full overview of the Henigson fellowship for 2023-2024.

View current and previous Henigson Fellows on this list. For more detailed information on our current Henigson fellow, read the fellowship announcement.  

Eligibility

This fellowship is exclusively for HLS graduates.

Normally, 3Ls and LLMs expecting to receive a degree in May are eligible. Recent JD and LLM graduates are also eligible if they (i) have been clerking for a judge since graduation; (ii) have been engaged in full-time public interest work since graduation; or (iii) were active in human rights or public interest work while students at HLS.

3Ls and LLMs expecting to receive a degree in May are given preference for the Henigson Human Rights Fellowship. Similarly, applicants who have not received previous post-graduate fellowship funding from HLS are given preference.

Eligible Locations

Fellowships will be awarded only for projects that are located in low or middle-income countries in the developing world. Placements in Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, United States, Western Europe, and other similarly situated countries are not eligible. HRP will, however, consider applications that link work in the developing world with organizations in developed countries, so long as the focus of the work and the bulk of the time spent will be in the developing country. Fellowships for projects outside a candidate’s home country are encouraged.

The eligibility determination about a location will be made by the HRP on a case-by-case basis.

Eligible Organizations

The fellowship contemplates active participation in NGOs working on human rights. The fellowships are not intended for scholarly research or to permit research at an academic institution. Applicants must have a sponsoring organization or organizations for a single project in the developing world. The organizations must be engaged in “human rights” as broadly defined. In most cases, these NGOs will be involved in human rights education, monitoring, reporting, litigation, grassroots mobilization, or advocacy. Organizations involved in human rights work in general or in specific areas of the human rights movement, such as women’s rights, children’s rights, labor rights, or refugees are good placements. Qualifying NGOs may also include organizations working to embrace new and interdisciplinary directions in the rights movement. For example, organizations involved in economic development, humanitarian relief, or health or environmental advocacy that are pursuing a rights- based approach may also be eligible placements. Not every organization involved in environmental protection, economic development, public health, conflict resolution or peace studies, however, would qualify as a human rights organization.

The Selection Committee may, in rare special circumstances, award a fellowship for work within a governmental or intergovernmental human rights organization.

The eligibility determination for organizations will be made by HRP on a case-by-case basis.

Visa

Fellows are responsible for securing the appropriate visa for their placements. Applicants must discuss this with their potential placement organizations, and ensure it will be possible to secure the appropriate visa in time for their fellowship.

Fellowship Advising and Selection Process

HRP oversees the administration of the fellowships, including through advising and selection. The HRP advisors are not part of the selection committee.

Advising

HRP will advise students preparing applications on the substance of their proposal, including whether particular sponsoring groups qualify, whether a student can work out arrangements to work with related NGOs on a single project, and so on.

Applicants should contact organizations as early as possible to determine their needs and the capacity of the applicant to fill them. Project descriptions should be as detailed as possible. Students should discuss potential sponsoring organizations with HRP Associate Director Abadir Ibrahim ([email protected]) as early as possible.

Selection

HRP may seek to supplement the application with information from the applicant or other informed sources. Interviews may be required for finalists. The Selection Committee awarding the fellowships is not required to award any fellowships in the absence of sufficiently qualified applicants. 

The Selection Committee will give particular weight to:

  1. The applicant’s relevant experience, including academic experience, extracurricular activities, and work experience that evidence a high capacity for and commitment to human rights work and the proposed project;
  2. The merit and feasibility of the applicant’s project, including the capacity of the proposed organization or organizations to host the applicant and make valuable use of his or her work; and
  3. The relevance of the project for the career plans of the applicant.

How to Apply

Prospective applicants must email Abadir Ibrahim ([email protected]) before March 6, 2023, to discuss their plans and have their host organization vetted.

Applications must be submitted to HRP by March 27, 2023 through our online application form on Qualtrics. It is possible to apply to either or both the Henigson and Satter fellowships.

A complete application will consist of the following:

  1. Curriculum vitae, including information about classes, work, and extracurricular activities in public interest and human rights inside and outside HLS;
  2. A personal statement (500 words maximum) about the applicant’s relevant experience, interest, and future aspirations with respect to public interest and human rights work. The statement should include a discussion of how the fellowship fits within the applicant’s career plans. The statement should clearly indicate whether the applicant wants to be considered for the Henigson Fellowship only, or for both the Satter and Henigson Fellowships;
  3. A project description (see below for project requirements) including: a description of the sponsoring organization and of its work in the local and international context; a detailed discussion of the applicant’s project and its relation to the work of the organization; and an estimated project budget to demonstrate feasibility;
  4. A letter and supporting material from the sponsoring organization detailing: the organization’s mission; their particular interest in the work of the applicant; their plan for supervising and mentoring the applicant; their plan for security and risk management for the applicant; and their plan for ensuring that the applicant is able to secure the appropriate visa;
  5. Two or three letters of recommendation, including at least one from a HLS professor; letters of recommendation may be submitted separately from the rest of the application to [email protected]; and
  6. an HLS transcript.

HR Mentorship Program

HRP’s postgraduate fellows undertake challenging and complex assignments around the world. Often these are their first full-time field placements, and a critical opportunity to begin or expand their careers in human rights advocacy.

Given these factors, HRP is committed to ensuring that the postgraduate fellows receive substantive guidance as they work on their assignments, as well as critical advice for their professional development. To do this, HRP draws on its faculty and staff as well as its experienced alumni. Each postgraduate fellow is assigned 2-3 mentors, including one member of HRP or Clinic staff / faculty member and 1-2 HLS alumni, depending on availability.

The formal structure of the program takes place over virtual meetings organized by HRP. These meetings provide the fellows with opportunities to present their progress to date, raise any substantive questions, and discuss challenges with their mentors.

Additional interactions between fellows as peers and between fellows and their mentors take place as negotiated by participants. As mentors are volunteering, fellows use their judgment on how much interaction to request from their mentors.