Applying for Henigson Human Rights Fellowships

The deadline for submitting an application for the 2018-2019 Henigson Human Rights Fellowship is 5 p.m. on March 19, 2018.



For current and former J.D. students: 3Ls expecting to receive the J.D. degree, as well as J.D. graduates from the past two years who (i) currently clerk for a judge; (ii) are engaged in full-time public interest work; or (iii) were active in human rights or public interest work while students at HLS.

For LL.M. students: Students who expect to receive the LL.M. degree this year, and who come from and will return to a country other than the United States.

Interviews may be required for finalists. The Faculty Committee awarding the fellowships is not required to award any fellowships in the absence of sufficiently qualified applicants.


A complete application will consist of the following:

  • Curriculum vitae, including information about classes, work and extracurricular activities in public interest and human rights inside and outside HLS;
  • 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 the place of the fellowship in the applicant’s career plans;
  • 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 discussion of the student’s project and its relation to the work of the organization; and an estimated budget (to demonstrate feasibility);
  • A letter and supporting material from the sponsoring organization (or related organizations) detailing their purpose, function and particular interest in the work of the applicant;
  • Two or three letters of recommendation, including at least one from an HLS professor;
  • HLS transcript

Fellowship Selection Process

The Human Rights Program will oversee the administration of the fellowships. Mindy Jane Roseman, the Academic Director, will advise students preparing applications on the substance of their proposal – whether particular sponsoring groups qualify, whether a student can work out arrangements to work with related NGOs on a single project, and so on. The Program may seek to supplement the application with information from the applicant or other informed sources.

Additional Information

Particular weight will be given to:

  • 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;
  • 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;
  • The relevance of the project for the career plans of the applicant.

Project Requirements

Applicants must have a sponsoring organization (or organizations related through a single project) in the developing world. Consistent with the longstanding practice of HRP in summer internships and clinical projects, the organizations must be engaged in “human rights” activism, broadly defined. In most cases, these nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) will be involved in human rights education, monitoring, reporting, litigation, grassroots mobilization, or advocacy – for example, organizations involved in human rights work in general or in specific areas such as women’s rights, children’s rights, labor rights, or refugees. Most of these organizations would identify themselves as part of the broader, universal human rights movement, relying on the norms found in United Nations and regional treaties and declarations. The fellowship is not intended to support extensive research within an NGO that is removed from such other basic activities.

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, health or environmental activism that are pursuing a rights-based approach to advocacy. The determination of qualified organizations will be made by HRP on a case-by-case basis. Not every organization involved in environmental protection, economic development, public health, conflict resolution or peace studies, for example, would qualify as a human rights organization. The Committee may, in special circumstances, accept a proposal for work within a governmental or intergovernmental human rights organization.

HRP will consider applications that link NGOs in the developing world with NGOs in developed countries, so long as the focus of the work and the bulk of the time will be spent in the developing country.

We encourage students to think creatively about the organizations to which they would like to apply and to discuss potential sponsoring organizations with Mindy Jane Roseman early in the planning process.

Qualified Locations

Fellowships will be awarded only for projects that are located in the developing world of low or middle-income countries. This obviously excludes organizations in Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, United States, Western Europe and other similar countries. HRP will, however, consider applications that link work in the developing world with organizations in one of those countries, and which require the fellow to spend a minor portion of the fellowship period in the latter. Determination whether a location qualifies will be made by HRP.

For the LL.M. Fellowship, preference will be given to projects outside the region (or in some cases, sub-region) of the candidate’s home country.

Project Details

Applicants should contact organizations as early as possible to determine their needs and the capacity of the applicant to fill them. Projects should be as detailed as possible. Many smaller NGOs, however, will not be able to predict their exact needs far in advance. The informed commitment of the NGO to work closely with the applicant and devote institutional resources to the project is as important as the substantive detail of the project itself.

Funding Amounts and Restrictions

Fellowship awards are made without regard to financial need. The amount of the fellowship will be based on your project proposal and budget, but will not exceed $27,000. Up to $1,500 is available towards health insurance. After the completion of the fellowship selection process, HRP will consider additional cost of living increases for selected fellows on a case-by-case basis.


Third year students with clerkships or other fellowships may apply in their graduation year and defer the Henigson fellowship until completion of the clerkship or other fellowship. HRP recognizes that students planning to defer may not be in a position to provide the same detail about projects as other applicants. Moreover, HRP recognizes that students holding the fellowship and a clerkship may have to renegotiate certain terms of their project with the sponsoring organization during their clerkship year. No other grounds for deferral will be accepted, barring unforeseen and exceptional circumstances.

Submitting a Henigson Application

Applications can be turned in via e-mail or in person.

Human Rights Program
WCC Clinical Wing
6 Everett Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Email: [email protected]

Share By Email