Satter Human Rights Fellowships

The Satter Human Rights Fellowship is designed to support and promote human rights defense in response to mass atrocity or widespread and severe patterns of rights abuse. The fellowship is made possible by a generous gift by Muneer A. Satter, ’87. HRP offers one to three Satter fellowships annually. These fellowships enable students to make a valuable contribution to human rights in an extreme situation during the year of the fellowship and to help students build human rights work into their careers.

The Satter Human Rights Fellowship focuses on human rights violations in countries designated “Not Free” in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World Index. The fellowship is limited to work on the following areas: 1) situations of mass atrocity; 2) situations of widespread and severe violations of human rights such as crimes against humanity that may be associated with civil conflict, failed states, authoritarian leaders or other highly repressive regimes; 3) situations of transition in the aftermath of conditions that meet the criteria outlined in (1) or (2). Preferred fellowship locations are for work in the Middle East and Africa. Other locations (e.g., Myanmar) that meet the above criteria may also be considered.

Fellowship awards are made without regard to financial need. The fellowship carries a stipend of up to $45,000 for the twelve-month fellowship period. The HRP may reduce the amount of the Satter Fellowship to correspond to other grants. Fellows are required to keep HRP informed of additional funding.

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

View current and previous Satter Fellows on this list.


HLS students expecting to receive a JD degree in May, as well as recent JD graduates are eligible. HLS LLM students who expect to receive a LLM degree in May are also eligible. HLS JD and LLM students expecting to graduate in May are given preference for the Satter Human Rights Fellowship. Similarly, applicants who have not received previous post-graduate fellowship funding from HLS are given preference.

Eligible Locations

Fellows must be either based in the “not free” countries where their work is focused, or be based in a neighboring country to be eligible. Under no circumstances may fellows be placed in Europe or the United States.

Eligible Organizations

The fellowship contemplates active participation in the work of a nongovernmental, governmental, or intergovernmental organization. The fellowship is not intended to support research at an academic or similar institution.


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

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


HRP will advise students preparing applications on the substance of their proposal, including whether particular sponsoring groups qualify and whether a placement meets the requirements for eligibility.

Applicants should contact organizations as early as possible to determine their needs and the capacity of the applicant to fill them. Students should discuss potential sponsoring organizations with HRP Associate Director Abadir Ibrahim ([email protected]) as early as possible and no later than March 6. The HRP must speak with host organizations as part of the application process to ensure placements meet the requirements of the fellowship. Project descriptions should be as detailed as possible, and include specifics on how the placement is focused on mass atrocities.


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. 

A final determination of whether a project proposal conforms with eligibility requirements will be made by a selection committee established for the purpose of awarding the Satter Fellowship. The selection committee will be comprised of HLS faculty members, senior administrators and staff.

The Selection Committee will give particular weight 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; and
  • 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 the 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.
  3. A project description 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 an HLS professor; letters of recommendation may be submitted separately from the rest of the application to [email protected]; and
  6. An HLS transcript.

HRP 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.