HRP Summer Fellowships

Summer fellowships for human rights internships are a central part of the Harvard Law School human rights experience and provide rich professional, personal, and intellectual opportunities. Many students and alumni who are committed to human rights were introduced to the field through an internship. Interns work for at least eight weeks with nongovernmental or intergovernmental organizations concerned with human rights and social justice. Students should contact the HRP for appropriate readjustments if travel is precluded as per HLS travel and Covid policy changes.

The Program encourages interns to work in organizations that are actively involved in monitoring and responding to human rights violations, grass roots mobilization, or similar activities.

Ishita Petkar smiling into camera wearing black top and blouse

Julia Lee smiling into camera wearing a white blouse and black jacket.

Andrew Santana wearing navy suit and tie smiling into camera.

Zoe Shamis wearing black shirt smiling into camera.

Madeleine Rogers wearing black jacket and olive-green shirt smiling into camera.

Students are free to seek out new organizations and design new internships. The aim of the fellowships is to provide students with an opportunity to learn about careers and research in human rights before they graduate. Many students have drawn on their experience to write articles published in the Harvard Human Rights Journal and contributions published on Harvard Human Rights Reflections.

The selection of successful candidates is based on the strength of their proposals, the applicants’ interest in or commitment to human rights, as well as the availability of opportunities for learning and mentorship. Although HRP summer fellow are expected to travel internationally, exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis. Students proposing to work on international human rights while based in the U.S. should make a case for such an arrangement in their application. Students should contact the HRP for appropriate readjustments if travel is precluded as per HLS travel and Covid policy changes.

View current and previous summer fellows under this list. For more detailed information on our 2022 summer fellows, read the fellowship announcement


The fellowships are open to returning JD students and SJD students exclusively studying at Harvard Law School.

An application for HLS Summer Public Interest Funding (SPIF) is a necessary condition for participation in the HRP Summer Fellowships. For details, please consult the website of the Summer Public Interest Funding (SPIF) program.


Students who have not already made an initial advising appointment with an OPIA adviser are strongly encouraged to do so before making an HRP Summer Fellowship application. HRP staff will be available to answer any questions regarding the fellowship application process and provide additional advising support.


Interested applicants can apply to the Human Rights Program summer fellowship by submitting a completed Human Rights Program Summer Fellowships Application Form together with a PDF copy of their resume. The deadline to submit a summer fellowship application to HRP is February 1, 2023. 

For an overview of the complete application process, please review the summer fellowship application timeline below.

Application timeline

While the planning for summer fellowships occurs year-round, most activities begin in the fall semester. The following are the major milestones applicants should be cognizant of.

Step One:

In fall, students should begin looking for host human rights organizations and contact organizations in which they are interested, in order to explore whether there is a fit between their interests and skills and the organization’s needs. Students should also explore the logistical aspects of the destination of the organizations they are considering.

Remember: OPIA’s Job Search Toolkit contains a more extensive set of guidelines and information on how to approach summer jobs and fellowships in the public interest field. More specific information on human rights work can also be found on OPIA’s Explore International Public Interest Law page.

Step Two:

December – January: Apply to host human rights organizations. Students intending to apply for an HRP summer fellowship and who have not yet made an initial OPIA advising appointment are strongly encouraged to do so. Students who have inquiries about the HRP Summer Fellowship application process can reach out to HRP Associate Director Abadir M. Ibrahim ([email protected]) starting in December.

Remember: An application to the HRP Summer Fellowship does not preclude a simultaneous application to the Chayes Fellowship administered by ILS. Candidates cannot, however, be awarded both fellowships at the same time. Students should also note that being awarded an HRP Summer Fellowship in a previous year does not disqualify one from applying in subsequent years.

Step Three:

February: DEADLINE to submit the application form and CV/resume to HRP is February 1, 2023. 

Remember: It is not atypical for students to submit their application before they have secured summer employment. Applicants should update HRP on changes in their placement status as soon as such change occurs.

Step Four:

February/March: Review the application process for HLS Summer Public Interest Funding with the HLS Student Financial Services Office. See the JD Student Financial Services Office and Summer Public Interest Funding (SPIF) websites for details.

Remember: An application for HLS Summer Public Interest Funding (SPIF) is a necessary condition for participation in the HRP Summer Fellowships.

Step Five:

March: Notification of HRP fellowship awards will be sent to applicants. Final award of grant is contingent upon the student securing an approved placement. Those students who accept the fellowship award are required to participate in a pre-departure training session in spring.