JD-LLM in International Human Rights

Northwestern Law and its Center for International Human Rights offer a four-year joint degree program leading to both a JD and an LLM in International Human Rights, with a focus on both international human rights law and international criminal law. Northwestern Law remains the only law school in the country to offer a joint JD-LLM in International Human Rights (JD-LLM IHR) program.

Students enrolled in the JD-LLM IHR program will receive a thorough grounding in the norms and mechanisms of international human rights law and international criminal law. A distinctive feature of the new program will be the requirement that students complete a semester-long externship with one of a number of designated international and hybrid criminal tribunals, foreign supreme courts, and international human rights organizations.

Degree Requirements

Completion of the joint degree program requires completion of the existing requirements for the JD, plus an additional 20 credits. Within this overall requirement, JD-LLM IHR students must complete a minimum of 20 credits from courses related to international human rights law. These courses must include the following core courses:

  • International Human Rights I (3 credits)
  • International Criminal Law (3 credits)
  • Human Rights Colloquium (2 credits)

The remaining 11 credits can be fulfilled from an array of elective courses relating to international human rights law or international criminal law. While courses may vary from year to year, elective courses offered during Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 terms include the following:

  • Clinic Practice: Human Rights Advocacy at Home and Abroad
  • Clinic Practice: Center for International Human Rights
  • Nation Building: International Human Rights in Transitional Societies
  • Comparative Human Rights: Differing Perspectives in Europe, the Americas, the U.S.
  • A New World Order: the Role of the United Nations in Advancing a Rule of Law and Individual Human Rights
  • The Law of War/International Humanitarian Law
  • Corporate Human Rights Responsibility
  • Refugees and Asylum
  • International Environmental Law
  • Women, Children and Human Rights
  • Graduate Thesis

In addition to completing 20 credits of courses as outlined above, students must also complete a 12-credit, semester-long externship with one of a number of designated international and hybrid criminal tribunals, foreign supreme courts, and international human rights organizations. The externship can be undertaken during the joint degree student’s 2L, 3L, or 4L years. The Law School encourages students to take the core courses first and to not take the externship during the spring term of the 4L year. For further information regarding externships, please see the International Externship page.

Upon completion of all requirements, JD-LLM IHR students will be awarded both degrees simultaneously, namely a JD and an LLM in International Human Rights.

Tuition and Financial Aid

A Northwestern Law legal education is a valuable investment that will provide lifelong returns throughout your legal career. Given that, the Law School recognizes that many students do not have the immediate financial resources to cover the substantial cost of a legal education. Therefore, we are committed to providing a comprehensive financial aid program designed to enable any accepted student to attend the Law School and complete their degree program regardless of financial need.

The Office of Financial Aid administers a number of programs to assist both prospective and continuing law students in financing their Northwestern Law education. Aid packages are composed of a combination of loans, grants, and/or scholarships. Assistance is based on demonstrated financial need. Current students and students admitted for Fall 2010 should contact the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid with questions concerning tuition rates and expenses.

Application Procedure

Current students are eligible to apply for the JD-LLM Program in International Human Rights. Students who are interested in the program should submit an application, statement of purpose, and current resume. Current students should also submit their most recent law school transcripts. New applicants please apply by accessing the materials found under JD-LLM in International Human Rights. All application materials should be sent to:

Northwestern University School of Law
Office of Admissions and Financial Aid
Attention: JD-LLM Program in International Human Rights
375 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611

New applicants please visit the admissions area and complete the application found under JD-LLM in International Human Rights. Within this application checking the appropriate box indicates that you would like your application to be considered for the JD-LLM in International Human Rights.

Journal Service

All JD LLM IHR students who are interested in journal service must compete in the journal writing competition during the Spring following their first year of law school.

  • Students must identify their program on the administrative contact form (and not on any competition submissions to be evaluated).
  • Journal service consists of 2 consecutive years. All journals view non-consecutive years of journal service as resulting in an incomplete and limited journal experience for both the student and the journal.
  • When journals submit their list of selected student competitors, the journal will be informed if any selections are JD LLM IHR students. If so, when making the offer the journal will ask that student to declare his or her intentions between the following options:
    1. To serve for two consecutive years (student plans to complete externship in his or her 4th year)
    2. To defer journal service for one year (student plans to complete externship in his or her 2nd year)
  • If a student defers journal service, then the journal will be given an additional student name in order to meet anticipated staffing needs. If the student will be away during the second year of service, then the journal will be able to take additional students in the succeeding year.
  • In exceptional circumstances, a student may be able to complete his/her externship during the 3rd year. If a student wishes to complete his/her externship during the 3rd year, then the student must communicate his or her absence in a timely manner to the journal executive board. During the year in which a student is completing an externship, his or her journal role must be consistent with both the student's absence and the journal's needs regarding that student's service. Thus, the journal will only allow the student to take on a role that can be fulfilled without being physically present on campus for both semesters of the academic year. Such roles will vary from journal to journal and from board position to board position. This approach is the same that is applied when any journal member seeks to study abroad during a year of journal service.

Further Information

For further information, please contact Professor David Scheffer, Director of the Center for International Human Rights, at d-scheffer@law.northwestern.edu, or Professor Bridget Arimond, Director of the LLM Program in International Human Rights, at b-arimond@law.northwestern.edu.