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The Human Rights Summer Internship Program is a selective opportunity for University of Chicago students to engage with human rights in practice, supported by a flexible grant of $5,000.

Established in 1998, the yearlong program supports students as they search out and prepare for a full-time summer internship, and then integrate that experience into their academic coursework. Human rights majors can fulfill the fieldwork requirement through their internship.

Why do the Human Rights Summer Internship Program?

  • Human Rights Framework: Take a human rights-based approach to learn practical skills and explore career paths while helping an organization address challenging human rights issues
  • Choose Your Own Adventure: Design your own opportunity, anywhere in the world–no bidding or pre-defined menu of options
  • Staff and Student Support: Access ongoing support from the staff of the Pozen Center and Career Advancement and Human Rights Leaders from last year’s cohort
  • A Cohort Experience: Join a learning community of students with similar interests to build confidence and networks of support
  • Alumni Network: Take advantage of 25+ years of internship alumni who are a crucial resource for finding internships


The Human Rights Internship Program is open to UChicago second-and third-year students in the College and master’s students in the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice. Among Crown Family School students, we especially encourage those interested in mass incarceration and the criminalization of immigration to apply.

Program Requirements

The yearlong human rights internship program includes a variety of required program activities that facilitate learning:

  • Internship Symposium: shortly after cohort selection, attend our annual Internship Symposium to mark the beginning of your program journey!
  • Recorded Webinars: review recorded webinars over Winter Break, at your own pace.
  • Check-ins: brief, biweekly written check-ins during Winter Quarter.
  • Advising: Attend an advising appointment with Career Advancement or Pozen Center staff before the end of January (Crown Family School students attend an appointment with UChicago GRAD).
  • Training Sessions: participate in 3-4 required training sessions during Winter and Spring Quarters:
    Note: Human rights majors take the required Winter quarter course Human Rights Fieldwork in place of some of the sessions.
  • Learning Plan: complete a learning plan with a host organization by mid-April.
  • Coursework: complete one approved Human Rights course before the summer internship begins.
  • Reports: provide two written reports throughout the summer, and a final written report at the end of your internship
  • Internship Symposium: present at our annual Internship Symposium.


2025 Application

Applications for the next internship cohort open in September and are due in late October. The application process is selective. A selection of applicants is invited to a final round interview, held in early November. Applicants receive a decision the following week and new interns are required to attend our annual Internship Symposium, held in mid-November.


  • For help with any remaining questions, please contact Assistant Director Cliff Chan.

Info Sessions

Info sessions are held each fall quarter. Watch a recording of the October 2023 Info Session at this link. You can also take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions below for more details about the program and application.

Human Rights Leader Office Hours

We welcome any questions you may have about internships or applications, from the general to the specific.

Human Rights Leaders (HRL) are former Human Rights Interns who are available to advise prospective applicants. Human Rights Leaders can review individual applications but can’t provide line-by-line edits. Note that HRLs will not be a part of the committee that evaluates submitted applications. To learn more about each of this year’s HRLs, check out our Human Rights Leaders page.

Human Rights Leaders hold in-person and virtual "office hours" to discuss their experiences and assist you during the internship application, search, and preparation process.  During fall quarter, here's how you can reach them:

Further questions? Contact Cliff Chan, Assistant Director of Programs and Events.

Frequently Asked Questions


What are the application requirements?

What are the essay questions?

How specific should I be in responding to Essay Question #2?

How should I format my application for online submission?

What is the selection committee looking for?

Who is on the committee? What will the interview be like?

Is there anyone who can offer help with the application process?

When will selection decisions be announced?

Must I take a human rights course before applying?


I have not taken an HMRT course with the Pozen Center. Will that hurt my chances as an applicant?

I have experience in ____, but I don’t know if it qualifies as “human rights.”

I have experience in ____, but I am interested in exploring a new topic or region. Is this okay?

I applied to the program last year, as a second-year, and wasn’t chosen. Does that mean I can’t apply this year (or that I shouldn’t bother trying again)?

Can graduate students apply?

Can first-year or fourth-year College students apply?

Can I use the grant to fund an independent, personal, or research initiative?


After interns are selected, how do the internship search and placement work?

Can I see a list of past intern placements?

Does the selection committee have a preference for students going abroad for their internships, or can I pursue something domestic?

Are there any countries that are off-limits for travel?

Can you tell me more about what the program timeline looks like after I’ve been accepted?