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The University of Iowa Center for Human Rights is pleased to be able to offer the undergraduate Certificate in Human Rights.

Human rights purport that all people deserve to live life with dignity; that human beings are owed the protection of these rights simply because they are human.  Universal human rights apply to all equally and without discrimination.  They encompass civil and political rights; economic, social, and cultural rights; and apply to both individuals and groups. The rights set forth in human rights doctrines, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are interrelated, interdependent, and indivisible.

The Certificate in Human Rights benefits students interested in careers in government, social services, the non-profit sector, business, and education, as well as those pursuing professional or graduate schools. The certificate curriculum introduces students to human rights theory and practice by providing students with the opportunity to: understand human rights law, history, and philosophy; explore specific, pressing human rights topics in-depth from inter-disciplinary perspectives; identify solutions to global challenges; learn how to translate human rights theory into effective advocacy; and strengthen one’s ability to communicate successfully with academic and non-academic audiences. 

The Certificate is administered by the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights.

Eligibility for the Certificate

Students may complete the Certificate as part of their bachelor’s program at UI; the certificate is awarded upon completion of the bachelor’s degree. Holders of Iowa baccalaureate degrees may return to complete the requirements for a certificate. Holders of baccalaureate degrees from other institutions who are not enrolled in a graduate or professional program at The University of Iowa may apply for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and are awarded the certificate on completion of the requirements.

Certificate Completion 

In order to graduate with the Certificate in Human Rights, students must complete the Certificate Completion Form listing the completed requirements prior to graduation. This form must be completed and submitted to the certificate advisor by November 1 for fall graduation or by April 1 for spring graduation.

Program Requirements (for students enrolling during or after fall 2016)

The certificate requires 18 s.h. of coursework in the following areas.  

Philosophical foundations and contemporary issues in human rights (9 s.h.):
HRTS:2115 IS:2115  Introduction to Human Rights 3 s.h.
PHIL:3430 Philosophy of Human Rights 3 s.h.
HIST:4101 History of Human Rights 3 s.h,

Human rights in practice (total of 9 s.h.):
HRTS:3906 Global Crises in Human Rights (previously Human Rights Systems: Institutions and Mechanisms Enforcing and Implementing Human Rights) 3 s.h.
HRTS:3910/IS:3910 Human Rights Advocacy 3 s.h.
HRTS:3920 Seminar in Human Rights Praxis: Supervised Internship 3 s.h.*

Elective courses:
HRTS:3905/IS:3905 Topics in Human Rights 1 s.h.**

*Students may substitute three Topics in Human Rights courses for this course requirement. Contact the certificate program advisor for more information.

**UICHR offers a series of topical courses under the title “Topics in Human Rights.” These 1 credit-hour courses allow students the opportunity to explore human rights-related issues in depth, either over the course of a semester, or as part of a short, conference-based course. Past topics have included refugee resettlement and policy, community development, transitional justice, and human rights in the academy.

These and requirements for students enrolling prior to fall 2016 can also be found in The University of Iowa General Catalog and on the University College Website.

How do I enroll and earn the certificate?

Follow the instructions (below) specific to your student status, and contact Jo Butterfield (, the advisor for the Certificate Program.

Current University of Iowa Students
Declare your intention to earn the Certificate on MyUI. Students should make an appointment with the certificate advisor to develop an individual plan of study that complements their degree program and career objectives. 

Graduates of the University of Iowa
If you hold a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa students you need to submit a re-entry form, which can be completed through the University of Iowa admissions website.

In the dropdown box, select the Certificate in Human Rights as your degree objective.

Graduates from other Universities
If you hold a Bachelor’s degree from another university you need to submit an undergraduate transfer application, which can be found on the University of Iowa admissions website.

In the dropdown box, select the Certificate in Human Rights as your degree objective.

About Us

Education & Student Support, Advisor Human Rights Certificate: Jo Butterfield
609 Jefferson Building

Chair: Greg Hamot
Associate Director of the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights