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The Master of Arts in Human Rights

Study Human Rights from the Uniquely Catholic Perspective

When you access the application, please note that the M.A. in Human Rights is under the School of Arts and Sciences.

The Master of Arts in Human Rights, developed by the Institute for Human Ecology (IHE), is designed for students who wish to study human rights from a distinctly Catholic perspective. It draws upon existing courses of several schools at The Catholic University of America. The interdisciplinary degree is awarded by the School of Arts and Sciences. The program’s director is William Saunders, J.D.

“[William Saunders] is genuinely a human rights hero, a person who has literally put his body, put his life on the line upholding human rights in very dangerous places…but to stand in solidarity and to support people who were victims of terrible human rights abuses.”

– Robert George, Princeton University’s McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Advisor to our M.A. in Human Rights

Meet With Experienced Human Rights Experts Including:

Msgr. Anthony Frontiero, S.T.D.

Former Vatican Diplomat

Kevin Flannery, S.J.

Gregorian University

Robert George

Princeton University

Helen Alvare

George Mason Law School

Thomas Farr

Religious Freedom Institute

As part of the MA program, students regularly meet with human rights heroes, many of whom serve on the Advisory Board of the program. Not only do the students learn from these human rights advocates, but they are able to ask questions and engage in conversation with them on a vast array of human rights issues and challenges. Read more about these meetings below.

Graduates will:

  • Robert P. George
    “I think part of the project for those of us who do believe in human rights, seriously believe in human rights, who believe in them not because they're popular but because we think they're true, part of the challenge for us and our job is to be more effective in making the case. I don't mean just moral, just rhetorically effective. I mean to make the case better, make the stronger case, the strongest possible case for a meta-ethical view that would provide a solid ground for belief in human rights.”
    Robert P. George
    McCormick Professorship of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and Advisor to the M.A. in Human Rights at The Catholic University of America
  • Chen Guangcheng
    “I believe that what determines outcomes is people. As long as you have confidence and determination and know that justice is on your side, and the thirst for freedom, you will find the path to overcome your enemies. The quest for freedom is innate within all of us.”
    Chen Guangcheng
    Distinguished Fellow at The Catholic University of America.
  • Steven Howard
    "The M.A. in Human Rights enriched my understanding of human rights by illuminating their Christian origins.  As I deepened my study of Catholic Social Doctrine, I developed a new appreciation for the moral clarity it provides for the challenging issues of our day.  Experiencing the community of Catholic University was also incredibly rewarding for me as a Catholic.  Moving forward, I feel more solidly grounded in Catholic Social Doctrine and prepared to tackle human rights challenges.”
    Steven Howard
    M.A. in Human Rights
  • Thomas Farr
    “This program stands at the very core of Catholic University's mission to teach its students the deep meaning and profound value of human rights grounded in the dignity of the human person. At the center of all human rights is its linchpin—without which the others cannot properly defend true human dignity—religious freedom. No one is better qualified to teach its role in all fundamental rights than the director of the Human Rights Program, William Saunders.”
    Thomas Farr
    Religious Freedom Institute President and Advisor to the M.A. in Human Rights at Catholic University.

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“This Institute, I think, is a very important expression of the renaissance that’s underway at Catholic University in these recent years, and I’m delighted to be part of that.”

George Weigel