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Forty Years of Defending Human Dignity

Fr. Hesburgh founded the The Center for Civil and Human Rights at Notre Dame in 1973,

to ensure that Notre Dame had a strong voice in the fight for civil and human rights. The CCHR’s mission is to advance the God-given dignity of all human beings. Our research engages pressing questions regarding how to prevent and remedy civil and human rights abuses. Our educational programs, an LL.M. and J.S.D. in international human rights law, have trained more than 360 human rights advocates from over 90 countries.

As an integral part of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs, the CCHR’s justice-focused work contributes to the Keough School’s mission of promoting integral human development.  We feel privileged to be a part of Notre Dame’s first new school in nearly a century and to have the opportunity to deepen our commitment to research and education in support of human dignity.

Learn more about CCHR at

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Forming human rights advocates

The Center for Civil and Human Rights engages students who aspire to defend human dignity here at home and across the globe. Through sponsorship of prestigious master's and doctoral-level programs in international human rights law, Summer fellowships that support work done in domestic civil rights, and generous internships programs that offer valuable experience on the front lines of human rights advocacy, CCHR helps students fulfill the Notre Dame mission.

Education Programs in International Human Rights

The CCHR sponsors two degree programs through Notre Dame Law School

to respond to the worldwide need for advanced human rights education: a one-year Master of Laws (LL.M.) program and a multi-year Doctorate of Juridical Sciences (J.S.D.) program. These programs offer lawyers with a proven commitment to human rights the opportunity to engage in specialized study and supervised research in international human rights and comparative law. Students benefit from the interdisciplinary perspective provided by the prestigious Kellogg Institute for International Studies, the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, the Mendoza College of Business, and other departments of the University.

Summer Fellowships and Internships

Upon completion of the LL.M. program,

the CCHR funds many graduates to complete a three-to-six month human rights-related internship. Our vast alumni network assists us in placing students at top human rights institutions around the world, including the United Nations, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, and the International Commission of Jurists, among many others.

CCHR also sponsors its Summer Fellowship,

a $5000 stipend for legal work in a public interest organization that promotes civil rights and/or the enforcement of federal rights on behalf of underrepresented minorities. Topics on which a fellow might work include, but are not limited to, voting rights, fair housing, employment, immigrants’ rights, and prisoners’ rights.