Tiffany Lebrón '11, Allison Chan '11, and Sean Mulligan '11 at mouth of the Nile River.

Become a Summer Human Rights Fellow

Here you will find information on how to apply to be a Summer Human Rights Fellow, including fellowship requirements, funding information, and the application procedure.

Requirements & Application Procedures

BHRC Summer Human Rights Fellowships are granted annually to a select number of highly motivated law students committed to combining practical field work experience and scholarly inquiry in the human rights field. Fellows are placed with a domestic or international human rights organization of their choosing to engage in human rights field work over the course of a summer.

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BHRC Human Rights Fellows are selected on a competitive basis by a Fellowship Selection Committee composed of BHRC staff and UB faculty.

Fellowship Requirements

  1. Minimum Hours of Field Work. Fellows must complete a minimum of 400 hours of human rights field work under the supervision of an approved organization or supervisor. Four hundred hours is the equivalent of 10 full-time weeks.
  2. Supervisor Assessment. Fellows must ask their supervisor to write a thorough evaluation of their work at the end of their stay with the host organization. This evaluation should be emailed directly to Professor Tara Melish, director of the Buffalo Human Rights Center.
  3. Grading. Each fellow's three-credit grade will be based on (1) a final written research paper and (2) a written evaluation of the fellow's field supervisor or host organization.
  4. Presentation of Work to UB Community. Fellows will be required to present their field work experience to the UB community in at least one panel forum with a view to enhancing community awareness of human rights issues, challenges and work opportunities. They will be encouraged to consider adapting their research papers into student notes for the Buffalo Human Rights Law Review.

Finding Placements

Applicants are responsible for identifying and directly contacting the human rights organizations with which they would like to work and in requesting placements consistent with the fellowship guidelines and with their interests and aptitudes. Within this process, the Buffalo Human Rights Center will provide assistance, as needed, in identifying appropriate organizations to those who have been accepted to the human rights fellowship program. The Fellow is nonetheless responsible for taking the lead in this critical process and for asking for appropriate assistance on a timely and proactive basis. The process of identifying an appropriate organization should begin as soon as possible and under no circumstances should be left to the end of the spring semester.

Placement Logistics

Fellows are responsible for making their own travel and living accommodation arrangements.


$4,000 for international posts; $3,000 for domestic posts (to cover travel and living expenses).

Alternative Sources of Funding

The BHRC summer human rights fellowship program is a highly selective program in which not all 1L and 2L students interested in summer human rights work will be able to participate. For those who have not been selected as a Summer Human Rights Fellow, BPILP is another critical source of summer public interest funding available at the law school.

Buffalo Public Interest Law Program. BPILP is an organization designed to raise funds so that students may participate in non-paying or low-paying summer public interest experiences. BPILP receives applications (which are due around the end of March), at which time students must already have an internship/job secured. In weighing the applications, the organization places a heavy emphasis on the applicant’s involvement in BPILP. Accordingly, if you are interested in applying for a BPILP scholarship, please get involved as soon as possible and as much as possible with BPILP activities. BPILP generally awards $3,000 scholarships to accepted applicants.

Students may not receive BHRC Fellowships two years in a row, but may receive BHRC Fellowship funding one year and BPILP funding in another. All BHRC Fellow applicants are therefore strongly encouraged to participate in BPILP fundraising activities throughout their law school career.

Application Procedures

Submission Deadline: Applications are due no later than 5:00 p.m. on October 31, 2018. Please email your application to buffalohrc@gmail.com

Applications must include a:

  1. Curriculum vitae (resume)
  2. Statement of Interest and Internship Proposal: Description of proposed field of work, human rights interests and background.
  • In the style of a professional cover letter, addressed to the BHRC Summer Human Rights Fellowship Selection Committee:
  • Please describe the thematic issue(s) or area(s) of human rights law that you would most like to engage and why; what you hope to get out of the fellowship and how this relates to your professional ambitions; the general type of field work you are most interested in engaging; and the specific country or general region (if you have a preference) in which you would most like to work. Please also address any background or experience you have in the human rights field, if any, including relevant coursework.
  • Note: You do not technically need to select a specific organization with which to work as part of the application process (such selection can come later). The Selection Committee will be looking for evidence that the fellowship will concretely enhance your legal education, that you have put real thought into the type of field work you would like to pursue and why, that you are committed to adding significant value to your host organization, that you will represent the work ethic and values of the BHRC and UB community in your human rights fieldwork, and that you can complete all of the requirements of the fellowship.
  • Please take maximum (and early) advantage of the BHRC co-student directors and the resources that the Buffalo Human Rights Center provides (panels, trainings, etc.) in preparing your application and in thinking through the human rights issues that you would most like to engage through the fellowship experience. You may additionally wish to talk to past BHRC Summer Human Rights Fellows (see the BHRC website) as well as to faculty members who work in human rights (e.g., Professors Makau W. Mutua, Tara Melish, etc.) for their advice and guidance. You should begin your inquiry, however, by scheduling an appointment with the BHRC co-student directors, each of whom can provide excellent advice and guidance.