Students wanting to major in Human Rights should contact the Human Rights Director, Benjamin Carbonetti, to discuss.

The individually tailored, interdisciplinary major in human rights studies requires 10 courses and a senior project. No more than two courses may be double-counted toward another major or minor. Students must earn a minimum of C- in any given course to receive credit for the major. Declaration forms and instructions are available from the Human Rights Program director.

Core courses (3 credits):

  • HRST 125. Introduction to Human Rights (Fall)
  • POLS 369. International Human Rights Law (Spring)
  • Philosophy Requirement – Each semester a course will be designated as satisfying this requirement  (see courses lists provided ahead of advising week)

Electives (7 credits): Electives must satisfy the following criteria: Students must take two Specialized Electives and five General Electives. No more than three electives may be from the same discipline or program, and at least four electives must be at the 300 level or above. At least one elective should focus on the United States. And at least three electives must be complementary, focusing on similar types of rights or regions of the world. Courses are selected in consultation with the program director. A full list of approved electives is available from the Human Rights Program office (70 Vernon Street) and on the HRST website. Frequently taught specialized electives include:

  • HRST 241. Human Rights Advocacy
  • HRST 312. Question of Justice & the Arts
  • HRST 314. Global Radicalism
  • HRST 316. Ecofeminism and Human Rights
  • HRST 323. Grounded Ways of Knowing
  • HRST 332. Understanding Civil Conflicts and its Causes and Consequences
  • HRST 348. New Beginnings: Justice Alternatives and the Arts
  • HRST 373. Human Rights through Performance: The Incarcerated
  • HIST 256. Human Rights in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • POLS 318. Statebuilding

Capstone/Senior Project: All seniors majoring in Human Rights MUST complete a senior thesis or project. The senior project in Human Rights is a one-semester exercise, intended to be the culmination and integration of the coursework in the major. It can take the form of a long research paper or a performance or other artistic/creative project (plays, websites, photo exhibits, painting, dance, films, etc.) on a topic of interest to the student. When the student chooses the latter option, the performance or artistic project still must be accompanied by approximately 20 pages of written work linking the project explicitly to human rights. Senior projects without a performance/creative component (research paper) are approximately 35-50 pages in length. Beginning in fall of 2023 ALL seniors must register for HRST 495 “Senior Research Colloquium” to complete their senior project or senior thesis part 1. Alternatively, students may sign up for other 400 level HRST courses if the topic of the course fits with their proposed senior research project or thesis. Both courses require instructor permission so rising seniors should meet with the Director of the Human Rights Program during advising to determine their best path.


Thesis/Honors: To qualify for honors, students must have a B+ overall college GPA and an A- average in all approved courses in the major, and must complete an Honors Thesis, a year-long, two-credit project. Students who believe they qualify and are interested in writing a thesis should discuss it with the program director and a potential advisor in the spring before their senior year. The thesis proposal form is here and is usually due in mid to late April (see form for details).

Senior theses are approximately 60-80 pages in length. Seniors who qualify to write an honors thesis must enroll in HRST 495 or another HRST 400 level course that matches their topic with instructor approval. At the end of the term, they receive a grade for their in-progress work. In the spring, they must enroll in HRST 499 senior thesis part II (this requires a special registration form); at the end of that semester, they receive an overall grade for the thesis.

Internships: The Human Rights Program is dedicated to enabling students to explore human rights issues and learn more about human rights organizations in Hartford, their hometowns, and metropolitan areas in the United States and abroad. Our goal is to provide opportunities for human rights majors and minors in pursuit of their own individual interests with financial assistance from the Human Rights Program. Each year, the Human Rights Program selects several Trinity students who have obtained a human rights internship to be awarded stipends as they work at the organization of their choice. The internships, which offer students the opportunity to translate what they have learned in their Trinity courses to hands-on professional experiences, prove to be transformative. Students return to campus with a more sophisticated understanding of human rights issues and the world of advocacy.

Study away: Human Rights courses and internships can be found in a variety of Study Away Programs including Trinity’s programs in Cape Town or Vienna; Trinity-approved programs in Buenos Aires; or any of the School for International Training (SIT) study away programs.

Click here to view the HRST Fall 2024 Classes.