JD-LLM International Human Rights Joint Degree


Program Director:  Bridget Arimond
Director, Center for International Human Rights:  David Scheffer 
Sr. Counsel, Center for International Human Rights: Stephen Sawyer

Program Overview:

Northwestern Law and its Center for International Human Rights offers a four-year joint degree program leading to both a JD and an LLM in International Human Rights, with a focus on both international human rights law and international criminal law.  A distinctive feature of the program is a required, semester-long externship with one of a number of designated international and hybrid criminal tribunals, foreign supreme courts, and international human rights organizations.   The externship can be undertaken during the joint degree student’s second, third, or fourth years and counts as elective credit toward the required 85 credits for the JD.  Upon completion of all requirements, JD-LLM IHR students are awarded both degrees simultaneously.

Degree Requirements

Students must satisfy all JD requirements, plus 20 credits to satisfy LLM-IHR requirements, for a total of at least 105 credits.  The International Externship (12 credits) is required for the JD-LLM IHR.  These credits are in addition to the 20 credits required for the LLM-IHR, but may be counted toward JD electives:

Course Title
JD-IHR Required Courses
Counted toward IHR LLM (8 credits)
CONPUB 694International Human Rights Law
CONPUB 695International Criminal Law
CONPUB 703Colloquium: International Human Rights (Fall - 1 credit)
CONPUB 703Colloquium: International Human Rights (Spring - 1 credit)
Counted toward JD Electives (12 credits)
CONPUB 705International Externship Seminar
CONPUB 705AInternational Externship Field Placement
IHR Electives (12 credits)
Select from the following:
Women, Children, Gender and Human Rights
International Criminal Law in U.S. Courts
Refugees and Asylum
Nation Building: International Human Rights in Transitional Societies
International HR Law: Differing Perspectives, Europe, the Americas, US
International Law: the Law of War
Corporate Compliance and Social Mandates
A New World Order: the Role of the United Nations in Advancing the Rule of Law and Human Rights
Public Corruption & the Law
Human Trafficking
Legal Issues in Arab-Israeli conflict
Contemporary Dilemmas in International Humanitarian Law: Targeting and Occupation
Global Freedom of Expression and the Press
Foreign, Comparative, and International Legal Research
Introduction to Trial Advocacy (International Track)
Clinic: International Human Rights Advocacy
Clinic: International Human Rights LLMs Fieldwork
Clinic: International Human Rights Law and Practice
International Environmental Law
Health and Human Rights
Advanced Topics in Health and Human Rights
Minimum Credits Required: 32
20 credits counted toward LLM-IHR / 12 credits counted toward JD Electives

Journal Opportunities

All JD-LLM IHR students who are interested in journal service must compete in the journal write-on process at the end of  the spring semester of their first year of law school (unless the student is offered and accepts membership through the journals Provisional Membership Program offered by three of the journals during the spring semester of the first year).  Journal service must consist of two consecutive years of service. Non-consecutive years of journal service result in limited and inconsistent journal experience for both the student and the journal.

Journal Provisional Membership Program

Students interested in the Northwestern Journal of Human Rights, Journal of Law and Social Policy, and Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property may participate in the 1L Provisional Membership Program for JHR, JLSP, and JTIP in the spring of their 1L year. In this program, students participate in cite-checking and other journal activities. Upon successful completion of the program, students may be offered full membership in the journal.  JD-LLM IHR students should inform the editors at the time they begin the Provisional Membership Program that they are JD-LLM IHR students.

Write-on Process

Students must identify their program on the write-on contact form (and not on any competition submissions to be evaluated).  Although the contact form does not ask for this information, the student should identify it so that the journal making the offer of membership offer is made aware of the circumstances.  When journals submit their list of selected student competitors, the journal will be informed if any selections are JD-LLM IHR students. If so, when making the offer, the journal will ask that student to declare his or her intentions between the following options: 

  • To serve for two consecutive years (student plans to complete externship in his or her 4th year)
  • To defer journal service for one year (student plans to complete externship in his or her 2nd year)

In exceptional circumstances, a student may be able to complete his/her externship during the third year. If a student wishes to complete his/her externship during the third year, then the student must communicate his or her absence in a timely manner to the journal executive board. During the year in which a student is completing an externship, his or her journal role must be consistent with both the student's absence and the journal's needs regarding that student's service. Thus, the journal will only allow the student to take on a role that can be fulfilled without being physically present on campus for both semesters of the academic year. Such roles will vary from journal to journal and from board position to board position. This approach is the same that is applied when any journal member seeks to study abroad during a year of journal service.