Apply for the Human Rights Fellowship

The Human Rights Center Fellowship

Please fill out this form if you are interested in applying to the 2024 Fellowship Program.


The Human Rights Center student fellowship is impact-oriented. Fellows' fieldwork may be, but is not limited to, research. Registered students at UC Berkeley and the Graduate Theological Union are eligible, with priority given to graduate and returning students. Prior recipients of Human Rights Center fellowships are not eligible. The amount of the fellowship stipend will be $8,000*. These awards will enable students to carry out clearly defined fieldwork, domestically or internationally, with organizations working on human rights issues related to a student’s area of interest. Applicants must plan to spend at least 8 weeks full time or its equivalent part-time working with a partner organization to qualify for the fellowship.The purpose of the fellowship is to provide students with an opportunity to contribute to the organizations’ work while also gaining practical experience that may influence the students' areas of research, academic focus, or career trajectory. Partnerships with both non-governmental and governmental organizations are acceptable, so long as the affiliation enables the proposed human rights work. Multi-disciplinary approaches to human rights fieldwork are welcomed. All fieldwork must be in an environment with a low risk of COVID 19 infection or be remote. 

The fellowships are student-initiated. Applicants must identify the organizations they will work with, the social justice or human rights issue to be addressed, and the parameters, objectives, goals, and expected outcomes of their proposed fieldwork. Applicants can look at the "Current Fellows" and "Fellowship Alumni" pages (see links to the left) to see partner organizations previous fellows have worked with. Fundamental changes to accepted proposals (e.g., different human rights topic, new partner organization, alternate location) are not permitted. On some occasions, human rights organizations interested in hosting fellows do contact the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley. Fellowship Coordinator Alexey Berlind may be able to refer applicants to appropriate organizations on request and can be reached at All fieldwork, including more independent projects, must include a partner organization. If your fieldwork is relatively independent, consider doing a web search/literature review on what similar work has been done previously to avoid replicating existing research or doubling existing projects.

Human Rights Fellowship benefits and expectations: 

  • Receive an $8,000* stipend to support their work
  • Attend an orientation at UC Berkeley to prepare for summer fieldwork (in April)
  • Submit an informal mid-term report from the field (July/August)
  • Attend an informal gathering upon return from the fellowship (in September)
  • Present on a Fellowship panel at the Fellowship Conference (in October)
  • Complete all assignments and participate fully and in person in all fellowship events
  • Membership in a lifelong alumni community

Application Process

Please find instructions for the application below, and click "apply" on this page to access the online application form The application deadline is Tuesday February 21. 

If you have questions about UC Berkeley's process, about prospective partner organizations, or need contacts at other campuses, please contact Alexey Berlind at

Applicants are strongly encouraged to meet with the Fellowship Coordinator or other HRC staff prior to submission.

A complete application includes: 

  1. A completed online application form, which can be found at

  2. A curriculum vitae/resume, indicating all experience (academic studies, fieldwork, volunteer work, and paid work) relevant to the fellowship.

  3. Statement of purpose (2–5 pages, doubled-spaced, 12-point font), describing your interest in the award, written in essay format (bulleted sections welcome) This section of the application should address the following questions:

  • What human rights or social justice issue will be addressed during the fellowship? Do an article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, or recent declarations on the right to a clean and healthy environment address the issue and, if not, how do you think the issue relates to human rights? Please note that these UN declarations emcompass many social justice, environmental and civil rights issues. 

  • How will you work with your partner organization to address this issue?

  • How will your fieldwork contribute to the partner organization’s ongoing mission/goals?  

  • Why are you interested in addressing this issue? Do you have a particular interest/expertise/experience in this area? 

  • What are the objectives/goals/expected outcomes of your proposed fieldwork?

  • How will these outcomes be measured or evaluated?

  • How will the fellowship build on your current academic interests?

  • What role will the fellowship play in your long-term career or study plans?

  • Have you spent time in your proposed geographic area and/or working on your proposed topic?  If so, outline your previous experience that specifically pertains to your proposed fellowship work.  If not, describe how you will prepare yourself for your proposed fellowship work. Address any issues related to fluency in a language other than English.

4. Two letters of recommendation from persons (at least one UC professor, preferably your advisor if you have one) in a position to affirm your ability to successfully carry out the fellowship you propose, and the value of the fellowship in the context of your academic work and interests. Letters may be addressed to Fellowship Coordinator Alexey Berlind and sent directly to

5. A letter of support from the partner organization detailing the mission/goals of the organization and how your proposed fieldwork will contribute to its work. This letter should address the following points:

  • Who will be your main point person at the organization?

  • In which ways will you be supporting the organization?

  • In which ways will the organization be supporting you?

  • What are you expected to accomplish during your fellowship?

  • How will the organization benefit from your accomplishments?

  • What dates and times have you and the organization agreed you will work there? A minimum of 8 weeks of full time work (at 40 hrs/week) or its equivalent (over more weeks) are required. This can be left unfinalized if need be.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to meet with the Fellowship Coordinator prior to submission. Contact us at

FAQs can be found online at Applicants will be notified by mid-March 2023.

*In light of Berkeley Law's funding for 1L's and 2L's doing summer work with non-profits and related organizations, the Fellowship stipend for law students will be $4000 for 2L's and $5000 for 1L's, allowing both to earn the $10,000 maximum permitted by the Edley Grant. Other applicants receiving additional funding for their fieldwork may also receive adjusted stipend offers. 

Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects

If you intend to use the fellowship grant to conduct research that you will include in your thesis or dissertation, you should consider whether approval from the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects (CPHS) is necessary. For more information, please speak with your faculty advisor or visit your campus’s CPHS website. IRB review can be a very lengthy process. We encourage applicants to start the process as soon as possible.