Graduate Certificate in Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Studies

The Graduate Certificate in Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Studies offers students the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the causes and consequences of past acts of genocide and to consider human rights law as a means of violence prevention.

The study of government-­sponsored crimes against humanity, the perpetrator state, the impact of extreme nationalism and the use of the media in spreading racism and prejudice, requires a multidisciplinary approach. The certificate accordingly draws on faculty trained in different disciplines and fields of expertise, including the history of the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide, African history, law, public health, literature and film of the Holocaust and other genocides, political theory, and religion.

The program also introduces students to the various institutional means available for the prevention of genocide and other crimes against humanity, for the cultivation of good relations among ethnic, racial, national, and religious groups and the effective management of tensions among them, and for the promotion and protection of human rights.

The principal objective of the certificate is to provide the student with the intellectual tools to analyze the multifaceted social, economic, cultural, civil, and political components of society under genocidal regimes, under repressive governments with poor human rights records, and the closely interconnected domestic and international environments in which such regimes operate. Further, the student develops proficiency in analyzing government-citizen relations, including the extent to which individuals, societies, and domestic and international NGOs can intervene to promote and protect human rights and prevent genocide. Completion of the Graduate Certificate in Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Studies helps students to prepare for graduate studies in history, political science, law, literature, and religion, in addition to careers in social and governmental service.

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate advanced knowledge of the history, ethics, law, and/or public health analysis of the Holocaust, comparative genocides, and/or human rights;
  • Demonstrate and understand the analysis of the Holocaust, comparative genocides, and/or human rights from at least two disciplinary perspectives; and
  • Demonstrate the capacity to complete a substantial research project on issues related to the Holocaust, comparative genocides, and/or human rights.


  • Students must successfully complete at least 16 credits of coursework (four standard courses) that have a significant focus on human rights, comparative genocide, or Holocaust studies. At least one course must be taken in Human Rights and one course in Holocaust & Genocide Studies.
  • Students seeking a certificate must take courses in at least two departments or colleges.
  • Students must demonstrate research competence by completing a significant research project such as an MA thesis, PhD dissertation, or two substantial research papers for graduate-level seminars.
  • Students are expected to consult with the director of Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights at the beginning of their studies to ensure that they develop a coherent course of study. The director will provide final approval to students who have completed the requirements for the certificate.

For a full list of approved courses offered at Boston University, please see the Graduate Certificate in Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Studies program website.