Social Justice and Human Rights

Resident Master of Arts Program


Social Justice Program Design

The Masters in Social Justice and Human Rights program* prepares students and develops skills for a lifetime of intentional social change. Graduates of this program will be uniquely prepared to tackle real world challenges of economic, social, political and environmental inequality. Our innovative curriculum focuses on the application of organizing and mobilization theory into existing projects on the local, national and international scenes. This emphasis on direct action and involvement is what sets our program apart from the rest. Graduates of SJHR will be uniquely situated through the development of practical and analytical skills, experiences and connections to impact any situation that requires collaboration for social justice.

Theory and Practice

The SJHR curriculum combines a unique focus of critical race theory, anti-colonial theory, feminist and queer theory, critical political economy and third world liberation theory with profound emphasis on developing organizing and mobilization as powerful tools for understanding the complex relations of history, politics, power and political/cultural/gendered oppression. Community Organizing skills, together with a strong theoretical basis, prepare students for applying their skill set within different organizing settings and working in collaboration with directly affected communities.

Field Experience

The SJHR curriculum offers unique, intensive field experiences in which students travel to Los Angeles, the U.S.-Mexico border region, and to a third destination of each student's choice to learn from and work directly with organizers and activists.  All field courses are led by scholar/ practitioners with longstanding involvement in social justice movements and organizations in each region.  Students also work directly in the field during their 2 semesters in Prescott as organizers-in-training, learning organizing theory, skills, and practice, developing and implementing campaigns, and conducting community-based action research. 

Los Angeles: "Urban Field Orientation":  The SJHR Master's Program begins with a month-long, intensive orientation in the global city of Los Angeles. This type of hands-on field experience prepares each entering cohort to get the most out of our theory and practice-based pedagogical approach. In Los Angeles, each cohort engages with major questions and debates in the interdisciplinary and applied study of urbanization and globalization; meets and works directly with social justice organizations in Los Angeles, builds an intentional learning community;  and  explores themes of justice, home, and community in diverse contexts of social justice organizing and activism. 

U.S.-Mexico Borderlands: During the January winter block, students travel to the U.S.-Mexico borderlands for 3 weeks to explore the social and environmental impacts and social justice organizing possibilities created by globalization in the transnational border region.  .  During this intensive field course, students are immersed in many of the issues that make Arizona a microcosm of the global crises of the twenty-first century, including militarization and conflict on the U.S.- Mexico border, immigrant rights, environmental and economic  justice, the expansion of incarceration and surveillance, indigenous struggles for tribal land rights and cultural survival, and conflicts over education and racial and ethnic  justice including:  language instruction and the right to teach ethnic studies in public schools.

Summer Practicum:  In the summer following their first year of study, SJHR students take 6 units of practicum work that may be pursued in one of SJHR's existing practicum sites (in Kenya, Mexico, Tucson, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Oakland, or New York City) or may be self- designed by any student wishing to work in a specific location with an organization of their choice.  In addition, students have many opportunities to travel with faculty to both academic and activist conferences around the U.S.   

Suite of coordinated courses

Following the intensive orientation, the eleven week fall term will be based in Tucson and students will experience a team-taught suite of coordinated courses led by scholar/ practitioners with longstanding involvement in social justice movements and organizations in the region.  During this semester, students are immersed in many of the issues that make Arizona a microcosm of the global crises of the twenty-first century, including militarization and conflict on the U.S.- Mexico border, immigrant rights, environmental and economic  justice, the expansion of incarceration and surveillance, indigenous struggles for tribal land rights and cultural survival, and conflicts over education and racial and ethnic  justice including:  language instruction and the right to teach ethnic studies in public schools.

Historical and theoretical context

Coursework during the two semesters of residency in Prescott offer a core curriculum providing historical and theoretical context for social justice and human rights work.  Students will engage in intensive scholarly study of social problems and social change while simultaneously working as organizers-in-training in hands-on courses designed to apply and reflect on theoretical approaches at the core of their theory classes.  Every term offers opportunities to meet with, learn from, and become connected to networks of organizers and activists working in a broad array of social justice fields, from social justice education and economic justice activists to environmental justice and human rights organizers and advocates.  Through the course of their studies, students will identify the focus of their individual work: such as human rights research; strategic media and communications; or community organizing.  Students begin at this time to identify the specific skills, issues, and movements they will focus on in their thesis and their post graduate career plans. Students may emphasize, for example: skills involved with media campaigns; fund raising; target research; corporate research; advocacy or social justice journalism; historical and archival research; community organizing; campaign development; or legislative advocacy. Students undertake a practicum in the summer semester which will prepare them for the development of their final project in the final semester. 

During the final semester, students will culminate their work in a final M.A. Participatory Social Justice Research Project. There are three options offered and each student will choose one:

1) a Research Paper/Thesis; 

2) an Organization/Campaign Project Report; 

3) Media and Communications Proposal and Product. 

All of these research-based options are considered to be of equal merit and value. Students will choose the option that is most appropriate for their research interests and future plan for professional work.

Participatory Social Justice Research/Project


Option 1: Research Paper/Thesis

This option is designed to support students planning to pursue further academic study, such as law school or doctoral work. The final M.A. research paper will identify a question or problem of particular relevance within the field of social justice and human rights. This option requires a traditional research- based master’s thesis, including the formulation of a research question and the collection and analysis of data.  The thesis will 1) include a literature review of scholarship on the topic of the research; 2) describe the research methodology; 3) present the data collected; 4) offer a synthesis and analysis of those data to support the paper’s argument; 5) relate the research to the larger questions that framed it. Students opting to write a Thesis will present and defend an original argument based on their own data, drawing on and challenging secondary sources.  Thesis proposals must be submitted by the end second semester of the M.A. program.

Option 2: Organization/Campaign Project Report

Students choosing this option will develop and demonstrate specific skills and knowledge designed to support careers in social justice movement work, such as grassroots community organizing, non-profit fund-raising, campaign development, legislative advocacy, or other areas reflecting the student's interest. This option will require a student to design and initiate an original project that that responds to an identified need by an existing organization or project. The student choosing this option will identify and work with an organization or effort at least by the end of their second semester, as a paid staff member or volunteer. The student will work with the organization in the summer semester for their practicum and continue working on the project design through their final semester in the fall. The student is responsible for making contact with the organization or effort and must demonstrate initiative and creativity in their design of the project. The Project Report will present the literature reviewed in preparation for carrying out the project. It will detail the organization or effort and the identified need, and the student’s original contribution to responding to it, the project created, and the research methods/steps taken toward implementation.

Option 3: Media and Communications Proposal and Product

Students choosing this option will develop and demonstrate skills they will use to support social justice and human rights work through media and communications. Students will design a project such as one of the following— documentary filmmaking, investigative journalism, GIS mapping, media campaign development, communications framing for community organizing, social media strategy.  The project will be designed in collaboration with an organization or campaign and undertaken by the student working with faculty mentors and will be informed by critical analysis derived from the core and elective curriculum. The final project can take many forms: a documentary about land rights and rural to urban migration of indigenous peoples in Mexico; a media campaign to promote a local political initiative somewhere in the U.S.; map that details points of environmental discrimination claims; an investigative article on a little known, community led social movement; or a social media campaign to raise awareness about a human rights issue.  Students will submit, with their final project, a paper presenting the literature review and describing how the project was informed by a critical analysis of the issue as well as a full description of the methods used to design and implement the project.

Curriculum Schedule—36 Total Credits Required

Core courses—3 credits each

Urban Field Orientation:  Justice, Home, and Community

Landscapes of Neoliberalism: Conditions of Crisis and Change

Praxis: Organizing and Activism

Coalition Building and Alliance Politics

Identity, Power, and Privilege

Historical and Contemporary Social Movements

Research Design and Methods

Practicum (6 credits)


Electives (6 credits)

Application Deadlines

Please contact or 877-350-2100 for details.

Application Requirements for the Masters in Social Justice and Human Rights

Application Form, completed and signed (mail completed applications or scan and e-mail it to

$40 Application Fee (include a check with the application or call in your credit card number to 877.350.2100)

2 Letters of Recommendation (e-mail direct from the recommender to

Official transcript(s)

Academic Focus Essay (e-mail to

Resume (e-mail to

The Master of Arts Program requires applicants to submit the official undergraduate and graduate transcripts of each regionally-accredited institution attended since high school.

Academic Focus Essay (3-4 pages, double spaced).

Please tell us the story of the motivations (experiences, goals, and/or commitments) that have led to your interest in the study of social justice and human rights. What specific topics and issues do you want to research? How do you envision your participation in social justice work upon completion of this concentration?

Sample of your scholarly work

Please share with us one of your best research papers from prior undergraduate or graduate work. This should be a paper that demonstrates your interests, your skill in using a writing voice that is passionate and personal as well as scholarly, and your writing skills (syntax, formatting, professional writing style, etc.)

Tuition and Fees

Please contact or 877-350-2100 for details.

Bookmark and Share