Kirby Simon Summer Fellowships

The Schell Center’s Kirby Simon Summer Fellowships, supported by a generous grant from the Robina Foundation, provide funding for Yale students to undertake at least six weeks of human rights work during the summer. They honor Kirby Simon, the son of Professor John Simon, who was a foreign service officer and died in 1995 while serving in Taiwan. In recent years, as many as 20 percent of all first-year law students have received summer funding from the Schell Center for international human rights work.

Kirby Simon Fellowships cover both travel costs and living expenses. Law students and undergraduate students in the Multidisciplinary Academic Program in Human Rights are both eligible for Kirby Simon Fellowships, and applications from non-graduating Yale Law School students receive priority. Non-law graduate students may apply for travel funding only.

Law students interested in applying must complete Part I of the SPIF application (confirming eligibility) followed by the Kirby Simon application. Kirby Simon applicants do not need to apply to SPIF Part II. Students in the Multidisciplinary Academic Program in Human Rights should contact Madeline Batt at to receive the undergraduate application. Learn more about applying for the Kirby Simon Fellowship below.

Kirby Simon Fellows have worked on a wide variety of issues at non-governmental organizations, international organizations and agencies, and international and foreign courts throughout the world. To see the complete list of summer human rights fellowship placements since 1999, click here. YLS students may view summer fellows’ reports from 2010 to the present. If you would like to see earlier reports, they can be found in the binders in the sitting area outside Jim Silk’s office or you can email to ask to receive specific reports electronically.

Generally speaking, students have secured positions with international organizations and non-governmental organizations, particularly in the Global South, in the spring term. International courts and criminal tribunals (including the International Criminal Court, the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and the European Court of Human Rights) and some big NGOs have early deadlines, however, so if those institutions are of interest, please contact Jim Silk or Hope Metcalf soon for more information. And for anyone interested in consulting with Jim or Hope about summer possibilities, consider making an appointment this fall both to get a good start on your search and because our schedules get busy closer to the Summer Fellowship application deadline.

Applying for the Kirby Simon Summer Fellowship

Applications for the Kirby Simon Fellowship are accepted on a rolling basis, with the final deadline typically in March. An exact deadline will be announced shortly. Please read the application instructions carefully and meet with Jim Silk or Hope Metcalf prior to submitting your application to

Application Instructions: The application instructions for 2021 can be found here. Students must read the application instructions, which contain detailed information on eligibility, before applying for the Kirby Simon Fellowship. Updated 2022 instructions will be posted shortly, but students can expect the instructions to remain similar.

Application: Download the 2021 Kirby Simon application. You should submit your application via email to An updated 2022 application will be posted shortly, but students can expect the application to remain similar.

Before applying, students must meet with Jim Silk or Hope Metcalf. Please use the office hours application on the Inside Page to schedule appointments.

The Schell Center sponsors several panels, workshops, and meetings during the school year to assist students in finding summer projects and to explain the application process.