Summer Fellowships

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 living expenses (a weekly stipend at the SPIF rate for up to 12 weeks) and travel costs. Law students who are eligible for financial aid and undergraduate students in the Multidisciplinary Academic Program in Human Rights are eligible for Kirby Simon Fellowships. Applications from non-graduating Yale Law School students receive priority. JSD students and graduating law students, including graduating LLM students, may be eligible if they meet certain conditions; they should consult with the Schell Center to determine if they are eligible.

Application Process

Law students: 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: contact Shannon Sommers at for the undergraduate application. 

LLMs who will be returning to Yale in the fall for a JSD may also be eligible. If you are interested, please contact Hope Metcalf. 


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.


Generally, students have secured positions with international organizations and non-governmental organizations, particularly in the Global South, in the spring term.

These institutions have early deadlines:

  • International courts such as:
    • The Inter-American Court of Human Rights
    • The European Court of Human Rights
  • Criminal tribunals such as:
    • The International Criminal Court
    • The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals
  • Certain large NGOs

If any of the above are of interest, please contact Jim Silk as soon as possible. 

To consult with Jim Silk or Hope Metcalf about summer possibilities, consider making an appointment this fall. Their 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 a final deadline of March 25, 2024. Please read the application instructions carefully and meet with Jim Silk, Claudia Flores or Hope Metcalf prior to submitting your application to humanrightsfellowships@yale.eduPlease note that if your proposal involves research on human subjects, including interviews for academic purposes, you will need to seek IRB approval.

Application Instructions: Students must read the application instructions, which contain detailed information on eligibility, before applying.

Application: Download the 2024 Kirby Simon application. You should submit your application via email to

Before applying, students must meet with Jim Silk or Hope Metcalf. Please use the Office Hours tool 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.