An NGO, or non-governmental organization, can be any type of non-profit organization that exists without the involvement or representation of any government. While they are not affiliated with a political party, they typically have some political interests for which they advocate. NGOs may address a variety of issues, including civil and human rights, healthcare, environmental protection, peace and economic development.

NGOs may exist locally, such as neighborhood or religious organizations, or on a national or international level.  National NGOs are based in just one country, and international NGOs may work or have offices in more than one nation. Some prominent NGOs in the United States are the YMCA/YWCA and the Red Cross, and well-known international NGOs include Habitat for Humanity, and Oxfam International.  Often, international NGOs will have offices in Washington, D.C. or New York City.

NGO Job Search

Employment in an NGO may be in fields such as law, finance, public relations, program management and information technology.  Experience studying abroad, or volunteering or interning with local organizations that focus on international issues may be helpful for international NGOs. Master’s or doctoral degrees in fields such as international relations or international public health is also common amongst employees of international NGOs, as are foreign language skills.

CCE Resources

Columbia Resources

Select On-Campus Centers and Programs

  • Community Impact: Community Impact is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to serving disadvantaged people in the Morningside Heights, Harlem, and Washington Heights communities.
  • Institute of the Study of Human Rights: ISHR is committed to its three core goals of providing excellent human rights education to Columbia students, fostering innovative interdisciplinary academic research, and offering its expertise in capacity building to human rights leaders, organizations, and universities around the world.
  • National Center for Children in Poverty: The National Center for Children in Poverty is one of the nation’s leading public policy center dedicated to promoting the economic security, health, and well-being of America’s low-income families and children.
  • Columbia UNICEF: Columbia UNICEF is part of a national coalition of student-led campus groups that educate, advocate, and fundraise on behalf of UNICEF.
  • Amnesty International: Columbia University Chapter: AI is a non-partisan, volunteer-driven, global organization which works towards the vision of a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.
  • Undergraduate Research: Faculty and researchers throughout the University are keen to include undergraduates in their research, and offer a variety of fellowship opportunities.

External Resources

Sample Fellowships:

Consult your school’s fellowships advisor for additional information on opportunities.


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