The Best Online Master’s in Negotiation & Conflict Management Programs
| TBS Staff
Are you ready to discover your college program?
A degree in negotiation and conflict management teaches students problem-solving, communication, and leadership skills.
Do you have a passion for helping people overcome legal and personal disputes, but no interest in becoming a lawyer? A career in negotiation and conflict management might be the right choice for you.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an employment growth rate of 8% from 2019 to 2029 for arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators. Even during the COVID-19 crisis, these professionals continue to help people resolve conflicts remotely.
By earning a master's in conflict resolution online, you can pursue a career in the fast-growing field of negotiation and conflict management. Read on for our ranking of the best online master's in negotiation and conflict management programs and to learn more about the career.
|#1||Northeastern University Boston, MA|
|#2||University of Denver – University College Denver, CO|
|#3||George Mason University Fairfax, VA|
|#4||Dallas Baptist University Dallas, TX|
|#5||Creighton University Omaha, NE|
|#6||Dominican University River Forest, IL|
|#7||Abilene Christian University Abilene, TX|
|#8||Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL|
|#9||Touro University Worldwide Los Alamitos, CA|
|#10||California University of Pennsylvania California, PA|
Featured Online Schools
Featured Online Schools
The Best Online Master's in Negotiation and Conflict Management Programs
Located in Boston, Northeastern University has a long history of engaging with the global community. The MS in global studies and international relations with a concentration in conflict resolution prepares students for careers in business, education, and international relations. International consultants and diplomats teach the major courses. Faculty members assist students with their job searches, and graduates have secured positions in foreign embassies, the United Nations, news outlets, and nonprofit organizations.
The degree program focuses strongly on experiential learning. Students engage in mock debates, write speeches, and analyze investments made by foreign governments. Distance learners apply knowledge to real-world political and economic challenges. Online students have the option to participate in the international field study experience, a 12-week online course followed by a one-week session overseas. The 2018 location is Italy.
Courses include peace and conflict; international conflict and cooperation; post-conflict development; the practice of diplomacy; and nuclear nonproliferation. Students must also complete a regional studies course in an area of interest such as Latin America or East Asia. In order to graduate, students must complete a case study, thesis, or international field study. There are a variety of program start dates throughout the year.
DU offers a master of arts degree in communication management with a concentration in alternative dispute resolution. Students learn how to identify the causes of conflict in interpersonal and organizational settings, then apply negotiation and mediation strategies to solve them. Combined with effective communication practices, these tactics assist students in successfully managing disputes. The four concentration courses include: conflict theory, effective facilitation and presentation, negotiation principles and practice, and mediation principles and practice.
This master’s in conflict resolution online requires 48 credit hours and can be completed in approximately two years. Courses are delivered in 10-week terms. Students may choose to fulfill the capstone requirement by completing a project, seminar, or portfolio. Three electives must also be selected. The mediation theory course may be substituted for a 40-hour training class. If completed, students meet the training requirements set by the Mediation Association of Colorado and the Association for Conflict Resolution.
Potential students must have a minimum GPA of 2.5 in their bachelor’s degree program. Applicants submit a personal statement, resume, and two references. Entrance exams are not required. Students may transfer up to 12 graduate credits with a minimum
B grade. DU’s HyFlex courses meet online and on-campus simultaneously. Online graduate students may apply for DU’s institutional scholarship or graduate impact scholarship.
Mason’s online master’s degree in conflict resolution is delivered through its unique School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR). Working on initiatives like the Sudan Project, research on Western Europe’s migrant integration, and the Genocide Prevention Program, students within this school actively contribute to peace efforts in conflict-affected regions. S-CAR’s MS in conflict analysis and resolution is the largest in the world, with more than 1,000 graduates participating in an active alumni network. Approximately 500 alumni work in foreign capacities.
This online master’s in conflict resolution helps students understand what causes conflicts between people, within groups, and on an international scale. Students also learn how conflicts can be resolved and prevented. The 42-credit program includes 15 core credits and 21 elective credits. Classes include gender and violence, micro theories of conflict, and ethics and conflict. Students must also complete six credits of an internship or thesis. Distance learners must attend a one-week on-campus session in Fairfax, Virginia, typically held in May. The program is 90% online and the majority of classes are asynchronous. An accelerated online master’s is available to S-CAR students in the last year of their bachelor’s degree programs.
Out-of-state online students pay less than their on-campus counterparts. Virginia residents also pay a lower rate. Online students are eligible for financial aid such as graduate student grants and tuition waivers. Applications are accepted twice annually. Applicants must have an overall GPA of 3.0 in their bachelor’s degree programs. The school prefers candidates with work experience and prior coursework in social sciences. GRE and other graduate test scores are not required but may be included if desired.
As a Christ-centered university, DBU strives to produce servant leaders that can positively impact society. DBU’s online graduate program in conflict resolution is offered as part of the master of business administration. This program requires 36 credits: 24 in MBA coursework and 12 in the concentration. Conflict resolution management classes include advanced family mediation, employee negotiations and collective bargaining, and advanced business mediation. Students participate in hands-on practice mediation sessions. The program culminates in a strategic management capstone course. Graduates are qualified to conduct court-appointed mediations in Texas.
This degree can be completed in 12 to 15 months through DBU’s one-year track. Students may complete more than one concentration. The MBA can be pursued as a dual degree with master’s degree programs in communication, education, global leadership, and ministry. This adds a year to total completion time. DBU regularly holds graduate open houses at its three Texas campuses. Application fees are waived for students who attend an open house.
Located in Omaha, Nebraska, Creighton is a Catholic university rooted in the Jesuit tradition. It awarded its first master’s degree in 1898 and currently offers approximately 40 master’s programs, including the MS in negotiation and conflict resolution. Students gain communication and collaboration skills, an understanding of facilitation and mediation theories, and strategies to solve interpersonal and organizational conflicts. Distance learners also complete a class focused on conflicts around gender and culture. All courses are taught through a social justice viewpoint upheld by the school’s Ignatian values.
This 32-credit program takes 16 to 20 months to complete. All coursework is available online, but two on-campus residencies are required. Students must also complete a three-credit practicum in a professional environment. Students in this program may also complete a dual degree with two bachelor’s, four master’s, and two doctorate options. Online students are welcome to take some classes on-campus.
Creighton provides a variety of graduate scholarships and encourages students to apply for tuition assistance through its graduate school. Applicants must submit a resume, two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a writing sample. If desired, applicants can opt to interview with a faculty member.
Located 10 miles from Chicago in River Forest, Illinois, Dominican is a Catholic university that has been providing education for over 120 years. The school currently serves nearly 1,000 graduate students, including those pursuing the master of arts in conflict resolution online. This unique program is designed to create peace in communities and prevent violence within families, workplaces, organizations, and internationally through the social justice work of graduates. Students may earn a certificate in mediation skills training, which is approved by the Circuit Court of Cook County.
The curriculum includes a practicum, which can be completed within local communities. Chicago-area students can benefit from Dominican’s partnerships with a variety of organizations, including the Circuit Court of Cook County and the local school system. Courses are fully online, but students must attend two five-day on-campus sessions at the beginning and end of the program. These provide students the opportunity to learn from professional mediators and engage in role-playing negotiation and mediation exercises.
Ideal applicants should have three years of work experience but can apply for a waiver. Potential students must submit transcripts, a statement of purpose, and two letters of recommendation. GRE scores are not required, but can be included if desired.
Established in 1906, Abilene Christian University is a private institution with over 5,000 students in a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree and certificate programs. Among its offerings is an online master of arts in conflict management and resolution degree program for students seeking professional advancement in a variety of conflict management roles.
The 36-credit program includes four track options to choose from: general, organizational, healthcare organizations, and practitioner. Regardless of the path taken, students develop key knowledge and skills that prepare them for success in field. The program includes courses in topics such as negotiation, mediation, managing conflict in the workplace, and family conflict dynamics.
The master’s in conflict management curriculum emphasizes the importance of conflict managers in facilitating communication and maintaining relationships through disagreements. In addition to coursework, students earn hands-on experience through a practicum.
Applicants to the conflict resolution degree program must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution, with a 3.0 GPA. Applicants must also submit three letters of recommendation, a current resume, and a purpose statement. The program may be completed in 24 months of full time study.
The MS in conflict analysis and resolution at NSU is offered through the school’s Department of Conflict Resolution Studies. Coursework imparts knowledge of conflict theories, academic research, and resolution strategies. Graduates are able to effectively resolve conflicts in their personal and professional lives without litigation or violence. Required core courses include mediation theory and practice, communication dynamics in dispute resolution, and culture and conflict. In order to earn this master’s in conflict resolution online, students must participate in a supervised practicum in their home community.
Full-time students pursuing the master’s degree in mediation and conflict resolution online can complete the program in 15 months. Part-time students can complete the 36-credit program in two years. Distance learners must visit the main campus in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for five days each February and October. Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout the program. Online students may elect to submit a thesis or take a comprehensive exam before graduation.
Applicants must submit a writing sample, essay, and two letters of recommendation. Applicants must have earned a minimum GPA of 3.0 in their bachelor’s degree program. Ideal candidates demonstrate a temperament of tolerance. There are three program start dates each year. Students who wish to continue their studies may apply master’s credits towards NSU’s Ph.D. in conflict analysis and resolution.
Located in New York City, Touro University was founded on the Jewish values of social justice and community service. This online college is headquartered in Los Alamitos, California, and was the first to provide an accredited and fully online doctorate program. The school’s online MS in dispute resolution prepares students for careers addressing interpersonal, organizational, and international disputes. Leveraging skills in dispute resolution and negotiation, graduates pursue positions as consultants, mediators, union representatives, and managers.
Students pursuing this master’s degree in conflict resolution online must complete 36 credits, including 11 required courses and one capstone course. Coursework includes foundations of conflict resolution, the ombuds profession, and restorative practice. Students gain skill in critical thinking and oral and written communication. During the capstone project, students analyze a real world application of concepts learned during the program. Graduates will be able to determine whether disputes should be settled with mediation or arbitration.
To apply, students must provide a transcript of their bachelor’s degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5. Transfer students are required to have a 2.75 GPA. TUW has tuition assistance counselors available to assist students with identifying and pursuing scholarships and student loans.
Founded in 1852, Cal U is located 35 miles from Pittsburgh in California, Pennsylvania. It is one of 14 members of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The school offers more than 95 graduate degree programs and approximately 75 online programs. Cal U currently serves more than 2,200 graduate students.
This master of arts in conflict resolution online requires 30 credits and can be finished in five terms. It is 100% asynchronous. Students are grouped together in a cohort that completes the program together. The cohort model enhances peer learning and builds relationships and professional networks. Students learn strategies for mediation, arbitration, and alternative dispute resolution. Courses include nonviolence theory and practice, ethics in global perspective, and communication and collaboration. In order to complete the program, students must either submit a thesis or identify and secure an internship.
Applicants must have an overall undergraduate GPA of 3.0. Students with lower GPAs may be accepted on a conditional basis by submitting resumes with unofficial transcripts. Graduate students are eligible for Cal U scholarships, grants, and loans.
Online Master's in Negotiation and Conflict Management Programs Ranking Guidelines
We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
The motto of TheBestSchools.org is Finding the best school for you. Here is how we do it:
The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.
To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — TheBestSchools.org formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):
1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]
- Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
- Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
- Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
- Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
- Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
- Considers range of electives within that discipline
- Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline
2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]
- Considers education background of the faculty
- Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
- Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
- Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
- Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources
3. Reputation [weight = 20%]
- Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
- “Freshness” of academic knowledge
- Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
- Suitability of graduates for the workplace
4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]
- Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
- Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants
5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]
- Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
- Considers range of degree subjects offered, such as art & design, computers & technology, education & teaching, criminal justice, and business
6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]
Considers the following of the online classes:
- Types of online technology used to deliver content
- Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
- Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
- Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
Considers the following of instructors:
- Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
- Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
- Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
- Ratio to number of students in a class
- Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees
Because students tend to review a variety of information when choosing a school, the weight a student gives any one criterion will vary. For instance, it’s not enough to offer a carefully constructed ranking of great schools if many are too expensive or too difficult to get into.
To better serve the needs of prospective students, we are therefore increasingly offering filters that help you better use our rankings to find the schools that match your specific needs. These supplement our ranking criteria and include:
- Public or private status
- Acceptance rate
- Retention rate
- Graduation rate
- ACT/SAT requirements
- Cost in-state / out of state
- Undergrad, grad, or both offered
Get the best rankings here AND get them to suit your personal needs. That’s TheBestSchools.org advantage!
If you have any questions about our ranking methodology, please contact us.
Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to TheBestSchools.org's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At TheBestSchools.org, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!
What Is an Online Master's in Negotiation and Conflict Management?
An online master's in negotiation and conflict management prepares graduates for mediator, conciliator, or negotiator careers. Professionals in entry-level positions in the field can use this online degree to boost their credentials, staying competitive in the job market, while established professionals in counseling or law can use it to enhance conflict resolution skills.
A typical online master's in negotiation and conflict management takes about two years to complete. Over the course of the program, students develop skills in communication, cultural literacy, and conflict resolution. They also learn how to navigate the legal system and understand key features of typical legal disputes.
Choosing an Online Master's in Negotiation and Conflict Management Program
When evaluating an online master's in negotiation and conflict management program, consider the factors that most influence your experience: cost, location, program length, and availability of specializations. For example, some programs may offer electives that skew toward arbitration or mediation, while others offer more generalist courses or take a business focus.
Accreditation for Online Master's in Negotiation and Conflict Management Degrees
When choosing an online master's program in negotiation and conflict management, stick with programs from schools with regional accreditation. This designation indicates that the institution meets high standards for education quality and student career outcomes. Attending a regionally accredited school also ensures you can transfer credits if you decide to change schools or attend a doctoral program later.
Currently, there is no programmatic accrediting body specifically dedicated to negotiation and conflict management programs.
What Can I Expect When Pursuing a Master's in Negotiation and Conflict Management Online?
Course offerings and concentrations tend to vary from one negotiation and conflict management program to the next. However, most programs cover topics like the place of alternative dispute resolution in the legal system, conflict resolution in corporate settings, and fundamentals of family conflicts. Below are a few example courses.
Common Courses in Negotiation and Conflict Management Online Programs
- Commercial Conflict Resolution: This course targets students interested in using their degrees in a corporate environment, where strong negotiation and conflict management skills come in handy. During this course, students learn how to address conflict between business rivals, business partners, management levels, and employees in a constructive and neutral way.
- Divorce and Family Mediation: In this course, students learn how to mediate family court cases, such as divorce, parent guardianship, and child protection. The instructor may use role-playing exercises to simulate the family court environment. Other possible topics include the impact of domestic violence on mediation, effects of separation on children, and family mediation ethics.
- Ethics of Conflict Resolution: This course explores how ethical conflicts in conflict resolution can lead to unintended consequences for clients and practitioners. Learners study neutrality, informed consent, and confidentiality through case studies and relevant texts, such as the American Bar Association's code of ethics for mediators.
- Family Conflict Resolution: In this course, students investigate common legal disputes between family members, such as divorce, child custody, and inheritance. Course materials also cover the complex nature of purely personal disagreements between family members. The course covers strategies for resolving emotionally charged personal and legal conflicts between family members.
- Intercultural Conflict Resolution: This course explores how cultural and ethnic differences can create or exacerbate local and global conflicts. Students learn the basics of cultural literacy to help them combat intercultural conflict. Course materials explore case studies of cultural conflicts over issues such as trade, immigration, and access to resources.
- Leadership and Conflict Engagement: This course explores how conflict can impact change efforts within an organization and what organizational leaders can do to mitigate organizational conflict. Course materials typically cover supporting theories and history behind leadership and change management, as well as strategies for responding to conflict brought on by organizational change.
- Negotiation: Learners explore how negotiation skills can help resolve different kinds of conflicts. Course materials investigate how disputing parties and third-party mediators use negotiation as a tool to forge important agreements. As part of the course, learners may participate in role-playing exercises supervised by experienced negotiators.
Negotiation and Conflict Management Dual Degrees
Many students earn a master's in negotiation and conflict management as part of a dual degree. This allows graduates to complement the degree with a master's in a neighboring field.
For example, a future family and marriage therapist with an interest in mediation might pursue a dual master's in family and marriage therapy and negotiation and conflict management. Meanwhile, a student with an interest in law might pursue a dual master's in negotiation and conflict management and law.
Commonly paired specialties for negotiation and conflict management dual degrees include:
- Environmental studies
- Public administration
- Social work
Professional organizations provide access to networking opportunities, job listings, and continuing education resources for students and seasoned professionals alike. Negotiation and conflict management master's students can also benefit from peer mentorship opportunities.
- American Arbitration Association The AAA is the largest global provider of alternative dispute resolution services. The organization's resources for professionals and students working in negotiation and conflict management include webinars, online courses, and networking events.
- National Association for Community Mediation NAFCM advocates for peacemakers who help communities avoid prolonged litigation through alternative dispute resolution. Student members get free access to webinars, the NAFCM virtual library, and the online directory, where they can add listings.
- Association for Conflict Resolution ACR advances professionals and students pursuing conflict resolution careers through its CareerCenter Bank. It also offers grant funding for conflict resolutions professionals and students working with youth.
Negotiation and Conflict Management Careers
A negotiation and conflict management degree typically prepares graduates for work in mediation, arbitration, and conciliation; counseling; and law.
Below are a few common careers for graduates, but keep in mind that some of these careers require additional education or certification in other fields. Additionally, these are just examples: A master's in negotiation and conflict management can help you gain employment in a variety of other fields as well.
|Median Salary (2019): $49,610||Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 22%|
Marriage and family therapists help families and couples navigate difficult problems in their relationships. This specialized area of mental health services may interest negotiation and conflict management majors because it focuses strongly on mediating conflict in human relationships. These therapists need strong skills in empathizing and communicating with others to help their clients overcome differences.
To gain licensure as a family and marriage therapist, you usually need a master's in family and marriage therapy and several thousand hours of supervised practice. From there, you must apply to your state mental health board.
|Median Salary (2019): $63,930||Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 8%|
Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators help resolve legal disputes outside the court system. These professionals facilitate communication between disputing parties using negotiation strategies. In order to help their clients reach mutually beneficial agreements, they must be able to communicate effectively, read people's emotional states and needs, and de-escalate conflict.
To work in this field, you typically need a bachelor's in a relevant field, such as negotiation and conflict management. Some states require additional certification as an arbitrator or conciliator, so check local requirements.
|Median Salary (2019): $67,150||Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 17%|
Social and community service managers work in public service industries, managing social welfare programs that aim to serve the public good. On a typical day, they may attend meetings, discuss budget concerns for different social programs, or coordinate public events. Because these managers must balance different aspects of the public's needs, they need strong verbal communication and social skills.
Social and community service management does not usually require state licensure or any special degree beyond a bachelor's-level management degree. However, some employers may require candidates with an MBA, especially with a specialization in social and community service management.
|Median Salary (2019): $120,090||Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 2%|
Judges and hearing officers oversee the legal process, presiding over and ruling on hearings in courts of law. These professionals need a deep love for the law, proclivity for research, and good people skills. Judges and hearing officers must effectively interact with disputing parties and their lawyers every day.
The education requirements for judges and hearing officers vary. Most positions require a law degree and good standing in the local bar association to qualify. However, an advanced degree in negotiation and conflict management can usually qualify you for a lower-ranking hearing officer or magistrate position.
|Median Salary (2019): $122,960||Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 4%|
Lawyers represent the interests of disputing parties within the court system, arguing for restitution or justice for their clients during case hearings. Because they need to communicate effectively with their clients and argue their cases convincingly in a court of law, lawyers need strong verbal and written communication and argumentation skills.
For licensure, lawyers must pass the bar exam. Negotiation and conflict management graduates do not qualify for taking the bar exam; instead, aspiring lawyers must earn a juris doctorate degree from an accredited school before they can take the exam.
Frequently Asked Questions
Community mediators offer alternative dispute resolution services accessible to members of a larger community. They often work for nonprofits or offer their services as volunteers.
A master's in conflict resolution prepares you for work as a mediator, conciliator, or negotiator. It can also help you get a job in counseling or law, though you may need additional qualifications for those careers.
Professionals in conflict resolution typically work in the legal system, education, or in government institutions. They can also work in corporate settings, helping mediate business disputes or manage employee relationships.
Due to their scarcity, mediators are in high demand in many industries.
Mediators typically do not need a law degree in order to obtain entry-level work, though the career usually requires at least a bachelor's degree.
The majority of arbitrator positions do not require a law degree. Typically, arbitrators only need a bachelor's in negotiation and conflict management or arbitration.
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