The Best Online Master’s in Negotiation & Conflict Management Programs

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Obtaining a master’s degree in negotiation and conflict resolution online makes sense for an array of reasons. The degree qualifies graduates for a variety of career and education options. They may continue their education in law school or a counseling program or enter the workforce in government, healthcare, education, the corporate world, or the nonprofit sector. The skills negotiation and conflict management students build equip them to work in other fields, as well. These include problem-solving, communication, and leadership abilities, which represent some of the most desirable skills in any profession.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the negotiation and conflict management field will grow at an above-average rate from 2016 to 2026. Positions for arbitrators, conciliators, and mediators are expected to rise by 10% or more in that time. The BLS also projects high demand for marriage and family counselors and steady growth for lawyers and judges during the same period. These jobs represent just a small sample of potential professions for graduates of master’s in negotiation and conflict resolution online programs.

Online Master’s in Negotiation and Conflict Management Program Ranking Guidelines

We selected the programs based on the quality of the program, the types of courses offered, the faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation, including the school’s reputation for effectively providing online degree programs.

The Best Online Master’s in Negotiation and Conflict Management

1. Northeastern University

Boston, Massachusetts

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.


Northeastern is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.


2. University of Denver – University College

Denver, Colorado

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.


DU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


3. George Mason University

Fairfax, Virginia

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.


Mason is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.


4. Dallas Baptist University

Dallas, Texas

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.


The DBU Graduate School of Business is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. DBU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.


5. Creighton University

Omaha, Nebraska

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.


Creighton is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


6. Dominican University

River Forest, Illinois

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.


Dominican is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

7. Abilene Christian University

Abilene, Texas

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.


Abilene Christian University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).


8. Nova Southeastern University

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

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.


NSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.


9. Touro University Worldwide

Los Alamitos, California

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.


TUW is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.


10. California University of Pennsylvania

California, Pennsylvania

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.


Cal U is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.


What is a Master’s in Negotiation and Conflict Management Degree?

A master’s degree in mediation and conflict resolution online equips students with the expertise to reach agreements between parties. Through foundational training in conflict engagement, facilitation, and resolution, graduates prepare for rewarding careers focused on peacemaking. In addition to core coursework, a master’s degree in conflict resolution online covers topics in research methodology, multicultural concepts of conflict, and the effects of interpersonal dynamics on cooperation.

Students develop skills in specialized areas like healthcare negotiation, urban conflict resolution, and social media communication. Some programs feature dual-degree options, which allow students to earn two degrees simultaneously. Fields students can explore in conjunction with a master’s in conflict resolution include social work, law, environmental studies, and public administration.

Most master’s degrees in mediation and conflict resolution require a capstone seminar, thesis, or internship. A thesis is usually optional but often recommended for students who plan to earn their doctorate after graduation. Capstone and internship requirements combine academic training with the professional world, providing integrative experiences that draw upon theories and practical skills from the program.

Online Master’s in Negotiation and Conflict Management Programs

Master’s in negotiation and conflict management programs translate well to web-based environments. Now offered all across the country, these programs generally follow the traditional semester schedule, featuring the same classes as their on-campus counterparts. However, they offer more flexibility in scheduling, allowing you to continue working as you study.

This field relies heavily on debate and the airing of multiple perspectives, so most online master’s in negotiation and conflict management combine asynchronous and synchronous learning. Students in asynchronous classes log on at their convenience, completing schoolwork as it fits their schedule between deadlines. Students in synchronous courses meet with their professors and peers at preselected times, attending class using videoconferencing or similar technology.

Many schools in this field hold mandatory on-campus residencies for a few weekends, or even weeks, at a time. Internships often factor in, as well. The demands of online programs require self-directed students, who boast the self-discipline to sit down and complete assignments on time.

The Advantages of a Master’s Degree in Negotiation and Conflict Management

A master’s in negotiation and conflict management makes sense for anyone interested in mediation and arbitration. Most jobs in this field call for executive skills in communication, problem-solving, and leadership—the same skills typically improved upon in graduate-level programs.

Some professions associated with this degree—such as judges, lawyers, and counselors — require even more advanced degrees. Many of these occupations also require licensure, for which most states mandate a graduate-level education. Master’s graduates generally earn higher salaries than those with just a bachelor’s.

Average Salary by Degree Level

Degree Level Average Salary
Bachelor’s in Negotiation and Conflict Management $57,000
Master’s in Negotiation and Conflict Management $58,000

Source: PayScale

What Can You Do With a Master’s Degree in Negotiation and Conflict Management?

While the skills of negotiation and conflict management benefit every occupation, professionals in mediation, politics, and human rights advocacy use their negotiation training daily. In addition to the ability to facilitate communication, individuals employed in this field have excellent reading, writing, and listening skills.

Mediators resolve disputes between parties, which might include individuals, communities, government agencies, or corporations. They serve as arbitrators, listening to both sides, encouraging compromise, and offering workable solutions to problems. Mediators often hold law degrees. They might work for themselves, law firms, nonprofit organizations, or large corporations.
Salary based on experience:
  • Entry Level: $47,000
  • Mid-Career: $49,000
  • Experienced: $50,000
  • Late Career: $66,000
Marriage Counselor/Family Therapist:
Marriage counselors and family therapists help couples and families through difficult periods. They promote dialogue and better communication, deal with mental health and substance abuse problems, and provide suggestions and solutions. Most of these jobs require schooling or licensing beyond a master’s degree.
Salary based on experience:
  • Entry Level: $45,000
  • Mid-Career: $51,000
  • Experienced: $59,000
  • Late Career: $66,000
Lawyers interpret the law and provide legal advice to individuals, businesses, and communities. Those with an online master’s in negotiation and conflict management often serve as arbitrators or conciliators between parties, guiding them to resolutions. Lawyers often need advanced degrees and must pass the bar exam in their state.
Salary based on experience:
  • Entry Level: $70,000
  • Mid-Career: $98,000
  • Experienced: $119,000
  • Late Career: $139,000
Judges work in courts, arbitrating disputes. They might adjudicate at the municipal, county, state, or federal level. Some solve disputes between corporations, while others oversee criminal trials. Almost all judges begin their careers as attorneys.
Salary based on experience:
  • Entry Level: $50,000
  • Mid-Career: $46,000
  • Experienced: $53,000
  • Late Career: $112,000
Union Organizer:
Union organizers make alliances between workers and represent laborers in disputes with corporations, states, or other entities. They help groups of workers establish positions and standards and negotiate with management over issues like pay, working conditions, and contracts.
Salary based on experience:
  • Entry Level: $46,280
  • Mid-Career: $55,120
  • Experienced: $60,840
  • Late Career: N/A

Choosing an Online Negotiation and Conflict Management Graduate Degree Program

Finding the right master’s degree in negotiation and conflict resolution online involves time, research, and careful consideration. Each university takes its own approach to this specialized degree, offering an array of options. Liberal arts colleges and public universities of all sizes offer the degree, and while in-state programs generally charge lower tuition rates, they do not always represent the cheapest options.

Program Cost:
As the cost of higher education rises, college students must consider how much they should spend on their education. No one wants to graduate deep in debt. Web-based programs can save you a great deal in travel and room and board expenses. Many schools charge in-state tuition for all online students. State schools also tend to charge less than private institutions.
Transfer Policies:
You can often reduce the expense of college tuition by making sure your credits transfer. Many schools hold transfer agreements with smaller institutions, which simplifies the process of changing colleges. Some students begin their studies at a two-year school then transfer to finish their degree. Make sure your community college credits are transferable.
School Size and Type:
When exploring programs, consider the size of the school and whether it is private or public. Small schools tend to boast smaller class sizes, in which students often interact more with their professors. School type, whether private or public, impacts tuition rates.
Program Length:
Full-time students tend to complete their degrees more quickly than part-time learners, which can cut down on costs. Some schools offer accelerated programs, which also allow learners to earn their diplomas more quickly.
On-Campus Requirements:
Some universities require distance learners to attend some classes on campus. These residencies require time and money but allow classmates and professors to interact in person. Many students, however, prefer fully online programs. Make sure you know your prospective school’s expectations before committing.
Thesis, Fellowship, and Work Requirements:
Master’s-level programs often call for students to write and defend a thesis, but some schools forgo a thesis in favor of a comprehensive examination. Many colleges require a certain number of internship, fellowship, or work hours as well.

Accreditation for Online Negotiation and Conflict Management Master’s Degrees

Accreditation verifies that a college meets high educational standards and maintains a good reputation. The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation make it simple to check a school’s accreditation status, hosting databases of accredited schools on their respective websites. Neither of these organizations actually accredits schools; they simply oversee the process.

Most universities carry regional accreditation from one of six geographically based agencies, including the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and the Northwest Accreditation Commission. These organizations regularly audit institutions of higher education to make sure they perform at certain levels. Credits from regionally accredited universities transfer more easily, and federal aid is available only to students at regionally accredited schools. Moreover, employers typically recognize these degrees as more prestigious.

Some trade schools and business colleges hold national accreditation, which tends to focus on technical education and schools that teach in one particular field. Nationally accredited agencies include the Distance Education and Training Council and the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Master’s in Negotiation and Conflict Management Degree Program?

Many factors affect how long it takes to earn a master’s degree in negotiation and conflict resolution online. Enrollment status plays the biggest roll, as full-time students tend to complete their degrees more quickly than part-time students. Part-time distance learners enjoy enough flexibility to take care of other obligations, but often take months longer to complete their programs.

Most master’s in negotiation and conflict resolution online programs consist of 30–36 credits and take about two years of full-time study to complete. Many online universities offer accelerated online sessions, as well, allowing learners to double up on credits and complete their programs more quickly. Cohort-based programs, on the other hand, require students to progress as a group working at the same pace.

Some schools also demand that distance learners complete internships or pay occasional visits to campus, which may slow down degree progress.

Courses in an Online Master’s in Negotiation and Conflict Management Program

Introduction to Negotiation
Negotiation serves as the backbone of conflict resolution and problem-solving between parties. This three-credit course explores the theories and strategies involved in a give-and-take. Students play both sides of a disagreement and gain an understanding of the causes, perpetuation, and escalation involved.
Intrapersonal Dynamics
Conflict arises when multiple people or groups want different things or hold opposing objectives. This class explores temperamental causes, cognitive issues, communication problems, and motivations in disputes. Degree candidates complete self-assessments and participate in introspective studies, which help them understand various behavior patterns.
Advanced Conflict Resolution
What methods prove most effective in resolving disputes? Learners in this course examine a variety of theories and methods for creating bridges between adversarial positions. They use current events, new developments in the field, and research methods to solve contemporary problems.
Working in the field, students get to put theory into practice. They gain hands-on experience and make valuable connections. Options for field placements include law offices, nonprofits, governmental agencies, and peace and social justice organizations. In most cases, degree seekers must complete other classwork before their internships.
Ethnic and Cultural Factors in Conflict
A high-level course, this three-credit class may require prerequisites. It examines how race, religion, and culture impact relationships. Faculty pay particular attention to the generational roots of conflict and tribalism based on skin color, religious affiliation, and ingrained cultural traditions. Most of the work centers around case studies.

Negotiation and Conflict Management Membership Associations

Association for Conflict Resolution:
The ACR promotes the practice and public awareness of conflict resolution. Members come from an array of backgrounds and gain access to continuing education opportunities, networking, and the group’s annual conference. The ACR site hosts webinars, classroom tools, standards for the field, and career services.
American Arbitration Association:
Affiliated with the International Center for Dispute Resolution, the AAA serves as both a nonprofit mediator and a professional organization, offering a full slate of educational opportunities, including webinars, live events, and courses. The association publishes a directory, sponsors meetings, and hosts an array of alternative dispute resolution resources.
American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution:
The world’s largest dispute resolution organization, the ABA’s SDR boasts more than 11,000 members. Membership benefits include networking, development resources and training opportunities, publication discounts, and a copy of Dispute Resolution Magazine. The section hosts more than 200 hours of webinars and programs every year.
Association of Family and Conciliation Courts:
An international organization committed to helping families resolve problems, the AFCC takes an interdisciplinary approach to conciliation. The Wisconsin-based association provides a forum for researchers, teachers, counselors, and others in the family court arena, hosting conferences and training opportunities, disseminating practice guidelines and standards, publishing newsletters, and sponsoring scholarships.
National Association for Community Mediation:
The NAFCM promotes peacemaking among individuals, groups, and organizations. The association advocates for community-based mediation as opposed to litigation or angry confrontation. Members receive access to the NAFCM library, online directory, and listserv, become eligible for mini grants, and participate in the association’s webinars. They also gain entry to the organization’s forums and discussion groups and can make use of its career services.


2018 Archive

The 10 Best Online Master’s in Negotiation & Conflict Management Programs for 2018

  1. Arizona State University - ASU Online
    Tempe, Arizona
  2. Northeastern University
    Boston, Massachusetts
  3. George Mason University
    Fairfax, Virginia
  4. Nova Southeastern University
    Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  5. Creighton University
    Omaha, Nebraska
  6. Touro University Worldwide
    Los Alamitos, California
  7. Dallas Baptist University
    Dallas, Texas
  8. University of Denver - University College
    Denver, Colorado
  9. Dominican University
    River Forest, Illinois
  10. California University of Pennsylvania
    California, Pennsylvania

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