Best Online Master’s in Negotiation and Conflict Management 2021

by TBS Staff
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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.

Featured Conflict Management Programs

The Best Online Master's in Negotiation and Conflict Management Programs

University of North Carolina Wilmington true View School Profile $$$ Wilmington, NC 73% 46% 47% The University of North Carolina Wilmington is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Founded in 1947, UNCW offers an online master of arts in conflict management and resolution. Students complete 36 credits and can choose from three concentrations: emergency and disaster management, national and international security, or domestic, social, and organizational conflict transformation.

Course topics include conflict management and theory and intercultural dispute resolution. Students take concentration-related courses and complete a practicum to demonstrate skills mastery. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 to qualify for admission. Students can choose from one of three start dates per year.

George Mason University true View School Profile $$$ Fairfax, VA 71% 44% 34% George Mason University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

A public institution founded in 1972, Mason offers an online master of science in conflict analysis and resolution. Students can complete the 33 credits online with the exception of a required one-week residency.

Required courses include foundations of conflict analysis and resolution, conflict inquiry, and facilitation skills. Students can choose from six concentrations, including inclusive conflict engagement, dynamics of violence, and social justice advocacy and activism. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 to qualify for admission. Students do not need to submit standardized test scores.

California State University-Dominguez Hills true View School Profile Carson, CA 45% 31% 42% California State University-Dominguez Hills is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

Founded in 1960, CSUDH offers an online master of arts in negotiation, conflict resolution, and peacebuilding. Students complete 36 credits through online coursework and video lectures.

Required courses include critical thinking concepts and tools, theories of conflict, marital and family mediation, and communication and conflict. Students complete a master's thesis and a capstone designed to impart research skills and hands-on experience. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 in the last 60 semester credits (90 quarter credits) to qualify for admission.

University of North Carolina at Greensboro View School Profile $$ Greensboro, NC 53% 60% 46% The University of North Carolina at Greensboro is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Founded in 1891, UNCG offers an online master of arts in peace and conflict studies. Students complete 33 credits through a synchronous online schedule with live instruction. Students can choose between two concentrations: conflict management or international peace development.

Course topics include Indigenous peace practices, transitional justice, and the power of nonviolence for social change. Learners also complete a capstone experience to demonstrate skills mastery. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and can apply for one of two start dates per year.

Abilene Christian University View School Profile Abilene, TX 67% 52% 35% Abilene Christian University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

A private university founded in 1906, ACU offers an online master of arts in conflict management and resolution. Students explore a Christian-centered approach to reconciliation through the 36-credit curriculum. Learners can choose between four program tracks, including general, organizational, and practitioner.

Course topics include the dynamics of interpersonal communication, conflict management systems design, foundations of family conflict dynamics, and mediation principles and practice. From there, concentration curriculum and practicums round out the requirements. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 to qualify for admission.

Nova Southeastern University View School Profile Fort Lauderdale, FL 50% 51% 47% Nova Southeastern University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Founded in 1964, NSU offers an online master of science in conflict analysis and resolution. Learners complete 36 credits, either through full- or part-time scheduling. Students must attend two five-day residential institutes during the program.

Required courses include foundations of conflict resolution and peace studies, mediation theory and practice, research design and program evolution, and professional practice and ethics. A capstone experience allows students to take a deep dive into challenging aspects of the field. Applicants need a bachelor's degree and a GPA of 3.0 to qualify for admission.

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.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

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
  • Law
  • Public administration
  • Social work

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.

Marriage and Family Therapists true
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.

true Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators
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.

Social and Community Service Managers
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.

Judges and Hearing Officers
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.

Lawyers
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 About Conflict Management Degrees

true What Is a Community Mediator?

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.

true What Can I Do With a Master's in Conflict Resolution?

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.

Where Can I Work If I Study Peace and Conflict Resolution?

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.

Are Mediators in Demand?

Due to their scarcity, mediators are in high demand in many industries.

Can You Be a Mediator Without a Law Degree?

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.

Do You Need a Law Degree to Be an Arbitrator?

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.

Header Image Credit: | Getty Images

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