Complete Guide to Online Conflict Resolution Training
People with specialized training in conflict resolution help mediate and ease communication between disputing parties. Graduates of online conflict resolution degree programs are well suited for a variety of professional roles. Depending on their education level and work experience, they may provide counseling, lead anger management and communications classes, or help people develop child custody plans or settle property disputes. Students in this field study communication techniques, legal statutes, psychology, sociology, and leadership principles.
The accreditation of any degree program you are considering should be a top priority. Accreditation helps ensure that schools provide a worthwhile education for their students and meet established academic standards. The US Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation each offer a database of current accredited schools and degree programs. Read More
Comprehensive List of Schools for an Online Conflict Resolution Degree (34)
Overview of Available Online Conflict Resolution Degrees
A bachelor's degree is often the minimum education requirement for many careers in conflict resolution and negotiation. These undergraduate degrees are useful for people who are planning on becoming social workers, counselors, probation officers, and even teachers. Some programs concentrate on using conflict resolution techniques in business, specifically in human resources and organizational management. Students will also examine theories in psychology, sociology, and cultural studies.
Graduate certificates in conflict resolution and negotiation take approximately one year to earn and can lead to career opportunities with local criminal justice or social services organizations. Students learn about effective communication techniques, including appropriate conflict resolution language, and how to apply these skills in actual meetings with clients who are in need of mediation services. They also learn about controlling emotions, navigating cultural and socioeconomic barriers, and working within legal parameters and restrictions.
Master's and doctoral degrees often focus on the business side of conflict resolution. These programs train students to become experts on existing theories and challenges in conflict resolution and negotiation, while also asking them to develop and test their own theories. Most graduate students complete research projects or case studies that lead them to complete a thesis or dissertation. This paper is generally the cornerstone of a graduate student's independent studies.
Online bachelor's degrees in conflict resolution and negotiation prepare students for careers in the field of conflict management and dispute resolution. Programs provide students with a broad range of techniques and tools to facilitate successful negotiations in conflict situations. Prerequisites vary by program but may include basic computers, communication, English, and math. Bachelor's programs require completion of 120 to 123 credits, which takes approximately four years.
The curriculum consists of general education courses, core courses, and electives. This allows students to develop a broad understanding of negotiation theory and fundamentals of conflict resolution. The training also emphasizes research methods in conflict resolution and negotiation. Undergraduate courses include such topics as comparative cultures; conflict resolution; cross-cultural issues; environmental conflict resolution; gender, power, and conflict; international conflict resolution; mediation principles; negotiation principles; nonviolence theory and practice; reconciliation versus revenge; war, peace, and the global system; and workplace conflict. Bachelor's programs usually incorporate a capstone course, such as a special research project. Students may also be required to complete an internship.
Bachelor's programs prepare students for careers in counseling, human resources management, labor relations, law enforcement, social work, teaching, and therapy. Graduates may choose to work in government, non-profit sector, or foreign service. Others pursue careers in consumer advocacy, international business, international diplomacy, military, public administration, and public relations. Job titles for graduates include arbitrator, mediator, community conflict advisor, contract manager, counselor, and labor union negotiator. Bachelor's programs also lay a solid foundation for graduate studies in conflict resolution, negotiation, and peace building.
Online master's degrees in conflict resolution and negotiation equip students with skills for dealing efficiently with human interaction. Programs provide students with a solid theoretical framework for conflict resolution as well as core competencies to effectively intervene in conflict. Key focus areas during training include communication, leadership, peacemaking, and reconciliation. Most programs consider applicants with a bachelor’s degree in any discipline. Programs require completion of 32 to 36 credits, which typically takes two years.
The master’s curriculum gives students the opportunity to develop a comprehensive understanding of theoretical foundations of conflict resolution. Key areas covered by coursework include alternative dispute resolution, conflict management systems design, cross-cultural perspectives in conflict resolution, dialogue and self, dispute resolution and the legal system, dynamics of conflict resolution, ethics and conflict resolution, facilitation and group processes, leadership and organizational behavior, and negotiation and mediation.
Electives may include arbitration; civic organizing and democracy; elder law; ethnicity, nationalism, and conflict; family conflict resolution; healthcare law; improving collaboration; international business transactions; international conflict; international law; labor law; and marriage and divorce. A capstone course is a common requirement of master's programs. This may require students to complete a research project or practicum. In some cases, students are required to write a thesis.
Master's programs in conflict resolution prepare students for leadership roles in dispute resolution. Areas of practice for graduates include administration, business negotiations, counseling, human resources management, labor relations, law, ministry, police work, and social services. Others pursue careers in alternative dispute resolution, public policy advising, social work, and teaching. Professionals in conflict resolution may work in the government, foreign service, or non-profit sector.
Doctoral programs in conflict resolution provide students with interdisciplinary training in resolution practices and theories. Applicants must have an accredited bachelor's or master's degree, depending on the program requirements. The PhD takes three to five years to complete and requires 20-30 courses, as well as a dissertation.
Courses offered during the doctoral program will include advanced theories in critical thinking, understanding conflict, crisis management, mediation theory and practice, conflict resolution and peace studies, and qualitative research methods. Other courses in the program may focus on disaster-conflict interface, restorative justice and reconciliation, international law and treaty law, and communication dynamics in dispute resolution.
Doctoral students may be required to complete one or more practical training experiences as part of the program. These experiences may include a community placement or teaching a course. All doctoral candidates must also conduct research and write a dissertation. The completed research paper is defended before a committee as one of the requirements for graduation.
Graduates holding a doctorate in conflict resolution can become university professors and researchers. They may also work as consultants, assisting businesses and individuals with inter- or intra-business conflicts. Others work as mediators or ombudsmen within a corporation, higher education institution, or another large organization. Still others may work on conflict resolution policy issues in government agencies.
The graduate certificate in conflict resolution and negotiation prepares graduates to apply psychological principles to help resolve problems. These programs may be offered through professional development departments, law schools, business schools, or human services departments. Students complete 5 to 10 courses; most programs can be completed in one year or less. Applicants typically need an accredited bachelor’s degree.
The foundational courses in the conflict resolution and negotiation certificate teach students about the role of the conflict specialist and the dynamics of conflict resolution. Many programs include courses in the three major areas of the conflict specialist: mediation, arbitration, and negotiation. Students learn how to assess the different cultural and political pressures that can affect conflict and utilize communication skills to foster negotiation.
In addition to didactic coursework, some conflict resolution and negotiation programs may require on-site or online case studies and practicums in conflict resolution. Since communication approaches are vital to effective conflict resolution, this practical experience can be quite useful for gaining a working understanding of conflict resolution processes.
Graduate certificates in conflict resolution and negotiation are generally used to support career growth and success in another area. For example, those in business and law positions can benefit from the psychology and communication principles emphasized in this certificate. Human services workers, social workers, and human resources officers can also use the certificate to support their work with clients or within their organization. The certificate may be useful for anyone dealing with multiple stakeholders or conflict on a daily basis.
In order to ensure a positive educational experience, it's wise to choose an online degree program from an accredited institution. Attending a regionally or nationally accredited school will also help you meet eligibility requirements to apply for financial aid or transfer your earned credits to another school. Institutional accreditation is granted to schools that meet high academic standards in terms of their curricula, faculty, research programs, and other student programs. Programmatic accreditation is granted to degree programs for their ability to meet the established standards for a particular discipline. There aren't currently any programmatic accrediting agencies for conflict resolution degree programs specifically, but institutional accreditation is also a good indicator of a quality program.
Legitimate accrediting agencies should be recognized by the US Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. For more information about the benefits of accreditation, please visit Guide to Online Schools' accreditation section.
- Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor. Published January 8, 2014. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/arbitrators-mediators-and-conciliators.htm.
- Database of Institutions and Programs Accredited by Recognized United States Accrediting Organizations. CHEA. Accessed December 3, 2014. http://www.chea.org/search/default.asp.
- The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs. USDE. Accessed December 3, 2014. http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation.