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If you’re naturally a peacemaker and enjoy helping those on opposite sides see each other’s perspectives, a master’s in negotiation and conflict management degree could help you take the next step in your career.

This degree prepares students to work in a variety of industries, including mediation and arbitration, human resources, and counseling. Arbitrators and mediators earn an average salary of $64,030, while human resources managers earn an average of $130,000 per year.

Most programs require 30-40 credits to graduate, and the average tuition cost for graduate students for the 2021-22 academic year was $19,749.

How to Choose a Master’s in Negotiation and Conflict Management Degree Program

Choose your area of study

Students pursuing a master’s in negotiation and conflict management have the option of specializing in international conflict, organizational conflict, or conflict management in the justice system. Which option is best for you depends on your career goals and areas of interest. International conflict suits those interested in working for global nonprofit organizations or the government, while students planning on working in mediation could benefit from advanced training on the civil court system.

When choosing an area of study, make sure the program fits with your logistical needs. Check if it’s offered in person, online, or through a hybrid model. Consider whether you’re able to attend full-time or part-time and how the number of required credits impacts how long it will take you to finish.

Research schools and programs

Start narrowing down your search by excluding programs that don’t fit your needs or budget. Check the program’s website to find out what type of program is offered and how many credit hours are required. Take advantage of open houses and information sessions, which are often hosted both in person and virtually to accommodate prospective online students. Always make sure the program has a recognized regional or national accreditation.

If you have specific questions, schedule a meeting with an admissions counselor to ensure you get accurate and up-to-date information on what the program offers, as well as its admissions requirements and costs.

Prepare for tests and applications

Graduate programs usually require fairly in-depth applications. They require transcripts from all higher education institutions you’ve attended, and some schools may require a Bachelor of Science degree or additional science lab courses if you have a Bachelor of Arts. Competitive programs often have minimum undergraduate GPA requirements of 3.0 or above.

Some programs may require a passing score on the GRE, GMAT, or LSAT exam, while other institutions make this optional. Always check with an admissions counselor to determine exactly what you need. Supplemental materials you may be asked to provide include recommendation letters and a personal statement explaining why you want to pursue this option.

Select your program

Once you’ve received your acceptance letters, review your options with your goals and needs in mind. If a remote asynchronous class is most important to you, rule out options that only have in-person instruction. Review the credit requirements, and decide whether you will be able to attend full-time or part-time and how that affects your cost and time commitment. If you’re stuck between two options, consider the classes available, faculty on staff, and what resources the college provides to students to help you decide.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

While it’s possible to pay for a master’s in negotiation and conflict management degree out of pocket, there are financial assistance programs worth exploring. Set up a meeting with a financial aid counselor to discuss whether assistantships, scholarships, or private loans may be options for you. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement benefits or partner with certain schools for discounted rates. Make sure to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the deadline every year because scholarships and financial aid programs often use it to determine eligibility.

Best 50 Accredited Master’s in Negotiation and Conflict Management Degree Programs

Best Master's in Negotiation And Conflict Management Degree Programs

Columbia University School of Professional Studies

Georgetown University

California State University-Dominguez Hills

Kennesaw State University

University of San Diego

UMass Boston

University of Oregon

University of Baltimore

Salisbury University

Portland State University

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How we rank schools

Our list focuses on programs that offer a Master of Arts or Master of Science in conflict management, negotiation, or dispute resolution — the exact degree titles differ from program to program, but all equip students to work as a negotiator and manage conflict situations. Programs are offered in either on-campus or online formats; some institutions have both as options.

All the programs on our list are approved by the regional accrediting agency that assesses higher education in that area. These include the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and the New England Commission of Higher Education. Accreditation ensures that the institution is offering relevant and accurate curricula taught by highly qualified professors.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

What Can You Expect From a Master’s in Negotiation and Conflict Management Degree Program?

A master’s in negotiation and conflict management degree teaches students how to identify the underlying cause of conflict and use specific techniques to resolve it. Students learn about the dynamics of interpersonal conflict and how these can apply to business situations and organizational dynamics. It explores concepts like the stages of conflict and negotiation tactics and teaches students to resolve conflict in an ethically and culturally respective manner.

These programs often require field work to ensure students have experience applying their knowledge to actual conflicts. A capstone project or research thesis may also be required. In most cases, students can complete a master’s in negotiation and conflict management degree in 1-2 years if they go full-time. Part-time students can expect to complete their degrees in 3-4 years.

Potential courses you’ll take in a master’s in negotiation and conflict management degree program

  • Conflict Theory. This course explains the foundations of conflict theory, including how conflicts arise and escalate. Students will be introduced to an interdisciplinary approach to managing and deescalating conflicts.
  • Basics of Mediation. Students taking this class learn about mediation strategies. The course focuses on mediation related to court cases, such as civil and family court matters.
  • Workplace and Organizational Conflict. This course teaches students about the dynamics of conflicts within organizations and businesses. Students learn how to identify, analyze, and address conflicts between coworkers or management and employees in an ethical manner.
  • Humanitarian Crisis Intervention. Students learn how negotiation and conflict management techniques and strategies can be used to resolve human rights crises and promote peacebuilding. This course may include a review of case studies or simulations to help students replicate and manage conflicts in real-world scenarios.
  • Conflict Management Dispute Systems. This course introduces students to the concept of conflict management dispute systems, specifically within business human resources departments. It prepares students to evaluate and improve current systems in an organization as well as create and implement a new system.

Master’s in Negotiation and Conflict Management Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to a master's in negotiation and conflict management degree program?

A master’s in negotiation and conflict management degree program requires that you already have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Because this program awards a Master of Science degree, you may need a Bachelor of Science or be required to take a specific amount of undergraduate credit hours that include labs.

Some schools require that you have a specific score on the GRE, GMAT, or LSAT. However, this may be waived if you already have a master’s degree or had a high GPA (3.5 or above) for your bachelor’s degree. Other application materials often include a resume or CV, a letter of intent, and letters of recommendation. Before you submit your application, meet with an admissions counselor to ensure you understand the program requirements and have the documentation you need.

How much does a master's in negotiation and conflict management degree cost?

The average cost of a Master of Science degree in 2020 was $57,770. However, where you go to school, whether you attend full-time or part-time, and whether it is an in-person or online program can all affect the cost. The average tuition for a graduate degree program was $19,749 for the 2021-22 school year, but this doesn’t include other expenses, such as books or materials.

If you’re attending an in-person or hybrid program, don’t forget to account for the cost of transportation or even relocating if you’re going to an out-of-state school. The best way to get an accurate idea of how much a program costs is to meet with a financial aid counselor at that institution.

How long does it take to earn a master's in negotiation and conflict management degree?

Master’s in negotiation and conflict management programs can have as few as 24 credits or as many as 60, which can have a big impact on how long it takes you to finish your degree. Full-time students will also finish faster than part-time students who can only take one or two courses a semester. Full-time students generally complete their programs in 1-2 years, while part-time students could take 3+ years.

Keep in mind that online and on-campus programs may have different completion times, even if they require the same number of credits. Some programs require students to commit to a cohort, while others let you take classes however they fit best in your schedule.

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