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An online graduate degree in negotiation and conflict management prepares students for a career path in mediation or arbitration. These professionals work across several sectors: education, law enforcement, business, government service, social work, and labor relations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), individuals who work as arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators earn an annual salary of $50,000, and data projects employment opportunities to grow at an average rate of 6% over the next decade.

If one can complete a full-time courseload, a typical master’s in negotiation and conflict management program requires a two-year commitment. However, many individuals who seek an online degree option do so for flexibility; you may choose to work while attending graduate school part-time. According to data compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of a graduate program is $20,000. Candidates for an online master’s in negotiation and conflict management will likely pay closer to $27,000.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Negotiation and Conflict Management Program

Choose your area of study

The exact title for a degree in this field varies from institution to institution. Many schools host a Master of Science in Negotiation and Conflict Management or a Master of Arts in Negotiation and Conflict Management. Some instead offer a Master of Dispute Resolution. Schools often host a legal, business, or public administration master’s program emphasizing conflict resolution. There are even dual-degree programs where students can earn a J.D. or an MBA alongside their conflict management coursework.

Before applying to a graduate program, determine the sector in which you’d like to work, whether in a legal, business, social work, or international relations capacity. Any program will equip you to handle tough negotiations, but it helps to study the professional context in which you’ll use your conflict management tools.

Research schools and programs

After deciding where to apply your conflict management skills, search for accredited master’s programs. No accrediting body is specific for negotiation and conflict management degrees, but you should vet that an official accrediting agency recognizes the institution itself. In most cases, federal aid and professional licensure only apply to accredited schools.

There are a few leading questions to consider while researching online master’s programs in negotiation and conflict management.

  • How will I complete coursework? The modality by which faculty deliver information online varies from school to school. In some programs, you’ll learn via self-guided tutorials and independent projects. In others, you’ll attend regular class sessions via video-conferencing software.
  • Is the program more theoretical or practical? Determine what kind of assignments are typical for the program. Many online master’s in negotiation and conflict management feature a capstone project or an internship component. Research what kinds of internships and projects past students have engaged in and whether those seem in line with your professional interests.
  • Does the program mandate any on-campus requirements? Some programs are entirely online, whereas some feature in-person orientations or short-term intensive study sessions.
  • What student accommodations do you need to succeed? Before applying to a program, speak with an admissions counselor about the flexibility and student support services available to online students, especially if you have a disability that could create a barrier to learning.

To research online master’s programs, you can start with the degree website. From there, you should speak with a school admissions counselor or attend an information session to get your specific questions answered.

Prepare for tests and applications

There is no formal testing assessment for those interested in an online master’s in negotiation and conflict management. The main requirement for application to these programs is a completed undergraduate degree that meets a specified GPA minimum (usually a 3.0). If your school of choice has firm admissions deadlines, be mindful of submitting application materials on time. Even online programs have limited capacity. International students will need to complete additional steps to fulfill visa requirements.

Select your program

Now that you’ve done the research and received an official acceptance, you must choose which program fits you best. Which program received top rankings, has the lowest tuition, or best matches your personal goals? For example, if you’d like to focus your career on legal mediation, you might opt for a program emphasizing legal studies alongside conflict management theory. Or, you could choose based on the quality of the resources available to online students or the program’s overall flexibility. Ultimately, you should reflect on your priorities before making the final decision.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Most schools post their per-credit rate on their websites so you can get a general sense of the sticker price for each program. However, these costs only sometimes reflect all the expenses of a graduate degree. You have to factor in the cost of books and supplemental student fees. Conversely, you might qualify for university scholarships or assistantships. Many graduate programs qualify for financial aid through the federal government, so remember to submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You may be eligible for veteran’s tuition benefits if you served in the military. If you work full-time, your employer might have a tuition assistance program. Do your due diligence and speak with an admissions or financial aid counselor.

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

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

University of North Carolina Wilmington

George Mason University

California State University Dominguez Hills

Abilene Christian University

UNC Greensboro

Touro University Worldwide

Arizona State University

Pennsylvania Western University

Dominican University

Bay Path University

Nova Southeastern University

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How We Rank Schools

For this list, we concentrated on graduate-level programs in negotiation and conflict management. There are a few different types of degrees students can earn in this subject, including a Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS), and Master of Legal Studies (MLS).

We narrowed our search to programs that can be completed entirely or primarily through distance learning courses to ensure accessibility for the greatest number of students, regardless of their schedule or geographic location.

This list consists entirely of schools that are regionally accredited, which means they meet high standards of quality for postsecondary education. Some programs are also accredited by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE).

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

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in Negotiation and Conflict Management Program?

Prospective students interested in an online master’s in negotiation and conflict management can expect to learn current theories on conflict and resolution. You’ll learn essential communication strategies to help disparate parties reach a meaningful agreement. The mediator role is valuable across many professional fields but is more common in law, business, government, and social work. You’ll complete most of the coursework through online, independent study, but many programs require a capstone project or internship that demands more in-depth, real-world application.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online Master’s in Negotiation and Conflict Management program

  • Negotiation. Students learn basic negotiation skills by investigating real-world examples of conflict. Learners often engage in role-playing exercises to develop their negotiation skills.
  • Ethics of Conflict Resolution. Students study case studies to master conflict resolution principles such as neutrality, consent, and confidentiality.
  • Terrorism, Counterterrorism, and Conflict Management. This course introduces students to complicated, nuanced arguments regarding global conflicts. Students will study the origins and strategies behind terrorism and debate steps for resolution.
  • The Conflict Management Profession. Graduate students will explore the different pathways for conflict management professionals. This course seeks to help students reflect on their practice and long-term occupational goals.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Negotiation And Conflict Management?

Career outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the career outlook for arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators isn’t especially positive or negative. The number of jobs for this occupation is expected to grow at a rate of 6% over the next decade, which is around the overall average for all occupations. Also, the median salary for these professionals is $49,410, which is slightly higher than average ($45,760). There are some lucrative positions available for workers in this field, though — the top 10% of arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators make more than $110,350 per year. Earning a Master’s in Negotiation and Conflict Management will help you access these high-paying opportunities.

Career paths

In addition to arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators, you can also become qualified for various other occupations with a Master’s in Negotiation and Conflict Management.

For example, every human resources department needs workers who are adept at conflict management. As for negotiation, this can be a highly valuable skill for many different industries, including sales, business administration, and talent management.

To give you an even better idea of your potential career paths, here are some examples of specific jobs that you can get with this degree:

  • Event coordinators manage all aspects of event planning, such as booking venues, negotiating prices with vendors, and maintaining event budgets
  • Crisis intervention specialists help provide treatment for individuals who are dealing with substance abuse, behavioral disorders, or mental health issues
  • Community organizer – unite people to work toward a common goal through collective action
  • Sports agents represent athletes in contract negotiations and generate additional income through promotional deals
  • Sales managers develop sales strategies, manage sales teams, and resolve customer complaints

Labor relations specialist

Earning Potential: $58,000 to $93,000
Education Required: Bachelor’s or master’s degree in human resources, negotiation and conflict management, or related field

Labor relations specialists serve as an intermediary between workers and management — they meet with both union representatives and managers in order to negotiate issues such as compensation, workplace safety, and disciplinary procedures. In addition to negotiating new collective bargaining agreements, the job duties of labor relations specialists may also include ensuring compliance with current agreements and investigating the legitimacy of complaints.

Human resources manager

Earning Potential: $64,000 to $100,000
Education Required: Bachelor’s or master’s degree in human resources or related field

Once you’ve earned a master’s degree, you’ll have an easier time moving up into management positions. Indeed, some employers will only consider candidates with a postgraduate education for management roles. Human resources managers help organizations attract and retain qualified employees. Their responsibilities include overseeing the recruitment and hiring process, implementing policies to prevent discrimination and harassment, setting disputes and directing disciplinary procedures, and administering services such as training, payroll, and benefits.

Purchasing manager

Earning Potential: $68,000 to $113,000
Education Required: Bachelor’s or master’s degree in business administration or related field

Purchasing agents are responsible for buying products or services for their employers to use or resell. To accomplish this task, they must evaluate sellers, negotiate contracts, and assess the quality of the products or services delivered. Those in a management role may also be responsible for developing procurement policies and ensuring that there are no conflicts of interest.

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

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

The exact application requirements for an online master’s in negotiation and conflict management degree program varies dramatically, though most schools list their expected components on the program website. In general, you should plan to submit the following:

  • A completed application (with a fee)
  • Copies of your undergraduate transcripts
  • A personal statement
  • A resume
  • Letters of recommendation
  • (Optional) GRE or GMAT scores

Some of the more competitive programs might also include an interview component. Contact an admissions counselor if you have any questions about the application process.

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

According to U.S. News & World Report, you can expect to pay somewhere between $15,000 and $40,000 to earn a master’s degree in negotiation and conflict management online. Degrees require 30 to 48 credits on average to complete, and the typical per-credit cost is $665. Online programs can be more affordable than traditional programs, but they often include similar fees for orientation, document processing, student support services, student activities, and technology. Many schools will directly list their per-credit cost and supplemental fee structure on the program website.

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

The average timeframe to complete this program is four semesters or two academic years. However, those who instead engage in coursework part-time will need longer; if you choose to work full-time and attend graduate school part-time, it will likely take three to four years to graduate. Dual degree programs, such as a J.D./M.S. in Negotiations and Conflict Management, require at least four years.

Meggie is a higher education professional and a copywriter. She graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Master of Education in Higher Education in 2012. Since graduating, Meggie has worked in several institutions across various specialties, including college admissions, campus sustainability, residential life, and student support services. Currently, she works full-time for an education-based, nonprofit organization in Vermont.

Is an online master’s in negotiation and conflict management worth it?

Earning a Master’s in Negotiation and Conflict Management is an excellent investment for your career.

Without a master’s degree, you’ll be completely shut out of some job opportunities. For example, 25% of labor relations specialists report that this level of education is required for their work. Also, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that workers with a master’s degree tend to make more money and face less unemployment than those who only have a bachelor’s.

Once you decide to pursue a master’s, the next question is whether you will earn your degree online or on campus. You should strongly consider the online option, as the lack of commute will allow you to save a lot of time and money — some online programs can even be completed at your own pace, which makes it even easier to find time for your studies.

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