What Is a Conflict Resolution Degree?
A master’s degree in conflict resolution provides students with the skills to forge relationships between individuals, communities, organizations, and nations, with an eye toward improving communications and reducing conflict. Students who obtain a graduate degree in conflict resolution may go on to pursue careers as mediators, human resources directors, counselors, consultants, and more.
Master’s degrees in conflict resolution typically take about two years to complete. Applicants should have obtained a bachelor’s degree prior to applying. In some cases, schools may require that applicants complete entrance exams at the graduate level, like the GRE.
Can You Get a Conflict Resolution Degree Online?
Yes, it’s possible to obtain a graduate degree in conflict resolution online. Online degrees provide freedom and flexibility for graduate students, allowing them to complete degrees while also balancing other work and family responsibilities.
Many online degree programs are reputable and well-regarded by employers; however, students should be sure to look for programs that are accredited and have a good track record of student success.
Financial Aid for Online Master's Students
In some cases, students may be able to obtain financial aid when applying for an online master’s degree. Some schools may offer need-based or merit-based scholarships and aid, which can help make graduate studies more affordable for qualifying students.
Students may also qualify for student loans to help cover the cost of tuition and living expenses. Those interested in applying for financial aid should be sure to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and submit all necessary paperwork and documents as early as possible.
Online degrees in conflict resolution provide students with the skills they need to effectively manage conflicts and negotiate solutions. From interpersonal conflicts to community-wide conflicts, the study of conflict resolution helps students learn how to mediate between different groups.
Courses in conflict management draw from fields including psychology, sociology, history, and law. Check out some of the most common core classes for conflict management students at the graduate level:
Foundations of Conflict Analysis
In this course, students learn how to interpret and analyze conflicts in different settings. They investigate not only how conflicts arise but also how their own values and beliefs shape their interpretations of and responses to conflict. Developing self-awareness can help students better understand and navigate conflicts in a variety of contexts.
Introduction to Negotiation
Negotiation is one of the fundamental skills taught in a conflict resolution graduate degree program. Whether negotiating between individuals, organizations, or even whole countries, students need strong communication and negotiation skills in order to succeed. Introduction to Negotiation is a foundational course that allows students to learn more about theoretical and practical approaches to conflict resolution.
Interpersonal communication is one of the most important concepts in conflict resolution. By studying communication styles and techniques, students can better understand where communication breaks down and how conflict develops, as well as how to potentially improve communication and resolve conflicts. Classes in interpersonal communication inform students about how social and cultural elements can impact communication styles.
Classes on mediation teach students hands-on skills and practical approaches to mediating conflict. Students practice mediating between individuals in a diverse array of circumstances while also examining their own communication skills and biases. Types of mediation covered may include divorce and family mediation and court-mandated mediation.
International Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding
While some conflict resolution courses focus on interpersonal conflict between individuals, this class focuses on conflict at the international level, with an emphasis on peacebuilding. Students learn how international conflicts arise as well as what cultural, political, and religious factors may affect conflicts. They also learn strategies for mediating conflicts between nations and fostering strong international diplomatic relations.
What Jobs Can You Get With a Master's in Conflict Resolution?
There are a wide variety of career paths available to students with a graduate degree in conflict resolution. Graduates may choose to focus on interpersonal conflict between individuals, conflict at a community-wide level, or even conflict at a national level.
Some common occupations include human resources managers, counselors, mediators, arbitrators, and more. See below for more details, including salary information and job growth from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
Annual Median Salary: $49,410
Job Growth Rate: 10%
Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators specialize in resolving conflicts between disputing parties. Often, mediators help individuals resolve conflicts before they escalate to a legal setting. Mediators may work for private companies or for state or government agencies.
Annual Median Salary: $126,230
Job Growth Rate: 9%
Human resources managers are in charge of mediating conflicts between employees and employers. They may also be in charge of other tasks related to the organization, such as onboarding, managing pay and benefits, resolving disputes between coworkers, and more. Many human resources managers have a master’s degree, which can make them more competitive on the job market.
Annual Median Salary: $127,990
Job Growth Rate: 9%
For students with a degree in conflict resolution, pursuing a law career is one way to put their skills to use. While some conflicts can be resolved outside of the courtroom by mediators or arbitrators, other conflicts can only be resolved by lawyers in court. Students interested in becoming lawyers typically also need a specialized law degree. Lawyers may work for businesses, individuals, or government agencies.
Annual Median Salary: $122,510
Job Growth Rate: 9%
If you’re pursuing a degree in conflict resolution and interested in negotiating conflicts at the international level, then a career as a political scientist could be a good fit. Political scientists study political systems, both within individual nations as well as on a global scale. They may advise political campaigns, government agencies, or businesses on how to behave.
Annual Median Salary: $60,510
Job Growth Rate: 11%
School and career counselors work in school settings to ensure that students have the support they need to succeed. Some of the tasks school counselors might be responsible for include mediating conflicts between students, assisting students with their educational plans, and helping students to prepare for college and careers. School counselors may be employed by public or private schools.
Annual Median Salary: $128,710
Job Growth Rate: 3%
Judges and hearing officers have the final say when it comes to resolving conflicts and disputes that must be settled in court. In order to become a judge, students must also obtain a law degree and have work experience as lawyers. Judges are employed by local, state, or federal governments to oversee the legal process.
Is a Master's in Conflict Resolution Worth It?
Whether or not a master’s in conflict resolution is worth it depends on your career goals, education background, budget, and more. In many cases, a graduate degree in conflict resolution can help students to pursue careers as mediators, negotiators, counselors, and more. However, a master’s degree isn’t always necessary to pursue employment in these fields. Students with a bachelor’s degree in a related area may want to focus on gaining practical experience through employment rather than earning another degree.
High potential salaries
Many careers related to conflict resolution come with higher-than-average salaries. For example, HR managers, lawyers, and political scientists all earn more than six figures.
Important, challenging work
For students looking for meaningful and challenging work, a career in conflict resolution could be the perfect fit. This type of work involves tackling new problems each day and coming up with real solutions to resolve conflict and promote peace.
Widely applicable skills
Some students pursuing a graduate degree in conflict resolution may have a specific career path in mind, but this degree is useful for a wide variety of careers as well as personal and professional situations. Skills like communication, analysis, and negotiation can make students valuable members of a team no matter what career they choose to pursue.
Graduate degrees can be expensive without financial aid. Some students may be able to qualify for scholarships, but in a lot of cases, it may take some time to pay off the student debt that accumulates during the course of your studies.
Online degrees may limit opportunities to practice real-world skills. Conflict resolution is a discipline that is — to some extent — dependent on in-person communication. While an online degree in conflict resolution can still provide a lot of value, it may be more difficult for students to practice in-person strategies for resolving conflicts.
High-stakes and high-stress
Depending on the particular type of conflict resolution you choose to pursue, it can be a high-stakes and high-stress endeavor. Students who want a more relaxed work experience may want to consider other career options.
There are a variety of professional organizations and groups that conflict resolution students might consider joining in order to further their career:
An online master’s degree in conflict resolution can be a great fit for students looking to pursue careers as arbitrators, mediators, or negotiators, to name a few opportunities in the field. The skills learned while studying conflict resolution are also broadly applicable to a variety of other areas, and earning a degree can help students communicate and manage conflicts more effectively in general.
While a master’s degree in conflict resolution isn’t always strictly necessary in order to explore related careers, it can be a great way to gain additional knowledge and experience and make your resume stand out.