Online Master's Programs in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution

If you're already working in the negotiation and conflict resolution field but want to advance your career, consider pursuing a master's in negotiation and conflict resolution online. Conflicts and the need for negotiations aren't going away, meaning those with a passion for this field can expect steady job opportunities going forward. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects this career to grow by 8% between 2018 and 2028 -- faster than the national average growth rate for all occupations.

If you're interested in advancing your education with a master's in negotiation and conflict resolution, read on to learn what the degree covers, how to finance your education, and what professional organizations help members hone their skills in the field.

What Can I Learn in an Online Master's in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program?

During your negotiation and conflict resolution studies, you can expect to gain both hard and soft skills. Hard skills -- like drafting a negotiation proposal, coordinating arbitration appointments, and memorizing laws that impact conflict resolutions -- are easier to quantify and test. Soft skills tend to come more naturally to some individuals than others, but with enough practice, anyone can build them.

Some soft skills that benefit negotiation and conflict resolution professionals include patience, interpersonal and interviewing skills, problem-solving, and analytics. You can gain these skills through your studies and internship opportunities.

Earning a master's in negotiation and conflict resolution online will teach you the same subjects as taking courses on campus. However, rather than practicing negotiation skills in face-to-face settings, distance learners typically practice with their classmates during live video chats.

What Courses Are Offered in a Master's in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program?

No two negotiation and conflict resolution master's programs are the same, but these programs tend to explore similar topics. Below, we've outlined five common conflict resolution courses that appear in most program curricula.

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    Conflict and Communication: Conflict and communication courses teach students to mediate conflicts as impartial third parties. They also evaluate their own communication styles and read about how conflict communication theories govern actions. This class often features guest lecturers from the community who work in this field.
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    Contemporary Topics in Conflict: In this course, learners discover tools that can help solve conflicts in various settings. Topics include conflict resolution in schools and workplaces and how current events can impact these issues. Students learn to facilitate productive conversations that help reach consensus. This class also covers the theories and principles governing conflict resolution.
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    Communication, Mediation, and Negotiation: This class reviews the foundations of mediation and negotiation processes. It often emphasizes interpersonal and organizational conflict and uses real-world examples to illustrate mediation theories in action. Students get to apply these concepts through practical exercises. If taken online, this course typically requires live video discussions, which allow students to practice negotiation through role-play activities.
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    Argumentation: In an argumentation course, learners discuss how decision-making relates to conflict resolution. The class also delves into how negotiation impacts business, government, and education decisions. By discussing argumentation in these various industries, learners can decide on a specialization to pursue.
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    Persuasion: This class explores how to persuade an audience, focusing heavily on persuasion theories. Learners practice persuasion tactics on their peers through various role-play activities. This class also discusses the ethics behind persuasion and how to maintain ethical principles while practicing persuasion.

What Exams or Projects Should I Expect?

Most negotiation and conflict resolution master's programs require a thesis project. Most schools require learners to cultivate an advisory board of conflict resolution professors to evaluate their thesis projects and help them choose a topic. Students must choose a conflict resolution theory and then try to prove it through research. However, some master's in negotiation and conflict resolution online programs require a capstone rather than a thesis.

Capstones are more experience-based than theory-based. Conflict resolution and negotiation capstones require students to demonstrate their skills using practical experiences, documenting how they helped different parties in a real conflict reach a resolution.

How Much Can I Make With a Career in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution?

Before deciding whether to pursue a master's degree in conflict resolution, consider the pay potential and job growth. Keep in mind that these two factors vary based on location and experience. To help you make your decision, we've listed three common careers you can pursue with this degree below, along with their average median salaries, projected job growth rates, and job descriptions. Use these numbers as a reference point when choosing your career path.

Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators

These professionals arbitrate disputes between parties to help them reach a conclusion. They manage negotiations and resolutions outside of court, which can include drafting settlement documents and researching laws impacting the conflict at hand. This job requires strong interpersonal communication skills, as these professionals must talk to witnesses and clients frequently.

Median Annual Salary: $62,270

Job Growth 2018-2028: 8%

Paralegals and Legal Assistants

Paralegals and legal assistants perform tasks to support lawyers. They usually work in law firms, corporate legal departments, or government agencies. These professionals do investigative work for cases and relay the information they learn to lawyers. They also summarize reports to help lawyers prepare for trials.

Median Annual Salary: $50,940

Job Growth 2018-2028: 12%

Private Detectives and Investigators

Private detectives and investigators work for private clients, searching for financial and personal information. They interview people and gather court documents to cultivate information about their subjects. Private investigators sometimes investigate crimes, like theft, or they can help locate missing people.

Median Annual Salary: $50,090

Job Growth 2018-2028: 8%

Online Master's in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program Accreditation

When choosing a master's in negotiation and conflict resolution online, consider your prospective school's accreditation status. Accredited institutions receive regular quality assessments from third-party organizations approved by the U.S. Department of Education. Other schools and employers regard regionally accredited schools as more prestigious than those holding national accreditation.

If your prospective school offers a negotiation and conflict resolution degree in its law department, make sure it holds programmatic accreditation from an organization like the American Bar Association.

How to Pay for a Master's in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Degree

Don't let rising tuition costs hold you back from pursuing an MS/MA in negotiation and conflict resolution. With enough determination and effort, you can find creative ways to pay for your degree. Take a look at the below options for financing your education.

  • Employer Assistance or Reimbursement

    Students who currently work in the conflict resolution field can keep their jobs while earning their degrees thanks to online learning options. Some employers reimburse or completely pay for their employees' advanced education if it's in a related subject, especially if the employee agrees to continue working at the company for a certain number of years following graduation.

  • Fellowship or Graduate Assistantship

    Since conflict resolution is in high demand, most schools set aside extra funds for graduate assistantships or fellowships in the field. Students who earn one of these positions may qualify for significantly reduced or free tuition in exchange for negotiation-related research or teaching work.

  • Federal Loans

    Filling out the FAFSA is a quick way to apply for federal student loans and grants. Some federal student loans qualify for loan forgiveness, and learners don't need to pay back any grants they earn.

Advocacy Project Fellowship

Who Can Apply: Graduate students studying peacekeeping or conflict resolution may apply for this fellowship funded by the Advocacy Project. Fellowship participants get to study conflict resolution in a foreign country.

Amount: Varies

Apply for Scholarship

B.A. Rudolph Foundation Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Graduate and undergraduate students pursuing degrees in topics related to peace and conflict resolution may apply for this scholarship. Applicants must submit a resume, two recommendation letters, a personal essay, and transcripts.

Amount: Varies

Apply for Scholarship

Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellowship

Who Can Apply: Graduate students studying in a field related to negotiation and conflict resolution may apply for this fellowship. Recipients get to spend nine months as paid, full-time staff members at participating organizations in Washington, D.C.

Amount: Varies

Apply for Scholarship

Organization of American States Academic Scholarships

Who Can Apply: This organization provides scholarships for graduate students in several fields, including negotiation and conflict resolution. Applicants who wish to conduct research during their studies receive preference.

Amount: Varies

Apply for Scholarship

Rotary Peace Fellowships

Who Can Apply: Graduate students studying fields related to peace studies, like negotiation and conflict resolution, may apply for these fellowships. Recipients must complete their fellowships at one of the five Rotary Peace Centers.

Amount: Varies

Apply for Scholarship

Professional Organizations and Resources

Joining a professional organization and taking advantage of the resources they offer is a great way to make business connections and further your knowledge and skill set. Below, we've outlined five resources for professionals working in this field.

  • American Counseling Association: The American Counseling Association's knowledge center offers information about ethics and licensure requirements. It also offers free, monthly continuing education resources.
  • National Council of Negotiation Associations: This council oversees negotiation associations. Its website offers a list of organizations that work in the field of negotiation and conflict resolution. The council also offers a recommendation list of negotiation-related literature.
  • Negotiation Institute: This organization provides corporate training seminars and hosts informative conferences focused on negotiation-related topics like leadership, communication, and sales. The Negotiation Institute also offers a list of helpful published negotiation material.
  • Seeds of Peace: Seeds of Peace aims to produce successful leaders in conflict resolution. To that end, it offers fellowships for young professionals and a leadership development program geared toward high schoolers.
  • United States Institute of Peace: Established by Congress in 1984, USIP aims to prevent deadly conflict abroad. This organization offers education and training for individuals who wish to learn more about conflict resolution.