Why should you study conflict resolution? Pursuing a master’s degree in this important field can be an excellent way to build a career in many fields in both the private and public sector.
The study of conflict resolution – also referred to in some quarters as peace studies – is a vital area of social science that does detailed analyses of violent and nonviolent behavior. It looks at the various structural mechanisms that cause conflict, with an end goal of using the develop understanding to promote health human interaction and resolution of conflicts.
Professionals who specialize in conflict resolution can work in social justice, human rights protection, international criminal court’s, public health and private business.
Some of the jobs that you may work in with a master’s in conflict resolution are:
- Arbitrator or mediator: These professionals in conflict resolution are skilled in facilitating negotiation and dialogue between parties who are in a dispute. This career field is very important because it can help to resolve a conflict before it goes to court – always an expensive proposition for both sides. Many arbitrators may also be attorneys or experienced business professionals. Mediators are neutral parties that help people and companies to resolve various disputes. Mediators do not actually make decisions, which is different from an arbitrator.
- Management consultant: This business professional works with companies to determine how to increase profits and efficiency. They provide upper level managers with advice about how to make companies make more money and to lower the costs of production and other critical factors that affect profits. Some management consultants may work for a large consulting firm, while others may work on a self employed basis. A key part of this job is often conflict resolution, so having a degree in this field is important. You also will spend much time writing proposals and bids for new work.
- Health educators and community health workers: These public health professionals work with local communities and help them to learn about behaviors that promote good health. They also provide a vital link between the government and health care sectors and the local people they are trying to help. Conflict resolution can be an important skill to possess in this field as people in needy communities may be dealing with difficult public health issues.
Why Earn a Master’s in Conflict Resolution?
If you are working in any type of management or leadership role, or are dealing with groups of people, you will likely be dealing with conflicts at some point. If you are serious about developing your career to its fullest potential, you should consider cultivating skills that allow you to encourage the resolution of conflict, relieving of social tension and making peace.
With a degree in this field, you can help public and private organizations to create more productive and peaceful environments. You also will establish yourself as a leader who can unite people from very different backgrounds and perspectives on common ground.
Depending upon your career goals and personal interests, you may be able to choose a conflict resolution master’s program that specializes in
- Conflict analysis
- Dispute resolution
- International security
If you are interested in a master’s degree in conflict resolution, you will be required to meet certain admission requirements. These can vary, but the standards below are common:
- 5 GPA or higher
- Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university
- Resume that reflects substantial work experience
- Two professional or academic recommendations
- GRE scores may be required
- College transcripts
Curriculum and Courses
Columbia University offers a Master of Arts in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution that you can complete either part or full time. This program combines theory and applied training to prepare you to devise models to negotiate and resolve disputes among parties who have different objectives, needs and desires.
The focus of this two year, full time program is to teach you how to build common ground, create useful dialogue, apply practical conflict resolution skills and to forge useful and productive relationships in difficult circumstances.
This program will teach you to do the following:
- Have a self-aware mindset and become more sensitive to diverse populations
- Think about different perspectives from other worldviews
- Apply proven conflict analysis principles, processes and tools to difficult situations
- Have a good grasp of system dynamics and the complexity of many actors and issues
- Learn how to develop a more reflective learning practice
- Learn how to get to a constructive outcome by using collaborative processes
Required courses are:
- Understanding Conflict and Cooperation
- Introduction to Negotiation
- Introduction to Mediation
- Advanced Conflict Resolution
- Skills Practicum
- Applied Research
Graduates of this program work in many fields: law, business, healthcare, government and education among them. Most often, graduates work as mediators, facilitators, arbitrators and counselors. These roles require them to understand the underlying causes and dynamics of common conflict and how to resolve them through negotiation.
All requirements of this program must be completed within three years of commencing study, with a GPA of 3.0.
Career Outcomes and Job Titles
You may have these types of job titles with this master’s degree:
- Community health worker
- Public health director
- Management analyst
- Human resources director
- Research manager
- Program manager
Job and Salary Outlook
- Mediator or Arbitrator — Employment in this field is poised to rise by 9% by 2024. This is faster than average for all other occupations. However, note, that the fast growth is occurring in a very small profession with only about 10,000 jobs in the country currently. Still, dispute and conflict resolution is often preferred today to resolve a dispute because of high legal costs for going to trial. The median salary is $58,000.
- Human Resources Manager — This is a good field for professionals with a conflict resolution degree, and the field will increase in job demand by 9% in the coming years. Employment in this field will rise because there are more employment laws that are making the business of many companies more complex. This is very true in the HR department especially. The median salary is $104,000 per year.
- Management Consultant — This field will see a substantial increase in job demand of 14% by 2024. It is thought that the demand for consultants to resolve conflicts, increase profits and decrease costs will increase as the market is getting more competitive than ever before. You should see high demand in this field especially in health care. The median salary is $81,300.
Scholarships and Grants
- George Mason University: This leading university offers a conflict resolution master’s degree, as well as several scholarships. They include Mason Fellowships and S-CAR Graduate Scholarships.
- Swarthmore College: This leading private university has a Peace and Conflict Studies Department that offers the Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellowship. Work in Washington DC with a public interest group while you focus on arms control and international security matters.
- Negotiation and Conflict Archives – Harvard University: This top Ivy League university has a large archive of documents and articles about peace studies and conflict resolution.
- Conflict Resolution Network: A social justice website that researches, develops and disseminates information about the theory and practice of conflict resolution. The aim of the organization is to make conflict resolution skills and strategies more universal.