Conflict resolution isn't your typical college major. It's a specialized field, but one that is becoming increasingly important as organizations across industries seek professionals trained in consensus building. Businesses may use mediators to close deals; individuals may need help negotiating personal conflicts; and governments employ professionals to promote peace on a global scale.
Ready to make a difference? Conflict resolution degree programs are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. While a bachelor's degree is usually sufficient for entry-level positions, those who want to hone their skills may choose to earn a master's degree as well. Online conflict resolution degrees are available from some schools although you may be more likely to find them at the graduate, rather than undergraduate, level.
Keep reading to learn more about the top schools for conflict resolution, what jobs might await you after graduation and how to pay for your education.
Best Colleges for Conflict Resolution Degree Programs
You won't find conflict resolution degree programs at every school, but you don't have to spend hours browsing college websites to find the ones that do. We've done the legwork to find the schools and then sorted them according to program prominence and other student success measures. According to that methodology, here at the top colleges for conflict resolution.
George Mason University is the largest public research institution in Virginia. More than 34,000 students from every state in the nation are enrolled. Its main campus is in Fairfax, but the school also has locations in Arlington, Prince William County and Korea.
The School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution houses the conflict resolution degree programs at George Mason. Known as S-CAR, the school is the oldest and largest conflict resolution program in the world, enrolling more than 500 students. All students take part in experiential learning, and there are numerous opportunities to take part in internships or study in conflict zones around the world.
Students can earn undergraduate degrees as well as graduate degrees and certificates in conflict resolution from George Mason. The school also ranks ninth for affordable tuition.
As a part of the University System of Maryland, Salisbury University is a school of distinction within the state. It opened its doors in 1925, and today is a four-year institution offering 58 undergraduate and graduate programs. Its campus is in Salisbury.
The Department of Conflict Analysis & Resolution offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in the field. It also houses the Center for Conflict Resolution which provides students with additional opportunities for research and hands-on experience in the field. While not required, Salisbury notes conflict resolution often works well as a double major with communications, education, political science or other subjects.
Of all the schools surveyed, Salisbury University ranks 11th for program prominence and 7th for affordable tuition.
Columbia International University is a Christian institution based in Columbia, South Carolina. The school was founded in 1923 as a bible college. Today, it has more than 1,000 students enrolled in 19 undergraduate degree programs, including intercultural studies which can be used as the basis for career in conflict resolution.
The intercultural studies degree programs at CIU may be best for those who want to work internationally. Students learn how to understand other perspectives and bridge cultural divides. Both undergraduate and graduate degrees in the field are available. Those looking for online degrees for conflict resolution can earn an online Master of Arts in intercultural studies from CIU.
Columbia International University ranks fourth for its program prominence and 15th for affordable tuition.
Nyack College is another Christian institution with a high-rated conflict resolution program. The school is affiliated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance. More than 2,500 students are enrolled in programs held at campuses in Nyack, New York City and Puerto Rico.
Students interested in conflict resolution may find several programs within the College of Bible and Christian Ministry that appeal to them. There are associate, bachelor and master's degrees available in intercultural studies. At the bachelor's degree level, there are five different concentrations from which to choose. Students can also earn a certificate in religion and conflict resolution through a special program offered in Washington D.C.
Admitting nearly all applicants, Nyack ranks second for its admissions rate.
California State University Dominguez Hills is another of the best colleges for conflict resolution degree programs. Located in Carson, near the heart of Los Angeles, the school prides itself on being a diverse institution that offers affordable education.
Within the College of Arts and Humanities, students can earn either a bachelor's degree or a master's degree in negotiation, conflict resolution and peacebuilding. There is also a post-master's certificate in conflict analysis and resolution. As for online conflict resolution degrees, both the master's degree and certificate can be earned via distance education.
CSUDH is the most affordable option among the top schools for conflict resolution. It ranks second for its low tuition rate. It's also notable for its flexible scheduling options and student support services.
If you're looking for an innovative liberal arts education, Goucher College may be the school for you. Founded in 1885, Goucher is a private, co-educational institution that offers 33 majors. Its campus is in Baltimore.
The Center for Geographies of Justice houses the school's peace studies program. Available in both a major and a minor, the program not only explores the topic academically but also helps cultivate skills in listening, dialogue, mediation and negotiation. Students can also take part in three specialized study abroad programs for the Balkans, Rwanda and Uganda. There are also community-based learning programs, scholarship opportunities and even a Peace House where students can live.
Goucher College ranks 10th for its program prominence and is notable for its low student-faculty ratio of 11-1.
Often referred to simply as UNC, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is another of the top colleges for conflict resolution. The school was chartered in 1789 and holds the distinction of being the nation's first public university. Its campus is in Chapel Hill.
At UNC-Chapel Hill, the Center for Global Initiatives offers a peace and conflict resolution certificate for graduate students. This intensive program requires three approved courses, a thesis or dissertation, an independent research project and conference attendance. Students looking for undergraduate degrees may find the school's global studies or cultural studies majors meets their needs.
UNC-Chapel Hill ranks sixth for affordable tuition. It also has the highest graduation rate among the best colleges for conflict resolution programs.
Based in a city of the same name, Goshen College is a liberal arts institution in Indiana that affiliated with the Mennonite Church USA. It was founded in 1894 and enrolls nearly 900 undergraduate and graduate students.
Undergraduates can enroll in the peace, justice and conflict studies major. It's a program that can trace its roots back to the 1930s when the first peace course was taught at Goshen College. Students enrolled in the major can expect to learn about restorative justice and social change. There are also opportunities to intern with local agencies or elsewhere through the Summer Inquiry Program.
Students enrolled at GC will find a learning environment designed for personal attention. At 10-1, the student-faculty ratio at the college is the second lowest among the schools on this list.
As the flagship public institution in its state, The University of Utah educates more than 32,000 students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The school was founded in 1850 and has its campus in Salt Lake City.
Within the College of Humanities, students can earn either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in peace & conflict studies. It's an interdisciplinary program that combines coursework in humanities, communication and social and behavioral science. At the graduate level, there is a conflict resolution graduate degree program. It's intended for working professionals who are interested in honing their skills to handle conflict successfully.
In addition to having a quality program, The University of Utah ranks fifth for affordable tuition and 11th for its admissions rate.
Earlham College rounds out the list of best schools for conflict resolution. The independent, liberal arts institution identifies with Quaker traditions and can trace its roots back to 1865. About 1,200 students study on the college campus in Richmond, Indiana.
For conflict resolution students, there is a peace and global studies program. The major is rigorous, and students select from one of four concentrations. These concentrations are religious pacifism, law and justice, praxis and "fourth generation" peace studies. Seniors must research and design a public presentation on a topic of their choosing.
At 9-1, the student-faculty ratio at Earlham College is the lowest among the schools on this list. The college also ranks fifth for the prominence of its program.
Conflict Resolution Degree Programs and Common Career Paths
Conflict resolution is a skill that can be used across most industries and in most organizations. For most career paths in the field, a bachelor's degree is sufficient for entry-level positions.
Career Outlook for Conflict Resolution Majors
Businesses and organizations may prefer to use the services of a conflict resolution professional rather than pay costly court fees to resolve an issue. That could bode well for job prospects for conflict resolution majors. Here's a closer look at the career outlook for some specific occupations in the field.
PROJECTED JOB GROWTH(%)
|Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators||$72,760||6,240||7.8%|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Conflict Resolution
Your very first stop for financial assistance - after completing the government's FAFSA form, of course - should be the school you expect to attend. Many of the best colleges for conflict resolution degree programs have scholarship, fellowship or grant programs for their students. That said, don't overlook awards that can be used at multiple schools. The Rotary Foundation Peace Fellowship is one such example.
To be included in these rankings, all schools must meet the following initial criteria for the specific subject being ranked.
- Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor’s) in that subject.
- Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in the most recent year of IPEDS data available.
Based on those criteria, we ranked all 2-year and 4-year schools in IPEDS that reported data for all of the following points. Ratings are calculated on a 10-point scale, using the weights specified.
- In-state undergraduate tuition & fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Accessibility, based on admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Institutional spending, based on two equally weighted factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Instructional and academic support expenses per full-time enrolled student
- Instructional and academic support spending as a percentage of all expenses
- Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Flexibility, based on the following factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Percent of students enrolled fully or partly in distance education
- Whether the school offers programs that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
- Whether the school offers academic and career counseling
- Whether the school offers job placement services for students who complete their programs
- Whether the school offers any alternative tuition plans, such as a payment plan or guaranteed rate
- Size of program, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015