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Schools with Arbitration Programs: How to Choose

Arbitration is a method for resolving legal disputes outside the courts. Students looking for a school with an arbitration program have several factors to consider, including degree level and desired concentration. Degrees in arbitration are available at the undergraduate and graduate level.

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Individuals can find training programs for arbitration in university law schools, college communications, professional development and continuing education departments. Students learn to make impartial, highly informed decisions based on cases presented by both sides.

Schools with Arbitration Programs:

The following schools offer programs in arbitration, mediation, peace studies and conflict resolution:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
American University Washington, DC 4-year Private Master's, Graduate Certificate $27,468 (graduate)
Georgetown University Washington, DC 4-year Private Master's $44,712 (graduate)
Manhattan College Riverdale, NY 4-year Private Bachelor's $38,580
Ohio Dominican University Columbus, OH 4-year Private Bachelor's $30,270
University of California-Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year Public Bachelor's $13,431 in-state; $38,139 out-of-state
University of Denver Denver, CO 4-year Private Master's $43,164 (graduate)
University of Oregon Eugene, OR 4-year Public Master's $14,256 (graduate) in-state; $24,165 (graduate) out-of-state

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics

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School Selection Criteria

Students interested in studying arbitration may want to take the following into account:

  • Students should consider the degree they are seeking, as types of programs are often dependent on the level, ranging from certificates to doctoral degrees.
  • State education requirements vary, so students may want to consider what is required for the student's desired career field in their area.
  • Students may want to take into account what concentrations are offered at a school, as not all schools offer a wide variety of arbitration programs.
  • Certification requirements for mediators vary from state to state; students may want to check the licensing requirements for the area in which they wish to practice and compare them to the training that different schools offer.

Undergraduate Certificate Programs

Undergraduate certificate programs in arbitration do not usually expect incoming students to be strong in the study of law, psychology or communication. Courses focus on essential elements of communications, contract law and negotiation tactics.

Prospective students evaluating undergraduate career certificate programs may wish to compare those which offer 'for-credit' courses leading to an academic certificate with those offering 'non-credit' classes through adult education or career training programs. When making such a comparison, it may be helpful to inquire about the applicability of course credits toward a degree, relevant preparation for professional certificate exams, pass-fail assessment options versus formal grades and anticipated costs.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

Bachelor's degree programs in arbitration are typically offered as programs in peace studies or conflict resolution. Such a degree prepares students for an entry-level position in the field of alternative dispute resolution, including arbitration and reconciliation. Graduates of this program are prepared to represent clients in cases where specialized knowledge is desired, but a fully licensed law practitioner is not required.

A peace studies and conflict resolution program provides a general education and a solid foundation in conflict studies through core courses in the field. Electives might include courses giving focus to particular areas of conflict, such as intercultural communications, peace movements, environmental issues, workplace conflict or democracy in action.

Graduate Certificate Programs

Graduate certificate programs require that students already have the foundation of a bachelor's degree, usually in psychology, sociology, anthropology, history, minority studies, political science, legal studies or peace and conflict resolution.

When choosing a school with a graduate arbitration certificate program, students may want to consider the availability of internships. These can be important in helping a student consider a preference for studying or practicing in a specific area of conflict. They also can provide students with hands-on experience that may increase their potential for job placement. Prospective students might wish to inquire about connections the school has with community organizations or state and national associations.

Master's Degree Programs

In master's degree programs in dispute resolution, students study types of organizational and individual conflicts. They learn negotiation and arbitration techniques, often through role-play. Students also take advanced coursework in psychology, and they gain insight into how power, gender and social identity contribute to violent and non-violent conflicts. Graduate-level courses in communications teach students interpersonal skills essential for working with people involved in conflicts. Graduates can go on to pursue a Ph.D. in conflict analysis and dispute resolution.

Admission to a graduate-level program requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university, usually in a related field of study. Other requirements include acceptable scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Students may also need to submit letters of recommendation.

Arbitration programs vary from certificates to doctoral degrees, and they can vary depending on the degree level. Students should consider many factors when choosing a program, including career goals, internships, and future certification requirements.

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