Online Masters Degree in Mediation: Program Overview

Learn about online degree programs with mediation courses. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

Essential Information

Several schools offer online master's degree programs in mediation. These degrees have many titles, and mediation may be a concentration offered in a master's degree in psychology or business administration program. While students can generally complete all courses online at their own pace, some programs are offered in a hybrid format and require brief on-campus residencies.

In addition to a bachelor's degree, many programs ask that applicants hold a professional certification in mediation, such as the Advanced Practitioner of Mediation (APM) designation. The master's degree program covers conflict resolution in the workplace or between businesses, communities or family members. Students take courses in the causes of conflict and methods of conflict resolution. Some programs require field experiences. During residency periods, students can practice their negotiating skills as well.

Master's Degree in Mediation

Master's-level instruction in mediation is available through online programs such as the Master of Science (M.S.) in Mediation and Applied Conflict Studies, as well as through the mediation and dispute relations concentration within Master of Arts (M.A.) in Psychology and Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs. In addition to a bachelor's degree, some graduate degree programs require students to have first received the Advanced Practitioner of Mediation (APM) designation from the Institute of Advanced Dispute Resolution (IADR). Students of a master's degree program in mediation can develop methods and skills for negotiating the settlement of conflicts and disputes in the workplace and between business organizations, communities or family members.

Program Information and Requirements

Many online master's degree programs in mediation can be completed in two years or less. Although the programs can be found entirely online, select schools require a small amount of campus residencies. Online course content is presented asynchronously, giving students the freedom to access materials, view archived lectures and hand in assignments at any time as long as certain deadlines are met. Students interact with their instructors and peers through online message boards and e-mails.

Common Mediation Courses

The curriculum of a master's degree program in mediation consists of core courses often supplemented with fieldwork, a thesis project or comprehensive exam. Some schools allow students to count transfer credits from their APM designation toward their master's degree.

Principles, Theories and Diagnosis of Conflict

This course examines the concepts, methods and tools involving conflict mediation and resolution for organizations, teams, communities and families. Conflict theory is interpreted from various legal, psychological and anthropological viewpoints. Special attention is given to the comprehension of conflict origins as a way to promote mediation as a preferable method of dispute resolution as opposed to adversarial confrontation.

Skills and Strategies for Conflict Intervention and Resolution

Students practice the methods and techniques for helping clients solve problems and confront conflict. An emphasis is placed on developing effective communication skills such as dialogue, negotiation and arbitration. Self-reflection is examined as a strategy for improving confidence and mediating abilities.

Mediation Laws and Ethics

The legal processes and ethical practices essential to the role of the mediator are outlined in this course. Legal issues such as document drafting and professional liability are analyzed. The concept of impartiality is defined, and the importance of acting without bias is highlighted as a necessary tool for an independent mediator.

Career Information

An online master's degree program in mediation can pave the way for a student to become employed as a mediator, arbitrator, conciliator or human resources manager. Licensing requirements for mediators, arbitrators and conciliators vary widely from state to state ranging from lawyer experience to state licensure, certification or registration. Depending on the exact position, additional education, certification and experience may also be required to gain employment as a human resources manager.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in May of 2015, there were approximately 6,380 mediators, arbitrator and conciliators and the field for these careers and other judicial workers is expected to grow 9% from 2014-2024 ( The BLS also noted that the median annual salary for these careers in 2015 was $58,020, while the median salary for human resources managers in 2015 was $104,440.

Continuing Education

While mediators who work in private settings do not need certification, most states require that court-appointed mediators meet certain training and experience standards. These requirements vary by state. There are professional organizations that offer certification and continuing education training.

Online continuing education credits are available for those looking to expand their knowledge base and career opportunities. Courses in areas such as divorce and child custody mediation, construction and real estate mediation, workplace mediation and arbitration are offered in entirely online formats.

Aspiring mediators and arbitrators can get advanced training in negotiation and conflict resolution through online master's degree programs that cover mediation. Because they are offered in an online format, students can schedule their study schedules around other time commitments, so these programs are often suitable for working professionals.

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