There many ways to learn about the field of mediation and conflict resolution, so no matter what your learning style is or how much education you already have, you can expand your practice and stay current in the field.
If what you need is hands-on experience with mediation cases, consider volunteering as a community mediator. To find out about community mediation programs, contact your local court or dispute resolution center, or visit the National Association for Community Mediation.
If you aren’t ready to take the lead on mediating community cases, offer to be a silent observer or co-mediator with an experienced mediator taking the lead. Court Mediation Services in Denver is a great example of how this method of gradually getting hands-on experience works.
3. Associate degree
Associate degrees, usually earned in two years of full-time study, build a strong foundation upon which a career in mediation can be built. Mediation and dispute resolution generally are not offered as associate degrees themselves, but psychology, sociology, communications, criminal justice, education, and law are all areas of study useful to a mediator.
4. Bachelor's degree
A few universities are now offering four-year bachelor’s degrees in conflict resolution and mediation. These programs often offer the opportunity to specialize in a specific type of conflict, such as global engagement and peace-building or interpersonal communication.
5. Non-degree study
Undergraduate certificate programs are often available for those who want to focus solely on conflict resolution without a full degree. These programs usually require a year of study, and often include an internship or externship for hands-on experience in the field.
Other non-degree programs are offered from government-sponsored programs, dispute resolution centers, and mediation associations. Courses can range from a few hours to a few months long, covering everything from the basics to highly specialized training in research techniques or negotiation skills.
6. Master's degree
An advanced degree in conflict resolution can be offered either as its own discipline or as a specialty of another discipline, such as psychology, communications, or law. At this level, there is more study of the theory of conflict resolution, ethics, and legal systems. Master’s degrees (and law degrees, known as a Juris Doctor) are typically earned with three years of full-time study, and require prior completion of a bachelor’s degree.
7. Doctorate degree
Doctoral programs in conflict resolution can be found, although they are few. They focus on theory and research for professionals who intend to contribute to the discipline through academia rather than by practicing mediation.
Many of the programs described above are available partially or fully online, a convenient option for anyone needing to fit their studies around a busy schedule.
After you have found a few educational or training programs that interest you, use our handy training provider comparison chart. A side-by-side comparison of the features of each program is a great way too clearly see which program is the right one for your needs and goals.