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Course content

Conflict resolution professionals work in a range of fields, including business, law, education, healthcare, and government. They act as arbitrators, mediators, facilitators, ombudsmen, and counselors. They must understand the root causes and dynamics of conflict and how to resolve disputes through reasoned negotiation.

Columbia’s master’s program in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, which can be completed on a part-time or full-time basis, combines theory and applied training to prepare students to develop practical models for negotiating and resolving disputes among parties with differing objectives and desires. This graduate program is part of a rich history of conflict resolution at Columbia University.

The graduate program’s training philosophy is grounded in a commitment to interactive, dialogue-based methods of managing and resolving conflict. The focus is on building common ground, establishing dialogue, applying practical skills, ensuring representation and recognition, and forging relationships.

The program trains students to:

Adopt a mindset that is self-aware and sensitive to diverse populations of people in various settings
Consider alternative perspectives from differing worldviews
Apply sound conflict analysis models, tools and processes
Understand system dynamics and complexity of issues and actors
Develop a reflective practice of learning
Work toward reaching constructive outcomes through the use of collaborative processes
Use theory to inform their understanding, and apply pragmatic approaches to resolving conflicts
Curriculum
The curriculum emphasizes a pragmatic approach to resolving conflicts that arise in human resource management, community and labor organization, education and health administration, and law and business. Through examination of theory and practical methodology, the program focuses on constructive communication, ethical understanding, cultural awareness and sensitivity, counseling, and resolving conflicts in ways that are favorable for all parties.

The program includes four core courses that ground students in the field. Two additional courses are designed to provide students with a deeper engagement in research and practice. Four electives allow students to focus their work in an area of concentration, such as health care, the environment, or ombuds practice. At least two of these electives must be chosen from courses designed for the program; up to two may be chosen from course offerings in other schools of the University. Three Master's Capstone Thesis Seminars immerse students in the world of negotiation, mediation and conflict resolution through applied research and exposure to professional work in the field with grounding in theory, research and practice.

This is a rigorous and concentrated graduate degree program that demands a serious commitment of time and energy. The Master of Science in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution can be taken on a full or part-time basis, and is designed to accommodate the professional obligations of students who are employed full-time.

Students should be aware of the nontraditional schedule. Classes are mostly held in the evenings and on the weekends. Course meetings are either spread out over the 14-week term or scheduled as weekend, day-long intensives. Course schedules are posted in advance of the term so that students can plan accordingly. Classroom attendance is required. Students are also expected to devote significant time to completing reading and written assignments, and projects outside of class.

In order to receive the Master of Science in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, students must complete all requirements within three years (six terms, excluding summer) with an overall grade point average of 3.0 (B) or better.

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