The field of peace and conflict studies has grown remarkably over the last seven decades since the first programme was offered in 1948 at Indiana’s Manchester College. The programme, which started shortly after World War II, has impressively expanded from its former narrow specializations to areas such as human rights, justice, individual rights, and well-being, gender issues, as well as intersections between peace and socioeconomic development. Today, peace scholars consider many factors: how food security impacts on peace, the relationship between inequality, poverty, and peace, as well as how media impacts on democracy across the globe. The field of peace studies has become so multidisciplinary to the extent that virtually anyone interested in global peace, would find a place in the field, irrespective of academic background. This article explores top five master’s degrees in peace studies in the UK.
Programme Information: Manchester University, founded in 1824, is not only one of the leading universities in the United Kingdom, but it is also one of the leading institutions in the world. The university has a global reputation for education and innovation which resonates across the world. One of the standout programmes offered by the university is the Master of Arts degree in Peace and Conflict Studies. The MA offers specialist training in critical approaches to peace and conflict studies. The programme incorporates field trips and on-campus conferences and seminars with an enviable list of great visiting speakers throughout the year.
The programme critically addresses the conceptualization of peace and the implementation of peacebuilding projects by global, regional, national and local actors, including the UN, the International Financial Institutions, development agencies and donors, INGOs, and local organisations in conflict-affected environments.
- UK 2:1 (Hons) degree (or international equivalent) in any subject.
- ELTS – overall score of 7, including 7 in writing with no further component score below 6.5
- TOEFL IBT 103 with 28 in writing and no further score below 25 in each section.
Programme Information: The MPhil in Race, Ethnicity, and Conflict offered by the University of Dublin is one of the most unique postgraduate degrees offered in peace and conflict studies globally. Established in 1997, the programmes combine a focus on race-critical theory, population movement, conflict, and resistance, making it arguably one of the most comprehensive master’s programmes in peace studies. Offered as a one-year course, the MPhil examines techniques used by states and international agencies to manage peoples and conflict, their social and cultural impact and the responses they elicit.
Candidates should have an Honors Bachelor degree (preferably upper-second class honors or equivalent, GPA of at least 3.2) in one of the social sciences or a degree that includes social science as a component. However, consideration will also be given to applicants with other relevant academic qualifications, work experience in the fields of population movement or conflict and/or publications that demonstrate analytical skills. Applicants seeking admission in this category may, where practicable, be called for interview. In all cases, the quality of the candidate’s statement of interest and their academic references are important and will be taken into account as part of the admission process. All applicants whose first language is not English or who have not been educated through the medium of English will need to present evidence of English language competency.
Programme Information: The University of Bradford’s MA in advanced practice in peacebuilding and conflict resolution draws on over 40 years of experience as a leading centre of peace research and education. The programme is structured in a way to help students recognise the strengths and limitations of different approaches to intervention by equipping them to consider critical questions surrounding efforts to build peace in different contexts. Students in the programme develop and demonstrate knowledge and recognised competencies essential to effective, ethically-aware practice within conflict engagement and practice.
- Applicants should have an undergraduate qualification at 2:2 or above (or equivalent).
- Relevant professional or voluntary experience would be desirable.
- IELTS 6.0. Candidates who do not meet the IELTS requirement can take a University of Bradford pre-sessional English course.
Programme Information: The University of St. Andrews is one of the UK oldest and leading universities. Founded in 1413, the university has been consistently rated amongst the top 150 global universities. The university’s MLitt in Peace and Conflict Studies explores the foundations of peace and conflict theory, as well as the broader challenges that arise in areas of peacebuilding, peace processes, reconciliation, and post-conflict reconstruction. Students admitted into the programme have the opportunity to choose two optional modules from exciting courses such as terrorism and liberal democracy, conflict and peace in post-communist Eurasia, religion and international politics, identity and collective violence, political economy of conflict, gender and terrorism: explores gender as a tool for the construction and maintenance of power, the evolution of United Nations peacekeeping, political order and violence in the Middle East, political philosophy and world Order, conflicts, Security and democracy in the greater Caucasus, etc.
- A strong 2.1 Honours degree (or international equivalent).
- English language proficiency.
- The qualifications listed are indicative minimum requirements for entry. Some academic Schools will ask applicants to achieve significantly higher marks than the minimum. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the writing sample, personal statement, and supporting documents.
Programme Information: King’s College London’s MA in International Conflict Studies combines cutting-edge developments in the study of conflict and security with the skills of rigorous and reflective research. The programme prides itself as one of the few in the world devoted exclusively to the study of war as a human phenomenon. Its multidisciplinary approach means that all aspects of war and conflict, and the broad remit of international relations are researched and/or taught. The department has an excellent reputation as a graduate training institution and is recognised by the British Academy, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council as a training institution for war studies.
- Undergraduate degree with a high 2:1 honour (i.e. an overall average of at least 65% across all years of study) in history, international relations, political science, economics or other appropriate subjects.
- A personal statement of up to 4,000 characters (maximum 2 pages) is required
- A copy (or copies) of your official academic transcript(s), showing the subjects studied and marks obtained
- Two references are required with at least one academic. Professional references will be accepted if you have completed your qualifications over five years ago.
- Applicants may wish to include a CV (Resume) or evidence of professional registration as part of their application (This is optional).
The University of Nottingham in Nottingham, United Kingdom, offers a Master of Arts degree in International Security and Terrorism. With a full-time course of study, students spend one year completing two, 20-credit course modules and writing a 15,000-word dissertation as a part of the campus-based program. A 2-year, part-time version of the program is also available. To qualify for admission to the program, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in any field and a record of academic excellence. Fluency in English as evidenced by IELTS or TOEFL test scores is required for applicants from outside of the UK.
Vesalius College in Brussels, Belgium, offers a Master of Arts degree program in Global Peace, Security and Strategic Studies. All students in the program take courses in Theory and Practice of International Relations and Geopolitics, Theories and Applied Issues of Global Peace, Security and Strategic Studies, The Role of International and Regional Organizations, Diplomacy and Foreign Policy Analysis, Research Methods and Networking and Professional Skills. A dissertation is also required, and students have the opportunity to complete a semester-long internship. Admission to the program requires a bachelor’s degree and satisfactory scores on the TOEFL or IELTS English fluency examination.
The Faculty of Sciences at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, offers a master’s degree program in International Security Studies. A full-time course of study, the program lasts for 2 years and is taught entirely in English. All students complete classes in Security and Defence Integration in Europe, Research design, Applying Security Concepts in International Politics, Seminar in Security Concepts, Energy Security, Human Security in Contemporary World, Comparative Counterterrorism and Regional Security Studies. In addition, students must write a master’s thesis. For consideration for admission, students must have a bachelor’s degree in a field related to security and be fluent in English.
Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, offers a master’s degree in Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism. The full-time course of study requires 18 months to complete and includes a mandatory master’s thesis research project. Students are free to select courses that are relevant to their specific interests and career goals, and internships are available to supplement classroom training. To qualify for admission, students must have at least a bachelor’s degree in any field or have significant work experience related to counter terrorism or intelligence gathering. As the program is taught entirely in English, non-native speakers will be required to submit IELTS or TOEFL scores.
Macquarie University offers a master degree in International Security Studies for students interested in working in the public or private sectors in positions related to security. The program focuses primarily on how security has changed in the aftermath of the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2011. Students spend 12 months taking classes related to their specific interests and completing a research project. An optional internship can be completed as a part of the program. Admission to the university requires a bachelor’s degree or significant work experience in international security. Prospective students who are not native English speakers will be asked to submit IELTS or TOEFL test scores.
The Peace and Conflict Studies, M.A. is a two-year program that incorporates a number of different ways to help in the field of lasting social change. This includes both the resolution and the analysis of social conflicts; strategies for building up communities; the promotion of social justice; peace research that looks at the true roots of social conflicts and more.
This course will touch upon subjects such as problem solving, trust building and other interpersonal communications; theories of conflict resolution; violence prevention and intervention; international human rights and security; intercultural peace building and conflict resolution; international peace building and conflict resolution; and special topics that center around specific issues within peace and conflict studies.
Those who are applying to study for this M.A. are required to have a four-year baccalaureate degree or a four-year honors degree. The degrees need to be in either conflict analysis and resolution or peace and conflict studies. Degrees can also be in another related focus.
The Joint Peace and Conflict Studies, M.A. is a program that analyzes the social conflicts in the world. This includes looking at the foundations of social divisiveness and inequality along with strategies that help transmute conflict into the promotion of social justice.
This program is offered by the University of Winnipeg in Canada. The program takes advantage of interdisciplinary and holistic approaches that can assist students in the preparation of pursuing their own research and practice at the global, national and local levels. This degree comes with the option of a comprehensive examination or a thesis.
Students that are completing this program will be enrolled full time. In order to apply, students need a high academic standing at the university they attended. A four-year baccalaureate or honors degree is required along with a minimum GPA of 3.0.
The Human Security and Peacebuilding, Postgraduate Diploma is an interdisciplinary, one-year long graduate program that responds to the leadership demands in social reconstruction, humanitarian assistance, peacebuilding and conflict management in international settings. This degree will teach students about social transformation with the integration of development and sustainable peace initiatives. This program will give professionals who are working a chance to sharpen both their theoretical and practical skills that are necessary for the promotion and restoration of peace and a generally civil society in post-conflict environments.
Those interested in the program will have a four-year undergraduate degree in a field that is related to the program with a GPA of at least 3.33 in order to apply for the Human Security and Peacebuilding, Postgraduate Diploma.
The Master of Peace and Conflict Studies program aims to help students foster a civil societal environment. The program will do this by teaching the holistic and sustainable peace initiatives that empower students with the practical skills, research and knowledge they need to help with nonviolent peace building initiatives. This program combines learning with action to give scholars the necessary tools for understanding conflict and contributing to its resolution. Students will attend workshops such as Peacemaking Circles, Understanding Conflict, Narrative Mediation, and Mediating Groups in Dispute.
While in this program, students will work with the community of students around them as well as the faculty members. They will complete core courses along with any elective courses that pertain to their specific areas of interest.
Fully Online Conflict Resolution Graduate Programs
Nova Southeastern University
This online program comes from a dedicated department of Conflict Resolution Studies that also offers a residential degree program. Students are exposed to a wide array of approaches that assist individuals and communities in reaching non-violent and non-litigious solutions to personal, professional, and social problems. Courses include Mediation, Negotiation, Ethics, and Culture and Conflict. Students also have the option of writing a Master’s Thesis in lieu of two elective classes.
Graduates of the Master’s program can choose to continue to the online PhD program and transfer up to 15 credit hours of course work. The PhD provides further training in interdisciplinary research, theoretical frameworks, historical and cultural critique, and policy and program development. Students can focus their degree in community-based conflict, conflict in organizations, global conflict, and interpersonal conflict. Graduates of the PhD go on to be professors, researchers, consultants, and organizational administrators.
Requirements: The Master’s degree requires 12 courses (36 credit hours) that include theory and practice classes, research design, field practicum, and a program evaluation. Students may enroll full time (six hours per trimester) or part time (nine hours per trimester) with mandatory summer attendance. Full time students will complete the program in 15 months with part time students taking two years.
The online PhD is a 76-credit hour degree program with two Residential Institutes on campus each year. There are nine trimesters of course work followed by qualifying examinations after which students write a dissertation. The timeline to completion is five years (including summers).
California University, Dominguez Hills
Students can enroll directly in this online program without needing to complete a formal application. The degree is aimed at beginning and mid-career professionals with experience in government, business, and non-profit organizations. It serves the needs of anyone looking to improve their mediation, negotiation, and conflict management skills as well as individuals looking for a career change. Graduates go on to work in counseling, education, social work, human resources, police work, labor relations, public policy, litigation, and corporate contract and purchasing.
The online classes are asynchronous, meaning students can view lectures and complete assignments on their own schedule. Students also gain access to an online message board that allows them to chat and discuss the course with their professor and fellow students. In addition, all assignments can be submitted electronically. Local students have the option of visiting the Dominguez Hills campus and using the computer lab.
Requirements: 36 credit hours, which can be completed in two years. Students can take up to five years to finish the degree, although they must maintain continuous enrollment.
Concentration in International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
If you’re looking for a program that provides rigorous international studies alongside conflict resolution training, this may be the degree for you. These Master’s programs provide students with the skills necessary to evaluate and mediate conflicts arising from transnational issues and cultural conflicts across the globe. Courses focus on the economic, legal, and political causes of conflict, processes and outcomes of international negotiation, and current trends and challenges in post-conflict transition. Graduates go on to work in both government and non-governmental fields, including international peace building, foreign service, and democracy building.
In addition to the online education through American University, students have the opportunity to take classes from other online programs at top-tier U.S. universities. This allows students to seek out specialized training while retaining the convenience of the online degree. Students also have access to the professional development resources of American’s School of International Service to assist them in finding jobs and preparing for interviews.
Requirements: The Master of Arts in International Relations degree requires 39 total credit hours, including a capstone project. Additionally, students must also demonstrate their proficiency in English and one other language relevant to their research interests. Courses are offered year-round in 15-week terms and the degree can be completed in as few as six terms. The program also features a weekend-long immersion event on the Washington D.C. campus where students participate in academic and professional development activities
The Executive Master of International Service is an accelerated degree for professionals with seven or more years of experience in the field of international development. It requires 30 total credit hours, including a capstone project and a four-day on-campus Executive Leadership Course.
Chicago School of Professional Psychology
This program focuses on psychological and interpersonal approaches to conflict resolution as it relates to international trauma, social justice, and human rights. Courses explore a wide-range of topics, including immigration, refugee status, acculturation, trauma, crisis identification, and resilience and healing. Graduates of the program are equipped to work in any number of international service organizations, such as the United Nations, World Health Organization, Pan American Health Organization, Red Cross, Peace Corps, and other humanitarian and multinational aid organizations.
While most of this program can be completed on the student’s own schedule there are one- or two-hour sessions each term where students are expected to be online at the same time to engage in live group discussion. Online coursework is managed through the Global Student Dashboard, where all lessons, assignments, and forums can be found. Students also get a personal advisor and access to career support services to help them navigate the program as well as their future goals. As an added bonus, students can explore a sample online class to see if this program meets their learning needs.
Requirements: Two years, full-time. Students must complete a capstone project in collaboration with a local community service agency that engages in social justice and/or human rights-focused direct service on an international or global scale. The project takes place over three quarters and includes one required, minimum nine-day international field experience where the student engages with the on-the-ground direct service of their organization. They then research and write a specific strategy or policy proposal that will benefit the agency’s mission.
California University of Pennsylvania
This degree program takes an interdisciplinary approach to conflict resolution and features professors from Sociology, History, Psychology, Law, Political Science, Philosophy, and Communication Studies. The program focuses include alternative dispute resolution (ADR), arbitration, and mediation. These skills can be applied to a number of different fields, including education, human resources, labor relations, law enforcement, counseling, government, law, social work, and the justice system. Selected courses include Nonviolence, Law and Conflict Resolution, Socio-cultural Approaches to Identity Conflicts, Communication and Collaboration, Ethics in Global Perspective, International and Intercultural Conflict Resolution, and Applied Mediation and Negotiation. Students can begin this program at the start of any semester – fall, spring, or summer. The courses are appropriate for working professionals looking to expand their skills, those looking to change careers, or students coming directly from an undergraduate degree. The classes are asynchronous and can be completed on the student’s personal schedule.
Requirements: 30 credit hours, which can be completes in five terms. There is also the option to complete an internship for course credit.