Master's Degrees in Arbitration

Would you like to help resolve conflicts, but you'd rather not work within the court system? Or are you a practicing attorney interested in broadening your knowledge of international laws and negotiations? If so, a master's degree in arbitration may be the answer. Keep reading to find out more about the different types of master's degree programs available, their requirements and your potential career options. Schools offering Juris Doctor degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Types of Master's Degrees in Arbitration Can I Pursue?

Arbitration is a legal technique used to resolve disputes outside of the courtroom. Master's degrees in arbitration aren't especially common, but a few law schools offer them. Several types of degrees are available, such as a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree in international arbitration. For example, you can pursue a LL.M. in International Business Regulation, Litigation and Arbitration. Such programs are generally designed for practicing lawyers who are interested in expanding their knowledge of commercial, business and financial law within a global context.

As a subset of this type of degree, you can also pursue a unique Master of Laws degree that combines the study of international arbitration with environmental and energy law. This degree program is also designed for practicing attorneys. Related master's degree programs in labor relations and human resources typically offer courses in arbitration as well.

If you're interested in a more general education in arbitration, you can pursue a master's degree in conflict or dispute resolution. Although they aren't titled as such, these degree programs include topics in arbitration and can prepare you to become an arbitrator. Such programs may lead to a LL.M. in Dispute Resolution or a Master of Dispute Resolution; admittance to the former requires you to have a law degree, while the latter requires only a bachelor's degree for enrollment. You may be able to pursue a master's degree in dispute resolution in conjunction with a Juris Doctor (J.D.) through a joint degree program.

Degree Options Master of Laws (L.L.M.), master's degree in a related field, or a joint degree program combining a Juris Doctor (J.D.) with a master's degree in the field
Course Topics Business law, dispute resolution, negotiation and mediation theory, international regulation, specialized topics in focus areas such as environmental issues
Career Options Lawyer with special area of focus, arbitrator, conciliator, mediator; licensing and certification are generally not required but standards vary by state
Career Outlook (2016 - 2026) 10% job growth (arbitrators, conciliators and mediators)*
Median Annual Salary (2018) $62,270 (arbitrators, conciliators and mediators)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Study?

Depending upon which type of master's degree you pursue, your program requirements will vary. A master's degree program in international arbitration requires a large core of business courses in addition to courses in administrative law, alternative dispute resolution and conflict of laws, negotiations and international regulation. If you pursue an international arbitration degree with an environmental focus, you'll also study the legal issues that surround climate change and energy development and production. You're generally required to write a thesis to earn your master's degree in international arbitration.

If you choose to pursue a master's degree in dispute resolution, you won't be required to take business courses. Instead, you'll focus on law courses and conflict resolution. Your core coursework may include arbitration law, conflict and communication, cross-cultural conflict, mediation theory, negotiation, and the psychology of conflict. Both thesis and non-thesis options are available. If you choose to pursue the non-thesis option, you may be required to complete a project or take additional elective courses.

What Might I Do with My Degree?

A master's degree in international arbitration is typically designed for individuals who are already lawyers, but are looking to learn more about business and commercial litigation and arbitration within an international context. If you pursue a LL.M. with a focus on global energy, you will be prepared to help mediate modern energy and environmental disputes.

A master's degree program in conflict or dispute resolution can prepare you to become an arbitrator, conciliator or mediator - professionals who work to resolve conflicts outside of the courtroom. Arbitration is a type of alternative dispute resolution not unlike what a judge or magistrate does within the court system, but the processes are more informal and the hearings are confidential and private. You don't need to be an attorney or have a law degree to become an arbitrator, although many master's degrees in dispute resolution are designed for individuals with law degrees. Some arbitrators are businesspeople who have expertise in a specific area. The fields of conciliation and mediation are similar to arbitration.

As an arbitrator, conciliator or mediator, you might work from home or travel to various sites for negotiations. A master's degree isn't required to work in these fields, but many arbitrators have master's degrees or even a doctoral degree. There are no national standards for licensing arbitrators, but some states independently require arbitrators to be lawyers with a certain amount of experience. Although it isn't required in most states, you can also pursue professional credentials through organizations such as the American Arbitration Association. This process involves completing a training course and an apprenticeship.

What Can I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for arbitrators, conciliators and mediators is expected to increase by 10% between 2016 and 2026 ( The BLS noted that this is due to many factors, including an increasing number of jurisdictions that offer alternative dispute resolution programs. Businesses and individuals may favor arbitration over litigation because it is generally faster, more discreet and less costly. In 2018, the median annual wage for arbitrators, conciliators and mediators was $62,270 according to the BLS.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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