Center for Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management

Graduate Certificate in Dispute Resolution

SMU's Dispute Resolution Graduate Certificate Program provides its students with theoretical and practical knowledge, useful in all social and psychological environments. Students learn the art of negotiation, problem-solving, mediation, arbitration, team-building, group facilitation, and many other applications of dispute resolution. The program actively incorporates role-plays from varied aspects of human relationships to engage the student in class participation and to provide the skill and training necessary to become adept at the art of conflict resolution.

The Program in Dispute Resolution requires completion of 21 graduate credit hours (7 classes). Coursework comprises descriptive readings, observations, simulated exercises, and discussion. Terms are 10 weeks each. The following three courses (nine credit hours) are required:

Psychology of Conflict

What happens when one party in a conflict wants something that another party resists doing or giving? Conflict can arise in groups, between individuals in many different settings. The focus of this course will be on the psychological context of negotiation, the personal and social influences on the parties in negotiation, and the impact of these conditions and behaviors on the outcome.

Mediation and Dispute Resolution

Investigates the dynamics, benefits, constraints, and essential skills needed in third-party intervention to facilitate a constructive resolution of conflict. In addition, the mediation process is defined, and the history, development, and theory of conflict resolution in negotiation is examined.

Negotiation and Dispute Resolution

Explores the communication skills, the recognition of competitive and cooperative communication styles, and the techniques necessary to break an impasse. Students will learn how to create an atmosphere that fosters negotiation, to manage difficult situations, and to mediate win-win situations.

Four electives (twelve credit hours) are also required. The following list is not a comprehensive listing, but gives an idea of available topics which will vary by term:

Designing Dispute Resolution Systems (3 credit hours)
Employment Law (3 credit hours)
Engaging in Conflict (3 credit hours)
Advanced Engaging in Conflict using Current Events (3 credit hours)
International Conflict Management (3 credit hours)
Generational Conflict (3 credit hours)
Organizational Consulting Skills (3 credit hours)
Gender and Culture in Dispute Resolution (3 credit hours)
Advanced Negotiation (3 credit hours)
Arbitration (3 credit hours)
International Negotiation (3 credit hours)
Facilitating Dynamic Groups (3 credit hours)
Neuroscience:  The Role of the Brain in Emotion, Collaboration and Conflict (3 credit hours)
Transformative Mediation (3 credit hours)
Communication and Dispute Resolution (3 credit hours)
Conflict Coaching (3 credit hours)
Workplace Conflict Management (3 credit hours)
Organizational Change Management (3 credit hours)
Leadership for Successful Organizations (3 credit hours)
Family Mediation and Law (3 credit hours)
Education & Dispute Resolution (3 credit hours)
Role of the Ombuds in Organizational Conflict (3 credit hours)
Human Resources & Dispute Resolution (3 credit hours)
Team Building Theory and Practice (3 credit hours)
Assessment and Interviewing (3 credit hours)
Transitional and Developmental Coaching (3 credit hours)
Performance Coaching (3 credit hours)
Using Online Dispute Resolution Tools (3 credit hours)
Personal Injury and Dispute Resolution (3 credit hours)
Family Law & Dispute Resolution (3 credit hours)
The Media and Crisis Management (3 credit hours)
Commercial Dispute Resolution (3 credit hours)
Restorative Justice (3 credit hours)
Healthcare and Dispute Resolution (3 credit hours)
Public Policy: From Chaos to Collaboration (3 credit hours)
Religion & Dispute Resolution (3 credit hours)
Advanced Mediation (3 credit hours)
Healthcare & Dispute Resolution (3 credit hours)
Independent Study (up to 3 credits)

Admission to the Graduate Certificate Program in Dispute Resolution requires a Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Completion of the program will fulfill the Texas statutory requirements for mediation.


An application fee of $75 is required.  Tuition for classes is $2682 per class ($894 per credit hour). 

Financial Assistance

Federal financial aid is available to students in the Master of Arts degree, and to students in the Graduate Certificate program. Employers often provide tuition assistance for graduate programs that enhance the resumes of their employees, your employer may have a similar policy. 

Follow the link below for specific information on Graduate student loan programs.

Financial Aid 15-16

Continuing on the the Masters

Graduate Certificate students may apply to the Dispute Resolution Masters program at any point in their coursework.  If your current application on file is less than a year old, please contact the Dispute Resolution office for information on the steps necessary to complete your admission file for consideration.  If accepted, all 21 credits of your Graduate Certificate coursework will transfer into the Masters.

Questions?  Contact Us:  972-473-3435 or click here to email.