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Career Opportunities - Master of Dispute Resolution (MDR)
USC Gould School of Law

The Graduate and International Programs office is available to help you develop your individual job search strategies. A career advisor is dedicated to helping MDR students and alumni through personalized advice and review of resumes, cover letters and applications.

You may attend any of our workshops, which cover career development topics such as networking and interview etiquette. As an MDR student, you'll also gain access to Symplicity, an online resource for jobs and internship opportunities around the United States exclusive to USC Gould students.

You also will be able to attend USC Gould Continuing Legal Education conferences, at which you can make valuable connections with law professionals, USC Gould alumni and peers.

If you recently graduated from your bachelor's or other degree, we recommend that you take time to gain work experience before enrolling in a master's degree.

Career Pathways

As a graduate of the MDR degree, you will be able to achieve greater levels of success within your current organization, or may use the degree to prepare for a career as a mediator or arbitrator. USC Gould offers specialized career workshops to our ADR degree students. These workshops include specific student group and individualized guidance on:

  • preparing for a career in and building a network as a mediator or arbitrator
  • building business plans for ADR practice
  • developing materials to market your ADR practice
  • networking to build your ADR practice
  • operating your ADR practice as a business

In addition to developing a practice as a mediator or arbitrator, many types of careers benefit from exposure to ADR practices. Our courses are developed to build widely useful skills such as communication, problem-solving, management and team-building.

Organizations increasingly use dispute resolution processes to handle business and human resources issues. ADR expertise increases your marketability for a range of work settings, including business, government, human resources, counseling, education and social work. Here are some common examples of in-demand jobs where having ADR knowledge and skills could help you excel:

  • Labor Relations Mediator (State or Federal Government)
  • Director of Employee & Labor Relations
  • Ombudsman (Corporate, Healthcare, Higher Education, etc.)
  • Executive Director, Non-Profit ADR Provider
  • Government Appointed Arbitrator
  • Employee Relations Consultant
  • Commercial Arbitrator
  • Management Consultant
  • Government Conflict Management Specialist
  • Human Resource Specialist
  • International Conflict Prevention Specialist
  • Law Enforcement Liaison
  • Mediation/Arbitration Case Manager

* Note that this not intended as a comprehensive list.

ADR as a First Career

Many MDR graduates pursue a first career in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Entry-level administrative positions requiring ADR skills and education, such as case managers and program administrators, can be found within a diverse set of employers, including federal and state governments, ADR service providers (both pro bono and for-profit), universities, and a growing number of law firms. Entry-level jobs involving ADR practice are rare and highly competitive.

Many of our graduates take an entrepreneurial approach to starting a career in ADR. The marketplace for private practice mediators and arbitrators is extremely competitive and requires the additional skill set of a small business owner. Our career workshops teach you the tools and strategies necessary to build a thriving practice as a professional neutral.

Pivoting Your Career to ADR

Our ADR programs may also open career opportunities by allowing you to pivot your career toward new roles in your chosen field. For example, someone working in the healthcare industry may pivot to a career as Healthcare Ombudsman/Mediator. Individuals working in business gain skills that will help them achieve leadership roles. Technology professionals could help design systems for the growing field of online dispute resolution (ODR).

Through our ADR coursework, you will be better equipped to:

  • Advance into leadership positions
  • Better understand your clients in business and therefore better serve their needs
  • Work internationally with attorneys and neutrals in the rapidly expanding field of international ADR.

Our MDR prepares you for a unique range of opportunities that will allow you to reach your professional goals.

Optional Practical Training

Some international MDR students choose to enhance their U.S. education by gaining short-term, practical training after graduation. The Graduate & International Programs office will assist you with the application for Optional Practical Training (OPT) during the spring semester. For current rules on OPT - the authorization required for eligibility for such work experiences - visit the USC Office of International Students website.