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Master of Dispute Resolution (MDR) Degree

As an MDR student, you will benefit from clinical and experiential learning experiences that build and deepen your ADR proficiency. As a graduate, you will be able to implement your knowledge in many areas of law and business practice, and will feel confident mediating, arbitrating, negotiating out-of-court settlements, and generally managing the ADR process and ADR organizations. We recognize that you must balance your law studies with work, family and other responsibilities. We offer flexible scheduling that allows you to take classes during the day or in the late afternoon and evening. We also offer some weekend classes.

Three courses are required for all students:

  • ADR Law and Policy: Arbitration and Mediation
  • ADR Ethics
  • Cross-Cultural Dispute Resolution

In addition to these mandatory courses, you must select from among our ADR electives to complete the 24 units required for the degree. Course selection varies each semester depending on interest and availability.

Course Descriptions

Select a course below to view a more detailed description.

ADR Clause Drafting

ADR Ethics

ADR Law and Policy: Arbitration and Mediation

Arbitration Advocacy

Arbitration in the United States

Business Organizations *

Constitutional Law *

Contracts *

Criminal Procedure *

Cross-Cultural Dispute Resolution

Directed Research

Employment Dispute Mediation

Entrepreneurial Opportunities in Online Dispute Resolution

Evidence *

Family Law Mediation Clinic

Gifts, Wills and Trusts *

International Arbitration

International Investment Law and Arbitration

Labor Arbitration

Legal Profession *

Mediation Advocacy

Negotiation Theory and Application

Practical Mediation Skills Clinic

Remedies *

Sales *

Secured Transactions *

Topics in American Law *

Business Fundamentals for Non-Business Professionals

Communications, Values, Attitudes and Behavior

Human Resources Management in Public and Not-for-Profit Sectors

Social Entrepreneurship

*These courses are LLM/MDR-only sections; MDR students may not enroll in the JD sections of these courses.

You may petition to enroll in other USC Gould courses not listed above, to be applied toward the MDR degree.

If you seek to apply transfer credit toward your degree, please email to determine eligibility.

Certificate Offering

Students may pursue our Business Law certificate concurrent with their studies. You will need to complete 12 units of certificate law coursework as outlined in this certificate. This does not include classes offered outside of the law school. There is no additional cost for the certificate.

California Bar Exam Eligibility

Most students who pursue the MDR degree do not have a LLB degree or the equivalent, are not licensed to practice law and do not intend to practice law. However, international students who are licensed to practice in their home jurisdictions may be eligible to sit for the California bar exam without additional course requirements.

If you are an international student with a LLB degree or the equivalent and are not yet licensed to practice, you may enroll in 12 units of courses required by the California bar as part of the MDR degree regardless of your intent or eligibility to sit for the California bar. Enrollment in the MDR degree does not guarantee that you will be able to take the exam.

If you are an international student with a LLB degree or the equivalent and are interested in studying ADR as part of a comprehensive study plan that will allow you to seek admission to the New York bar, you may wish to consider the LLM in ADR degree. If you plan to seek admission to the District of Columbia (D.C.) bar, you may wish to consider the traditional LLM degree with a certificate in ADR.

If you do not hold a first degree in law, you will not be eligible to sit for the California bar by enrolling in these courses as part of the MDR degree.

Chartered Institute of Arbitrators

USC Gould is a recognized course provider for the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb), a leading professional membership organization that represents the interests of ADR practitioners worldwide. If you successfully complete the International Arbitration (LAW-817) course, you will become eligible to apply for CIArb membership, giving you a professional credential with international recognition.

Degree Outcomes

Through the MDR degree, you will develop:

  • an understanding of the underlying policies and legal ramifications for the range of ADR options that are available
  • an expansive skillset for conducting ADR processes, both as a practitioner and as a neutral
  • appropriate ethical guidelines as a neutral while conducting ADR processes
  • an understanding of the wide variety of ADR policies and issues that affect practitioners engaged in an ADR practice
  • an ability to apply concepts, tools and principles of business management necessary for leadership in ADR organizations (if you select the Management of ADR Organizations emphasis)

Career Resources

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 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.