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

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 gain confidence in 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

You will satisfy your remaining course requirements with electives of your choice, and must earn at least 12 units in ADR-specific curriculum to receive the MDR degree.

Course Descriptions

Select a course below to view a more detailed description.

ADR Clause Drafting

ADR Ethics

ADR Externships

ADR Law and Policy: Arbitration and Mediation

Arbitration Advocacy

Arbitration in the United States

Business Organizations *

Cross-Cultural Dispute Resolution

Dealmaking *

Directed Research

Divorce and Family Mediation

Effective Writing for Professionals*

Employment Dispute Mediation

Human Resource Compliance *

International Arbitration

Introduction to the U.S. Legal System

Mediation Advocacy

Mediation Theory & Practice

Negotiation Skills *

Negotiation Theory and Application

Organizational Ombuds

Practical Mediation Skills Clinic

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

Note: Units earned may not be applied toward a JD degree even if you elect to pursue one at a later time. You may not transfer units from courses that were applied to a previously completed degree or certificate towards the MDR.

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

Certificate Offerings

You may pursue a Certificate in Business Law, Compliance, Media and Entertainment, or Human Resources Law and Compliance concurrent with your studies. These certificates require the completion of 12-14 units of law coursework specific to the certificate and does not include classes offered outside of the law school. There are no additional tuition costs associated with enrolling in a certificate. Students are limited to pursuing one certificate with their degree, and should refer to the materials provided by their academic advisors, as certificate requirements may be updated periodically.

Business Law Certificate — 12 units


Business Organizations

Electives (Choose 9 or more units)

Contract Drafting and Strategy

Corporate Governance


Fundamentals of IP Law

Negotiation Skills

Human Resources Law and Compliance — 12 units


Business Organizations

Contract Drafting and Strategy

Human Resource Compliance

Regulatory Compliance

Human Resource Compliance

Regulatory Compliance

Electives (Choose 6 or more units)

Contemporary Issues in Human Resource Compliance

Contract Drafting and Strategy

Employment Discrimination Law

Negotiation Skills

Media and Entertainment Law Certificate — 12 units


Business Organizations

Entertainment Law

Fundamentals of IP Law OR

Intellectual Property

Electives (Choose 4 or more units)

Contract Drafting and Strategy

Digital Media Transactions

Negotiation Skills

Bar Exam Eligibility

MDR students will not be eligible to sit for the bar exam in the U.S. after completing this degree, as these students do not hold a first degree in law.

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 or California bar, you should consider the LLM in ADR degree. If you plan to seek admission to the District of Columbia (D.C.) bar, you must enroll in the traditional LLM degree.

Enrollment in a master’s degree does not guarantee your eligibility to sit for a bar exam.

CIArb Accreditation

U.S. News & World Report: Best Grad Schools

USC Gould has a Recognized Course Provider status with the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb), an internationally renowned professional membership organization that provides training and professional services for judges, arbitrators, and other ADR practitioners. It also acts as a global hub for practitioners, policy makers, academics and those in business, supporting the promotion, facilitation and development of all ADR methods worldwide. Founded in 1915 and granted a Royal Charter in 1979 as a not-for-profit organization, CIArb has a growing membership of 16,000, and is based across 133 countries and supported by an international network of 39 branches.

CIArb offers a progressive ladder of opportunities leading to professional designations that show increasing levels of competence in arbitration and mediation, starting with Student, then Associate (ACIArb), Member (MCIArb), and finally Fellow (FCIArb). As a USC Gould student, once you successfully complete our International Arbitration (LAW-817) course, you become eligible to apply for CIArb membership at the Member (MCIArb) level, helping you to climb the CIArb accreditation ladder more quickly and economically towards your goal of achieving a highly coveted 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
  • 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

Transfer to JD

MDR students who are interested in the JD degree at USC Gould should apply directly. Please note there is no opportunity for MDR students to transfer to USC Gould’s JD degree, and credit received for the MDR degree cannot be used towards the JD degree.