School of Humanities and Social Sciences


Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis & Resolution

Program Description
The Ph.D. program in Conflict Analysis & Resolution trains students in the skills and techniques of practice, interdisciplinary research, policy and program development, historical critique, cultural analysis, and theoretical foundations of the field. The mission of the doctoral program is to advance the study and practice of conflict analysis and resolution by mentoring and developing practitioners trained in theory, practice, research, teaching, and informed leadership in the field. Students pursue an in-depth study in the field of conflict resolution while drawing from a variety of theoretical perspectives and the knowledge of an experienced, interdisciplinary faculty.

The 76 credit hours degree program is designed to prepare graduate students for careers as advanced practitioners, college and university educators, researchers, theoreticians, consultants, program evaluators, and organization administrators. The Ph.D. program is offered in both on-campus and online formats. These flexible formats allow mid career working adults and those unable to attend the on-campus program, to study conflict resolution in a creative, rigorous, and structured fashion. The online Ph.D. program is the only one in the fields of peacemaking and conflict resolution. Students enrolled in the online program participate in Residential Institutes on the Fort Lauderdale campus twice per year, as well as online Web-based courses.

The Ph.D. program focuses on improving skills for reflective practice, understanding and mastering qualitative and quantitative research knowledge and analysis, developing professional leadership skills, and producing publications of quality and substance.

Students may elect to complete a general course of study or pursue concentrations in the following areas:

Program Formats

The Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis & Resolution is offered in both online and on-campus formats. It takes a minimum of four years to complete the program. Students may enroll on a full-time (9 credits) or part-time (6 credits) basis. Summer trimester attendance is mandatory.

Students taking online classes are required to attend two Residential Institutes (RI) per academic year. Each RI is 5 days. Currently the RIs are held in February and October. Please visit for current information.

Curriculum Requirements & Degree Plan

Doctoral students must complete a minimum of 76 (Ph.D.) credits, successfully pass a preliminary review, successfully complete a Qualifying Examination, and a dissertation to be eligible for the degree. Students must also maintain a 3.5 GPA through completion of the degree. Some courses have specific prerequisite requirements that students must meet; these should be checked to ensure compliance.

Below is a sample of a degree plan for a full-time student who begins their studies in Fall trimester. Degree plans will be modified based on a student’s enrollment date and pace of study.

Table 1: Degree Plan: 76 credits hours
Year 1
Fall (September) CARD 5000 - Foundations and Development of Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies CARD 5040 - Communication Dynamics in Dispute Resolution: The Human Factor CARD 7110 - Quantitative Research II: Analysis and Statistics  
Winter (January) CARD 5100 - Mediation Theory and Practice CARD 7040 - Theories of Conflict and Conflict Resolution I CARD 7120 - Qualitative Research Methods I  
Summer (April) CARD 6140 (on campus) - Facilitation Theory and Practice CARD 7020 - Systems Design: History and Contemporary Practice CARD 7050 - Theories of Conflict and Conflict Resolution II  
Fall (September) CARD 6120 - Culture and Conflict: Cross- Cultural Perspectives CARD 6130 - Practicum I: Supervised Field Experience CARD 7090 - Quantitative Research I: Methods and Tools  
Winter (January) CARD 7500 - Teaching and Training CARD 66__: Elective CARD 66__: Elective  
Summer (April) CARD 7510 – Teaching and Training Practicum OR CARD 6160 Practicum I CARD 66__: Elective CARD 66__: Elective (online)  
Fall (September) CARD 66__: Elective CARD 66__: Elective CARD 66__: Elective  
Winter (January) CARD 66__: Elective CARD 66__: Elective CARD 7001 - Doctoral Seminar CARD 7901 – Dissertation Preparations Course
Summer (April) Qualifying Examination CARD 7900** - Dissertation    

** Upon successful completion of the Qualifying Exam, students will be registered for 3 dissertation credits per term. After 12 credits are completed, students will be registered for 1 credit of dissertation per term until the student successfully defends the dissertation.

For full course descriptions select current Catalog.

Program Specifics

In addition to a range of theoretical and practical conflict analysis and resolution foundation courses, the program features multiple practica in which students have the opportunity to apply academic theories and models to real-life conflicts in a variety of settings.

To complete the Ph.D. degree in Conflict Analysis & Resolution, students must successfully complete three practicum placements: CARD 6130: Practicum I, CARD 6160: Practicum II, and CARD 7510: Teaching and Training Practicum

Practicum I and II provide a community placement for the student to develop and refine practitioner skills. Using the Practicum experience, students have the opportunity to apply theoretical concepts within a practical framework under the supervision of an on site supervisor. The Practicum Coordinator will work with you to establish a placement suited to your interests, if possible.

The Teaching and Training Practicum supplements the Teaching and Training course in which students focus on developing resources and materials, oral presentation, teaching techniques and curriculum development. The Practicum experience implements this course work through teaching and training opportunities in a variety of university and community based settings.

The Practicum sequence is designed to offer the student a dynamic experiential opportunity to utilize conflict resolution methodology and theory in a variety of professional settings. Practicum placements have been established in an array of settings, such as schools, prisons, government agencies, court systems, parks, human services agencies, community organizations as well as corporations. Additionally, the student is encouraged to explore and initiate a practicum setting specific to their own individual interests. If students find an appropriate site, the Practicum Coordinator will assist the student in calling the site and negotiating a placement.

Additionally, the student will attend a practicum class with course work and faculty supervision. The student must receive contractual approval from both the department Director and the agency on site supervisor before beginning the required practicum hours. The student is responsible for documenting Practicum hours and receiving supervisor approval.

The practice component of the student's Practicum is evaluated by the on site supervisor each trimester; this evaluation is combined with the classroom performance and course requirements and converted into a final overall grade by the Practicum Faculty.

Although employment opportunities may develop from Practicum placements, students may not be paid for Practicum hours until the required number of hours is completed and grades assigned for the Practicum courses. All students are automatically covered by liability insurance provided by the University during their Practicum practice; this coverage is included in student registration fees and Practicum fees, covering any other mediation, training, or consulting experiences the student may become involved in during the course of their program.

Practicum experience abroad is subject to a different set of policies and procedures. Please consult the Department Chair for detailed information. Please visit for the Practicum Handbook.

Examinations and Evaluations

There are two program evaluations that you must pass in the course of your doctoral studies. Each is described in detail below.

I. Preliminary Review
The Preliminary Review takes place after students’ second trimester. In advance of the preliminary review, faculty meets to discuss student progress and evaluate students for continuance in the doctoral program. The materials used for this examination will be the faculty assessments of your written course work and grade summary (supplied to the faculty by the staff) and a three to five page (double spaced) self evaluation submitted by you at least one week in advance of the preliminary review meeting. This self evaluation is designed to provide an in depth accounting of your accomplishments and difficulties in the practice and academic areas of the program and a clear indication of your plans for the forth coming academic year. It must be typewritten and free of errors.

The preliminary review meeting is an approximately 30 minutes discussion between the student and two faculty members. Successes and challenges will be discussed. During these discussions faculty will review grades and any other relevant behavioral or performance based issues related to all students in consultation with the administrative staff. The focus of the preliminary review will require the student to present arguments, class materials, evaluations, papers, and any other relevant material in support of their continuance in the doctoral program. Students should come prepared to discuss what they have learned, how they are applying it in their work, dissertation preparation or relevant practice areas.

Students with a “C” in any class during the first year will remain on preliminary review status, and may be required to take additional classes such as writing or ESL, obtain a tutor, or take other remedial action. They must also work with the faculty on the preliminary review panel to demonstrate evidence of progressive improvement during each successive trimester. Students with serious academic issues such as academic probation based on grades, poor writing, poor attendance or other serious issues, may be academically dismissed from the doctoral program as a result of this preliminary review

Students who have shown disruptive, hostile, dangerous or other questionable behavior during the first year will be confidentially counseled by their advisor, the department Chair, the Senior Director of Student Affairs, additional faculty as appropriate, and any other person deemed to be relevant to the discussion. This process may be initiated at any time during the first year, as needed. It need not wait until the preliminary review process.

Following the meeting, the review committee will make one of the following recommendations to the faculty as a whole:

  1. Pass review, effective immediately.
  2. Pass review, with faculty recommendations for changes.
    Please Note:
    In order to obtain one of these recommendations, all your grades must be B or higher, with no grades of incomplete. Courses with a grade C may have to be retaken, pending the recommendation of the committee.
  3. Repeat Preliminary Review, with continued enrollment contingent on the student satisfying one or more specified criteria in the course of a specified amount of time.
  4. Dismissal from doctoral program.

II. Qualifying Exam
The qualifying examination is a written examination given after students have completed all the required course work, and before beginning dissertation hours. Successful completion of the qualifying examination is required to move to advanced standing and begin dissertation research.

Qualifying exams are given two times per academic year, in January and June. The exam will be available on-line and will take place over three weekdays, with one section per day. Students may take the examination on NSU’s campus or anywhere else of their choosing. During each of the three days, students will be able to access the exam at a specific time and their answers will be due eight hours later. They may use whatever materials they choose, but are expected to work alone. They are expected to write the exam answers in their own words and to use appropriate citations when applicable.

The qualifying examination takes place over three days. The content areas covered during the qualifying exam are divided into three major categories:

Students will answer two questions from each section.

Please visit to view practice questions for the qualifying examination.

Two faculty members grade each question. Students are assigned an examination number. Thus, faculty members do not know whose answers they are reviewing. Students’ answers are evaluated on the substantive content, logical and coherent style, and relevant use of class and other academic material. Both reviewers must award a passing grade, in order for it to be deemed that the student passed each section. If one reviewer submits a passing grade and the other submits a failing grade, they will be asked to confer. If they subsequently concur, then the grade has been determined. If they do not agree, the chair shall appoint a third reviewer. The third reviewer’s grade shall determine whether the student has passed or failed the section. Students may take the entire examination, or the parts that were failed a maximum of three times. However, students will be required to prepare and wait until the next examination is offered.

Following failure of a section or the entire exam, faculty may require that a student re-take a particular class, prepare a special written assignment, or other remedial tasks before the exam can be taken for the second time. Following failure of a section or the entire exam a second time, faculty will require additional course work, tutoring, independent study and/or other relevant preparation activities as deemed appropriate. After three consecutive failures, the student will be dismissed from the doctoral program.

Following the successful completion of the qualifying examination, students register for dissertation credits and work on their dissertation proposal.


Registering for Dissertation
Students are required to complete 12 credits of dissertation. With the dissertation Chair’s approval, the department registers dissertation students for three credits per trimester. If a student is still in progress after 12 credits, the department registers the student for 1 credit per trimester until the dissertation defense is approved. If, for some reason, you cannot continue working on your dissertation, you must apply in writing for a leave of absence. If you request a leave for longer than a trimester, it may not be possible, upon your return, to continue with your original dissertation chair.

Dissertation Process and Components
After students pass the qualifying examination, they then register for dissertation credits and are considered to be in dissertation status. At that time they formally work with their chair and committee on their dissertation proposal. Prior to passing the exam, the department does permit students in good standing who have accrued at least 45 doctoral credits, to select their committee. This should be done prior to the last term before taking the qualifying exam. The dissertation chair is then named as the student’s new advisor. Prior to being actually registered for dissertation credits, the role of the chair and the committee is to provide guidance to the student in their selection of concentration courses, research, and to assist them in their preparation for the qualifying exam. The chair and committee will direct the student in the appropriate readings necessary for the development of their literature review.

Dissertation Proposal

The dissertation proposal will be defended by the doctoral candidate before their full dissertation committee. All committee members must agree that the proposal is ready for defense before the defense can be scheduled. Proposal defenses may be performed using any appropriate and relevant technology, depending on the location of committee members, and the student. The student is permitted to defend their proposal by being present at SHSS in person, or via telephone or video conferencing. For the final dissertation defense, students are expected to be present at SHSS.

Length: The dissertation proposal will be 20-25 pages

Sections: Section order may vary, and individual students will make these decisions in consultation with their full dissertation committee. The following is a brief synopsis of what is expected in each section of the dissertation proposal:

  1. Abstract:
    A succinct summary of the proposed study usually no longer than 5% of the total length of the narrative (e.g, if proposal is 5000 words – then abstract will not exceed 250 words). This section should highlight topic; major theories/concepts to be explored; proposed research questions/hypotheses, if qualitative study – tradition/genre; methods – sample, instruments, procedures; proposed data analysis methods; expected contribution to field (theoretical, praxis, methodology)
  2. Introduction:
    Justification section (~ 2 pages).  The first section of your prospectus concerns a justification for a program of research. It also offers the context or background to the study. The topic can concern a domain of behavior, a theory, or an important concept/phenomenon to beresearched.  The objective of this section is to offer a clear rationale for why the topic merits exploration over time in a sustained and systematic manner.  Good reasons include social needs, cultural needs, introduction of a concept that is valuable for research, advancement of the field (That something has been understudied is not by itself a good reason.) Make certain to define relevant terms as necessary.

    Goals: (~1-2 pages). The second section of your introduction should outline several goals that you will accomplish in your research. You should underscore why these goals are important as well. Begin by stating, “The first goal of this research is. …”and so on. There can be a number of goals. There will generally be from 3 to 6 goals. Be very specific in outlining what your goals are and how they differ from goals underscored in past research.
  3. Literature Review:
    Next, you should present a review of literature and provide arguments for the exploration of research questions and/or hypotheses.  The review will be state-of-the-art (that is, completely up-to-date at the time of proposal submission) and focus on the research that you wish to propose. Think of this review as a funnel, in which you begin by broadly discussing the topic, becoming more and more specific and focused as you narrow to your idea. 

    Accordingly, this portion of the paper is not meant to be a review of individual papers.  Rather, your review should synthesize what has been done to provide insight into the topic.  While you synthesize past research think about building an argument for your own research. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of past research while presenting an argument for your research choices. The review of literature should reflect your critical examination (stated explicitly in your paper) of past research.

    Hypotheses, research questions, and/or thematic purposes for your paper should be explicitly pointed out in your paper. For example, hypotheses should be numbered systematically (H1, H2, H3, and RQ1, RQ2 and so on) and they should be placed in appropriate sections of the literature after you have made a justification for them. If hypothesis or research questions are comparable they may be included in sets such as H1a: H1b or Q1a, Q1b. Make sure that you build a good argument in the literature review for your questions, hypotheses, or thematic purposes before you present them in this section. Provide a couple paragraphs above each hypothesis and/or research question to justify it.

    Alternatively, you can conclude your review of the literature with your research questions/hypotheses. You would then begin this section with a sentence like the following: “Based on the above, the questions that will drive this study are…” After EACH question/hypothesis, you must present the rationale for choosing the question to study.
  4. Methodology:
    Next you need to present a description and critical examination of a type(s) of  method(s) that have traditionally been used to investigate the topic you are proposing to research. Here you should not only discuss what types of methodologies have been used to examine the domain of behavior (or other) in related research, but also critique the strengths and weaknesses of methodologies that have previously been employed. The idea is to make a strong case for your methodology. A solid methodology comes from learning about the types of methodologies that have been employed by researchers in previous work related to your topic. It is important that you not only describe the methodology, but cite specific studies that have applied the methodology. For example, if you are performing a phenomenological interview you should cite studies that have used this methodology and describe them. You need to be very specific in this section.

    Include all of the following relevant sections:

    Sample – what kind of sampling procedure, why chosen, who is in the sample, important selection criteria (e.g. age, gender, ethnicity, life experiences, location, etc.)

    Instruments (data collection methods)e.g. surveys, semi-structured interviews, participant observations etc. Include information about the reliability/validity if it is known. It is also recommended to include a few sample questions in order to give the reader a sense of the instrument to be used. Explain why you have chosen these instruments – why are they relevant for your study?

    Proposed Process/Procedures – Give as detailed a description as possible concerning how the research will proceed. If this is a quantitative study, you will also want to include your Research Design(e.g. if this is an experiment, what kind; if this is a survey/correlation study – what is the design? Pre/post etc.)

    Proposed data analysis methods – How do you propose to analyze your data? Be as specific as you can at this early date to lay out your proposed ideas for analyzing your raw data. For example, if this is a quantitative study, will you be using analysis of variance, factor analysis, etc. If this is a qualitative study, will you be doing a content and thematic analysis etc. It is also suggested, for qualitative research proposals to provide a short example of how material might be analyzed.

    Use the jargon that is specific to your methodology; however be very clear and define the terms you use.

    Be very specific in discussing these sections by including a rationale for the choices you made. For example, when a person states s/he will involve participants in the study…the immediate question is why? Based on past research and theory, you should explain why you made the methodological choices you have. Everything must be justified…otherwise it is an opinion, which you will not be able to defend during a dissertation defense or in ascholarly conference. The most important question that you need to address throughout the entire research project is “why.” Specifically, why did you make the choices you did? What are the sample, instruments, ideas or data analysis and how do you support the choices you have made. Different criteria are involved with different forms of research, so you should address these in your proposal.

    For example, criteria good scholarship in qualitative research includes:
    • Confirmability, through the use of pilot tests, reflexive journals and collecting recorded data
    • Trustworthiness: A form of qualitative researchvalidity, whereby research can be verified by participants in the study, other similar research…other examples apply
    • Dependability, through the overlap of techniques and a use of an auditor
    • Member-checking, in the form of an amendment phase for the participants
    • Credibility, in the form of people from diverse backgrounds who are knowledgeable, and researcher’s knowledge regarding the site through prolonged engagement inthe field.

    There are a number of standards used to evaluate qualitative research.Look at some of the following to learn your options: Altheide & Johnson, 1994; Josselson & Lieblich, 2004; Kleinman, 1991; Kvale, 1996; Lincoln & Guba, 1985; Silverman, 1993; Spradley, 1979.

    Criteria for good research in quantitative research (in addition to reliability and validity) include:
    • Explanation : Can explain why a social phenomenon occurs
    • Predictability : Can predict social behaviors in the future (however, please bear in mind that social science is very poor at this, as a rule)
    • Control: Controls for extraneous and intervening variables/artifacts
    • Generalizability : From the random sample we can generalize to the larger population
    • Falsifiability: Ability to check whether findings can be falsified.
    • Replicability: Methodology and data operations are transparent and can be replicated and performed by other researchers (a test for reliability).
    • Validity: Accuracy, testing for what you want actually mean to test (there are many kinds of validities – please choose the ones relevant to your study)
    • Reliability: Consistency in the findings & survey responses (there are many strategies for evaluating reliability; please choose the ones relevant to your study)
    • Heuristic: Research is easy to understand and can be replicated
    • Value neutral: Researcher does not contaminate the findings, the findings are external to the researcher and need to be objectively uncovered and analyzed

    There are criteria for good research in critical research; good research is:
    • Pragmatic: Practical & relevant to current social concerns
    • In-Depth: Detail into a topic so that social injustices can be uncovered
    • Culturally appropriate: Describing cultural concepts accurately according to participant (emic) point of views
    • Creates understanding: Critical research does not seek to predict, but rather to promote an understanding about a topic concerning a group of people
    • Clarify values: Reveal what values are held and what has caused these views to be held.
    • Connection with history: Reveals how history constructs reality, history explains the current social situation, & cannot understand without history
    • Stimulates agreement: People begin to understand a social issue better
    • Aims to change society : Promotes change, recognition, and empowerment
    • Improves status quo: Betterment of lives and standards for particular populations

    Note: It is important to take these criteria in consideration and discuss them as you are designing your research. For example, when you select an instrument (for quantitative research) in your methodology section it is important to report the reliability and validity of it in past research .
  5. Results or Analysis:
    Here you will present a thorough description of the types of analysis you plan to perform in your research. Whether they are qualitative or quantitative analysis, you should supply the reader with a detailed description of the types of analyses you will perform. You should organize this section of your paper around each research question and/ or hypothesis. That is each hypothesis or research question should be followed up with a detailed description of the analysis you plan to perform. Here you should discuss the ethical issues involved with your research as well.

    Alternatively, include this in the above methodological section.
  6. Ethics and reflexivity section:
    If this is a qualitative or quantitative study, and you are planning on carrying out a study on human subjects (i.e. you do not plan on solely focusing on documents, written texts, etc.), explain how will you carry out an ethical study – e.g. how will you assure that no harm will come to your participants as a result of your study; are there potential benefits – if so, what are they; will the participants receive some kind of payment for their participation (if yes, explain what and why this is necessary and how this will not lead to coercion to participate); place of participants in study; their roles in the research etc. If this is a qualitative study, then discuss where you are in this research – discuss your biases, prejudices, perspectives on life that may impact your work. Discuss how you plan to address these as you carry out your research. This section, like the above, is very specific to your proposed study.
  7. Expected contributions of the proposed research:
    Present an argument about what you expect to find after you collect your data and why. Discuss the importance of the research and the expected contributions of the research. For the purpose of the proposal this section should be relatively short since you will not have collected your data; however, in your dissertation project this may very well be one of the longer sections. You would present a logical summary of why you found what you found as it relates to past research and according to the links you made in your review of literature. Here you can alsoinclude a section that addresses the expected limitations and strengths of your research.
  8. References - Use APA or Chicago style. Be uniform in your choice throughout the text and throughout the reference list.
  9. Appendices
    In addition to your references, you should include as appendices related materials as appropriate. Examples include your survey instrument (quantitative study) and sample interview questions (qualitative study).

Students should refer to the Dissertation Guidelines for the format used in writing their dissertation