<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1264012490284679&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Here's How to make peace and justice your full-time job

A look at the career and education opportunities in the field

             Download the PDF


Peace and Justice: what we mean and why it matters

If all you saw were the headlines, you might get the impression that the world is not a peaceful place. Yet, arguably, recent research indicates that we are living through one of the most peaceful times in human history. And this is not by chance – it’s the result of challenging, but fulfilling work from individuals who have dedicated their lives and careers to shaping more peaceful and just societies. If you share this desire to create a better world, you may enjoy a career in the field of peace and justice.

What is Peace? Building and maintaining peace

Peace may seem like a simple, black-and-white issue; either it exists or it doesn’t. However, the reality is that peace is multifaceted and layered, and what it means depends heavily on the perspectives and lived experiences of individuals or groups. In short, peace is neither easily summarized nor sustained.

Historically, the term “peacebuilding”, or the work it takes to bring about and maintain peace, was first introduced in 1975 by Johan Galtung. John Paul Lederach later broadened the term to mean, “a comprehensive concept that encompasses, generates, and sustains the full array of processes, approaches, and stages needed to transform conflict toward more sustainable, peaceful relationships.” Peacebuilding both precedes and follows formal peace accords, yet, it’s not a phase or condition, but a dynamic continuum of socially constructed transformations.

Laying the groundwork for peacebuilding means that, “We are not merely interested in ‘ending’ something that is not desired. We are oriented towards building relationships that, in their totality, form new patterns, processes, and structures.”

Positive peace vs. negative peace, and other elements of peace studies theory

First formulated by Galtung, the definitions of positive and negative peace by the Institute for Economics & Peace and their focus on positive peace are consistent with Lederach’s broad approach.

Negative peace: the absence of violence or fear of violence.

Positive peace: the presence of attitudes, institutions, and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies.

Before we dive deeper into negative and positive peace, we must first understand violence. “Violence may seem like a straightforward concept: you know it when you see it, right? It often manifests itself physically when someone attacks someone else or when we experience or hear loud voices or noises. However, violence can show itself in a variety of ways that are not always explicit.” Violence is often grouped into three main categories: direct, structural, and cultural violence.

  • Direct violence: the violence we physically perceive: war, rape, murder, assault, and verbal attacks - manifests out of conditions of structural and cultural violence.
  • Structural violence: social structures or social institutions that harm people by preventing them from meeting their human needs. Disabilities, disparities, and even deaths result when policies and institutions meet some people’s needs at the expense of others.
  • Cultural violence: violence in the symbolic sphere of our existence: rhetoric symbols, flags, hymns, and the history we tell. Johan Galtung defines “cultural violence” as “any aspect of a culture that can be used to legitimize violence in its direct or structural form.”

We can only address violence effectively if we are aware of all the ways people experience it and the social structures and cultural narratives that support it.

Getting back to negative and positive peace, the negative peace meaning is used to refer to the cessation of violent acts. This approach was inspired by the twin definitions of health. Negative health is curative whereas positive health is preventative. In the same way, relative to violence, negative peace is curative whereas positive peace is preventative.

Positive peace, however, is peace that is just and sustainable. Positive peace is the ultimate goal of peace work, as it aims to ensure that societies have the conditions in which all people can thrive. Developing social cohesion, relationships across groups, and trust in institutions are all required for positive peace. After violence has ended, positive peace can only be achieved through rebuilding and social cooperation between sides previously in conflict.

The eight pillars of positive peace

Positive peace is an ongoing work-in-progress. It is based on a number of underlying social conditions, each of which contributes to a greater whole than the sum of its parts. Working for peace therefore requires understanding these components and using a multidisciplinary, holistic approach. For example, the Institute for Economics & Peace defines positive peace according to eight constituent factors.

1. Well-functioning Government – A well-functioning government delivers high-quality public and civil services, engenders trust and participation, demonstrates political stability, and upholds the rule of law.

2. Sound Business Environment – The strength of economic conditions as well as the formal institutions that support the operation of the private sector. Business competitiveness and economic productivity are both associated with the most peaceful countries.

3. Equitable Distribution of Resources – Peaceful countries tend to ensure equity in access to resources such as education, health, and to a lesser extent, equity in income distribution.

4. Acceptance of the Rights of Others – Peaceful countries often have formal laws that guarantee basic human rights and freedoms, and the informal social and cultural norms that relate to the behaviors of citizens.

5. Good Relations with Neighbors – Peaceful relations with other countries are as important as good relations between groups within a country. Countries with positive external relations are more peaceful and tend to be more politically stable, have better functioning governments, are regionally integrated, and have lower levels of organized internal conflict.

6. Free Flow of Information – Free and independent media disseminates information in a way that leads to greater knowledge and helps individuals, businesses and civil society make better decisions. This leads to better outcomes and more rational responses in times of crisis.

7. High Levels of Human Capital – A skilled human capital base reflects the extent to which societies educate citizens and promote the development of knowledge, thereby improving economic productivity, care for the young, political participation, and social capital.

8. Low Levels of Corruption – In societies with high levels of corruption, resources are inefficiently allocated, often leading to a lack of funding for essential services and civil unrest. Low corruption can enhance confidence and trust in institutions.

Peace work, which we’ll dive into next, relies on a comprehensive understanding of both positive and negative peace.

What is peace work? A deeper dive 

One way to think about peace work is to consider what it looks like in practice. John Paul Lederach and Katie Mansfield designed a model known as the Strategic Peacebuilding Pathways that is helpful in identifying specific career paths one can pursue. The model is divided into major areas of strategic peacebuilding (the inner circle), which together seek to achieve positive peace.

Primarily, peacebuilding works to:

  1. Prevent, respond to, and transform violent conflict
  2. Ensure justice and healing
  3. Facilitate structural and institutional change.

The outer circle of the model highlights sub-areas of practice and career focus within those three areas. In all cases, the areas represent work in the U.S. and internationally. For each of these sub-areas, a variety of individual career pathways emerge but keep in mind this list is not exhaustive.

The United States Institute of Peace’s (USIP) definition of peacebuilding includes most of what we see in the Lederach/Mansfield model, adds human rights and refugee resettlement, and firmly establishes the need to address root causes in order to build positive peace.

Both the Lederach/Mansfield model and USIP’s definition are just two representations of peacebuilding among many. There are numerous other fields that are direct expressions of peacebuilding or intersectional fields of peace work, such as racial and gender justice, genocide prevention, environmental activism, the arts, and more.


Peacebuilding as a lens for work in conflict contexts 

All organizations working in conflict contexts, including private companies, are becoming more attentive to how their activities affect local populations and the conflicts between them. An increasing number of them are adopting the lens proposed by the members of Alliance for Peacebuilding:

"Peacebuilding is also defined as a broader lens through which practitioners in many fields approach their work in conflict zones...Every action within a fragile, chaotic environment can serve to either reduce or augment violence, often in ways that are very difficult to ascertain in advance. Decisions about where to place water wells, what textbooks to use in schools, where to house health clinics, how to introduce microfinance to women, all have the potential to either fan the flames of violence or help quell potential conflict. Even organizations that do not consider themselves peacebuilders are increasingly recognizing the relevance of this conflict lens, central to the principle of 'do no harm,' [Anderson, 1999] and are attempting to carry out their work in ways that will, at a minimum, not aggravate tensions and, at best, lead to increased capacity for peace."

Nearly all organizations need experts who can apply a conflict lens and ensure the work of their organization has a high positive impact.



Is peace and justice the right fit for you?

It takes a certain kind of person to help resolve conflicts and work for peace with justice. Accordingly, there are a handful of common traits among people who typically achieve success in this field.

1) Grounded and Human-Centered — At the core, peacebuilders work to improve human quality of life. This work requires the traits to respond to individuals and groups with dignity. Some of these core traits include empathy, humility, sincerity, sound judgment, integrity, and compassion. Additionally, these individuals will have a social justice-oriented personality and profound respect for the lived experiences of other people.

2) Transformation Driven — Peacebuilders must also be innovative problem-solvers, committed to transforming the society in which we live. Conflicts and social justice challenges are often complex and entrenched. In these cases, success can hinge on forging new and innovative paths to solve deep-rooted problems. These individuals are driven to reject the status quo, challenge systems with innovative thinking, and are fundamentally oriented towards transformative structural change.

3) Persistent — To cultivate peace in the world, one must be persistent and committed — not easily deterred by slow-moving progress, resistance, and setbacks. Many peacebuilding efforts require sustained engagements, and this normative commitment to peace is the driving force behind lasting progress.

4) Thirsty for Knowledge — Peace work involves a lifelong process of learning and unlearning. Individuals who wish to make a sustained impact in their field must have a genuine curiosity and willingness to learn. Without sufficient knowledge, there is the potential to do real harm. Peacebuilding also involves unlearning and divesting of destructive beliefs, processes, and systems that do not promote peace.

5) Team Oriented — Peacebuilding can only occur through collective effort. Those who want to do peace work must thrive in team environments and have the disposition and skills to perform in situations where progress is dependent on the work of multiple participants. These individuals are excellent listeners and communicators, collaborative thinkers, open-minded, and results-driven.

Motivations and goals of peace workers

People who work for peace and justice come from diverse backgrounds and are motivated to leave the world a better place than they found it. Many work in the field because they have the natural disposition to promote peace and help others. In addition, many peacebuilders are motivated by personal experiences with violence, conflict, or injustice, and a deep desire to change the systems that produced these harms.

For example, living in a community impacted by contaminated water may drive someone to become an advocate for clean water and sanitation. Another person who experienced housing insecurity may focus on developing affordable housing policies. A person who knew someone who was trafficked may want to stop human trafficking. Encountering or witnessing loved ones experience nearly any act of injustice or violence can often result in the desire to work for justice reform.

Additionally, many peacebuilders decide to work in different countries or to support international systems, but others also work domestically and locally to make change within their own communities.


What you need to turn your passion for peace into a full-time job

Having the desire and attributes required to change the world are admirable, but to make an impact for good, proper training and knowledge are required. Serving as a professional in the peace and justice field requires a deep understanding of the systemic drivers of injustice, the individuals or groups in conflict as well as the origins and evolutions of the conflict. Furthermore, here are five primary skills you will need to turn your passion for peace into a full-time job.

1) Communication Skills — Excellent communication skills are essential to conflict transformation and can be used in a variety of situations including mediation, negotiation, facilitation, and advocacy. Successful professionals will be able to listen actively and empathetically to understand the speaker’s intent while observing and evaluating non-verbal communication. They will also be highly skilled at explaining messages to others through a variety of communication styles, both written and oral.

To do this work, peacebuilders must be assertive and persuasive while remaining diplomatic. This skill is especially important in circumstances where at least one conflict party does not want to engage. In other cases, one party may not be able to adequately articulate the real source of distrust or pain. In these situations, effective communicators draw out the information needed for peacebuilding with kindness and sincerity to effectively bring fighting factions together.

With regard to advocacy specifically, it’s not just about peaceful protesting to advance a cause or idea, but also about influencing policies and the decision-makers who shape them. Often, this work entails litigation, lobbying, and public education as well as building coalitions, forming networks, and developing leaders.

2) Human & Leadership Skills — Central to a peacebuilder’s work are leadership skills like relationship building, community organizing, team building, visioning, and the ability to maintain a calm and low-stress demeanor without becoming passive. While specific peace and justice issues that one focuses on may change over time, these skills are required in any peacebuilding and human rights context, be it environmental justice, human trafficking prevention, or racial justice.

3) Analytical Skills — All peacebuilders must have sound analytical skills, including but not limited to conflict analysis, conflict mapping, policy analysis, and strategic planning. To redress grievances and promote peace, professionals also need an in-depth understanding of the root causes of violence, oppression, and injustice so they can apply impactful peacebuilding strategies to address them. Practitioners must be able to analyze the proximate and latent causes of the problem and present a strategic solution. For example, if the problem is access to information, promoting peace may require building new channels of communication and implementing structures that prevent future misunderstanding.

Those who work with government agencies or political leaders would benefit particularly from policy analysis skills. Promoting peace and justice often means being able to translate laudable goals into cohesive public policy. For example, if your goal is to promote the safety and security of women in a community, how would you identify the relevant laws, policies, and programs and then recommend reforms to achieve your objective? With a thorough understanding of the policies related to a given issue, peacebuilders stand a better chance of bringing about the changes they seek to make at scale. In all domains, the best analysis tends to reflect a high level of critical thinking, resulting in recommendations for effective changes to laws, policies, and practices.

4) Program Design & Management Skills — Peace and justice workers must have the skills to design, monitor, and evaluate peacebuilding programs. Doing research and partnering with experts with firsthand experience of the issues are key steps in understanding the right problems and ideating viable, human-centered solutions to address them. With a firm grasp of the problem and a potential solution in mind, peacebuilders may then move on to design, test, implement, monitor, and evaluate the new policy, social service or program. After the pilot phase, the innovators must critically evaluate the impact and make further modifications to improve outcomes in the long run.

5) Fundraising Skills — Those working for peace and justice in nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and nonprofits will often need to fundraise to bring their visions to life. In the hands of a competent fundraiser, an organization can take a promising idea and transform it into an effective and impactful program. Without an understanding of fundraising, professionals with innovative and ingenious solutions may not be able to implement their ideas.

Fortunately, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies (Kroc School) offers a dedicated graduate program that provides these specific skills and more, as well as the handson experiences needed to succeed in peace and justice work. The MA in Peace and Justice is tailored to the individual’s career aspirations. Candidates leave the program with the confidence and expertise to make a substantial contribution to peace.

Employment breakdown: key sectors, job titles, salaries, and growth opportunities

Now that we’ve covered the skills you need, what kind of career could you have in peace and justice? Peace and justice professionals are needed in a variety of sectors and at institutions across the world. Below is a sampling of titles of those involved in peacebuilding work, along with a high-level overview of what those roles entail and average salary information. You will find that the salaries and growth opportunities depend on the scale of the organization, the job market where the organization is located, and its funding sources, among other factors. There may also be differences between salaries in international organizations and national and local nonprofits. However, there are also many pathways for moving between sectors, from the local to the international or from the governmental to the NGO sector.

Note that professional opportunities tend to be divided into the three major areas of the Strategic Peacebuilding Paths described in the previous section, “What Is Peace Work? A Deeper Dive.” There are myriad paths, and while this career section is representative of the field, there are more opportunities beyond these to pursue

Careers in violence prevention, conflict response, and transformation

#1 Conflict Mediator

These professionals help individuals, groups, and organizations resolve disputes and deal with conflict by equipping them with communication tools, conflict resolution mechanisms, and other peacebuilding tools. Conflict mediators are an integral part of a healthy community as they help to de-escalate problems and facilitate interactions, conversations, and behaviors that lead to lasting peace. Conflict mediators, such as those who work for the National Conflict Resolution Center, make an average of $63,930 per year.

#2 UN Civil Service Officer

According to the UN, “Civil affairs officers are a key civilian component that helps facilitate interactions between peacekeeping missions, partners and local communities to prevent conflict. Civil affairs work depends on a mission’s mandate and the evolving situation on the ground. Three constant key activities that civil affairs officers undertake are engaging local stakeholders, participating in local conflict management and supporting the extension of state authority. In 2020, 565 Civil Affairs officers in eight UN Field Missions played a key role in early warning and situational awareness of conflict dynamics on the ground.”12 The salary range for a mid-career field service officer is $44K - $68K before additional compensation based on the position post. Entry-level professionals earn between $21K-$54K and senior-level professionals earn between $56K-$90K

#3 Program Officers

Program Officers are responsible for the implementation of specific programs in an organization. For example, international NGOs such as World Vision or Red Cross may have a program officer that leads initiatives focused on mitigating violence against women in disaster zones, or who implement programs for child protection. Other program officers serve as headquarters-based liaisons for field staff in different countries. Depending on the type of organization, program officers are usually mid-tier professional positions making between $64K and $70K each year.

Careers in justice and healing

#1 Restorative Practitioner

Restorative justice emphasizes repairing the harm caused by violent behavior through cooperative processes that allow all willing stakeholders to meet and agree upon a restoration plan. Restorative justice professionals focus on trauma healing, conflict mediation, facilitating restorative justice dialogues, and much more. Salaries for these positions can vary greatly. For example, a restorative justice coordinator working at a school makes, on average, $41,844, while a mid-career practitioner makes more.

#2 Human Rights Defender

Individuals in these positions investigate complaints of human rights violations and protect at-risk populations. They may also be involved in community conversations to address injustices or serve as mediators. On the front lines, a human rights defender with an organization like Human Rights Watch can make between $51K and $95K per year.

#3 Case Manager

Case managers for nonprofits oversee an array of projects and clients as they help them access the resources they need. These professionals will also make client service plans and engage in community mapping and community outreach as they identify potential clients and connect them with the appropriate services. At nonprofit organizations such as the International Rescue Committee, case managers can expect to earn a salary of $32K to $56K.

careers in structural and institutional change

Staff Attorney

Those who want to work in legal advocacy positions can have careers fighting for the underserved, underprivileged, and wrongfully accused. Organizations like the Innocence Project provide legal services, at no cost, for those who have been wrongfully accused and need legal representation. These individuals also work to improve justice systems. A staff attorney for an organization like the Innocence Project makes $64K on average, per year.

Program Manager

Many program managers work in community outreach and education positions, such as the Mizel Institute and Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab. They dedicate their careers to designing, coordinating, and facilitating programs that promote peace and justice through conscientious citizenship and community empowerment. The average salary for a program manager in a nonprofit organization is $58,800.

Development Manager

In many organizations, such as 350.org, development managers are responsible for marketing and public relations activities directed at raising funds. They may be the sole contributor leading fundraising activities or they could lead a team. These professionals may also be responsible for creating and managing special events or publications designed to maximize donor engagement. In the United States, development manager salaries can range from $60,993 to $79,510.

Foreign Service Officer

Foreign service officers are separated into five career areas, each with generally different responsibilities. Consular Officers work with U.S. citizens interacting with or visiting other countries. Economic Officers coordinate on economic and foreign policy issues with foreign governments. Management Officers handle management affairs for U.S. embassies. Political Officers interact with foreign governments on matters of policy. Finally, Public Diplomacy Officers serve a public relations function within embassies. Within the U.S. government, a foreign service officer with a master’s degree and some qualifying experience can earn between $49K and $60K per year.

Again, these positions do not represent the complete list of possibilities — there are many other types of positions that exist in the areas of 1) preventing, responding to, and transforming violent conflict; 2) ensuring justice and healing; and 3) facilitating structural and institutional change. Jobs in these areas exist across the spectrum from $40K a year to well into six figures as one climbs the career ladder.


Looking ahead at the sector's growth

Current issues will continue to drive the missions of organizations dedicated to peace and justice. For example, job opportunities related to climate change, public health, and changing systemic injustices in the United States are already expanding in response to recent events. In addition to the direct impacts of fire and floods, climate change is affecting immigration and food security patterns. COVID-19 is impacting health care, urban concentrations, and violence patterns. As long as there is conflict, there will be a need for effective peacebuilders.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all sectors of the economy, 2020 research shows nonprofits held their position as the third largest employer in the U.S. economy. Between 2007 and 2017, U.S. nonprofit jobs grew by 18.6%, three times faster than for-profit sectors in the same period. Between 2011 and 2030, the number of people donating money to NGOs around the world is expected to double to 2.5 billion. That will likely lead to similar growth in NGO job opportunities.

These numbers bode well for people who want a career in the nonprofit world. For those already working in the governmental, private or nonprofit sector, this growth also can translate into greater opportunities for promotions or higher positions within other organizations.


Kroc school graduates advancing their peace and justice careers

Understandably, graduate employment by type of organization matches the growth of opportunities. About half our graduates surveyed report working in nonprofit organizations. Other frequent job placements are with for-profit organizations, government agencies, and schools/universities. Some graduates are employed in consulting agencies, international organizations, religious institutions, and the military, among others.

The largest employment sectors in which alumni respondents work are conflict resolution, human rights, community organization, and education. A significant number of our graduates also work in humanitarian assistance, public policy, public health, environmental justice and international development. This is by no means an exhaustive list of where or how our alumni are making an impact, but rather is a snapshot of the myriad possibilities an individual can take to advance their career with a master’s degree from the Kroc School.

Job Titles of Kroc School Graduates

  • Restorative Justice Practitioner
  • Family Policy and Human Rights Committee Chair
  • Development Director
  • Sustainable Energy Project Manager
  • Behavior Therapist
  • Executive Director
  • Advocacy Manager
  • Government Officer
  • University Professor
  • Deputy Director
  • Conflict Resolution Senior Associate
  • Tribal Services Manager
  • Global Ambassador
  • Homeless Outreach Coordinator
  • Lawyer
  • Community Engagement Officer
  • Immigration and Anti-Trafficking National Outreach Coordinator
  • Immigration Legal Assistant
  • Immigration Legal Assistant
  • Human Resources Specialist

Our alumni leverage the skills they gained through the MA in Peace and Justice in positions that range from front-line roles in grassroots organizations to executive leadership in corporate social responsibility departments. While some of our alumni are running their own organizations, others are employed with some of the most influential modern peacebuilding organizations.

In all cases, our alumni excel due to their ability to analyze the root causes of violence and injustice and apply impactful peacebuilding strategies to address them.

Employers of Kroc School Graduates:

  • United Nations
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • One Earth Future Foundation
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • World Bank
  • World Vision
  • U.S. Department of State
  • Nonviolent Peaceforce
  • U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • Human Rights First
  • International Monetary Fund
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative
  • Deloitte
  • Levi Strauss & Co’s Red Tab Foundation
  • Project Concern International
  • Center for Creative Leadership
  • Office of Senator Diane Feinstein
  • Amani Institute
  • MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning




The impact of one former peace and justice student

When John Patterson received his MA in Peace and Justice from the Kroc School in 2013, he could hardly guess what the future held. He had already established a history of service during seven years in the United States Navy. After leaving the Kroc School, he worked with the Geneva Center for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces. His focus at the Center was private security governance. He also worked with Edify, a non-governmental organization promoting access to education globally.

For the past eight years, he has worked with USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA). He most recently served as the Regional Advisor for Europe, Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia. In that role, he was responsible for programming in the Balkans, Caucasus, Central Asia, and Israel, and the West Bank/ Gaza. Under his leadership, USAID continues to meet critical humanitarian needs in Ukraine experienced as a result of the ongoing conflict. They also provide disaster risk reduction programming through these regions, ensuring that communities are better prepared for any kind of potential disaster.

Prior to that, as Deputy Team Leader for the Venezuela Regional Crisis Response Team, he helped to manage the U.S. aid response to the crisis in Venezuela. According to the U.S. State Department, more than 9 million Venezuelans are at risk of starvation, and more than 11 million were displaced by force. For his leadership in the response to this crisis, he was recently honored with the Author E. Hughes Career Achievement Award by the Kroc School.

This is just one story. We have more than 350 changemakers working in nearly 100 countries around the world.


How USD's Kroc School amplified your intention to bring about peace

If you want a career in peacebuilding, the Kroc School is an excellent choice to help you advance on your journey. The University of San Diego established the Kroc School in 2007 as the first stand-alone school of peace studies in the United States. Our MA in Peace and Justice is the Kroc School’s flagship program, and will prepare you for a wide variety of careers where you can pursue your passion to confront humanity’s urgent challenges.

It all starts with the diverse individuals we attract to this top-ranked program. Recognizing that a rich combination of experiences and viewpoints is invaluable for fostering an innovative, inclusive mindset, the Kroc School strives to cultivate a global perspective by bringing students, professors, and peacebuilders to our school from all over the world.

Our engaging courses combine theory and practice — we prioritize hands-on experience because we recognize that some insights and skills can only be acquired through action. And, as practitioners of peace themselves, our faculty members draw from firsthand experience when they speak to the most effective approaches for shaping more peaceful and just societies.

Furthermore, our Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice (Kroc IPJ) is a partnership between the Kroc School and changemakers around the globe. It serves as a bridge between classroom learning and active practice. The Kroc IPJ co-creates learning with peacemakers – learning that is deeply grounded in their lived experience. The learning process is made rigorous by the institute’s place within a university ecosystem and has immediate, practical applications for those working to end cycles of violence. The Kroc IPJ’s global partners, fellows, and scholars-in-residence permeate Kroc School students’ learning experience, opening doors to education and collaboration with those carrying out peacebuilding and social innovation at the highest levels. Additionally, fellowships with the Kroc IPJ invite students to co-create knowledge and practice peacebuilding alongside program officers and peacemakers around the world.

Our global alumni network frequently reports that the innovative approach in our curriculum is enabling them to lead successful and fulfilling careers in peace and justice

Experiential learning

There’s much more to our approach to experiential learning than what occurs within the walls of our state-of-the-art classrooms. Specifically, the Kroc School offers fieldbased courses designed for students to directly apply classroom knowledge in locations such as Mexico, Colombia, and Rwanda. The courses include opportunities to learn through immersion in post-conflict areas, dive into refugee and forced displacement issues, interact with local peace practitioners, and understand on a deeper level the mechanisms that are leading to peaceful progress.

In addition, every MA in Peace and Justice student participates in a 250-hour internship. An internship preparation seminar prepares students to identify potential opportunities and secure their own placements in line with their career goals. In addition to the field study and internships, students create their own professional portfolio, which enables graduates to showcase their real-world experience and tangible evidence of their peacebuilding knowledge and accomplishments.

Students who have an idea in mind for how to address a specific social issue can receive mentorship, access to resources, and guidance to turn that idea into a sustainable business solution through the Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge. Through this experience, students have the opportunity to pitch their social venture to a group of experts, and can also earn up to $24,000 in seed funding to bring their idea to life.

For students who are invited to become more professionally engaged in the peacebuilding community, The Kroc School offers a limited number of student opportunity grants to help when associated costs have become a barrier to participation. Examples of such opportunities might include presenting a paper at an academic or professional conference or traveling to work with one of the school’s institutes on a special field project.

Finally, we offer a number of fellowships and assistantships that provide work experience through helping faculty and staff with research and projects. More information on these opportunities can be found in the “Fellowships, Assistantships and Financial Aid” section on the following pages or on our website.

What you will learn

The MA in Peace and Justice is offered as a full-time 21-month or part-time program. In addition to core topics such as conflict resolution, human rights, and international systems, the curriculum incorporates field-based courses and an internship placement for practice-based learning.

For students looking to deepen their knowledge of law and policy while gaining a unique understanding of the historical, institutional and cultural factors that drive modern conflict, injustice, oppression, and poverty, the Kroc School partners with the University of San Diego’s School of Law to offer a JD/MA Dual Degree in Law and Peace and Justice program.

This concurrent degree option is an excellent fit for students who:

  • Are interested in issues of immigration, human rights, or mediation
  • Plan to advise a global clientele
  • Wish to take a lawyer’s route to influence policy
  • Seek to tackle broader questions of social justice using both law and policy frameworks

For all three MAPJ options – full-time, part-time, and Dual Degree – the basics of peace and justice studies are conveyed through three units of Foundations of Peace, Justice and Social Change plus a minimum of six units in both core courses and skills and methods courses. Students can also follow their personal interests in 20 units of electives. Finally, in addition to the experiential learning which permeates the entire program, students acquire practical experience through three units of field-based coursework and a 250-hour internship.

The Core courses include Peace and Conflict Analysis, International Justice and Human Rights, and Environmental Peace and Justice. All three of these courses build upon the Foundations of Peace, Justice and Social Change course, which introduces students to a series of big ideas for making the world more peaceful and just. For example, Peace and Conflict Analysis goes beyond the foundational theories, inviting students to examine the origins and processes of social conflict and violence. Whereas the Foundations course covers a spectrum of ideas and practices, and how they fit together, this course goes into greater depth, specifically discussing the roles of culture, identity, power, relational dynamics, and social structures.

The Skills and Methods courses include courses such as Human Rights Advocacy; Program Design, Monitoring & Evaluation; Leadership & Organizations; Mediation; and Negotiations. These courses develop skills that are useful across different peace and justice career paths. For example, in Human Rights Advocacy, students examine the actors and organizations conducting modern-day human rights advocacy and the techniques central to their work, including fact-finding, monitoring, report writing, and media work. The course provides a balance of practical skill development (e.g., interviewing, press release writing) and critical-reflective examination of the ethical and strategic dilemmas faced by human rights advocates today.

The Program Design, Monitoring & Evaluation course starts by giving students a solid understanding of the evolution of thinking and practice among key development and peacebuilding actors. From there, students not only develop an understanding of best practices in project design and management but also learn the skills and tools necessary to effectively monitor and evaluate the effectiveness and impact of their projects.

The electives provide opportunities for MA in Peace and Justice students to take courses in areas of interest within the larger Kroc School, and in other schools at the University of San Diego. There are electives designed around timely topics, such as courses that focus on protest movements, or media and nationalism, as well as courses in which vital skills such as fundraising and grant writing can be developed. Beyond these, MA in Peace and Justice students can take courses aligned with the MA in Social Innovation program, which focuses on preparing students to launch and grow their own social ventures or lead social impact initiatives within organizations. MA in Peace and Justice students can also take courses aligned with the MS in Conflict Management and Resolution program, which prepares students to foster creative and effective approaches to navigate intrasocietal conflicts at the individual, workplace, community, national and international levels.



Our students have completed internships in a wide variety of organizations around the world. For example, students interested in law have sought out opportunities with legal groups like the California Innocence Project and the Casa Cornelia Law Center. Future research professionals have found rewarding internships with groups like the Center for American Progress, and those interested in domestic refugee services or international relief and development have gained experience with groups like the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

While we have a network of peace and justice organizations where students have completed internships in the past, students can also pursue an opportunity with any peace and justice-related organization that interests them. With guidance from their advisor, students decide what kind of experience will best help them to prepare for a rewarding career in peacebuilding.

Fellowships, assistantships, and financial aid

We offer a number of ways to help students meet the financial requirements of graduate school. Incoming graduate students can apply for Kroc Practice Fellowships, which embed a student as a team member with the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, supporting initiatives related to cross-border peacebuilding; reducing urban violence; and women, peace, and security. Kroc Practice Fellowships are paid positions that come with their own merit scholarship applied to tuition.

Graduate assistantships provide tuition support and valuable experience working with faculty. Students work for 40 hours each semester and provide support related to research and pedagogical innovations.

The Kroc School also offers a number of scholarships and tuition discounts. Members of the clergy receive a 50% tuition discount. Returning Peace Corps Volunteers can receive a Coverdell Fellowship, which entitles them to a 50% tuition discount, waived application fee, and waives 6 units of coursework.

Furthermore, full-time Americorps Alumni and staff, administrators, and students from any of the designated Ashoka U Changemaker Campuses are eligible for a 25% tuition discount to all Kroc School graduate programs. Part-time Americorps Alumni are eligible for a discount that matches their Segal Award.

Additionally, all students are considered for merit-based scholarships. Finally, all incoming students are eligible to complete a universal application for a number of private scholarships.

In addition to aid specific to the Kroc School, students may also apply for the USD Graduate Grant award from the University of San Diego. The grant is a need-based scholarship awarded after a student is admitted.

More than 80% of our students receive some form of scholarship, discount or aid.


Make a positive impact with the kroc school's master's in peace and justice

Program Cost and Admissions Requirements

Tuition for all Kroc School degrees is $1,200 per unit. Students complete a MA in Peace and Justice with a minimum of 39 units. The estimated cost of tuition and fees for the entire program, before discounts or scholarships are applied, is roughly $48,000. Full-time students typically carry 9-10 units per semester — a combination of required and elective courses covering skills and methods classes and field-based experience. Part-time students will carry 3-6 units. The MA can be finished in as little as two years.

The admissions deadline is mid-January each year. The application package includes an official undergraduate transcript, resume, two letters of recommendation, and four short essays. All students from countries with non-English instruction must take an English language proficiency test.

The minimum grade point average is 3.00 on a 4.00 scale for undergraduate coursework. There are no coursework or experience requirements and no standardized admission test is needed. For firsttime graduate students, our blog offers advice on completing your application to graduate school.

Become a force for positive change with a master's in peace and justice

Building peaceful and inclusive societies does not happen overnight. It takes the commitment of dedicated peace and justice advocates to ensure equal access to justice and significantly reduce the incident and impact of violent conflict. From rural issues in developing countries to addressing urban conflicts, at the Kroc School you can learn the tools and gain the experience to help you effect lasting, positive change.

If you would like to learn more about the Peace and Justice program, you have a few options:

MAPJ Program Guide
Program Brochure
Request Information 
Schedule a Meeting