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How long does it take to complete the full degree?

Students typically complete the required 36 semester hours over 24 months, taking two classes per back-to-back semester. Semesters are split into intensive eight-week sessions, with students taking one class at a time. This format allows busy professionals to earn their degree while working full-time. All students begin with Mediation Skills Training (MCR 601), an intensive five-day course on campus. There is an additional five-day in-person course in the second year. The rest of the curriculum is entirely online.

If I complete this program, will that allow me to be on the approved list of mediators in the Circuit Court of Cook County Law Division?

Students must apply with the court to to be placed on their list for direct referrals from judges. Our MCR 601 class satisfies one of several criteria (the most significant being seven years of law practice). Non-attorneys may still mediate cases arising out of the Law Division by consent of the parties.

What do I have after completion of MCR 601 Mediation Skills Training?

You can say you hold a Cook County Circuit Court-approved 40-hour Mediation Skills Training Certificate. Presently, circuit court approval is the only official designation that exists in Illinois for mediation.

Is a certificate issued at the end of MCR 647 Divorce and Family Mediation? If so, what exactly does the certification qualify me for?

Those who complete the course will be qualified to mediate family disputes. However, they will only be placed on the court-referral list if they meet the following requirements. This is similar to the attorney requirement for the civil mediation court-referral list. For both courses, the court-referrals lists are very specific and are a limited means of practicing mediation. In the case of MCR 647, only one of the three instructors meets these requirements, yet all three are employed by the county as full-time mediators. The vast majority of practicing mediators in Illinois do so outside of these lists.

Do I have to write a thesis paper?

No, although you will write many papers throughout your time in the program.

What is a practicum?

The College of Applied Social Sciences (CASS) prides itself on being very flexible and open-minded when it comes to practicum opportunities. If you have an idea, we want to hear it! This experience should be unique, hands-on and catered to what you see yourself doing. In this course, students must spend up to 40 hours developing real-world conflict resolution skills in a professional setting under the supervision of a faculty member.

What are some practicum options?

Some students mediate on Monday at the Maywood Courthouse—working with landlord/tenant cases. Many veterans or military officers choose to work with Employer Support for the Guard and Reserves. We have a partnership with Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School in Oak Park, where our students go into the classrooms and facilitate conflict resolution training to middle school students. Our partnership with Ceasefire in Maywood allows students to get involved with the community and implement a Cure Violence model to help contribute toward peace. There are many other options to fulfill the practicum requirement!

If I live outside the Chicagoland area and am interested in doing a practicum near my hometown, is that allowed?

Yes, the dean of CASS and program director will work with you to set something up remotely or with an individual in their location to accommodate the distance.

What can I do with this degree?

There are endless opportunities within this growing field. Please find a variety of options below, but know there are no limits:

  • Family/divorce mediation
  • International peacekeeping
  • Human resources
  • Higher Education/Adjunct teaching
  • Community organizer
  • Counseling in the public and private sectors
Am I able to mediate outside of the Cook County area after completion of the Mediation Skills Training course?

Yes, the certificate is proof of a student meeting the 40-hour criteria; which is an industry standard.