Master of Arts in Peace and Justice

The Master of Arts in Peace and Justice is an interdisciplinary program at the intersection of conflict analysis and resolution, human rights, development and human security. Students in the program have the opportunity to benefit from the multiple institutes of the School of Peace Studies: the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice, Trans-Border Institute and the Center for Peace and Commerce (in partnership with the School of Business). The goals of the program are to produce graduates who are scholar-practitioners capable of relating disciplinary and cross-disciplinary theories of peace and justice to real world problem-solving involving local, regional and international conflict; to foster scholarly agendas that examine the dynamics of justice and peacebuilding; and to facilitate faculty and student interaction and development across disciplines and academic units at University of San Diego, as well as in the community. The Master of Arts in Peace and Justice offers full-time and part-time program options.   

Financial Aid for Kroc School Students

The Kroc School offers scholarships on a merit basis for which students from any country are eligible. A committee determines fellowship and scholarship awards. Kroc School applicants may also be eligible for additional funding opportunities. These opportunities and other Financial Aid are available to qualified applicants to permit full-time study. Contact the Office of Financial Aid at USD for further information regarding financial aid and loans as well as financial support for part-time study.

Additional Requirements For Admission

Master Of Arts In Peace and Justice 

See here for basic admission requirements.

Entrance Semesters Fall
Application Deadline January 15
Minimum Grade Point Average 3.0 (4.0 scale) in all undergraduate coursework
Standardized Admission Test None
Required Coursework None
Required Licenses/Credentials None
Additional Requirements None

Master of Arts in Peace and Justice

  • Full-time or part-time* status as a graduate student
  • Approval of courses by faculty advisor
  • Required Orientation
  • 39 units of graduate work with a 3.0 or higher
  • Six core courses (18 units)
  • Four elective courses (12 units)
  • Three 1-unit workshops (3 units)
  • Internship Seminar, 10-week In-Organization Experience, and Internship Reflection Seminar (3 units)
  • Capstone Proposal and Project (3 units) must be at “B” or better performance.
  • No more than 6 units of course work may be taken outside of the Kroc School. Of these 6 units, no more than 3 units of course work at the 300 or 400 level can be counted toward the 39 units.

*The Master of Arts in Peace and Justice offers full-time and part-time program options.

Core Courses
PJS 500Leadership and Organizations3
PJS 505Peace and Conflict Analysis3
PJS 511Program Design, Monitoring & Evaluation3
PJS 515International Justice & Human Rights3
PJS 520International System3
PJS 593Field-based Practicum3
PJS 595Peace and Justice Studies Capstone3
PJS 598Internship3
Electives are chosen in consultation with the faculty advisor. No more than 6 units of course work may be taken outside of the Kroc School. Of these 6 units, no more than 3 units of course work at the 300 or 400 level can be counted toward the 39 units.



Units: 3 Repeatability: No

Students in this course gain understanding about their personal purpose, goals and leadership style and begin to create their own plan to gain agency and grow as adaptive leaders. The course prepares students to become effective leaders in the peace and justice field by bringing core concepts and theories about leadership, organizations and change alive through experiential learning, case analysis, individual assessment, and self-reflection.


Units: 3 Repeatability: No

This course covers four broad themes: the historical origins of peace studies, conflict resolution and international development; conflict causes and dynamics; applied conflict analysis; and intervention methods (negotiation, mediation, humanitarian intervention). Exploring resolution options, the course pays special attention to the relationship between protracted violent conflict and development processes. These two phenomena are linked in complex ways; the role of economic development cannot be separated from understanding the causes of conflict and the forms of peacebuilding that will endure.


Units: 3

An exploration of the relationship between religion and the dynamics of conflict, with focus on the role of religion in conflict, peacebuilding and conflict transformation. Selected religious traditions will be considered, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, giving attention to such topics as their impact on processes of conflict, their function in violence prevention, reconciliation and social change and their resources for promoting peace and justice as human development.


Units: 3 Repeatability: No

Starting with a solid understanding of the evolution of thinking and practice among key development and peacebuilding actors, this course is designed to prepare students to design, monitor and evaluate peacebuilding programs and project. Students will not only understand best practices in project design and management but also learn the skills and tools necessary to effectively carry out projects.


Units: 3 Repeatability: No

This course is an introduction to human rights at the level of intellectual theory and discourse and at the level of “real world” action, controversy and struggle. It examines the moral, philosophical, legal and political bases for international human rights, as well as the complex cocktail of actors and organizations involved in human rights advocacy and enforcement. Other specific topics—including transitional justice, R2P, torture, the law of war, and gender-based repression—will vary from semester to semester and instructor to instructor.


Units: 3 Repeatability: No

This course has been designed to address how teams collaborate through a project-based approach designed to cultivate empathy across disciplinary boundaries. This will help position students to be discipline-bridging changemakers. Drones present technical and ethical challenges that cannot be addressed in isolation. The course involves designing and building the device (a clear engineering challenge) with the more conceptual work of planning for its integration into pro-social organizational processes (a clear peace and justice challenge).


Units: 3 Repeatability: No

In a rapidly globalizing world, problems such as financial crises, poverty, violent conflicts, humanitarian disasters, pandemics and cybercrime are increasingly transnational in nature and cannot be solved solely by sovereign states acting individually or collectively. This course is designed to provide a big picture analysis of global governance and its interlocking elements. This includes an introduction to international organizations and multilateralism in a state-based international system and an examination of the political dynamics and key players of global governance in the post-Cold War era. It aims to enable students to understand the system’s strengths and limitations and how to make it work better at the micro, meso and macrolevels.


Units: 3 Repeatability: No

This course examines the range of possible legal, institutional and policy frameworks that have been marshaled in an attempt to respond to large-scale human rights atrocities in the wake of conflict, from tribunals to truth commissions and beyond. It also examines debates about stopping ongoing mass atrocities through “humanitarian intervention” and the “responsibility to protect” doctrine.


Units: 3 Repeatability: No

How can universities teach peacebuilding to people in dangerous situations without resorting to hand-wringing paternalism or simply using other people’s misfortunes as teachable material? This is the guiding question behind: “Teaching Applied Peace Education in Mexico.” Students serve as facilitators for the Trans-Border Institute’s “diplomado” [certificate program] in Applied Peace Education, given in collaboration with local educational institutions and civil society organizations in the areas of Mexico most affected by the drug war. The program is designed for the leaders of non-governmental organizations, civil servants, and local university students interested in building sustainable peace in Mexico. The USD student facilitators travel to Mexico with TBI staff and attend the seminars, where they learn a broad interdisciplinary curriculum in Applied Peace Education along with the local participants. The curriculum presents seven interconnected paths to sustainable peace: human rights, citizenship, history and memory, conflict resolution, social innovation, digital technology, and ecology. The student facilitators lead group exercises and discussions that reinforce the course material and assess its local relevance. In weekly meetings between each seminar, the student facilitators help TBI staff to tailor the material to local demands, to design and redesign the group exercises to maximize their effectiveness, and hone their own skills as discussion leaders and facilitators. Each diplomado program carries out a collaborative or “hive model” research project, where TBI leverages the local insight, experience, and connections of the seminar participants to produce useful knowledge about the most pressing local problems of peace and justice. The student facilitators participate in the design, implementation, and analysis of the research project and produce a final report for publication in collaboration with TBI. In the process, the student facilitators receive formal training in conducting ethical and effective interview-based research and intensive mentoring from TBI staff.


Units: 3 Repeatability: No

An examination of 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 (interviewing, press release writing) and critical-reflective examination of the ethical and strategic dilemmas faced by human rights advocates today.


Units: 3

This course introduces students to the philosophies behind social science research as well as the elements of the research process and consists of three units. The first unit addresses the philosophy of social/scientific research and the importance of policy and information underpinned by credible research. The second unit focuses on general research design issues and an overview of qualitative and quantitative methods. The final unit focuses on two types of research: case study and evaluation/assessment.


Units: 3 Repeatability: No

On the ground and in the global hotspots, Kurdish women are fighting ISIS, Liberian women locked a dictator and rebel leaders into a negotiating room, and a Filipino woman called for a ceasefire and then created the first civilian team to monitor it. Yet in mass media and in history books these stories often go untold. In the first course of its kind, students learn from and work with four courageous women peacebuilders and human rights defenders who will be in residence at USD in the fall.


Units: 3

This course will examine how conflicts are identified and analyzed, from low-level political violence to major armed conflict and what theories and tools exist to resolve these conflicts. Students will read classic works in this interdisciplinary field, gaining an understanding of the different scholarly approaches taken to prevent and resolve armed conflict. Students will work in teams on particular case studies, applying theories learned.


Units: 3 Repeatability: No

In this class students explore two broad and related issues: social movements for social change, and new forms of technology. The class begins with big questions: Where does social change come from? Is technology incremental or disruptive? What is the role of change agents in the social change process? How have change agents integrated technology into their tactical repertoires? Questions about technology and tactical repertoires, especially in the digital age, are nowhere near settled. For example, most efforts to explain digital technology focus on social media--an important but partial component of the tech landscape. Pushing beyond questions about twitter and Facebook will allow us to ask how appropriate technologies are transforming peacebuilding and development and how digital devices and processes like bots, drones, and algorithms are transforming investigative journalism and human rights advocacy.


Units: 3

This course focuses on third-party strategies for ethical intervention in civil and international conflicts. The particular focus is on environments where one party contests the legitimacy of an existing political authority or arrangement. This course studies the special dynamics of these cases in ongoing armed conflict and post-war environments: widespred insecurity, lack of effective government control or functioning, and collective trauma.


Units: 3

This is an analytical and skills training course offering advanced training in the theory and practice of negotiations. Simulated negotiations of increasing complexity are carried on both inside and outside the classroom. In the course, students are introduced to various negotiation contexts including cross-cultural and cross-gender issues. Course participants from the Peace and Justice Studies Program will be integrated into the law school course which is composed of a mixture of U.S. law students and non-U.S. lawyers who are enrolled in USD’s LLM-CL program.


Units: 3

An analysis of the theoretical literature on the causes of war and conditions of peace and justice focusing on issues of sovereignty, global governance, military and non-military aspects of security human rights and positive and negative peace.


Units: 3

This course examines the dynamics, strengths and limitations of nonviolent actions and social movements as alternatives to violence and as means for insuring human security. Drawing from history, international relations, political science, military, state security and public policy frameworks, students will seek explanations, estimate costs, and assess justifications of violence and of nonviolence.


Units: 3

This course will examine (1) the main economic theories of development and conflict (paying particular attention to the ways in which the two may be linked), (2) the great debates in conflict economics, and (3) the spatial dimensions of violent conflict. It will build a logical and intuitive appreciation of concepts covered by employing both deductive (theoretical and inductive (empirically-grounded theory-building) exercises.


Units: 3

Examination of environmental justice and its relationship to sustainability and the protection of the non-human world. Local, national and global issues and cases will be considered. Multidisciplinary pedagogical approaches grounded by political and environmental philosophy will be used. Particular attention will be drawn to environmental, social, political and economic inequalities, injustices and oppression based on differences of gender, race, ethnicity, class, national origin and species membership.


Units: 3

This course, drawing on political theory and democratization literature, will explore the strengths and weaknesses of civil society organizations seeking to build peace, development and democracy after violent conflict. Through case studies, the course will examine places where poverty and inequity were root causes of conflict, requiring social change to meet basic human needs, ensure rights and guarantee security.


Units: 3 Repeatability: No

The course begins with a comprehensive review of the origins and substance of U.S. immigration and asylum law, with a special emphasis on how they interface with the broader history of international humanitarian and human rights norms. Students will then work with staff of the Trans-Border Institute (TBI) to provide expert testimony for asylum claims filed by individuals fleeing persecution in contemporary Mexico and Central America. Working with the most important national and local networks of pro bono immigration attorneys in the country, the students will assist TBI staff in verifying and reinforcing the most important facts and claims in each case, and preparing effective, thorough, and well-documented expert testimony. Students will mobilize the underlying research and their experience working on the individual cases to develop policy briefs of specific aspects of immigration and asylum policy. Each student will produce a significant written contribution to at least one actual asylum case, one fact sheet, and one policy brief to be published by TBI. In addition to a broad introduction to immigration and asylum law grounded in the practice of real-world cases, the students will learn to work collaboratively, designing and dividing up particular research tasks on hard deadlines, and they will learn to ask effective questions of the lawyers, the asylum seekers, and a variety of experts. The course will meet once per week for 3 hours, and students will be expected to complete approximately 10 hours per week of reading and research.


Units: 3

An introduction both to the international law of human rights and to the principal institutions, organizations and processes designed to protect those rights. Attention will also be given to more “theoretical” issues, such as: What is the relationship between religion and human rights? Does the international law of human rights unjustifiably favor “western” over “non-western” moral perspectives?.


Units: 3

An examination of the range of possible legal, institutional and policy frameworks that have been marshaled in an attempt to respond to large-scale human rights atrocities in the wake of conflict, from tribunals to truth commissions and beyond. The course will also examine debates about stopping ongoing mass atrocities through “humanitarian intervention” and the “responsibility to protect” doctrine.


Units: 3

An examination of the actors and organizations conductiong modern-day human rights advocacy and the techniques central to their work, including fact-finding, monitoring, report writing, and media work. The course will balance practical skill development (interviewing, press release writing) with a critical and reflective examination of the ethical and strategic dilemmas faced by human rights advocates today.


Units: 1.5-3 Repeatability: Yes (Can be repeated for Credit)

The Kroc School’s field-based courses create a space for students to apply classroom knowledge in the field within creative and structured environments. The field-based course includes three common elements: a) an applied curriculum, b) the opportunity to interact with practitioners from communities affected by violence and injustice, and c) experience in implementing collaborative projects in the field. Students’ work will be guided by USD’s core humanistic principles, emphasizing how to look at individuals and communities in a holistic manner.


Units: 3 Repeatability: Yes (Can be repeated for Credit)

A specialized course focusing on a topic in conflict resolution, development, human rights or human security. The course can be repeated if the topic changes.


Units: 3

A study of a current or developing problem that threatens or prevents peace and/or justice. The case study will integrate skills and perspectives acquired in the program. Prerequisite for the course is approval of a case study prospectus. To pass you must achieve a B or better.


Units: 3

This course involves participation in an internship related to one of the four areas of specialization within the Peace and Justice Studies Master’s curriculum: conflict analysis and resolution, development, human rights, or human security. Internship placements will take place during the summer with a follow-up course in the fall semester. It is open only to students in the Peace and Justice Studies MA Program. Grading for the course will be on a Pass/Fail basis.


Units: 1-3 Repeatability: Yes (Repeatable if topic differs)

An independent study for up to three units provides students an opportunity to research a topic of particular interest to them relevant to Peace and Justice Studies. The faculty supervisor, program director and Dean of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies must approve the project proposal prior to the beginning of the relevant semester. This course may be repeated up to a maximum of three units.