Woman in a mediation process

Certificate in Dispute Resolution

Discover a Career That Changes Lives

The Certificate in Dispute Resolution will equip you to understand and resolve disputes using a range of methods.  You will be exposed to several dispute resolution methods  and the skills that a mediator brings to the process. The program will enable you to study the academic theory of dispute resolution, and will apply that theory to the development of practical mediation skills, which will assist you in the achievement of fair, balanced, and ethical dispute outcomes.

Dispute Resolution refers to the strategies and skills used to resolve or process disputes, generally outside of the traditional legal/court arena. The field of dispute resolution encompasses a number of processes, including mediation, negotiation, arbitration, and a number of hybrids of these processes.  These processes have emerged as efficient and cost-effective alternatives to the legal system for resolving conflicts.


Program Overview

The Certificate in Dispute Resolution will:

  • Help you take the first step towards becoming a professional mediator; or
    Help you improve your mediation practice without a pursuing designation;
  • Ensure you meet the training requirements for membership in the Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario (ADRIO);
  • Provide meaningful learning opportunities that include role-plays, mock mediation sessions and other interactive teaching methods;
  • Allow you to interact with expert instructors who are leaders in their field and who bring practical expertise to the class; and
  • Provide you with multiple study options–offering a part-time option that combines online learning with in-person classes or an intensive, full-time summer option to finish the program faster.

Who should take the Certificate in Dispute Resolution?

  • Anyone who regularly encounters disputes or is required to mediate as part of their professional role
  • Anyone who is interested in developing dispute resolution skills for future job opportunities

This Certificate is applicable to careers in a wide range of fields, including:


Course Topics

The Certificate in Dispute Resolution consists of two core courses and one elective course:

Core I: Theory and Generic Issues

In this course, students will:

  • Examine key theoretical principles and procedures of different types of dispute resolution processes, including negotiation, mediation, and arbitration;
  • Explore how and why dispute resolution processes successfully produce agreements;
  • Consider the impact of generic issues such as power, gender, culture and personality on the dispute resolution process;
  • Gain a degree of familiarity with civil procedures (one of the requirements for appointment to the Mediation Roster of the Mandatory Mediation Program, Ministry of the Attorney General, Province of Ontario); and
  • Practice and develop skills in negotiating conflict situations and in facilitating the dispute resolution work of your peers.

Pedagogy:  This course will be offered online via Moodle in the Fall and Winter sessions only.  The online course will consist of a combination of readings and slide presentations with synched live video presentation from the instructor.  To encourage interaction, online discussions will be used to enhance feedback between instructor and students.  As a student, you will also attend three in-person coaching sessions.

Core II: Negotiation and Mediation

In this course, students will:

  • Receive an introduction to understanding and analyzing conflicts;
  • Examine various mediation models and practices;
  • Explore the key components of managing disputes in a negotiation and mediation environment, including recognizing appropriate engagement, developing contracts to formalize the mediation engagement, and settling contracts versus memorandums of understanding;
  • Consider the ethical deliberations that emerge in the practice of dispute resolution, and explore the issue of mediator liability;
  • Apply dispute resolution theory and practice to five case studies; and
  • Learn about the ADR Institute of Canada, the Chartered Mediator (CMed) designation and the Ontario Mandatory Mediation Program requirements.

Elective: One elective is required for Certificate Completion

Elective courses focus on dispute resolution within different contexts.  After successfully completing the core courses, students will select ONE elective in which they can develop specialized knowledge and refine their dispute resolution skills.  Elective topics may be chosen from the following list of courses:

Conflict Management in the Workplace

In the workplace, the broadest range of disputes arises.  There are daily interpersonal conflicts, important issues of workplace regulation, efficiency, productivity and safety, and issues of human rights.  The workplace provides a fertile ground for the examination of dispute resolution methods and strategies, and for the practical application of dispute resolution theory.  In this elective, participants will explore the maze of statutes and rules, laws and conventions that offer dispute resolution options.  Participants will analyze the different models of dispute resolution, and practice using different models and innovative methods to solve different kinds of problems.

View a presentation for Conflict Management in the Workplace

Advanced Negotiation and Mediation

In this course, students are given the opportunity to enhance their understanding of the theory and practice of negotiation and mediation.  They are introduced to the academic literature pertaining to various perspectives in the study and practice of negotiation and mediation, as well as to comparative analyses of alternative processes and styles.  Students learn the phases of the interest-based negotiation model as taught in the Harvard Negotiation Project.  This course also considers the role of communication in dispute resolution; personality and behaviour and their impact on the process; multi-party and team negotiations; co-mediation; barriers to settlement and strategies to overcome them; ethics; and reflective practice.  Instruction consists of lectures, interactive exercises, and experiential simulations.  Students participate as negotiators and mediators in role-playing activities developed by and used in the Harvard Negotiation Project workshops.

Please note that we cannot guarantee that both electives will be offered each semester.  The School of Continuing Studies reserves the right to alter fees, other charges and course dates, times, locations, and/or instructors, and offer only one elective in one given semester (decision based on total number of students registered in a given semester).

Admission Requirements

  • An undergraduate degree; or
  • A minimum of 2 years’ experience in utilizing dispute resolution skills or techniques in paid or volunteer work; or
  • Special approval by the Program Manager.

Contact us if you are unsure if you qualify for admission.  We are happy to talk with you.



Learning from real-world industry leaders is key to translating in-class achievements to workplace success.

Certificate of Dispute Resolution instructors at 2016 Graduation.

Certificate of Dispute Resolution instructors at 2016 Graduation.


Below are bios on some of our esteemed instructors.  Our instructors are carefully selected for their academic and professional expertise.

Desmond EllisDesmond Ellis, PhD

Desmond Ellis is a professor based in the La Marsh Research Centre, York University, and a member of the Board for the Family Court Connected Mediation Service. He helped create the La Marsh Centre for Research on Violence and Conflict Resolution at York, and served as its first director for a number of years. Dr. Ellis has been teaching and conducting research projects on conflict resolution theory and practice generally and marital conflict resolution in particular. Domestic violence associated with participation in collaborative and adversarial separation and divorce proceedings has been a major focus of his research for about 20 years. Since 1993, he has conducted many workshops on assessing and managing the risk of domestic violence, made presentations at conferences across North America, and published a book and several research reports and journal articles on conflict resolution.

Blaine DonaisBlaine Donais, BA, LLB

Blaine Donais is a lawyer, mediator, arbitrator, investigator and leading expert in workplace conflict management.  He is author of Workplaces That Work, and Engaging Unionized Employees, both published by Canada Law Book. He is president and founder of the Workplace Fairness Institute, Conflict Management Solutions.  He is an instructor of workplace dispute resolution at York University and University of Toronto (Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources), and is a visiting lecturer for La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia.  He teaches human resources professionals, labour leaders and others in human rights, labour and employment law, human resources, collective bargaining, and conflict resolution. He offers workplace interventions with a specialization in unions and unionized work environments.

Dennis HodgkinsonDennis L. Hodgkinson, BCom, LLM (ADR), Cert. ADR

As a professional mediator and human resources management consultant, Dennis provides court-directed and private mediation services. He also assists major corporations to resolve complex business-to-business and employment-related disputes. Dennis coaches and assesses students in court-directed mediation sessions at his alma mater, Osgoode Hall Law School. Dennis also teaches in the Human Resources Management program at York University’s School of Continuing Studies. He is author of the instructional texts Conflict Management in the Workplace: From Backyard to Boardroom and Your Guide to Successful Career Transition.

Cindy Holovac LeitheadCindy Holovac Leithead, BA(Hons), M.C.A., Q.MED (ADRIO), Work Place Mediator, Civil Mediator, ACC.FM (OAFM), CP.MED (OAFM), Openness in Adoption Mediator (OAFM), ACC.EM (OAFM), WFA

Cindy Holovac Leithead has over 30 years of experience assisting individuals, families and groups challenged by various conflicts with her facilitation, negotiation and mediation expertise to help disputing parties change and create their own viable resolutions. As an accredited mediator in several sectors, Cindy’s private practice, CINDIAIN Resolutions Services, provides civil mediation, workplace mediation, and diverse family mediation services.  Prior to commencing her mediation practice Cindy was a senior manager in the Ontario Public Service focusing on workplace issues such as employer/employee labour relations in a unionized environment; workplace health and safety issues including return to work protocols; developing and delivering training in workplace harassment and discrimination; and transfer payment funding contract negotiations with community based stakeholders. Cindy also has extensive experience specializing in assisting and supporting individuals and families dealing with domestic violence.  For several years now Cindy has been coaching at York University’s School of Continuing Studies for the Certificate in Dispute Resolution, the Certificate in Family Mediation and as a Dispute Resolution Educator in the Advanced Certificate in Dispute Resolution.  Cindy is also a coach for the Osgoode Hall Law Society, Mediation Clinic and Intensive Program at Small Claims Court.

Professional Designations

This Certificate program is designed to meet the education requirements for the Q.Med designation from the ADR Institute of Ontario. For more information on this, and other, designations, visit:

The ADR Institute of Ontario
The ADR Institute of Canada

Currently, there is no restriction on an individual identifying themselves as a “mediator”. However, the designation as a “certified” or “qualified” practitioner of mediation is highly recommended for students who intend to practice as professional mediators.

Technology Requirements for Remote/Online Courses

Program Policies


1.  Why should I take York’s Certificate in Dispute Resolution instead of programs offered by other Universities or Institutes?

There are several distinct advantages to our Program. Here are the four most significant.

  • Quality of instruction – our Program has some of the finest educators in the field of dispute resolution. Their breadth of experience is as tremendous as their teaching and academic qualifications.
  • Class Size – our Core courses are typically no larger than 50 students. We take pride in the fact that our coaching practice sessions (managed by practitioners in the field) are run with a 1:8 ratio (1 coach for every 8 learners). These factors in addition to several others make our Program one of the best in the Province.
  • Value – the Program’s total cost, when compared hour-for-hour against other Professional Dispute Resolution certificates, is fairly priced and often lower.
  • Sequence – unlike other Programs, our Certificate is designed to follow a distinct and clear learning path. The benefit of this process is that you are never “lost” within the Program. You will work with the same group of learners sequentially, enabling you to proceed at the same rhythm as your peers.

2.  What does the field of Dispute Resolution encompass?

Dispute resolution refers to the strategies and skills used to resolve or process disputes, generally outside of the traditional legal/court arena. The field of dispute resolution encompasses a number of processes, including mediation, negotiation, arbitration, and a number of hybrids of these processes. These processes have emerged as efficient and cost-effective alternatives to the legal system for resolving conflicts.

3.  What qualifications do I need to be accepted in your Program?

To be accepted into the York Certificate Program, you need to meet one of the following admission criteria:
a) a university degree (any field of study is acceptable); OR
b) two years’ experience in a related field (human resources, labour relations, corrections, policing, ombudsperson, collections, social work, etc.), and
c) special permission from the Program Manager.

Contact us if you have additional questions about enrolling.

4.  How long will it take to complete this program?

The Program consists of 3 required courses (2 Core courses and 1 Elective), totaling 140 hours of instruction and coaching practice sessions. Classes are usually held one night per week, for 7 or 8 weeks, and Saturdays or Sundays, for the coaching sessions.

The Program is also offered as an intensive full-time Program on consecutive weekdays usually during the Summer.

You can view our online schedule of upcoming program dates or contact our office for more information.

5.  What if I am interested in taking more than one elective?

Increasingly, Certificate students are taking more than one elective offered in this Program in order to be exposed to dispute resolution theory and practice in various settings. The Certificate Program tuition of $4,700.00 (HST exempt) includes the cost of Core I and II, and one elective. The registration fee for each additional elective is $1,390.00 (plus HST). Not all electives are offered each term or calendar year. To make arrangements to enrol in an additional elective, please contact the School of Continuing Studies office by completing our online contact form or calling 416-736-5616.

6. The elective I’ve chosen doesn’t meet my professional needs. Can I switch?

Students may switch electives up until the first day of their Core II course. Requests must be received by 4:00 p.m. EST via email and cannot be changed after this date.

7.  If I complete the Certificate Program, will I automatically be eligible for membership with related professional associations?

Yes and no.
Currently, there is no restriction on an individual identifying themselves as a “mediator,” however, membership in professional dispute resolution associations, and the designation as a certified or registered practitioner of mediation (Q.Med), is highly recommended for students who intend to practice as professional mediators. Completion of the Certificate in Dispute Resolution by itself will not qualify you for such designation. Education is only one of the requirements for membership in these associations or the Q.Med designation.

Our graduates will have met the educational requirement for the Q.Med designation from the ADR Institute of Ontario.

Graduates of the Program will have also completed the pre-requisite for our Advanced Certificate in Dispute Resolution. For students who complete the Certificate with the Family Mediation elective, they will have met partial education requirements for membership with the Ontario Association of Family Mediators and Family Mediation Canada.

8.  How do I get on the list of Ministry of the Attorney General Mediation Roster, Mandatory Mediation Program?

This Certificate Program may also assist you in obtaining an appointment to the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Mediation Roster, Mandatory Mediation Program. Local Mediation Committees are responsible for selecting roster mediators.

Certificate candidates must apply directly to the Mandatory Mediation Program to be considered for appointment. For more information on the eligibility requirements for an appointment to the roster, contact the Ministry of the Attorney General at:

The Mandatory Mediation Program
393 University Avenue, 6th Floor Toronto,
Ontario, M5G 1E6
Telephone: (416) 314-8356

9.  What is the likelihood that I will receive employment in this field once I complete the certificate program?

People take this Certificate for several reasons. Many take the program to augment their existing skills to use dispute resolution in their current work. New graduates from degree programs often take the program to enhance their skills and qualifications in order to pursue employment. As is the case with any employment portfolio, employability varies tremendously from person to person. Your own mix of work, professional and life experiences will play an important role in determining whether you can look to dispute resolution as a full-time employment option. The Certificate in Dispute Resolution program will begin to prepare you to use dispute resolution theory and skills in a variety of contexts, including family mediation, and community and organizational/workplace settings.

10.  What kind of employment assistance does your program offer to graduates of the Certificate?

While we do not offer direct employment assistance to graduates, the program has been designed to meet the accreditation requirements of a number of professional associations. As well, in response to requests from graduates for practical experience and mentoring in the practice of dispute resolution, we do offer a limited number of internship opportunities. This optional internship program provides graduates with an opportunity to practice their newly acquired skills under the supervision of experienced dispute resolution professionals. We are continually exploring initiatives that assist program graduates to stay informed about significant developments/changes within the field of dispute resolution, hear about continuing professional development programs and courses, and learn about employment and practicum opportunities in the area of dispute resolution.

11.  I have never taken an online course before – what should I expect?

An online course runs similarly to an in-class course, except your classroom is a website on the Internet. You have an instructor, classmates, assignments, tests, and deadlines. The learning management system that we use is called Moodle, and it is very user friendly.

12.  Are online courses self-paced?

No, our online courses have a set start and end date. While you can access your course material any time, you are expected to complete the course requirements as outlined by your instructor in the course outline. You can access the course website any time after the start date and at any time of the day.

13.  When do I get access to my course website?

You will get access to the course on or just prior to your course start date (usually 2–3 days before approximately). You will receive a welcome email from our office with an enrolment key, and this key will provide you with the instructions and access to your course website. If you register after the course has started, you will gain access 24 hours after you register.

14.  Do I have to buy any books for an online course?

Some courses require a textbook(s). To confirm if your course requires a textbook, please review the course outline.

15.  Who do I contact if I need help with my online course?

Please contact us at 416-736-5616.

16.  Is there a final exam in online courses?

Yes, all certificate programs have an evaluative component that will consist of a variety of methods such as a final exam or assignment(s). Your instructor will confirm the details in your course outline.

17.  Can I see the course outline before the course starts?

Course outlines are available on the course website, and access will be provided usually 2–3 days prior to the course start date.

18.  What is Moodle?

Moodle is our online course platform you will use while completing this program. Click here to view a Tutorial about Moodle


If you would like more information or have a question about the Certificate in Dispute Resolution, please Contact us.

There are no upcoming dates for this program at present. Please check again later or request further information below.

Register for this Program