Woman in a mediation process

Certificate in Dispute Resolution

The Winter 2020 session of the Dispute Resolution program was sold out.
Sign up now get information when registration opens for Summer Intensive 2020!

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.

Program delivery

The Certificate in Dispute Resolution is offered in both intensive and part-time formats. Both formats are delivered in class on our Keele Campus in Toronto, ON.

Full time program

The summer term allows you to complete the program in just 4 weeks. Classes meet for full days (9am-6pm) on weekdays and cover course content & coaching sessions.

View The Full-Time Schedule

Part time program

With the part-time session, you can finish in 5 months. Course content is delivered in class on weekday evenings and coaching is done full days on weekends.

View The Part-Time Schedule


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

Hear from our graduates

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.

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.

Key Policies

More Information

Confidentiality and Financial Security

Given the experiential and practical nature of the courses and the application of Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) to York University, The School of Continuing Studies works to ensure that instructors and participants acknowledge and respect the privacy and confidentiality of personal information that may be presented in the context of instruction. Instructors will limit the amount of personal information that is collected, used or disclosed in their sessions, and will ensure that all identifying personal information (including proper name, address, etc.) is omitted from all written documents in order to protect personal privacy and confidentiality. Instructors should not bring or share personal or other confidential files or records with the class or allow students to do so.

We are committed to protecting your privacy and your financial security, and we do this in several ways:

  • Your credit card information is never received or stored by our system. Only your financial institution has access to your credit card information.
  • Your Student Portal is password-protected. To access any personal and academic information, you must enter your username and portal password.

York University Privacy Policy

How to Register

Online – Visit our website at continue.yorku.ca to register in any course or program offered by the Continuing and Professional Education.

Fax – (For credit card payments only) Complete the registration form, including credit card information. Fax to 416-650-8042, with program-specific documentation (i.e., proof of degree).

Mail – Complete the Registration Form and mail to the Continuing and Professional Education.

School of Continuing Studies
Room 116, Atkinson Building
4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario, M3J 1P3
Tel: +1 416 736 5616 Email: continue@yorku.ca
Fax: +1 416 650 8042 Web: continue.yorku.ca

All applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis, so early registration is recommended.

The School of Continuing Studies reserves the right to alter fees, other charges, instructors, and course dates/locations described in this brochure.

Mailing Address and Change(s) in Personal Status

All correspondence, including your registration confirmation, grade report, and refund cheque, will be sent to the “mailing address” provided at the time of registration.

To maintain accurate student records, notification of any changes to your name, address, and contact information are required. To update your personal information go online to Contact Us and email all changes.

All name-change requests must be accompanied by official documentation justifying such a change.

We will not accept telephone requests to change a name or address.

Education and Amount Certificates (Income Tax Receipts, T2202A)

Income Tax receipts will be available online in February of the following year. Please refer to the income tax guide for allowable deductions.

Session Transfer and Elective Changes

Students must contact the Program Manager for permission to transfer to another session. Transfer requests are only granted for documented medical reasons.

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.

Notification of Change or Cancellation of Classes

When necessary, the School of Continuing Studies may alter, postpone, or cancel classes. In these instances, students will be notified by e-mail, based on the information provided at the time of registration.

Cancellations or changes will also be posted on the School of Continuing Studies twitter account.

Cancellation of Courses/Programs - Fee Refund

The School of Continuing Studies reserves the right to withdraw or cancel programs/courses. Should a course or program be withdrawn or cancelled, the School will issue a full refund of fees paid.

University Policy on Student Conduct

  • Students and instructors are expected to maintain a professional relationship characterized by courtesy, collegiality, and mutual respect, and to refrain from actions that would be disruptive to such a relationship;
  • It is the responsibility of the instructor to maintain an appropriate academic atmosphere in the classroom, and the responsibility of the student to cooperate in that endeavour; and,
  • The instructor is the best person to decide, in first instance, whether such an atmosphere is present in the class, and may, at their discretion, take steps that they feel are appropriate to resolve an issue or dispute.

In any case where a student feels that this policy has been violated, they are urged to notify the instructor of the course/program as soon as possible. Students may be asked to provide a detailed written description of their complaint to the instructor. The instructor may take measures they feel are appropriate to resolve the issue and/or may forward the complaint to the Program Manager for review. Please refer to the full policy document on the York University website at: http://www.yorku.ca/scdr/


a) Grading for Certificate Programs:

Students registered in certificate programs will be evaluated using the following categories of achievement:

Grade % Description
A+ 90 – 100% Thorough knowledge of concepts and/or techniques, and exceptional skill or great originality in the use of those concepts/techniques in satisfying the requirements of an assignment or course.
A 80 – 89%
B+ 75 – 79% Thorough knowledge of concepts and/or techniques with a fairly high degree of skill in the use of those concepts/techniques in satisfying the requirements of an assignment or course.
B 70 – 74%
C+ 65 – 69% Good level of knowledge of concepts and/or techniques together with considerable skill in using them to satisfy the requirements of an assignment or course.
C 60 – 64%
D+ 55 – 59%
D 50 – 54%
F Below 50% Insufficient knowledge of concepts and/or techniques needed to satisfy the requirements of an assignment or course.
PASS Pass is awarded as a grade only to courses that have an experiential component. A student that has received a Pass has met the requirements of the course.
FAIL Fail is awarded as a grade only to courses that have an experiential component. A student that has received a Fail has not met the requirements of the course.
EXEMPT Exempt is awarded to those that have completed a comparable course elsewhere and have met all of the requirements for completion of that course.
DNA Did Not Attend – The student did not attend, did not withdraw, and did not submit course work.
DNC Did Not Complete – The student did not complete the course.

b) Grading for Academic Bridging and Math for Admission Waiver courses:

Students are required to complete all course work.

  • Students who fail to complete the course work will receive a DNC (Did Not Complete).
Grade % Description
A+AB+B 90 – 100%80 – 89%75 – 79%70 – 74% Academic Bridging Studies – Meets Admission Requirements
Elementary Mathematics – Students already admitted to YORK UNIVERSITY who earn a grade of “B” or better will gain automatic entrance to AK/MATH1710.06 and will be exempt from the pre-requisite test.
C+CD+D 65 – 69%60 – 64%55 – 59%50 – 54%
Academic Bridging Studies – Does not meet Admission requirements. Student cannot repeat the same Academic Bridging course but can enroll in the other Academic Bridging course.
F Below 50% Academic Bridging Studies – Does not meet Admission requirements. Student cannot repeat the same Academic Bridging course but can enroll in the other Academic Bridging course.
DNA Did Not Attend – The student did not attend, did not withdraw, and did not submit course work.
DNC Did Not Complete – The student did not complete the course.

Grade Appeal and Reappraisal and Petitions

Students may, with sufficient grounds, request a reappraisal of any “tangible” work required for a course/program. Tangible work may include written, graphic, digitized, modelled, video recording or audio recording formats. Students seeking a grade reappraisal must complete and submit the attached form, along with the original work and instructions for the assignment, to the Program Manager within 2 weeks of the date of issue of the letter of grade.

Students and instructors will be informed in writing of the reappraisal result and the reappraiser’s comments. The School of Continuing Studies will ensure the anonymity of both the student and the reappraiser.

Download a Grade Reappraisal pdf form

Financial Petitions

You may submit a financial petition if you experience a serious documented medical illness or a death of an immediate family member that causes you to drop courses. Financial petitions may be granted at the discretion of the University, and will be considered for a period of one year after the occurrence of the illness or death.

The Financial Petition form is located here: http://sfs.yorku.ca/refunds/petitions/

Please complete the form and return it via email continue@yorku.ca or via fax at 416-650-8042.