Master of Arts in Peace and Justice Leadership
Learn to design and lead interventions to transform conflict and build more just systems through a part-time hybrid program.
Peace and justice leadership is a dominant subfield at the intersection of political science, social psychology, and public administration, challenging future leaders to tackle urgent issues of identity and inequality that lie at the heart of almost every local, regional, and global crisis.
Created especially for mission-driven, full-time and part-time professionals who seek to earn a master’s without stepping off the career track, this degree provides you with the skill set and global know-how of the world’s top leaders, diplomats, mediators, policymakers, and peacebuilders.
Begin with a two-week summer residency on our beautiful Vermont campus, where you’ll meet your cohort, and network with peace and justice experts at SIT’s prestigious CONTACT Summer Peacebuilding Program.
For the rest of the summer and into spring, you will begin deeply experiential studies with your cohort online, taking six credits of courses per semester to study conflict analysis; strategic peacebuilding; policy advocacy; civil resistance; and conflict transformation at every level.
During your second two-week summer residency, you will reconvene with your cohort in South Africa and travel to Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg to examine post-conflict transitions and how Apartheid was overcome. Interact with global scholars and leaders in the field, and engage in traveling seminars and trips into the bush. In the fall, you will explore three essential skills in peace and justice leadership: negotiation, mediation and dialogue. You will complete a group capstone project in the final semester of the program.
Peace and justice leadership is a deep, showstopper of a field, with bottomless career options and possibilities. With the Master of Arts in Peace and Justice Leadership, you will be able to lead wherever you go, addressing the causes and consequences of complex and multilayered crises and help build sustained peace.
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- Learn from a leader and innovator in the field, training conflict managers and peacebuilders for more than 25 years.
- Stay in your job while earning your degree.
- Get on-the-ground training in post-conflict transition during two weeks across different locations in South Africa.
- Interact with peacebuilding specialists from around the world at the CONTACT Summer Peacebuilding Program
- Expand your professional network with peacebuilding experts outside of SIT through an innovative partnership with two leading peace and justice organizations in the US
The world needs peace and justice advocates more than ever. Get the skills you need to design and lead interventions that address the causes and consequences of complex and multi-layered conflicts and that can help build sustained peace.
You’ll learn from peacebuilding experts in government, nongovernmental, and international organizations both in the United States and abroad. You’ll examine and practice strategies for conflict transformation at interpersonal, intercommunal, national, and international levels.
With the training you’ll receive through this program, you’ll be prepared to introduce interventions that address the root causes of conflict, such as poverty, chronic inter-communal violence, non-representative political systems, gender inequality, and cultures of intolerance. You’ll be ready to work in NGOs, development initiatives, humanitarian aid, educational settings, youth programs, inter-group relations efforts, human rights organizations, and elsewhere.
On-the-Ground Training in South Africa
Spend two weeks witnessing post-conflict transition in action in three South African cities: Johannesburg, Durban, and Cape Town.
Excursion highlights include:
- The Apartheid Museum
- The Nelson Mandela Foundation
- Desmond Tutu’s and Nelson Mandela’s houses on Soweto’s Vilakazi Street
- Gandhi’s house to learn about his philosophy of nonviolence — visit will include a conversation with his granddaughter
- ACCORD, the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes
- Research institutes examining issues of peace and justice in post-apartheid South Africa
- The Luthuli Museum to learn about Inkosi Albert John Luthuli, a South African teacher, activist, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and former president of the ANC
- Robben Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where Nelson Mandela and other African National Congress (ANC) leaders were imprisoned
- Weekend excursion into the bush
With SIT’s experiential curriculum, you’ll learn how to put theory into practice. In addition to core courses, a broad range of elective choices let you focus on courses that will help you meet your career goals.
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Year One: First Term, Two-Week Residency Vermont; Washington, DC (optional); and Online
- CONTACT Summer Program (Peacebuilding 1 & 2) – 2–3 credits (One credit takes place in DC and is optional.)
- Practitioner Inquiry – 3 credits
Year One: Second Term, Online
- Theory and Practice of Peacebuilding, Conflict Transformation, and Justice Promotion – 3 credits
- Negotiation, Mediation, and Dialogue – 3 credits
Year One: Third Term, Online
- Policy Advocacy Concepts – 1 credit
- Civil Resistance – 2 credits
- Leadership and Change – 3 credits
Year Two: Fourth Term, Two-Week Residency in South Africa and Online
- CONTACT Mid-Year Field Seminar – 2 credits
- Program Monitoring and Evaluation: Concepts – 1 credits
- Design Monitoring and Evaluation in Fragile Environments – 1 credit
Year Two: Fifth Term, Online
- Strategic Peacebuilding – 3 credits
- Special Topics in Conflict Transformation, Peacebuilding, and Justice Promotion – 2 credits
- From Grant Writing to Policy Briefs: Essential Skills in Peace and Justice Promotion – 1 credits
Year Two: Sixth Term, Online
- Reflective Practice – 3 credits
- Capstone Project – 3 credits
In addition to the residencies in Vermont and South Africa, you may opt to take a one-week skills-building seminar in Washington, DC, with the United States Institute of Peace, the Alliance for Peacebuilding, and other NGOs.
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United States Institute of Peace
This independent national institute founded by Congress is dedicated to the proposition that a world without violent conflict is possible, practical, and essential for US and global security. The Institute provides training, analysis, and other resources to people, organizations, and governments working to build peace.
Here, you will receive three days of face-to-face training focused on dialogue and facilitation skills for peace and justice leaders during the optional DC portion of the CONTACT program. You’ll learn from internationally recognized peace and justice promotion faculty such as Pamela Aall, George Lopez, and Jeffrey Helsing, who will teach five courses across the two-year degree. Courses in the curriculum that will be taught by USIP experts include: Introduction to Peacebuilding, Conflict Analysis, Strategic Peacebuilding, Design Monitoring and Evaluation in Fragile Environments, and Civil Resistance.
Alliance for Peacebuilding
You will receive a day’s worth of face-to-face training from the alliance—a membership network of more than 100 of the most important organizations in the world active in the fields of conflict transformation, peace-promotion, sustainable development, and security—during the Washington, DC, portion of the CONTACT program. Senior staff from the alliance will share their observations about the current peacebuilding landscape across the globe, opportunities for NGOs in the peacebuilding field, and core challenges facing peacebuilders.
Following this, you’ll take a one-credit online course taught by a senior alliance staff member. This course, titled From Grant Writing to Policy Briefs: Essential Skills in Peace and Justice Promotion, will give you a real-world understanding of how to communicate and advocate to advance peace and justice initiatives.
The alliance will also connect you with one of their peacebuilding, conflict transformation, or justice promotion organizations working domestically or internationally. In collaboration with this organization, you’ll complete a three credit capstone project that addresses a problem or works on a project (for instance, monitoring and evaluation, an advocacy campaign, basic research). This project will be worked on remotely, with a product presented and delivered at the end of a three-month period.
SIT’s faculty are practitioners in their fields. Our diverse, multicultural faculty have worked across the world as leaders, trainers, and developers in the business, nonprofit, education, and public sectors.
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- Bruce W. Dayton
PhD, Maxwell School of Syracuse University
MA, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
BA, Ithaca College
Bruce W. Dayton (PhD, Syracuse University, 1999) has been active in peacebuilding and conflict transformation work for over twenty years as a practitioner, a researcher, and an educator. His work focuses on the intersection of social identity and intractable conflicts and the role that intermediaries can play in transforming them.
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- Imraan Buccus
PhD Fellow, University of KwaZulu-Natal
MA, University of KwaZulu-Natal
BA, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Imraan Buccus has an undergraduate degree in education and a master’s degree in social policy from the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). He is currently a PhD fellow at UKZN’s School of Politics, where he has also been a lecturer. He is widely published in academic journals and book chapters and is the former editor of the journal Critical Dialogue and the current editor of Democracy Dialogue.
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- Alumni Careers
Students in this program go on to work in the field in a variety of areas including study abroad offices, NGOs, nonprofits, and government agencies. Find out some of the career paths that may be open to you.
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The demand for well-trained conflict transformation practitioners has never been greater. Career opportunities in the field are numerous, especially for conflict transformation practitioners who can become pioneers in expanding the scope of conflict transformation practices that society can recognize and value.
Graduates go on to work for NGOs, education institutions, the media, the private sector, the government, international organizations, and in other professional venues.
Alumni develop their own distinct and diverse paths—paths that may be collectively described as integrated peacebuilding, a wide spectrum of sustained group-based processes, which seek to bring members of divided groups and communities together to meet their shared needs and purposes that can transcend the underlying reasons for their divisions. This work may include:
- Leading youth camps
- Organizing community-based arts and sports events
- Developing inclusive educational curricula
- Teaching languages through means that promote intercultural harmony
- Working as human rights and gender sensitivity advocates and defenders of marginalized people
- Supporting political and social change campaigns
- Working in government agencies and international organizations with conflict awareness
- Working as socially responsible media professionals
- Providing humanitarian assistance to refugees, immigrants, and internally displaced persons
- Providing disaster relief
- Creating socially and environmentally responsible business practices
- Advocating community-based inclusive health services
- Creating religious services that promote social harmony
- Using monitoring and evaluation skills to facilitate social change initiatives
Past positions held by alumni of this program include:
- Executive Director, Interfaith Center for Peace and Justice, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
- Trainer, Somali Refugee Association, Silver Spring, MD
- Founder, Andi Leadership Institute for Young Women, Washington, DC
- Community Organizer, Vermont Interfaith Action Group, Vermont
- International Human Resources Systems Manager, Nonviolent Peace Force, San Francisco, CA
- Libya representative, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Washington, DC and Libya
- Consultant, Refugee Youth Program Director and Teambuilding, Burlington, VT
- CEO/Director, Red Kite Project, Philadelphia, PA
- Director of Programming, Encounter Program, Boston, MA, Israel, and Palestine
- Youth Adjustment Counselor, RefugeeOne, Chicago, IL
- Community Educator, Silicon Valley Faces, San Jose, CA
- Education Consultant, UN International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Uganda
- Political Specialist, National Reconciliation & Humanitarian Mine Action, Rangoon, Burma
- Program Director, Global Kids, Washington, DC
- Community Organizer, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, Washington, DC
- Program Manager, British Council, Azerbaijan
- Health Technical Specialist, Save the Children International, Liberia
- Assistant Director, RAMP Youth Services, Putney, VT
- Founder & President, Daya Center for Peace, Hyderabad, India
- Director, Prison Theater Program, SingSing, New York
- Outreach & Dialog Facilitation Associate, Unity Productions Foundation, California and Washington, DC
- Associate Director for Diversity Services, Suffolk University, Boston, MA
- Program Officer, Hunt Alternatives Fund, Sudan
- Peace Journalist, TRANSCEND Media Services, Springfield, MA
Graduates of the CONTACT program include:
- Maliha Hassan, deputy attorney general of Afghanistan
- Dishani Jayaweera, director of the Center for Peacebuilding and Reconciliation in Sri Lanka
- Vahidin Omanovic, founder and director of the Center for Peacebuilding in Bosnia
- Joseph Sebarenzi, former Rwandan Parliamentarian, U.S. Department of Treasury official, and author of God Sleeps in Rwanda
- Admissions Criteria
We strive to create a diverse and experienced student body to enhance the learning experience both inside and outside the classroom.
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To be considered for admission to the MA in Peace and Justice Leadership program, an applicant must meet the following criteria:
- US bachelor’s degree or equivalent
- Demonstrated English language ability (see details below)
- Intercultural and professional experience
- Experience and familiarity with instructional technology, distance learning, and/or independent learning
- Demonstrated ability to use experience as a source of learning
SIT Graduate Institute’s Selection Process
Our admissions staff work one-on-one with every applicant to facilitate a highly informed and multidimensional admissions experience: applicants are encouraged to talk with SIT faculty and staff and hear from current students and alumni. As applicants become familiar with the attributes of an SIT education — grounded in the experiential learning model and focused on social justice and leadership skills in intercultural environments — they determine for themselves in what ways SIT can help them meet their educational and career objectives.
English Language Ability
Applicants whose first language is not English and who did not graduate from an English-speaking institution in a country whose official language is English submit test scores for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), or the PTE (Pearson Test of English). (Applicants can access free TOEFL and IELTS practice tests online.)
Applicants taking the TOEFL must receive a minimum score of
- 600 on the paper-based test (PBT)
- 250 on the computer-based test (CBT), or
- 100 on the internet-based iBT.
Applicants taking the IELTS must receive a score of Band 7.0 or higher. Applicants taking the PTE must receive a minimum score of 68.
These scores are considered the minimum proficiency needed to undertake graduate-level work. Scores must be dated within two years of the start date of your academic program at SIT.
FOR APPLICANTS EXPERIENCING ENGLISH LANGUAGE TESTING CENTER CLOSURES DUE TO COVID19:
The Covid-19 pandemic has made center-based testing unavailable in much of the world. Because of this, Duolingo, which is taken at home over the Internet, is now accepted as a substitute for the TOEFL and IELTS at a growing number of universities
The Duolingo English Test presents an entirely different approach to testing because students can take it at home from their own computer. There are no test centers and no appointments. The cost is $49 USD and they can take the test online, anytime.
See a breakdown of the costs for this program.
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Tuition and Fees
Year 1 tuition: $21,750
Year 2 tuition: $21,945
MA degree total tuition and fees (all terms combined): $43,695
Year 1 on-campus room and board: $1,050
SIT estimates the costs to students for books, personal expenses, transportation. Individual expenses may vary.
Year 1 books: $1,200
Year 1 personal expenses: $1,500
Year 1 transportation costs: $500
Year 2 estimated Durban, South African room and board: $475
Year 2 books: $1,200
Year 2 personal expenses: $1,500
Year 2 transportation costs: $1,020 (plus $145 for passport, if student doesn’t already have valid one)
Estimated Student Loan Fees:
Year 1: $225
Year 2: $225
Estimated fees are based on the average amount borrowed by SIT Graduate Institute students. See details on student loan options.
Direct costs and on-campus room and board are billed by SIT Graduate Institute. Indirect, off-campus housing costs, transportation expenses, and additional costs are not billed by SIT, but represent educational expenses associated with being an enrolled student.