Labor studies graduate programs are designed to give students insight into different social sciences and how they affect the workforce. These programs are unique because they combine many different elements--economics, human resources, sociology, political science, and so on--to provide you with a great understanding of how labor works. Below you'll find typical admissions standards and coursework that are required for a graduate degree in labor studies.
What Type of Courses Can I Expect to Take in a Labor Studies Graduate Program?
The courses required for labor studies graduate programs are extremely diverse due to the nature of the field. Graduation takes between one to two years, and in that time you will be exposed to many different elements of labor studies, which include the following.
Labor law courses provide a historical overview of the legalities surrounding labor and how they exist today. You'll study the relationships between employees and employers, employers and unions, and how the government is involved. The content is typically from a human resources approach, looking at fair labor standards, equal opportunity, etc.
Most graduate programs will require a research course focused on employment topics such as workers, unions, wages, etc. You'll learn the best practices for choosing research questions, collecting and analyzing data, and sharing your findings. These courses involve examining many case studies.
Work, Culture, and Society
These courses use a sociological approach to explore the workplace and understand the different cultures that comprise it. You'll study multiple locations and how their workforces are differentiated by immigration, social welfare, and globalization. Additionally, you'll be exposed to the impacts of public policy on the labor force.
The Working Class and Union Organization
Labor studies programs generally include a union studies course as part of the curriculum. In these courses, you'll learn about the history and organization of unions, the impact they have on legislation, and the performance they have with representing the workforce. You'll also be exposed to some potential controversies with union representation.
Labor politics courses give insight towards the policy-making side of labor. You'll learn about the change of labor over time, how politicians strategize using the labor market, traditional theories of unions, and progressive views of the labor/workforce. These courses include a large amount of case studies.
What Will I Need To Get Accepted Into a Labor Studies Graduate Program?
The requirements for a labor studies graduate program are usually identical to the requirements for a university's graduate school in general. Some programs require a 3.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale, while others consider GPA without having a specific requirement. Some schools require GRE test scores, nut others schools don't require them but will accept them. Most schools will ask for at least two letters of recommendation and a personal essay as to why you are passionate about labor studies. While universities give preference to students who studied a similar field in their undergraduate courses, they will accept students with a bachelor's degree in any field. Programs often give a preference to applicants who have experience in the HR and labor relations industries.
Labor studies graduate programs are unique in that they cover a wide variety of social science topics, including economics, sociology, and political science. You should be prepared to meet standard graduate school requirements and express passion for why you're interested in pursuing higher education in labor studies.