Masters Degree Program in Labor Relations

Master's degree programs in labor relations involve interdisciplinary approaches in using human resources data and analyzing the political and legal issues surrounding labor relations and employment.

Essential Information

Master's degrees in labor relations are offered under several different names, including Master of Industrial and Labor Relations (MILR), Master of Labor and Employment Relations (MLER), and Master of Labor Relations and Human Resources (MLRHR). Students may choose concentrations such as collective bargaining, compensation, diversity and dispute resolution. These programs typically take two years to complete and require a thesis paper before graduation. Most schools offer part-time enrollment for working professionals.

Master's Degree in Labor Relations

Applicants to a master's program must have bachelor's degrees and GRE or GMAT scores that meet school admissions standards. Although no specific undergraduate major is required, it is advantageous to have background knowledge in economics, behavioral science and statistics.

The curriculum covers a wide range of topics with a main emphasis on the interaction between people and the workplace. Students learn the concepts behind human resource management, labor relations management and labor relations law. Course topics include the following:

  • Labor relations law
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Human resources management
  • Industrial psychology
  • Labor economics
  • U.S. labor history

Popular Careers

Graduates with master's degrees in labor relations can find management-level positions in the public, private or non-profit sectors. Job titles can include the following:

  • Labor relations manager
  • Compensation and benefits manager
  • Placement and recruiting specialist
  • Occupational safety and health specialist
  • Mediator

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

In May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median annual salary for labor relations specialists was $58,820 ( Human resources specialists, on the other hand, earned a median annual wage of $58,350. From 2014-2024, there will be an 8% decline in the job prospects of labor relations specialists, but the employment outlook for human resources specialists will increase by 5% during the same period.

Continuing Education

Labor relations professionals interested in research or teaching careers may pursue Ph.D. degrees. Many schools, such as Cornell University's School of Industrial Relations, offer a joint master's/Ph.D. option.

Master's degree programs in labor relations cover topics on human resource management, labor relations management, and labor relations laws. Graduate students have a number of specialization options such as collective bargaining, compensation, diversity and dispute resolution that prepare them for careers in the public or private sectors.

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