Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies


The Murphy Institute was established in 1984 as a partnership with New York City labor unions and the City University of New York (CUNY). Its purpose is three fold:

1) to provide courses, certificates, and undergraduate and graduate degree programs in labor studies and urban studies;

2) to expand higher educational opportunities for working adult students;

3) to serve the labor and broader community.

Initially established as a campus-based program at Queens College, the program was re-established as a University-wide Institute in 2005. Today, more than 1,200 adult and traditional-aged students are enrolled in programs at our mid-town Manhattan site and at CUNY schools in all five boroughs of New York. The Institute was named for Joseph S. Murphy, a former University Chancellor and a tireless advocate for working people and the labor movement.

Labor programs at the Murphy Institute include a Masters degree in Labor Studies and a Bachelor’s degree in Urban and Community Studies, with a concentration in Labor. In addition, the Institute offers an undergraduate (offered jointly with Cornell University) and a graduate certificates in Labor Relations. Urban Studies programs include a B.A. in Urban and Community Studies and an M.A. in Urban Studies as well as undergraduate and graduate certificates in Public Policy and Administration and Health Care Policy Administration. Courses completed in certificate programs can be applied toward degrees in Labor and Urban Studies and allow students to combine a practical and theoretical approach to their studies. Union Semester, is the Institute’s program that provides traditional-age students, with an opportunity to enroll in full-time study, serve as an interns with a union, enroll in credit courses, and earn a monetary stipend and valuable experience.

The Institute’s Workforce Development programs are offered in collaboration with CUNY colleges throughout the City and provide workers with opportunities to learn new skills, broaden their base of knowledge, and obtain job-related credentials in a range of occupational fields.

In addition to providing academic programs, the Murphy Institute serves the needs of labor and the broader community through research, public programming, training, and the publication of New Labor Forum – a national journal of ideas, debate and analysis.

Advancing the field of Labor Relations (ALR): A U.S. China Exchange, is a three-year initiative to share and expand the body of knowledge related to labor relations practices. It is made possible with funds from the U.S. State Department as well as support from the City University and the labor programs at Harvard and UCLA

The Murphy Institute is part of the CUNY School for Professional Studies and the CUNY Graduate School and University Center.