Labor Studies and Labor Relations

The Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies offers higher education programs for working adults and union members, and serves as a resource center to labor, academic, and community leaders seeking a deeper understanding of labor and urban issues.

There are several degree and certificate programs offered in Labor Studies and Labor Relations at the Murphy Institute. Options available to students interested in this field include:


The MA in Labor Studies degree program draws from the fields of sociology, law, history, economics, political science and labor relations to examine the opportunities and challenges facing workers and their organizations.  The program strengthens the ability of students to advocate for equity and social justice in their communities and workplaces. Students develop critical thinking, analytical and leadership skills, while learning about labor law, organizing, collective bargaining, international perspectives, labor relations and strategic research. 

  • Examines the debates and issues facing working people and unions from an interdisciplinary perspective
  • Ideal for those interested in advocacy, non-profit, labor relations, research or social justice work

MA in Labor Studies (30 credits)


The Certificate in Labor Relations, offered through an educational partnership between Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and CUNY SPS’s Joseph S. Murphy Institute, provides NYC area union members, officers and staff with practical knowledge, skills and resources needed to be effective practitioners in the field of labor and industrial relations.

  • Develop practical skills in the areas of collective bargaining, labor law and contract administration
  • Ideal for those seeking the practical knowledge, skills and resources needed to be effective practitioners in the field of labor and industrial relations

Undergraduate Certificate in Labor Relations (16 credits)


The Advanced Certificate in Labor Relations offers students the opportunity to develop the practical skills necessary for participation in collective bargaining, conflict resolution, and contract administration. It also provides a theoretical and historical understanding of labor law, public policy and the role of worker organizations in employment relations.

  • Provides skills and knowledge in the areas of collective bargaining, organizing, labor law, arbitration, contract negotiation, organizational administration and leadership development.
  • Prepares students for careers in the areas of union organizing, labor relations, contract administration, employment law and conflict resolution.

Certificate in Labor Relations: Graduate level (12 credits)


The Certificate in Labor Studies is designed for individuals who want to study the social, political and cultural impact that the organization of work has on employees and their communities. The certificate offers students an understanding of work, workers and labor organizations.

  • Examine labor history, contemporary labor issues, and the cultural, political, and economic forces that affect workers and their organizations
  • Ideal for those seeking to gain a better understanding of the labor movement

 Certificate in Labor Studies: Undergraduate level (16 credits); Graduate level (12 credits)


New York Union Semester is a full-time semester-long program that combines rigorous academic study with first-hand experience within the labor movement. As interns, students learn how unions and labor organizations fight for workers’ rights and analyze the experience they gain in the field by studying the history of and current debates within the U.S. labor movement.

  • Offers academic courses and a 32 hour experiential internship opportunity
  • Ideal for undergraduates and college graduates interested in learning about organized labor in a challenging environment, both inside and outside the classroom
  • Partial scholarship and weekly stipend provided

Union Semester (Undergraduate/Grad)