Program Requirements

Master's Thesis

Students who are admitted to the MS/PhD program must complete a Master’s thesis that is approved by their members of their Special Committee, composed of:

  • a chairperson, representing their major area of specialization (Labor Relations, Human Resource Studies, International and Comparative Labor, or Organizational Behavior), and
  • a minor member, representing one of the other areas of specialization within the ILR School.

Students work closely with their committee members in selecting appropriate courses and developing a thesis topic. The thesis is normally completed within the first two years of the program. Upon approval by the committee, the student is admitted formally to the PhD program.

Completion of PhD

To complete the PhD degree, the student will need to add at least one additional minor member, representing a field outside ILR, to their Special Committee. For a PhD, Cornell's Graduate School requires:

  • six units of residence credit at the graduate level,
  • satisfactory work in a major and two minor subject areas, as determined by the student's Special Committee, and
  • the successful completion of the admission-to-candidacy examination, which is taken before the start of the seventh semester.

Following this examination, students complete a PhD dissertation, which must be approved by the Special Committee members. Cornell's MS and PhD degree programs are governed by the Graduate School. Please visit their website for additional, in-depth information regarding academic requirements.

Applicants who wish to have statistics or economics as their major area of specialization should apply directly to the Graduate Fields of Statistics or Economics. They may choose to have a minor in one of the other the areas of study within ILR.

Terminal MS

ILR undergraduates may apply for a terminal MS degree option. Under this option, students can earn a BSILR and an MS degree in 5 years. They follow the application procedures detailed on Cornell’s Graduate School website, and their applications are reviewed by the ILR Graduate Committee, along with those of applicants to the MS/PhD program. Students in this program complete a Master’s thesis, working with a Special Committee as described above. Please note that only BSILR students are admitted to the terminal MS program.