During the program, students complete an in-depth, individual research project, which is supervised by an ILR faculty advisor. Each student comes to the MPS program with a range of questions about the workplace and brings with them a variety of workplace experiences that inform their research interests. The topic area for the final project can be selected from a broad range of issues related to the world of work, and students are encouraged to draw on both MPS course work and their practical work experience to define their research proposals.
Faculty advisors work with each student to define the final project; he or she can assist in thinking through particular research interests and help to formulate the questions to be addressed and the most appropriate methodology for answering those questions.
The structure of the research project is flexible, and students may employ a variety of methods in shaping their work:
- A comprehensive literature review of a particular area: In this case, the data for answering the research question and the material for writing up the final project will come from the existing literature.
- An action project: Here the method might consist of formulating an intervention around his or her particular workplace problem, implementing the intervention, and documenting what happens.
- A student skilled in statistical methods might choose to do a secondary analysis of a data set related to a particular research question. Or, alternatively, develop a data set and do a primary analysis of the data.
- A small-scale qualitative study to generate analytical insight into a particular research question.