Master of Industrial and Labor Relations (MILR)

The two-year Master of Industrial and Labor Relations (MILR) is the top degree program in the area of human resources and labor relations and provides a broad-based foundation with a specific, intense focus on the interaction between people and organizations in the workplace.

As a professional, career-focused degree, it is suitable for candidates interested in putting their education into practice. Classroom discussions incorporate workplace issues in all sectors of our economy, whether in a small service business, a not-for-profit museum, a large and influential labor union, or a Fortune 200 corporation.

Concentrations include: Human Resources and Organizations, International and Comparative Labor, Collective Representation, Dispute Resolution, and Labor Market Policy. Learn about some of the many careers that these concentrations can prepare you for!

MILR Degree Requirements

The MILR Degree requires a minimum of 48 credit hours, encompassing at least 16 courses comprised of 6 core courses, 6 concentration courses and elective courses. 

Students choose a graduate field faculty member within their area of concentration to serve as their advisor who will help guide students on course selection and other academic matters.

Students have a great deal of flexibility in choosing their courses in addition to the required core courses. Courses offered by the ILR School and the 13 other colleges at Cornell provide an opportunity for cross-disciplinary work. 

Substitutions for one or more of the required core courses may be petitioned with demonstrated competence in the area of study.

6 required core courses:

  • ILRLR 5000 Labor Relations
    A comprehensive introduction to the industrial relations system of the United States. The negotiation, scope, and day-to-day administration of contracts; union and employer bargaining structures; implications of industrial relations issues for U.S. competitiveness and public policy; industrial conflict; and U.S. industrial relations in international and comparative perspective.
  • ILRLR 5010 Labor and Employment Law
    A survey and analysis of the law governing labor relations and employee rights in the workplace. The first half of the course examines the legal framework in which collective bargaining takes place, including union organizational campaigns, negotiations for and enforcement of collective bargaining agreements, and the use of economic pressure. The second half of the course surveys additional issues of rights in employment, including such topics as employment discrimination, the developing law of "unjust dismissal," and union democracy. Also serves as an introduction to judicial and administrative systems.
  • ILRST 5110 Statistical Methods for the Social Sciences
    A second course in statistics that emphasizes applications to the social sciences. Topics include: simple linear regression; multiple linear regression (theory, model building, and model diagnostics); and the analysis of variance. Computer packages are used extensively.
  • ILROB 5200 Organizational Behavior
    Survey of concepts, theories, and research from the fields of organizational and social psychology as these relate to the behavior of individuals and groups in organizations. Job attitudes, motivation, performance, leadership and power, group formation, perception, and organizational climate. A preliminary course for advanced work in organizational behavior.
  • ILRLE 5400 Labor Economics
    A course in labor market economics for prospective managers in the corporate, union, and governmental sectors. The course begins with demand and supply in labor markets, presenting the tools of decision analysis for workers and firms. It then goes on to consider various topics for managers including deciding on the optimal mix of capital and labor to employ; attracting and retaining talent; pay and productivity; hiring and training investments; and pensions and retirement. The final section of the course covers other important labor market issues including unemployment, discrimination, poverty and inequality, and analysis of public policies.
  • ILRHR 5600 Human Resource Management
    A survey course covering the major areas of the management of human behavior in work organizations. Consideration is given to aspects of strategic human resource management such as staffing, training and development, performance management, compensation, and employee relations. Emphasis is on exploring these issues from both strategic and tactical levels to increase organizational effectiveness.

6 elective courses from one of the following concentrations:

Courses taken toward fulfillment of the MILR degree requirements must meet all of the following criteria:

  • 5000 level or above
  • Taken for a letter grade (pass/fail and S/U grade option courses do not count)
  • Final course grade must be C or above
  • 3 or more credits. Courses that carry less than 3 credits do not count unless combined with another less-than-three credit course. Such instances will count as 1 course and must be taken for credit.

1-Year MILR Degree

Graduates with a JD or MBA degree from an accredited U.S. institution, or a BS ILR degree may apply to complete the MILR degree program in one year. Not all applicants will be approved for the 1-year option, but each application will be evaluated individually by the admissions committee. 30 credit hours including the 6 MILR core courses are required. Students in the 1-year MILR program must:

  • Complete a total of 30 credits
  • Complete 2 full-time semesters in the MILR program
  • Complete or waive all 6 of the MILR required core courses
  • Complete or waive four of the six concentration courses
  • Complete as many relevant and appropriate electives as needed to fulfill the 30 credit requirement


Please visit the Cornell University Bursar for current information regarding tuition.