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Cornell employees are welcome to apply to any ILR degree program for which they are qualified. Employee degree applicants must submit the same application materials and meet the same criteria as external applicants. Admission to ILR is competitive — about one-third of all applicants are accepted across all graduate degree programs — but please don't let that keep you from applying. Our selection committee will look at your application carefully to get a clear picture of your background, your interests, and your potential for succeeding at ILR. Similar to applying for a job, your application will be compared to those of others in the applicant pool, and the committee will make its selection on that basis.

Admissions Decision Factors

Majors and Areas of Study

Often entering students have an undergraduate major in the social sciences; the field of psychology is frequently well-represented in an M.I.L.R. class. However, it is not unusual to have fellow classmates who have been nurses, engineers or school teachers. All fields are considered in the admissions process.

Once admitted to the M.I.L.R. program you'll complete six required core courses and six courses from one of four concentrations: Human Resources and Organizations, Labor Market Policy, Collective Representation, and Dispute Resolution. Major and minor subject areas for the M.S. and Ph.D. are: Collective Bargaining, Labor Relations Law and Labor History; Human Resource Studies; International and Comparative Labor and Organizational Behavior. M.P.S. students will also choose their area of concentration from these areas.

Work experience

We don't require it, but often nearly half of the incoming professional masters classes have spent a few years in the workplace, including the Cornell workplace. The mix of student experiences makes class discussion lively.

Statement of Purpose

The statement of purpose explains your reasons for undertaking graduate work and clarifies your academic interests. It is also an opportunity to tell the admissions committee anything about you as an applicant that is not already conveyed through your resume, transcripts, or test scores. You may also address any questions or discrepancies in your materials in your personal statement.


You'll need to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) and have your scores forwarded to us. While it is important to do well on those tests, test scores are only one of many items considered in the admissions process, along with undergraduate coursework, recommendations, and the other materials contained in the application.


We need transcripts from every college or university where you've ever taken courses. We don't compute grade point averages (GPAs) or use them as part of any formula. We prefer to look closely at the courses you've taken and the grades you've received.


All applicants are required to submit a resume with their application.

Letter of Recommendation

You'll need to arrange for two letters of recommendation from faculty members acquainted with your academic work. You may approach faculty members at Cornell, if you have taken courses extramurally, for your academic recommendations. You may also supplement the required two academic recommendations with one or two professional recommendations.


We don't require an interview, although we're certainly happy to meet with you. Contact the ILR Graduate Programs Office at 255-1522.

Special Considerations for Employee Degree Applicants

Admission to the ILR graduate degree programs is based on a competitive selection process, and is not automatic or guaranteed for Cornell University Employee Degree candidates. Therefore, for Cornell employees who are planning to apply to the M.I.L.R. and are taking ILR courses on an extramural basis for the purpose of applying those courses towards their degree, it is strongly recommended that applicants apply to the degree program prior to taking many relevant courses. The ILR Graduate Committee will only accept a total of 9 (nine) credits from Part-Time Study at Cornell (formerly Extramural Study) towards the M.I.L.R. degree program if admitted into the program as an Employee Degree. Completing all of the required coursework prior to admission to the program does not automatically grant the candidate admission nor the desired degree.

Employee Degree participants in the M.I.L.R. program are not required to spend any semesters as full-time students. Employee Degree participants in a Ph.D. program are required to complete a minimum of two semesters in full-time study. A doctoral student in the Employee Degree Program may petition to waive the requirement of full-time study if the special committee attests either that there is sufficient overlap between the student's employment and academic program or that the student is fully participating in the graduate program. Employee Degree candidates must follow all University and Graduate School policies regarding employment and study while in the employee degree program.

Unlike external candidates, Cornell employees who have successfully completed graduate level courses extramurally at Cornell prior to matriculating in the M.I.L.R. program may petition the ILR Graduate Committee to transfer up to 9 (nine) credits from their extramural studies toward their degree requirements. The courses must have been taken at the graduate level (5000) level or above, taken for a letter grade, and have a final grade of C or above. M.S./Ph.D. degree program candidates may petition the Special Committee to transfer up to two registration units from their extramural studies toward their degree requirements. The Committee has the option of accepting some of the course work, but may disallow some courses based on performance or academic relevance to the degree program. The Graduate School also has this option.