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Master of Industrial and Labor Relations (MILR) is a two year professional, career-focused degree for those interested in putting their education into practice. The MILR is specifically for students preparing to enter the workforce or professionals who wish to enhance their education and skills.

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.

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Human Resources and Organizations

The Human Resources and Organizations (HR&O) Concentration focuses on people in organizations, including the roles of line managers, the HR function and HR professionals in contributing to organizational success and employee well-being and such key aspects of organizational life as leadership, decision-making, and conflict resolution. The emphasis is on both theoretical and practical applications. Traditional classroom experiences are regularly enriched by interactions with senior corporate executives and other managers who focus on the real-time challenges they face.

As part of the MILR Degree (which requires a minimum of 48 credit hours, encompassing a least 16 full semester courses), students interested in the HR&O concentration take six core courses, and six specialized courses as well as four additional electives. All MILR students choose a Graduate Field Faculty member as their Special Committee Chairperson, to advise them on course selection and other academic matters.

ILR Faculty Members in Human Resources and Organizations

International and Comparative Labor

In the International and Comparative Labor concentration students have the opportunity to increase their understanding of international and comparative industrial relations, human resources, organizations, and labor markets. In particular, it is expected that students will understand how different IR and HR policy and labor market institutions "work" in different national contexts.

Eleanor Emerson Fellowship

The ILR School at Cornell University is pleased to announce a new fellowship opportunity for students applying for a Masters of Industrial and Labor Relations (MILR) at the ILR School. The Eleanor Emerson Fellowship is intended to provide financial support for one full year, including tuition, stipend and health benefits, for one incoming MILR student in the Collective Representation or International and Comparative Labor concentration.

The recipient of the award will have the opportunity to work closely with resident and extension faculty on research and other projects at the Worker Institute at Cornell. Potential areas of research will be based on the Institute's six initiative groups—International Collective Action, Equity at Work, Labor, Environment and Sustainable Development, Precarious Workers, Public Sector and Strategic Leadership.

All students applying for an MILR with a concentration in Collective Representation or International and Comparative Labor will be considered for the fellowship. The recipient must demonstrate a strong interest in labor, social movements and/or NGOs in his/her statement of purpose, previous employment and/or extracurricular activities, and letters of recommendation. The recipient will also demonstrate strong academic ability as evidenced in undergraduate and graduate, transcripts, strong GRE scores, and letters of recommendation. The recipient will be chosen by the director of Graduate Studies and the Director of the Worker Institute and will work on Worker Institute projects under the guidance of the director.

Core Courses

All MILR candidates must complete the following six core courses

  • ILRLR 5000 Labor Relations
  • ILRCB 5010 Labor and Employment Law
  • ILRST 5050 Statistics at Work or ILRST 5110 Statistical Methods for the Social Sciences
  • ILROB 5200 Organizational Behavior
  • ILRLE 5400 Labor Economics
  • ILRHR 5600 Human Resource Management

Concentration Courses

In additional to the six core MILR courses, students must complete six courses that consist of international or comparative courses related to international and comparative labor. Three of those courses must provide an understanding of the relevant institutional environment of another country or region in ways that prepare students for international careers and assignments in that country or region. The remaining three courses may be any international or comparative course, and may include language courses. Courses will be selected and agreed upon by the student and his/her special committee chairperson. The chair of the International and Comparative Labor department Department will also maintain a suggested list of courses.


Students in the International and Comparative Labor concentration will enroll in a minimum of 4 additional electives.

ILR Faculty Members in International and Comparative Labor

Collective Representation

The Collective Representation concentration focuses on industrial relations, including the past, present and future labor movement. In addition to the core courses, students choosing this concentration can take classes on the history of unions, the modern workforce, international and comparative political economy and theories of the labor movement.

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 in the Collective Representation concentration enroll in a minimum of 4 additional free electives. Some examples of elective courses are listed below.

  • ILRLR 6010 Union Organizing
  • ILRLR 6017 Planes, Trains, and Labor Relations: Law and Policy Under the Railway Labor Act
  • ILRLR 6025 Employee Benefits: Law, Policy & Practice
  • ILRLR 6066 Technological Change at 
  • ILRLR 6070 Values, Rights, and Justice at Work
  • ILRLR 6078 Contemporary Union Movement

Dispute Resolution

In the Dispute Resolution concentration students can prepare for careers as neutrals, advocates, or consultants in conflict resolution. The rise of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in employment relations and other fields has created opportunities for students interested in pursuing careers as mediators, arbitrators, or facilitators. A growing number of corporations and other organizations have hired dispute resolution specialists to manage their ADR programs. Federal and State agencies, such as the United States Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and the United States Department of Labor, and international agencies, such as the International Labour Organization, employ specialists in dispute resolution. Given the Diversity in these career options, the concentration is quite flexible and is intended to address student needs and interests.

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 must complete a minimum of 6 courses in Dispute Resolution, but there are no set requirements regarding the nature of the elective courses. Rather, students should design a course of study that suits their needs under the direction of their faculty advisor. Students choosing the dispute resolution concentration can choose from courses on the theory and practice of conflict management both in conjunction with and outside of collective bargaining. See below for some possible courses in this area. (See Courses of Study Catalog for full course descriptions)

  • ILRLR 6011 Negotiation: Theory and Practice
  • ILRLR 6012 Managing and Resolving Conflict
  • ILRLR 6020 The Practice of Labor Arbitration
  • ILRLR 6022 Arbitration
  • ILRLR 6023 Advanced Issues in Mediation
  • ILRLR 6070 Values, Rights, and Justice at Work
  • ILRLR 6082 Collective Bargaining Negotiations Simulation
  • ILRLR 6892 Negotiated and Collaborative Decision Making

The Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution is housed in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. More than 40 programs on conflict resolution have been developed at universities and law schools throughout the nation but ICR is the only program with an exclusive focus on the workplace. ILR also maintains the largest concentration of faculty in the related fields of conflict and dispute resolution and problem solving of any university. The faculty's expertise and broad experience in working with all types of organizations, combined with access to an expansive research network, ensures the high quality of our conflict and dispute resolution education and services.