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Master of Arts in Labour Studies

The prime objective of this unique program is to introduce students to a variety of theoretical approaches and practical policy debates related to work and workers, both globally, and in Canada. Courses focus on a broad range of topics such as: union organizing; globalization and migration; labour geography; worker health and safety; and gender, racialization and work. The M.A. in Labour Studies approaches work broadly, paying attention to informal work, unpaid work in the home, as well as formal waged work. Regardless of the particular focus, work is studied as one component of life experience, and as influenced by technological change, community relations, the effects of racism, sexism, homophobia, and ableism, politics, and state regulation.

M.A.Master of Arts in Labour Studies

The prime objective of this unique program is to introduce students to a variety of theoretical approaches and practical policy debates related to work and workers, both globally, and in Canada. Courses focus on a broad range of topics such as: union organizing; globalization and migration; labour geography; worker health and safety; and gender, racialization and work. The M.A. in Labour Studies approaches work broadly, paying attention to informal work, unpaid work in the home, as well as formal waged work. Regardless of the particular focus, work is studied as one component of life experience, and as influenced by technological change, community relations, the effects of racism, sexism, homophobia, and ableism, politics, and state regulation.

Upon graduation, our students are well-prepared either to take up employment in related fields or to pursue further studies in PhD programmes. We take particular note of the placement of a number of our graduates in public sector professional positions and in the trade union movement.  Graduates have found employment working in a wide range of positions including:

  • trade-union researchers/educators
  • mediators
  • teachers and professors
  • managers and administrators
  • human resource specialists
  • policy analysts
  • economic development officers

The program consists of two streams:

The Master's Research Paper stream consists of six courses and a Major Research Paper (MRP) that is normally completed in one calendar year.

The Thesis stream consists of five courses and a Thesis that is normally completed in 20 months

Courses for both streams are chosen from a list of core Labour Studies graduate courses as well as from the disciplines such as Sociology, Political Science, Geography, Social Work, History, etc. 

Course Work and Research Paper Option


Students will be required to complete six (6) half courses, including:

  1. A minimum of four half courses from the menu of Labour Studies core grad courses. LABRST 715 Methods or an equivalent Methods course approved by the program is required.
  2. Two additional courses offered by other departments or the School of Labour Studies. (Note: In selecting the courses from other departments, students can choose from a menu of approved courses. Programs of study will be subject to the approval of the Graduate Studies Committee.)
  3. A research paper (10,000-12,500 words, including endnotes and bibliography) supervised by a core or associate faculty member. The research paper will be read by the supervisor and another faculty member. (If the supervisor is an associate member, then the second reader must be a core faculty member selected by the supervisor in consultation with the student).

Course Work and Thesis Option


Students will be required to complete five (5) half courses, including:

  1. A minimum of four half courses from the menu of Labour Studies core grad courses. LABRST 715 is required or an equivalent Methods course approved by the program.
  2. One additional course from among those offered by other departments or the School of Labour Studies. (Note: In selecting the courses from other departments, student can choose from a menu of approved courses. Programs of study will be subject to the approval of the Graduate Studies Committee.)
  3. A thesis (15,000-20,000 words including endnotes and bibliography) supervised by a core faculty member. The thesis will be orally examined by a committee including the supervisor and two other faculty selected by the thesis supervisor in consultation with the student.
  4. For students choosing the thesis option, an additional three terms are available to complete their degree. This will be negotiated with their supervisor during January of their first year when their proposal is being developed.

Detailed program information can be found in the MA Handbook.

  • Honours Bachelor of Arts degree or equivalent 4-year BA in any discipline with a minimum B+ average (78% from last 10 upper-level half-courses) from an accredited university
  • Applications for 2022 entry will open October 2021 and close January 2022 (specific dates TBA)
  • Only complete applications will be reviewed after the January deadline. Admission decisions will be communicated in March. Incomplete applications cannot be reviewed.

Required Application Documents:

Graduate Studies Online Application

  • Each applicant is required to complete the Graduate Studies Online Application which opens in October each year.

  • In addition to the online application, applicants must also submit the required documents listed below, and some required application documents must be submitted through your online application.

Academic Transcripts

  • Scanned/unofficial/student-generated transcripts for ALL post-secondary studies completed or in-progress are required at the time of application
  • Transcripts from institutions where you completed courses on Letter of Permission and/or as part of Student Exchange Programs must also be included
  • Official transcripts must be submitted if an offer of admission is made in one of the following forms:
    • Electronic: 
      • If the issuing institution produces official, electronic transcripts that can be sent directly to other institutions, select this option instead of Paper.
      • The issuing institution must send the official, electronic transcript to Megan Stokes at lsgrad@mcmaster.ca
      • This official, electronic transcript from the institution does NOT replace the scanned, electronic transcripts that the applicant must upload through their online application. 
    • Paper: 
      • Official transcripts in a sealed envelope, signed/stamped by the issuing institution, and sent from the issuing institution directly to the School of Labour Studies (mailing address below). 
    • McMaster University transcripts: 
      • If you are submitting a transcript from McMaster University, submit the transcript in Electronic format ONLY.  You do NOT need to request for a Paper transcript to be sent to the School of Labour Studies if the transcript is from McMaster University.

Note: The status of your transcripts and application in the School of Graduate Studies McMaster University Application will not be updated to "complete" until you have sent an official electronic or paper transcript. Please ensure you upload transcripts from all institutions attended at the time of application for evaluation purposes.

Academic References:

  • Two (2) confidential reference reports from instructors most familiar with your academic work. 
  • In cases of mature* applicants, one (1) work-related reference is acceptable.
  • McMaster University uses an Electronic Referencing System (e-Reference). By entering the email address of your referee through your online application, the system will automatically send an e-Reference request on your behalf

  • IMPORTANT: 
    • The system will send the e-Reference request to your references only after you submit your online application. Referees may require 3-4 weeks to complete a reference report. Referees must complete their reference report by February 1st. Please keep this in mind when you are working on your application.
    • If you are unable to use the Electronic Referencing System, you can download the Reference Form to send to your referees for completion.  
    • Downloaded reference forms must be sent by the reference directly to Megan Stokes by e-mail (LSgrad@mcmaster.ca) or to the mailing address below. 

*more than two years since last enrolled in a post-secondary education institution 

Statement of Interest

  • Must be uploaded as a PDF document through your online application
  • 2 pages (500 words), double-spaced
  • References page(s) should be single-spaced and do not count towards the maximum 2-page limit
  • An effective statement includes:
    • A clear statement of your research interests
    • Whether you are interested in the Major Research Paper (MRP) or Thesis stream
    • How your background (including education and work/volunteer experience) prepares you to do the research.
    • Why the School of Labour Studies at McMaster is the right place for you to pursue the above research.

Resumé/CV

  • Must be uploaded as a PDF document through your online application

English Language Proficiency (if applicable)

  • If English is not your native language, an official copy of your English Language Proficiency score or other evidence of competency in English is required.  Applicants whose university studies were completed at an institution where English is deemed the official language of instruction may be exempted from this requirement (an official letter from the institution is required)
  • The English Language Proficiency exam must have been completed within 2 years of the application due date
  • The most common English Language Proficiency exams:
    • TOEFL: minimum score of 92 (internet-based), 237 (computer-based) or 580 (paper-based), minimum of 20 per band. Please use TOEFL department code 080 (Other Social Sciences).
    • IELTS (Academic): minimum overall score of 6.5, with at least 5.5 in each section
  • Other English Language Proficiency exams may be accepted. Please visit the School of Graduate Studies: How to Apply and click “Language Requirements” for more information
  • Submit English Language Proficiency exam results as a scanned document uploaded through your online application. 

Application Deadline:

  • January 2022 - TBA-  (includes all other supporting documents; CV, Statement of Research Interest, transcripts)
  • Reference deadline:  February 2022

Please send all (hard copy) supporting documents to:

School of Labour Studies
c/o Megan Stokes
Kenneth Taylor Hall 717
McMaster University
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, ON L8S 4M4
Canada

Please see specific information about tuition costs and additional available scholarships/awards here.

All incoming full-time M.A. students are offered some funding to assist with their studies from a variety of sources including Teaching Assistantship, scholarships and bursaries and Research Assistantship.

We recommend that incoming students with an average of A- or above apply for a Canada Graduate Scholarship.

Scholarships

Internal Scholarships

Competitive scholarship funding is offered to full-time graduate students in the School of Labour Studies.  Internal scholarships, which include Graduate Scholarships, are intended to help students devote their time and energy to the successful completion of their studies.

External Scholarship

Many of our current and incoming students receive notable scholarships from external funding agencies such as OGS, SSHRC, etc. Applicants are highly encouraged to apply to external funding agencies.

Teaching Assistant (TA)/Research Assistant (RA) in lieu Positions

Each Ph.D. student and many Master’s students are offered a TA or RA in lieu of TA valued at approximately $11,839 for a full year and $5,919 for a half year for 10 hours per week.  

Awards Competitions

The Social Justice Graduate Scholarship for Labour Studies

Established in 2018 to recognize important contributions to social justice. This scholarship will be awarded, by the School of Graduate Studies, to an incoming master's degree student in the School of Labour Studies who, in the judgement of the School of Labour Studies, has demonstrated a deep commitment to social justice and solidarity.

Initial value: $1,000

Additional details for this scholarship:

  • Students admitted to the M.A. in Labour Studies who wish to be considered for this scholarship will provide information about their contributions to social justice and solidarity in a personal essay format. 
  • This information will be used by the School of Labour Studies as the main basis for deciding whom to award the scholarship each year.
  • Application instructions will be posted to the department website and circulated to admitted students in July each year. 
  • If based on this information and in the judgement of the School of Labour Studies there is not a suitable candidate for this scholarship in any particular year, the scholarship will not be awarded in that year.

International applicants, please see here for Scholarships and Awards

Each fall, the School of Labour Studies provides a workshop to assist applicants. Please contact the department for further information.

Tips for successful applications:

  • Review the MA Handbook
  • Ensure that all pieces of your application arrive prior to the deadline date.
  • Write an effective research statement. An effective research statement includes:
      • A clear statement of your research interests
      • Whether you are interested in the Major Research Paper (MRP) or Thesis stream
      • How your background (including education and work/volunteer experience) prepares you to do the research.
      • Why the School of Labour Studies at McMaster is the right place for you to pursue the above research.
    • If you need further advice, seek advice from a mentor from your previous school/program, because they know you best.

International Applicants are encouraged to review the information on our prospective International Student site.

The School of Graduate Studies Tuition, Fees & Scholarships Labour Studies M.A. Handbook Graduate Application Guide & FAQs How to Use the SGS Online Application Apply Now
For more information:
Megan Stokes, School of Labour Studies
KTH-717
905-525-9140 ext. 24692
LSgrad@mcmaster.ca
Length:
1 year full-time (Master's Research Paper) or 20 months full-time (Thesis option). Up to 5 years are allowed for part-time studies.
Required Credential:
Honours Bachelor's degree or equivalent (4-year BA degree) from any discipline with minimum 78% from last 10 upper level courses (i.e. 3rd & 4th year)
Program Type:
Thesis and Course based
Program Options:
Full-time, Part-time
Typical Entry:
September
Current Deadline:
January 31