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The internationally recognized and highly successful BA and Honours BA undergraduate degrees in Labour Studies are acknowledged strengths in the Social Sciences at McMaster University.


Students pursuing a degree in Labour Studies will be exposed to an interdisciplinary curriculum designed to give them a broad critical understanding of labour in society. Each programme of study offers students a diverse mix of practical knowledge, theory and history. Course material ranges from the medieval roots of modern labour markets to discussions of how to deal with the problems created by globalization. Students may choose to debate what form unions should take in the future or learn how unions are recognized and their obligations to bargain. Often students use their optional courses to specialize in one of the Social Sciences, most often Sociology, Political Science or Economics.

Undergraduate Program Details

At the Core

Each programme of study is built around a core of required Labour Studies courses. At level I, students are exposed to the history of labour in Canada as well as a first look at some of the labour issues they will pursue in greater depth in the following years. At level II, students take a number of courses which deepen their understanding of Canadian labour relations including a basic course in trade unions and another in the theory of labour movements. We have recently added another level two course that will give students an overview of the ways in which people's changing experiences of work are shaped by gender, race, class and culture in Canada and the wider global context. At level III, students refine their understanding of industrial relations in Canada through courses in collective bargaining and economic restructuring and work organization. Students also select a number of more specialized courses which include economics of labour market issues, labour law, health & safety and women, work & trade unionism.


Honours students

For our Honours students these core courses are complemented by additional specialized courses in comparative industrial relations and public sector bargaining which provide an opportunity for in-depth study of a number of issues. Honours students are also required to complete either an honours thesis or a field experience (a placement which allows them to sharpen their research skills while gaining practical experience working for a union, government agency or private employer).


Refer to the Undergraduate Calendar for more details

Career Information

Wide Career Possibilities

Most Labour Studies students find jobs in positions that use the skills developed from their Labour Studies degree. Many graduates decide to go on to complete additional education: law school, teachers college, Human Resources Management Certificates, graduate programmes (Work & Society, Industrial Relations, Sociology, etc.). Since the degree programme is interdisciplinary, there is a wide range of career possibilities.

Below is a small sample of some career fields:

  • Labour Law
  • Human Resources
  • Union Research/Education
  • Labour Relations
  • Teaching
  • Arbitration/Negotiation
  • Industrial Relations
  • Labour Economics
  • Labour Standards

Learn More about our Undergraduate Program Offerings

Specific Career Paths

Possible career paths available to a graduate of Labour Studies. Students who graduate with an undergraduate degree in Labour Studies can pursue career opportunities from the list below. Or further their studies at the Graduate level in our Masters of Work & Society; one of the more traditional Social Sciences disciplines like Political Science, Sociology, etc., or a Masters in Industrial Relations.

  • Employment Counselling
  • Civil Servant
  • Community Development
  • Compensation Analyst
  • Disability Case Manager
  • Employment Standards Officer
  • Equity Officer
  • Health & Safety Advocate
  • Human Resources
  • Industrial Relations
  • International Development
  • Journalist
  • Lawyer
  • Mediator
  • MPP Public Policy Analyst
  • Researcher
  • Social Worker
  • Teacher
  • Training Coordinator
  • Worker Advisor

Annual Labour Studies Student Association Career Night

Attend the annual Labour Studies Student Association Career Night and listen to Labour Studies grads speak about their careers! Watch our Facebook page for Career Night and other Labour Studies events!

MacLabour on Facebook

Thinking about a career in Human Resources?

The School of Business has kindly offered five seats in the following courses to Labour Studies students. Please contact Brenda Morrison ( 905-525-9140 x27723, for a seat authorization.

  • Commerce 4BB3 Recruitment & Selection
  • Commerce 4BE3 Strategic Compensation/Reward Systems
  • Commerce 4BI3 Training & Development
  • Commerce 4BM3 Strategic Human Resource Planning