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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 program 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 program 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.


photo of Phyllis Phiri

Phyllis Phiri

B.A. Honours, Labour Studies and Political Science, McMaster University2012

Senior Policy Advisor, Strategic Planning, Partnerships & Policy Division ServiceOntario

“Recognizing that the knowledge economy favours highly skilled professionals with technical expertise in a specialized field, I decided to marry my degrees and focus on labour policy. By learning the employment trends of different sectors I was able to identify areas of growth and skills gaps —including the need for labour policy professionals in government, which resulted in this important and rewarding work.”

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).

More Detail on the Honours BA

We can't wait to meet you!

Teaching is very important to us. We are a small program where students get to know their professors and peers.

In the classroom we seek to inform, challenge and learn from our students. Our faculty are at the forefront of research and critical labour issues in Canada and around the world.

Our staff is committed to providing excellent and friendly advice and service to our students.

If you have questions about our program please contact us!

(905) 525-9140 ext. 24692

Labour Studies Student Association

Labour Studies Student Association (LSSA) operate as a liaison between academic labour studies and its application in the real world. As part of LSSA you have the opportunity to take part in advocacy activities as well as career networking and social events. 

MacLSSA on Facebook

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 programs (Work & Society, Industrial Relations, Sociology, etc.). Since the degree program 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