Labor Studies Program

Students in Labor Studies class

What Is Labor Studies?

Labor Studies is an interdisciplinary program that examines work, the workplace, workers, and their organizations. Drawing on the fields of economics, history, political science, sociology and other disciplines, courses in Labor Studies deal with such questions as:

By focusing on these sorts of questions, the UMass Boston Labor Studies Program prepares students to provide critical analysis of historical controversies and to think strategically about social, political, and economic change. The program provides students with a strong foundations for a variety of occupations, and also prepares students to be active participants in their own labor and community organizations. Indeed, students, faculty, and staff in Labor Studies are often members of and active participants in the organized labor movement and related social justice organizations.

What Are the Study Options?

Labor Studies Major and Labor Studies Minor

The Labor Studies Program offers a BA for students who major in the program and also a minor for students majoring in another program at UMass Boston. While both the major and the minor require students to take a set of courses offered by the Labor Studies Program, both also allow students to fill out their program with related courses in various College of Liberal Arts departments.

Details of the requirements for the major and minor are at:

Students who are neither majoring nor minoring in labor studies are of course welcome to take individual courses in the program. Also, the program offers a First Year Seminar and an Intermediate Seminar.

Students majoring or minoring in labor studies (or simply taking courses in the program) will find that it provides a useful foundation for employment in a variety of occupations, including, for example:

As a liberal arts program, the Labor Studies Program develops students’ analytic skills presentation capacities, and abilities for group work, all of which are foundations for a great variety of interesting occupations.  Moreover, the program provides a solid foundation for post-graduate study in MA and PhD labor programs or related social science fields. And, regardless of one’s occupation, the Labor Studies Program will prepare students to take part more effectively in labor organizations, community groups, and other social justice organizations.

Labor Leadership Certificate

The Professional Certificate in Labor Leadership is a valuable credential for emerging leaders in the labor movement. The certificate program fosters group learning across different unions, communities, and economic sectors. Students may enroll in the certificate program as either a pre-baccalaureate or post-baccalaureate option.

To complete the certificate in labor studies, students must take six labor studies courses. Courses are regularly offered in the early evening, which allows people with full-time employment to engage in the program.

As with the BA and minor in labor studies, the certificate program equips graduates for work in unions, labor organizations, community-based organizations, and government and public service. The certificate program also prepares students for further education in these fields; in particular, many certificate students who have not already obtained a BA, go on to do so.

Especially important to many participants, the certificate provides excellent career advancement opportunities for rank-and-file union members who aspire to leadership positions, for current union staff seeking greater skills and credentials for career advancement, and for younger workers and activists seeking to become more engaged in organized labor.

Labor Leadership Certificate Learning Goals

Students who have completed the certificate program should have developed a broad set of competencies. They should, for example, be able to:


For more information on the Labor Studies Program, contact the Labor Resource Center: 
phone: 617.287.7267

See Also