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MPS Program Academic Philosophy

The MPS Program provides a unique opportunity for working professionals to study the wide-ranging issues that are part and parcel of the ILR intellectual tradition. The program draws on the strength of the ILR School as a center for applicable social science in introducing students to, and expanding their knowledge of, subjects such as labor-management relations, organizational structures, workplace processes, labor markets, dispute resolution, and relevant law and public policy.

The MPS program is different from, though certainly equal to, the other graduate degree programs at the ILR School. Where the Master of Industrial and Labor Relations (MILR) program is meant to train practitioners, and the Master of Science (MS) program is strictly an academic research degree, the MPS is designed to bring together the best of both approaches. That is, it can be understood as an academic degree offered for practitioners: Its content is primarily intellectual and academic, but its presentation is directed toward the real world from which its students come. Successful MPS students possess professional proficiency as well as an intellectual curiosity that motivates them to dig more deeply into the phenomena that influence the work environment.

In the small, seminar-style discussions that make up the core of the MPS course of study, everyone brings something to the table. The faculty offer expertise from a wide range of academic disciplines and provide a theoretical framework for understanding the readings, cases, and discussions. The students bring insights from their hands-on experience throughout the field, illuminating topics under discussion and adding perspective and insight unattainable from lectures and textbooks. It is this exchange of ideas that is the keystone of the MPS program; it is what allows everyone in the classroom—students and faculty alike—to gain a richer understanding of the multifaceted and ever-evolving world of work.

The goal of the program is to broaden students’ intellectual understanding of the larger issues that impact the workplace and provide the analytical and methodological tools necessary to grasp the complexities of the work environment. To this end, the focus is not on specific practical issues, but rather on the wider concerns that are continuously debated in our field and that impact the evolving dialogue within and between organizations in American society and throughout the world. Our ambition is not simply to produce middle-level managers, but to help revitalize an intellectual cadre, which can—in the world of everyday practice—carry out the debates that are often relegated to the academic realm and apply their knowledge toward the advancement of the day-to-day world of the workplace.

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