Industrial Relations

Degree Offered

  • Master of Science in Industrial Relations

The Department of Management offers the Master of Science in Industrial Relations (M.S.I.R.). The AACSB-accredited program of study prepares students for professional positions in human resources (employee relations) and labor relations. The curriculum is aligned with the standards set forth by the Society of Human Resource Management.

Entry-level professional opportunities for M.S.I.R. graduates include such positions as human resource business partner, human resource manager, labor relations specialist, training coordinator, talent acquisition specialist, compensation analyst, and benefits administrator. Other positions include opportunities in government such as National Labor Relations Board Field Examiner, entry-level positions with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, state and local Human Rights Commission representatives, and Department of Labor compliance officers. Many graduates are employed by Fortune 500 companies. Some find positions with organized labor, all levels of government, and advocacy organizations. The department, in conjunction with the College of Business and Economics Center for Career Development, makes a concerted effort to place graduates in positions that fulfill student job objectives.

Industrial Relations Student Association (IRSA) and  Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

Students are encouraged to participate in academic-related extracurricular activities. Many are co-sponsored by the Industrial Relations Student Association including: the IRSA Newsletter, the mentorship program, company site visits, guest speakers, community service efforts, social events, and honors banquets. Outstanding academic achievement is recognized by membership in the Industrial Relations Honor Society. The faculty makes Outstanding IR Student awards annually to persons selected on the basis of scholarship, informal leadership, and extracurricular activities. A student SHRM chapter is operational within the College of Business and Economics and is an additional student-centered organization that emphasizes the career specialties of the M.S.I.R. degree.

Academic Common Market

The WVU M.S.I.R. program is a member of the Southern Regional Education Board’s Academic Common Market program. Residents of Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, and Virginia who are admitted to the M.S.I.R. program can currently pay tuition at West Virginia University’s in-state (resident) rates. See for more information.


The M.S.I.R. degree is interdisciplinary in nature and no specific undergraduate major is required. Coursework in computer science, labor economics, statistics, and business disciplines is helpful. To gain admission into the M.S.I.R. program, an applicant must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Overall grade point average is considered with additional attention given to the grade point average achieved in the last sixty hours of coursework. Either the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is required. No action is taken on an application for admission until a GRE or GMAT score is submitted. International students must also submit a satisfactory TOEFL score.

Applicants must also send additional supportive material: a personal statement of purpose addressing their desire and reasons for applying, a minimum of two reference letters, and a professional resume of their educational and occupational experiences.

Application Deadlines

The M.S.I.R. program accepts applications for fall (August) admission only. The application deadline is March 15. Later applications, while acceptable, may diminish the chances for admission due to the graduate class being filled. Because no admission decision can be made without the applicant’s GRE/GMAT score being submitted, applicants should keep in mind the GRE/GMAT test schedule. Students applying to the M.S.I.R. program should attempt to complete the GRE/GMAT by no later than March 1.

Industrial Relations Master of Science Degree Program Requirements

A minimum GPA of 3.0 is required in all courses *
A grade of C or higher must be earned in all required courses
ILR 505Employment Law3
ILR 506Performance Management3
ILR 508Organizational Change and Renewal3
ILR 509Talent Acquisition3
ILR 511Human Capital Management3
ILR 515Business Acumen-HR Managers3
ILR 520Human Resource Information Systems3
ILR 522International Industrial Relations3
ILR 530Compensation Issues3
ILR 534Work Group Dynamics and Leadership3
ILR 544Benefits Management3
ILR 546Training and Development3
ILR 548Strategic Management for Human Resources3
ILR 562Labor Relations3
ILR 571Human Resource/Industrial Relations Practicum 11
ILR 572Human Resource/Industrial Relations Practicum 21
ILR 573Human Resource/Industrial Relations Practicum 31
ILR 574Human Resource/Industrial Relations Practicum 41
ILR 589MS - Industrial and Labor Relations Internship3
Select two electives from the following6
Conflict Management Processes
Negotiation Strategy
Collective Bargaining Practice
Introduction to Decision Analysis
Total Hours55

Suggested Plan of Study

Two-Year Course of Study: (forty-eight credit hours including fourteen core courses and *two electives)
*Select one elective each semester or term.

First Year
Ivy League Modules (Summer 1 - on-line- if no prior business education) 
Total credit hours: 0
First Year
ILR 5113ILR 5063ILR 5893
ILR 5053ILR 5093 
ILR 5623ILR 5223 
ILR 5343ILR 5153 
ILR 5711ILR 5721 
 13 13 3
Second Year
ILR 5083ILR 5303 
ILR 5203ILR 5463 
ILR 5443ILR 5483 
ILR 5731ILR 5741 
MANG 426 or ILR 5073ILR 581 (or ILR 593)3 
 13 13
Total credit hours: 55

1 Year Master of Science in Industrial Relations Dual Degree Option 

Some graduates with a J.D., M.B.A., or other business-related master's degree from a US institution may apply to complete the M.S.I.R. degree program in one year. Not all applicants will be approved for the one-year option, but each application will be evaluated individually by the Admissions Committee.  Combining study for the M.S.I.R. and the M.B.A. degrees is another option available to qualified candidates. Students need to apply separately for admission to each program. A plan of study will be created for any student admitted in the dual degree option.

Major Learning Outcomes

industrial relations

Student Learning Goals

GOAL 1: The HR Functional Environment

Graduates acquire knowledge and skills in basic HR functional areas that prepare them for their future careers in human resources management and industrial relations and related fields

1.1 Selection, Performance Management, and Training and Development.. Graduates are able to participate and lead in the selection processes in their organizations as well as in the measurement of performance of the human asset and the identification of training and development activities either to enhance performance or correct deficiencies in the output of human assets.

1.2 Compensation and Benefits. Graduates are able to establish and maintain equitable compensation programs and associated benefits and insurance in their organizations. Graduates are familiar with and able to impact organizational economics through the development, modification, and implementation of compensation systems and benefit plan design and administration.

GOAL 2:  The Current Global Environment

Graduates have capabilities and knowledge relating to current HR/IR trends, both domestically and internationally, that prepare them for their future careers in human resources management and related fields.

2.1 International HR/IR and Understanding Cultural Differences. Graduates are able to apply human resource and industrial relations functional tools in an international context based on a detailed comprehension of the economic, social and moral ramifications of globalization and cultural differences.

2.2 Management of Change, Current Trends, and Technologies. Graduates are able to participate in managing change processes within their organizations and to apply knowledge of current events, trends and developments in the human resources profession and in the overall business environment, including contemporary information systems and associated technologies, in order to solve problems and perform functions commonly encountered in human resource management.

GOAL 3:  The Employee and Labor Relations Environment

Graduates acquire knowledge and skills in employee and labor relations that prepare them for their careers in human resources management and industrial relations and related fields.

3.1 Management of Conflict. Graduates are able to use foundational knowledge of individual behavior and interpersonal relations in order to successfully manage and resolve conflict through processes such as mediation and facilitation.

3.2 Negotiation. Graduates are able to demonstrate effective negotiating capacities and competencies in win-win and position bargaining in general and specifically in labor relations. Students are effective advocates in labor relations, mediation, alternate dispute resolution, employee/management concerns and disputes.

GOAL 4:  The Legal and Ethical Environment

Graduates develop comprehensive knowledge and skill in the areas of employment law and ethical decision making.

4.1 Legal and Ethical Decision Making. Graduates are able to successfully implement the procedural and substantive aspects of labor and employment law in making ethical decisions and taking ethical actions that reflect a standard of professional behavior and values within their organizations. Employment law principles are embedded in each of the major course offerings to insure a solid fact-based application of legal practices, precedents, and contemporary interpretations.

GOAL 5:  The Strategic Environment

Graduates develop knowledge and skills in strategic decision making, leadership, teamwork and communications

5.1 Strategic Decision Making. Graduates are able to participate in and support strategic decision-making in human resources, industrial relations and beyond. Students are knowledgeable in the use and application of strategic planning tools and techniques and are aware of the economic and social impact of strategic business decisions.

5.2 Leadership, Teamwork and Communication. Graduates possess leadership and teamwork skills and abilities and are able to effectively communicate recommendations to management and other constituencies, orally and in writing.


ILR 505. Employment Law. 3 Hours.

Survey of the legal principles guiding the employer-employee relationship. Examines laws regulating hiring, job opportunity, discrimination, affirmative action, sexual harassment, wages, benefits, privacy right, health, safety, employment at will, layoffs and termination.

ILR 506. Performance Management. 3 Hours.

Development of individual employees in an organization; performance evaluation, discipline of problem employees, identifying training needs, and design and delivery of training programs.

ILR 507. Conflict Management Processes. 3 Hours.

Sources of conflict in the workplace and processes utilized to deal with that conflict. Theories of conflict management, industry practices, and specific techniques for productive channeling of conflict. Significant experiential component.

ILR 508. Organizational Change and Renewal. 3 Hours.

Organizational evolution as a result of multiple change process, including employee involvement, empowerment, high performance organizations, process consulting, and goal setting. Emphasis on organizational and union relationships.

ILR 509. Talent Acquisition. 3 Hours.

Theoretical, practical, and legal issues involved in talent acquisitions in organizations: human resource planning, recruiting, staffing models, employment testing, statistical analysis, legal issues, and selection methods.

ILR 511. Human Capital Management. 3 Hours.

Overview of many issues related to managing human capital in organizations, examined from both a strategic and tactical level relevant to all practicing managers and future leaders.

ILR 515. Business and Human Resource Integration. 3 Hours.

PR: Enrollment in the MSIR program or permission of the instructor. Bridges the gap for the Human Resource (HR) Professional between functional HR knowledge and other key general management skills such as financial, accounting, and operations functions of an organization.

ILR 520. Human Resource Information Systems. 3 Hours.

Use of computers for human resource management; HRIS planning, development and implementation, evaluating existing software; development of a database unique to human resource management.

ILR 522. International Industrial Relations. 3 Hours.

Analyzes the human resource and labor relations practices of firms and economies as they relate to the global market; basis of international business, legal/governmental environmental, labor movements, and industrial relations practices.

ILR 525. HR Analytics. 3 Hours.

PR: Enrollment in MSIR program or permission of instructor. This course introduces quantitative techniques related to human resource (HR) management. The primary objective is to expose and equip students with quantitative and statistical techniques used in the field of HR to make decisions related to workforce utilization, support employee development, and maximize organizational goals. Students will work with databases, collection of data, statistical packages, data interpretation, and data visualization.

ILR 530. Compensation Issues. 3 Hours.

Seminar in compensation designed to develop further understanding of compensation theory and practice. Topic areas will include labor supply, wage theory, legal constraints, motivation, equity theory, organizational development as well as compensation structure and administration.

ILR 534. Work Group Dynamics and Leadership. 3 Hours.

Small group or individual research on topics related to leadership and group dynamics in the work environment including training and other human relations programs.

ILR 537. Practicum in Industrial Interviewing. 3 Hours.

Experiential learning of industrial interviewing techniques covering legal and technical aspects of employment interviewing and other types of interviewing.

ILR 540. Arbitration Theory and Practice. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Study of the purpose of arbitration, trends, principles of contract construction, hearing procedure evidence, remedies, training and education of arbitrators, training of advocates, and decision writing. Students will arbitrate mock cases.

ILR 543. Negotiation Strategy. 3 Hours.

Theory and practice of both principled negotiations and position bargaining; extensive role play and technique building exercises for individual and team negotiations; detailed preparation methods for all types of personal and professional negotiations.

ILR 544. Benefits Management. 3 Hours.

Considers employee benefits from the perspective of the industrial relations specialist who is responsible for articulating and administering a corporate program. Includes study of all benefits covered by major federal legislation.

ILR 545. Equal Employment Opportunity. 3 Hours.

A series of lectures by specialists in equal employment opportunity affairs. Lectures will include attorneys, directors of state and national EEO agencies, and representatives of business and industry and the labor movement.

ILR 546. Training and Development. 3 Hours.

Survey of the domain and issues of the field of training and development and practical approach to designing and conducting training and development programs. Topics include both scientific issues and applied issues.

ILR 548. Strategic Management for Human Resources. 3 Hours.

Stages and types of strategies; Formulation and implementation of strategies; human resource aspects of planning and strategic assessment; extensive case analysis and team projects.

ILR 549. Advanced Strategic Management. 3 Hours.

This is a case-based course. Case analyses and discussion will focus on the concepts of strategy creation, organization alignment strategy implementation and strategy leverage.

ILR 562. Labor Relations. 3 Hours.

Examination of the theory and practice of labor relations and collective bargaining. Topics include economic and historical environment, labor law, unionization, contract negotiation, patterns in contract content, conflict resolution, grievance handling, and an introduction to arbitration.

ILR 571. Human Resource/Industrial Relations Practicum 1. 1 Hour.

PR: Enrollment in the MS Industrial Relations program or consent. The first course in a series of four required one-credit hour courses that offers practicum experiences, delivers professional development opportunities, and provides exposure to contemporary topics in the field of HR/IR, (e.g., teambuilding, diversity issues).

ILR 572. Human Resource/Industrial Relations Practicum 2. 1 Hour.

PR: Enrollment in the MS Industrial Relations program or consent. The second course in a series of four required one credit hour courses that offers practicum experiences, delivers professional development opportunities, and provides exposure to contemporary topics in the field of HR/IR (e.g., HR investigations, performance management systems).

ILR 573. Human Resource/Industrial Relations Practicum 3. 1 Hour.

PR: Enrollment in the MS Industrial Relations program or consent. The third course in a series of four required one credit hour courses that offers practicum experiences, delivers professional development opportunities and provides exposure to contemporary topics in the field of HR/IR (e.g., outsourcing the HR function, HR impact on mergers and acquisitions).

ILR 574. Human Resource/Industrial Relations Practicum 4. 1 Hour.

PR: Enrollment in the MS Industrial Relations program or consent. The fourth course in a series of four required one credit hour courses that offers practicum experiences, delivers professional development opportunities, and provides exposure to contemporary topics in the field of HR/IR (e.g., anatomy of negotiation, personal finances).

ILR 580. Human Resources Practicum. 3 Hours.

This course offers professional development opportunities through a series of applied seminars taught by practicing professionals.

ILR 581. Collective Bargaining Practice. 3 Hours.

Examination of the development of the Collective Bargaining process from its legal and historical foundation through and including a simulated full contract negotiation similar to what students experience in Labor Relations when actually employed.

ILR 589. MS - Industrial and Labor Relations Internship. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Supervised professional experience in human resources and/or industrial relations. Internships are organized, administered, and evaluated jointly by faculty, student, and sponsoring organization. Minimum 12 contact hours per week.

ILR 590. Teaching Practicum. 1-3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Supervised practice in college teaching of industrial labor relations. Note: This course in intended to insure that graduate assistants are adequately prepared and supervised when they are given college teaching responsibility. It will also present a mechanism for students not on assistantships to gain teaching experience. (Grading may be P/F.).

ILR 591A-Z. Advanced Topics. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. Investigation of advanced topics not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

ILR 592A. Directed Study. 1-6 Hours.

Directed study, reading, and/or research.

ILR 593A. Special Topics. 1-6 Hours.

A study of contemporary topics selected from recent developments in the field.

ILR 594. Seminar. 1-6 Hours.

Special seminars arranged for advanced graduate students.

ILR 595. Independent Study. 1-6 Hours.

Faculty supervised study of topics not available through regular course offerings.

ILR 691A-Z. Advanced Topics. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. Investigation of advanced topics not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

ILR 693. Special Topics. 1-6 Hours.

A study of contemporary topics selected from recent developments in the field.

ILR 695. Independent Study. 1-6 Hours.

Faculty-supervised study of topics not available through regular course offerings.

ILR 696. Graduate Seminar. 1 Hour.

PR: Consent. Each graduate student will present at least one seminar to the assembled faculty and graduate student body of his or her program.

ILR 697. Research. 1-15 Hours.

PR: Consent. Research activities leading to thesis, problem report, research paper or equivalent scholarly project, or a dissertation. (Grading may be S/U.).

ILR 698. Thesis or Dissertation. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. This is an optional course for programs that wish to provide formal supervision during the writing of student reports (698), or dissertations (798). Grading is normal.

ILR 699. Graduate Colloquium. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. For graduate students not seeking coursework credit but who wish to meet residency requirements, use of the University's facilities, and participate in its academic and cultural programs. Note: Graduate students who are not actively involved in coursework or research are entitled, through enrollment in their department's 699/799 Graduate Colloquium to consult with graduate faculty, participate in both formal and informal academic activities sponsored by their program, and retain all of the rights and privileges of duly enrolled students. Grading is P/F; colloquium credit may not be counted against credit requirements for masters programs. Registration for one credit of 699/799 graduate colloquium satisfies the University requirement of registration in the semester in which graduation occurs.


Chair, Department of Management

  • Abhishek Srivastava - Ph.D. (University of Maryland, College Park)
    Leadership, Team effectiveness, and Knowledge sharing

Associate professor

  • Jeffery D. Houghton - Ph.D. (Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University)
    International HRM, Organizational Behavior, Self Leadership, Team Processes

Teaching Associate Professor

  • Suzanne Gosden Kitchen - Ed.D. (West Virginia University)
    Human Capital Management, EEO, Training and Development

Teaching Assistant Professor

  • Thomas Zeni - Ph.D. (University of Oklahoma, Norman)
    Training and Development, Organizational Change

Executive in Residence

  • Bill Hutchinson - M.S.I.R. (West Virginia University)
    Collective Bargaining, Performance Management, Compensation and Benefits


  • Neil Bucklew - Ph.D.
  • Randyl Elkins - Ph.D.


  • Tina Parton - M.S.I.R.
    Benefits, HR Strategy
  • Jon Reed - J.D.
    Employment Law
  • Kellyn Smith - M.S.I.R.
    Talent Acquisition
  • Mark Sullivan - M.S.I.R.
    Labor Relations