SMLR's Ph.D. program in Industrial Relations and Human Resources (IRHR) is an interdisciplinary program that qualifies students for employment as college or university faculty or research positions. The IRHR program is designed for people who want to:

  • Study the world of work in our dynamic global economy, including how employment relationships affect organizations, workers, and society
  • Work with leading scholars who are nationally and internationally recognized experts in a broad range of topics in industrial relations and human resources
  • Become leading scholars. Students learn how to design, conduct, and publish rigorous research in scholarly journals such as Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Industrial Relations, and Journal of Applied Psychology, among others.
  • Develop teaching skills by working as teaching assistants and teaching their own courses.

Learning Goals for Students

  1. Attain marked ability, scholarship, research and leadership skills in industrial relations and human resources
  2. Engage in and conduct original research
  3. Prepare to be professionals in careers that require training at the highest levels in the social sciences that address issues related to industrial relations and human resources

Governance and Admission

The doctoral program in Industrial Relations and Human Resources (IRHR) is governed by the IRHR graduate faculty within the guidelines established by the Graduate School–New Brunswick (GS–NB). The graduate faculty nominates a graduate director for approval by the deans of SMLR and GS–NB. The graduate faculty also nominates and elects a Ph.D. policy committee, whose membership is structured as follows: The IRHR graduate program director serves as an ex officio member.

Apart from the director, four members of the IRHR graduate faculty who are currently active in publishing refereed articles and books serve two-year terms. Each department will elect two representatives, who will serve staggered terms so that each department will elect one member each spring term.

One IRHR doctoral student serves a one-year term. Current doctoral students administer the election process and elect the student member in September.

The Ph.D. policy committee is responsible for all aspects of policy development and implementation for the IRHR doctoral program. Policy issues include, but are not limited to, recruiting, admissions, curriculum development, evaluation, rules, regulations, examinations, research seminars, research support, assistantships, professional development, and job placement. The student representative will not be involved in admissions or decisions involving individual students. The graduate director posts policy statements on the program's web page, and informs students that they are responsible for consulting this information as needed. On behalf of the committee, the graduate director also makes regular reports to the faculty at school-wide faculty meetings, which are normally held each semester.


Admission to the Ph.D. program in Industrial Relations and Human Resources (IRHR) is competitive and highly selective. On average, two or three students are admitted to the program per year. The school values diversity and is strongly committed to equal opportunity.

When evaluating applications, the faculty considers test scores, past academic educational achievement, research experience, and relevant work experience. Students who have no research experience or training are not likely to be admitted to the Ph.D. program. The admissions committee puts a high priority on ensuring that each admitted student is matched to good faculty advisors, so in your personal statement it is valuable for you to draw connections between your interests and the expertise of specific faculty members who could be your advisors.

Do I Need a Master's Degree?

Completion of a terminal master's degree in a related field of study is not required for admission. A student who holds a master's degree upon entering the program may transfer some credits, but they must fulfill the same degree requirements as students who do not hold a relevant master's degree.

What Are the Admission Deadlines?

New students are admitted once per year. The deadline for receipt of application materials is February 1st. Decisions are made by April 15th for initial enrollment in the following fall semester. You can learn more about the application process, and can apply online.

What Are the Application Requirements?

Requirements include:

  • 2 official transcripts from every post-secondary institution
  • 3 letters of recommendation (we give more weight to recommenders with an academic connection or background)
  • A personal statement of about 500 words
  • GRE or GMAT test scores within the last 5 years
  • TOEFL score if non-native English speaker- within last 5 years
  • Resume
  • Application Fee
  • Optional Requirements: A writing sample is highly recommended (especially a Master's or Honors thesis if completed)
  • We also highly recommend that you assess the match between your personal interests and faculty research strengths and include this information in your personal statement.
Additional Application Information:

In the Index of Graduate Programs, we are listed as: Industrial Relations and Human Resources.

Number of the Program is 16545

Hard copies of admission materials should be sent directly to the Graduate School - New Brunswick at:

  • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
  • Graduate School - New Brunswick
  • 56 College Avenue
  • New Brunswick, NJ 08901
  • Phone: 848-932-7711
  • Fax: 732-932-8231

Degree Requirements

The program of study in IRHR requires all students to:

  1. complete three core seminars
  2. select a primary field of either Human Resources or Labor, Work, and Society, in which five courses will be taken
  3. either select a secondary field in which three courses will be taken, or take three electives if no secondary field is chosen
  4. complete four statistics and research methods courses
  5. complete a Master's thesis
  6. complete a dissertation
  7. attend the Proseminar, consisting of presentations by SMLR faculty, outside scholars, and Ph.D. students

Students can take doctoral courses at Princeton, Columbia, NYU, CUNY, Fordham, New School, or Stony Brook as part of their studies, through the Inter-University Consortium in which Rutgers participates.

Master's Thesis

During their second year in the program, students complete an empirical research project under the guidance of a three-person thesis committee. A member or associate member of the SMLR graduate faculty may serve as the committee chair and direct the research project. A satisfactory oral defense of the thesis is required. Usually, the oral defense is scheduled as a presentation in the Proseminar. The defense is open to the public and must be announced at least two weeks in advance. Upon completion of the thesis and oral defense, and 30 credits of coursework (of which 6 may be research credits for completing the thesis), students are awarded the master of science degree and become eligible to take the qualifying exam.

Qualifying Exam

The qualifying exam assesses students' knowledge of, and ability to synthesize, the theory and methods covered in their required and elective courses and in their specialized fields of study. It covers the IRHR literature that is considered to be the foundation upon which the student's career and future research are based, as well as the research methods and data analysis techniques that are relevant to the student's chosen area of specialty. The exam is offered twice annually, in January and May (or at a time agreed to by the student's advisory committee and the Graduate Director). The format is take-home, with 48 hours for completion. Normally, students take the qualifying exam in December of their third year. The qualifying exam is graded and must be approved by at least four members of the IRHR graduate faculty. Students who fail the exam must retake it within four months. After passing the qualifying exam, students are admitted to Ph.D. candidacy.


Students complete a dissertation during their fourth and fifth years. The dissertation committee must be chaired by a member of the IRHR graduate faculty and include at least three other faculty. At least one member of the committee must be from outside the IRHR graduate faculty. Members from outside Rutgers are preferable. All students present and defend their dissertation proposals in a seminar format. The proposal defense is open to all interested faculty and Ph.D. students, although only the committee members vote on the acceptability of the proposal. A final oral defense takes place upon completion of the dissertation. The defense is open to the public and must be announced at least two weeks in advance.

Research Involvement

Students are expected to be actively involved in research throughout the entire time they are enrolled in the program. To facilitate this, students are assigned to a research advisor upon their admission into the program. Students may change their research advisor, by mutual agreement, at the end of their first year and any time thereafter. Research advisors provide annual assessments of students' research activities, and satisfactory performance is required in order for students to remain in good standing in the program and continue to receive financial assistance.

Harry and Vera Stark Fellowship

The Harry and Vera Stark Fellowship aims to encourage and support International Students, enrolled in a SMLR graduate program with either the Human Resource Management Department or the Labor Studies and Employment Relations Department, to gain exposure to U.S. culture and values and educational experiences in labor relations and human resource management. All international students must be enrolled in a Master's Degree program, Ph.D. program, or post-doctoral program to be eligible to apply.

Stipends will be paid through the student's term bill in consultation with the office of financial aid. For travel related awards, students should be responsible for their travel expenses and upon submitting a travel reimbursement form along with receipts and description, students will be reimbursed.

Applicants are required to submit a one-page essay explaining why they feel they deserve the award and how they plan to use the funds, as well as their academic background and contact information. The award will be based on both merits and needs.

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Last updated March 11, 2019
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