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About the School

Welcome from the Dean

Welcome to the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I invite you to explore our information about our leading-edge educational programs that lead to rewarding careers. You will also find information about our outreach programs and about activities that enrich our students' learning experience both inside and outside the classroom setting.

Founded in 1946, The School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign has over 20 faculty with expertise that span virtually every aspect of the employment  relationship.  Our degree programs provide students with the breadth of knowledge necessary to become effective practitioners in corporate settings or in labor union leadership, as well as the flexibility for students to build a depth of knowledge in critical aspects of employment:

The Labor Education Program (LEP) provides technical training, conferences, and professional development for over 2,000 union leaders in a typical year and is developing new, on-line learning opportunities.

Fritz Drasgow, Dean

Mission Statement

The School of Labor and Employment Relations is dedicated to excellence in scholarly research, teaching, extension, and service - advancing theory, policy, and practice in all aspects of employment relations.


To create, as part of the University of Illinois, a brilliant future for LER students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders across the nation and globe, in which the School is the recognized leader in Human Resources and Labor Relations, taking advantage of scholarly research, cutting-edge education, public engagement, technology and our deeply integrated alumni network.


The movement to establish an School for labor research and teaching was initiated by a resolution adopted in October 1942 at the 60th annual convention of the Illinois State Federation of Labor, which called for the setting up of a department at the University of Illinois. An act of the state legislature in 1945 established the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and it began operating in 1946. A stand-alone building was erected in 1960 to house the then-Institute and it's faculty and classes.

Originally, both on-campus degree programs and extension programs were included. At first only a master's degree was offered, but a Ph.D. program was added in 1966. Joint degree programs were added with the College of Law in 1976 and with the College of Commerce (now College of Business) in 1998. In October 1997, the name of the degree was changed to Master's of Human Resources and Industrial Relations to reflect the evolution of the field, and in 2008 the name of the Institute was changed to the School of Labor and Employment Relations to reflect the elevation of the organization to a School on campus.



Although there is no formal ranking process for HR/IR programs, employers and students acknowledge that the University of Illinois is one of the top three programs.


For 2013-14, LER master's students came from 104 undergraduate institutions (57 domestic and 47 international), 65 majors, 20 states and 7 countries. The class was 67% female, 23% minority and 30% international.Thirty-seven percent had at least one year of work experience and average age was 24. See our detailed student profile.

Average salaries of new graduates

For full-time entry-level hires, the average private sector salary was $77,178. Signing bonuses averaged $8,269. Interns averaged $5,077 per month. View full salary statistics.

Our alumni

As of Summer 2014, there are over 2600 School alumni employed across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, and in more than 30 foreign countries. Among them are senior corporate executives, government officials, HR consultants, union officials, faculty members, and university administrators.