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Labor Studies Program | Information
striking workersGeneral Information

The Department of Labor Studies is a unit of the statewide School of Social Work, based at Indiana University—Purdue University Indianapolis. IU South Bend students majoring in Labor Studies receive their degrees from IU South Bend.

Labor Studies is an interdisciplinary field that explores issues of work and the work place, social inequality and class structure, and the struggles of workers and their organizations. In this context Labor Studies explores the ways racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia impact on working people, their families, and communities. As a field, it was originally developed to educate union members and leaders, and Labor Studies sees labor organizations, especially trade unions, as basic organizations for the maintenance and expansion of a democratic society. Labor Studies faculty come from academic disciplines such as political science, economics, history, legal studies, sociology, and anthropology, and classes in this program focus on the experience of workers (of all kinds) and their efforts to achieve a greater voice in society.

Certificate and Degrees

The Department of Labor Studies offers a certificate, minor, Associate of Science in Labor Studies, and Bachelor of Science in Labor Studies. The program has a long history of working with unions in the state of Indiana to develop and deliver educational courses. These courses are coordinated and taught by Labor Studies faculty. They and associate faculty members also teach the courses. Faculty qualifications typically combine academic credentials with union background.

Minor in Labor Studies

A minor in Labor Studies requires the completion of 15 credit hours in Labor Studies courses consisting of 6 credit hours from the list of core courses and 9 additional credit hours to be determined through consultation with the campus faculty.

Additional Requirements

For the Associate of Science in Labor Studies, at least 12 credit hours must be earned from Indiana University, 10 credit hours of these after admission to the Department of Labor Studies. No more than 15 credit hours may be earned within a single subject other than Labor Studies.

For the Bachelor of Science in Labor Studies, at least 24 credit hours must be earned from Indiana University; 20 of these after admission to the Department of Labor Studies. No more than 21 credit hours may be earned within a single subject other than Labor Studies. Thirty credit hours must be earned in 300- or 400-level courses, and at least 12 of the 30 credit hours must be earned in Labor Studies courses.

For the certificate in Labor Studies and both the associate and bachelor’s degrees, an overall 2.0 (C) grade point average must be maintained. Courses in which grades below C– are received may be counted only as electives. For the associate and bachelor’s degrees, courses within a major area must be in at least two different subjects.

Credit Transfers

Applicants should receive an official notice of admission status and a credit transfer report indicating which courses are accepted at Indiana University. The Department of Labor Studies will then prepare a summary of how these courses apply to the Labor Studies certificate and degree requirements.

At this point, if they have not already done so, students should proceed to plan their program in consultation with their advisor and enroll in courses. Check with the Department of Labor Studies for schedules and directions.

Progress Options

One or more of the methods listed in this section may provide the Labor Studies participant a means of receiving Indiana University credit without taking conventional classroom-based courses. This allows accelerated progress towards a Labor Studies degree.

College-Level Examination Program

College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) has available tests in a variety of subject areas. If a student’s score exceeds a certain level on an Indiana University accepted test, they receive credit (3 credit hours for most examinations). CLEP brochures are available at the Labor Studies Program office.

Credit for Military Service

Depending on the length and type of training received, a student may receive up to 6 credit hours based on military service. Additional credit hours may be awarded for special training programs in the military. This credit can only be applied as elective credit for Labor Studies degrees. To apply, a candidate must complete the DD-214 form and have a training completion certificate (if applicable).

Credit for Self-Acquired Competencies

Labor Studies participants may apply up to 15 credit hours of Self-Acquired Competencies (SAC) to the Associate of Science degree and up to 30 credit hours (including any applied to the associate degree) to the Bachelor of Science degree. SAC credit can be awarded for learning gained outside the university and may be based on a wide variety of experiences. Labor Studies students can apply for SAC credit on the basis of learning derived from their union activities.

Self-Acquired Competencies refer to learning or competency that can be documented. SAC credit is not granted simply for time served. Thus, it is not granted on the basis of the number of terms served as a union officer. Nor is it multiplied by the number of times the same experience has been repeated. A secretary-treasurer who has performed the same functions for four terms is not likely to receive significantly more credit hours than one who has performed the same functions, and has learned as much, from one or two terms.

SAC credit is of two types
  • Course-specific credit hours are granted where the applicant’s competency is substantially equivalent to the competency that is expected in an Indiana University course.
  • General credit hours are granted for competencies that are not the full equivalent of individual courses but are nevertheless the equivalent of college learning.

This is the only form of SAC credit hours available outside of the Labor Studies Program.

In general, the following procedures and limitations govern the award of credit hours for SAC:

  • A student must be admitted to the Department of Labor Studies and be in good standing before any credit for SAC is awarded.
  • A maximum of 15 credit hours of SAC credit may be applied to the Associate of Science in Labor Studies and a maximum of 30 credit hours to the Bachelor of Science in Labor Studies

Transfer of Self-Acquired Competencies Credit Within the Indiana University System

Self-Acquired Competencies credit awarded by the faculty of one Indiana University campus is recorded and explained on the student’s permanent record. Such credit will be honored on any other Indiana University campus to which the student may transfer in order to complete the associate or bachelor’s degree in Labor Studies. The student should be aware that such credit will not necessarily be honored by other degree programs of Indiana University or by other institutions.

Academic Policies

Institutional academic policies are stated in the front section of this publication. All these policies pertain to students enrolled in Labor Studies; however, the following policies are particularly relevant.

Academic Forgiveness Policy for Former Indiana University Students

Students with academic deficiencies (cumulative grade point average below 2.0 or C average) in coursework done within the Indiana University system may be admitted to the Department of Labor Studies on probation. The student must achieve a 2.0 grade point average for all courses taken at Indiana University before and after admission to the program in order to obtain a degree. Students who have been dismissed from another academic program of Indiana University may not be admitted to  the Department of Labor Studies until at least one calendar year has passed from the date of dismissal.

A student prevented from attaining a cumulative 2.0 grade point average because of poor work in a semester at Indiana University that was completed five or more years before enrollment in the Labor Studies program may request the removal of the poor semester from the Department of Labor Studies records. In general, such a request is granted automatically, particularly in those cases where the student would be prevented from graduating because of the one poor semester. All credit earned during this one semester is also removed from the grade point average under this forgiveness policy.

A similar request may be made for the forgiveness of a poor semester completed at Indiana University within five years prior to admission to the Department of Labor Studies. Approval of such requests is usually dependent, however, upon the successful completion of 12 credit hours in  Labor Studies. Because all credit earned during the forgiven semester is removed from the grade point average, students are encouraged to consult with their advisor concerning the advisability of this procedure.

This policy is designed to avoid placing an excessive burden on students who, in the past, have made a poor start at Indiana University. It is not intended to permit students with chronically poor performance in the university to stay in school, nor to raise false hopes for students who are not making progress toward a degree.

Academic Forgiveness Policy for Students Dismissed from Other Institutions

Students who have been dismissed from another postsecondary institution may not be admitted to the Labor Studies Program until at least one calendar year has passed since the date of the dismissal.

University regulations require that the admissions office indicate any deficiencies in grade point average (average grade below 2.0 on a 4.0 scale) at another institution on the credit transfer report. The policy is to maintain a student’s grade point average based only on work done at Indiana University. These grades must be of average, or C quality (2.0 on 4.0 scale) in order to earn a degree. If a student’s cumulative grade point average from another institution is below 2.0, however, the student is admitted on probation.


Degrees are awarded every December, May, and August. Participants expecting to graduate must file written notice of intent, citing the degree and expected date of graduation, with the Department of Labor Studies at least three months prior to graduation.

Graduation with Honors

Students completing a minimum of 30 credit hours for the Associate of Science in Labor Studies or 60 credit hours for the Bachelor of Science in Labor Studies at Indiana University will be graduated with honors if they have attained the appropriate grade averages: 3.90, highest distinction; 3.75, high distinction; 3.50, distinction.

Union Education Program

The Department of Labor Studies also offers an extensive noncredit program—the Union Education Program (UEP). UEP open enrollment courses and conferences are available to workers in communities throughout the state. They are offered in local union halls, on the various campuses of Indiana University, and on the campuses of other educational institutions.

Classes usually meet weekly for 4-10 weeks. They are open to participants from both large and small unions, craft and industrial unions, and public and private sector unions. Typical topics for these classes are labor law, collective bargaining, steward training, communications, OSHA, and arbitration.

Other programs are designed to meet the educational needs of individual unions. Local or international unions may contract with the Department of Labor Studies to conduct these programs. Enrollments are limited to members of the contracting union.

There are no special entrance requirements, tests, or grades. Participants who complete a class or conference are awarded a Certificate of Achievement from the Department of Labor Studies. Upon completion of 150 classroom hours in the UEP, the participant is awarded a Certificate of Recognition. Upon completion of 300 classroom hours in the UEP, the participant will be awarded a Certificate of Recognition and a plaque. There is a nominal charge for UEP classes and conferences.

Organization and Faculty

The Labor Studies faculty are made up of people with both union experience and academic credentials. The faculty uses a variety of teaching methods, including videotape recording, case studies, films, group discussion, and role playing to promote student interest and participation.

A Statewide Advisory Committee advises the program on educational courses offered to Indiana union members. Similarly, the LaPorte, Michiana, and Warsaw Area Labor Education Advisory Committees advise the program at IU South Bend.

Academic Bulletins

PDF Version

2016-2017 Campus Bulletin
2015-2016 Campus Bulletin
2014-2015 Campus Bulletin

Please be aware that the PDF is formatted from the webpages; some pages may be out of order.