Live in New York City. Defend workers’ rights. Get paid and earn college credits. For almost 20 years, New York Union Semester has successfully connected social changemakers with dynamic labor organizations. This unique semester-long program combines rigorous academic study with first-hand experience within the labor movement. Undergraduate and graduate students from across the country and around the world are paired with unions and worker-rights organizations to gain practical skills and learn first-hand the strategies these organizations use to fight for workers’ rights. Students analyze the experience they gain in the area during class time through comprehensive studies of the US labor movement. Our renowned Labor Studies faculty teach the courses.


25 West 43rd Street, 19th Floor
New York, NY 10036

Union Semester

The Union Semester program subsidies your tuition and fees up to $7,000. Any amount in excess of tuition costs are issued to interns for living and other personal expenses. Upon completing the program, undergraduate students earn 16 credits and are awarded a Certificate in Labor Studies. Graduate students will earn 12 credits and an Advanced Certificate in Labor Studies, which can be applied to the MA in Labor Studies.

What Our Students Say


The program welcomes undergraduates, recent college graduates, and graduate students. International students can only apply to the program at the graduate level. To qualify for admission to New York Union Semester, undergraduate applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5, and must have successfully completed 45 college credits before the start of the New York Union Semester. Graduate applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and a GPA of a 3.0 or higher.


New York Union Semester is a seventeen-week, full-time commitment, students need to be available to spend 20 hours per week at the internship site and take 4 courses. Program participants might not have time for additional classes and/or work a second job.

Application Deadlines

Fall Semester Application Deadlines
Program Priority* General** Final***
Labor Studies Certificate & Union Semester 4/1 5/1 6/1


Spring Semester Application Deadlines
Program Priority* General** Final***
Labor Studies Certificate & Union Semester 10/25 11/15 12/1

* Priority Deadline – will receive priority review.

** General Deadline – will be reviewed but no priority will be given.

*** Final Deadline – all applications and materials must be received by this date to be reviewed on a space-available basis, after all priority and general deadline applications.

Application Checklist

Frequently Asked Questions

Union Semester applicants enrolled at other CUNY campuses should request an e-permit from their home school. Please contact your academic department or advisor to be sure you understand the ePermit guidelines, procedures, and deadlines. Colleges need ample time to review and approve ePermit requests. The applicant’s ePermit for each of the four courses must be submitted to SLU at least 10-days before the semester’s first official day.

Once your ePermit has been approved email the following documents to  Current Resume and Personal Statement (500-750 words) to share the basis of your interest in Labor Studies.  Discuss any previous connections you have had to labor unions or other worker organizations.  This might include past or present union membership, experience working or interning in a labor union, involvement in labor activism, and/or any family member(s) connection to the labor movement. In addition, please explain how you learned about the Union Semester program and how you hope your participation in this program will shape your future career goals.

Union Semester has partnerships with a variety of unions, worker organizations and progressive coalitions and campaigns. Recent placements include Construction & General Building Laborers Local 79, Professional Staff Congress (PSC), Local Union No.3, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Brandworkers, NYS Public Employees Federation (PEF), New York State Laborer’s Organizing Fund (NYSLOF), Writers Guild of America, Transport Workers Union Local 100, and the New York City Central Labor Council. Interns might be placed in a variety of departments, and might do a range of work including organizing workers, planning events, researching corporations, analyzing legislation and policy, facilitating education programs, writing for a union paper or developing social media. We try to pair students’ interests and experience with the needs of our partners.

The Union Semester Program subsidies your tuition and fees up to $ 7,000.  Any amount in excess of tuition costs are issued to interns for living and other personal expenses.

With the exception of currently enrolled CUNY students, all students are charged an application fee when submitting their applications. The freshman application fee is $65, transfer application fee is $70, and the graduate application fee is $125). Students are responsible for the tuition and fees. As described above, the stipend granted Union Semester students pays for tuition and fees up to $7,000.

Tuition and Fee Schedule

All tuition charges and fees are subject to change by action of the Board of Trustees of The City University of New York without prior notice. In the event of any increase in tuition charges and fees, payments already made to the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies will be treated as partial payment, and notification will be given of the additional amount due and the time and method of payment. Students are responsible for their travel to and from New York City, their tuition and fees, housing and other living expenses. Students who have concerns about managing their finances may speak with the New York Union Semester Program Coordinator who can answer questions, give suggestions for finding affordable housing and help students develop a budget.

While room and board are the responsibility of each student, the NY Union Semester Program Coordinator can provide some useful resources and information about how to find appropriate housing. Many students take apartments with friends or roommates or find rooms online. Others reside in non-profit student housing facilities, and the coordinator sends useful postings when they are available. We can also provide advice on neighborhoods and transportation.

Regardless of your interest in labor as a career, our alumni learn a great deal about the history of a social movement and the impacts that people can have on their work and world when acting collectively. Many of our alumni continue to work in the labor movement in a variety of roles including, as organizers, researchers, policy analysts, and as communications staff. The School of Labor and Urban Studies has a large network of connections and we do our best to connect students with job opportunities, serve as references, and support alumni any way we can. Students also get valuable experience for resumes and references from their mentors. Alumni have also gone on to work in a wide range of fields, including as journalism, education, and the law. Some of our students pursue graduate studies in labor and related disciplines.

Students who successfully complete NY Union Semester earn a total of 16 undergraduate credits or 12 graduate credits. It is their responsibility to follow the procedures of their college or university for transferring these credits. Upon acceptance to the program, it is recommended that students consult with their faculty advisor and registrar concerning transfer credit policies. Students who participate in NY Union Semester while they are not attending a college or graduate program will need to discuss transferring credits should they be accepted into such a program at a later date.

Sure, you have the option of doing either the undergrad or grad program. The undergrad program is less expensive and you will receive a Certificate in Labor Studies. The grad program offers a wider range of classes, including ones like Labor & Globalization and Strategic Corporate Research. In the Master’s program you will earn 12 graduate credits and an Advanced Certificate in Labor Studies.

It does! In the grad program of Union Semester, students earn 12 credits. The MA in Labor Studies at the School of Labor and Urban Studies requires 30 credits, so you are well on your way. If you think you might be interested in the MA, contact Rob Callaghan at