The Murphy Institute for Worker Education at the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies (SLU) provides union members and adult learners with the resources and inspiration necessary to achieve their academic and career goals.


Continuing & Professional Education
Courses designed to prepare adult learners for college entry and to provide working adults with the skills and trainings necessary for a successful career

Academic & Administrative Support
CUNY pre-admissions and application assistance, career advisement, and additional administrative support for prospective and current students

Workforce Development Research
Specific research initiatives designed and executed in collaboration with our union partners

Continuing & Professional Education

Worker Education at the Murphy Institute provides the following non-credit workshops and courses at SLU’s 43rd street site and other CUNY colleges.

Free College Prep Courses for Union Members and Adult Aged 21 and Older: In collaboration with the Consortium for Worker Education (CWE), the Murphy Institute offers free college prep classes in Reading/Writing and Elementary Algebra for union members and adult learners. Classes are open to all adults aged 21 and older who have a high school diploma or high school equivalency (GED/TASC).

Highlights of this program include free one-on-one tutoring, ongoing academic and career advisement tailored to students’ individual needs, and SLU and CUNY application assistance.

Daytime classes meet twice a week from 12:30 – 2:30 p.m. while evening classes meet twice a week from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. For more information about these classes, please register for one of our upcoming open houses or contact Becky Firesheets at or 212-857-1976.

Basic Skills Education: Our Enhanced Math and English Program, currently offered at Queens College with plans to expand to other campuses in the future, integrates basic skills into credit-bearing courses for students who aren’t quite ready to enroll in college. Unlike other basic skills and developmental courses, these classes help students improve overall academic success and improve their reading, writing, and math skills while simultaneously allowing them to earn college credits. Our model includes small class sizes, team teaching, additional instructional hours, and embedded academic support. For more information about this program, visit the Enhanced Program FAQ or contact Francine Sanchez at 718-997-3060.

Cohort-Based Classes: In direct collaboration with community partners and CUNY faculty, Worker Education creates customized curricula for cohort-based classes focused on the specific needs of students within a union, employer, or agency. Past examples include Business Writing for Operating Engineers with Local 94 and Patient Care & Cultural Competency for Healthcare Workers with 1199. For more information, please contact Dr. Sara Esfarayeni at 212-642-2062,

Workshops for Future TeachersSLU’s Worker Education offers free NY State teacher certification exam preparation workshops for LEAP to Teacher participants and UFT members. All workshops cover techniques for approaching multiple choice questions, constructing a written response, and general test-taking strategies. Workshops include:

Certificate Programs for Future Teachers: Worker Education also offers free courses that provide additional skills for future teachers and prepare them for the certification exams. Offered at SLU for LEAP to Teacher participants and UFT members. Programs include:

For more information, please visit the current Test Prep Workshops schedule (on the left) and our LEAP to Teacher page.

Academic & Administrative Support

SLU’s Murphy Institute is designed to support union members and adult learners succeed in their higher education endeavors and to empower them

CUNY-Wide Adult College Access Initiative
Worker Education at the Murphy Institute strongly believes in the importance of bringing college access services directly to workers and adult learners within their communities. We offer group information sessions on SLU and CUNY’s offerings, workshops on topics such as “Applying to CUNY” and “Financing Your Education,” and one-one pre-admission guidance for adults interested in returning to school (sessions focus on matching the career goals of participants to current CUNY academic programs). Events are held in union halls, elected officials’ offices, community-based organizations, library branches, and more. To set up an event at your site or to attend an event, please contact Becky Firesheets at or 212-857-1976.

The Murphy Institute for Worker Education at Queens College
The Murphy Institute for Worker Education was founded at Queens College in 1984, and our partnership has since continued to flourish. We currently offer a fully staffed, on-campus office that provides admission and academic advisement, embedded tutoring services, career counseling, skills-based workshops and more to union members and working adults pursuing a degree at Queens College.

LEAP to Teacher (LTT)
The Murphy Institute’s LEAP to Teacher is a collaboration with the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), enabling UFT members working for the New York City Department of Education (DOE) to access a set of free, ongoing supports services while pursuing their education and advancing their careers in any field of study, including education. This program has sites at four participating CUNY colleges: Brooklyn College, College of Staten Island, Lehman College, and Queens College.

To find specific degree and service programs for your union, please visit the Labor, Community, & Employer Partners page.

Workforce Development Research Projects

SLU’s Worker Education recently launched two new research projects and are seeking additional union partners. We can:

  • Provide assistance in assessing union members’ educational needs
  • Coordinate with unions and the CUNY Office of Institutional Research to crossmatch data and study the impact of a CUNY degree

If your union is interested in these services, please contact Dr. Sara Esfarayeni at 212-642-2062,

Worker Education’s Goals

Provide education for workers in three areas: basic skills; job-related skills; and liberal arts education

Expand existing services and create new higher education opportunities for workers to advance their careers, achieve personal growth, and understand their rights

Embed college access services for union members into the community

Address the economic and workforce development needs of the City and State by implementing programs that give workers the skills local employers need

Provide support for current students through a range of individualized services