Penn State | Online
Online Degrees for Union Leadership
The School of Labor and Employment Relations, and the Department that preceded it, has offered education and training programs to union leaders and activists for more than 70 years. The school recognizes the important role that the labor movement plays in a democratic society, and understands that unions are most effective in representing the interests of their members if its activists and leaders are well-informed and knowledgeable about their roles.
Whether you are a labor activist, serve in a leadership role, or work as professional union staff, Penn State's online programs in labor and employment relations can help you improve your skills and expertise in this important field.
Choose a Bachelor's or Master's Degree
Bachelor of Science in Labor Studies and Employment Relations (123 credits)
This program is an excellent choice if you wish to enhance your credentials or advance your career in the labor movement.
The fully online Bachelor of Science in Labor and Employment Relations is a labor-oriented degree that draws on fields such as economics, psychology, sociology, history, and law to prepare labor activists, leaders, and professional staff to take on the many challenges facing today's American unions.
Bachelor of Arts in Labor Studies and Employment Relations (123 credits)
This program is an excellent choice if you wish to complete a set of core courses in union-relevant topics like labor law, collective bargaining, and dispute resolution, while also pursing a broader, liberal arts education.
Master of Professional Studies in Human Resources and Employment Relations (33 credits)
This program is intended to meet the growing demand among people in the labor movement for a graduate degree that is relevant to their role as union activists, leaders, and professional staff. Students in the program take a capstone course that allows them to plan and carry out a project that can benefit their local or national union, labor council, worker advocacy group, or community.
Many of our program faculty have extensive experience in the labor movement. One of our instructors was the executive director of the Screen Actors Guild; another was the former general counsel for the United Steelworkers; and several instructors have years of experience working for teachers' unions. Our faculty members' broad expertise further enhances this unique opportunity for union leaders, staff, and activists to earn a degree from a world-class university that can better equip them for leadership roles in today's unions.
Doug Allen is a lecturer in labor studies and employment relations. During his career, he served as the executive director of the Screen Actors Guild, AFL-CIO, and as the assistant executive director of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) for nearly 20 years. In that capacity, Allen was executive director Gene Upshaw's deputy. He took the lead in developing the highly successful "Players Inc." collective licensing program. Prior to his position with the NFLPA, he worked for the AFL-CIO's Committee on Political Education.
An alum of Penn State, Allen played for the Nittany Lion football team and was recognized as an Academic All-American. He continued his football career in the NFL as a member of the Buffalo Bills in New York State. He now works as a consultant to labor organizations and serves as an in-residence professor of practice in labor studies and employment relations.
George Apaliski, MEd
George Apaliski is an instructor of labor and employment relations for World Campus. He began his career as a teacher in the public school system of Pennsylvania for five years, spent thirty years working for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, and five years working for the National Education Association.
Apaliski has extensive experience in contract negotiations (from both the union and management perspectives), mediation, fact-finding, grievance processing, arbitration, employee relations, management in a union environment, and fiduciary responsibilities. He has developed and delivered numerous training programs at the local, state, and national levels. He serves as a volunteer with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Penn State and as a member of the board of trustees for the National Education Association's Retirement Fund.
Kathleen Conlan, MS
Kathleen Conlan has worked in the labor movement all her adult life. She started in the research department of the Service Employees International Union, recently retiring as the education director for Laborers' International Union of North America. She has also taught at the National Labor College, and she is a member of the Laborers International Union of North America and the American Federation of Teachers. She has an undergraduate degree in economics from Georgetown University and a master's degree in labor studies from the University of the District of Columbia. She is also a Certified Employee Benefit Specialist.
Paul F. Clark, MS, PhD
Paul F. Clark is the school director and a professor of labor studies and employment relations. He also holds an appointment as professor in the Department of Health Policy and Administration. Dr. Clark's research interests include employment relations in the U.S. health care industry; the globalization of the labor market for health care professionals; union structure, government, and administration; and union member commitment and participation. He has worked with numerous local and national unions on research projects and regularly serves as a speaker/workshop instructor for labor education programs.
He is the author of four books, including Building More Effective Unions, published by Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) Press in 2001. His research has also appeared in the leading scholarly journals in industrial and labor relations and applied psychology. Dr. Clark serves as the director of the MS and MPS in human resources and employment relations programs at Penn State and regularly teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on industrial relations, labor law, and labor and globalization. He holds a master's degree from the Cornell ILR School and a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh.
Renata Dash, JD
Renata Dash is an attorney who specializes in labor and employment law. She graduated with honors from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, earning her undergraduate degree in political science with a law and society minor, and her juris doctorate from the university's College of Law. Dash first practiced labor and employment law for the private sector at a nationally recognized law firm in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, later moving to a position as the associate general counsel in-house at an international labor organization.
Dash holds licenses in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Tennessee, and also before the U.S. Court of Appeals in the Sixth and Seventh Circuits. She has experience providing counsel and advice regarding labor and employment issues to international labor organizations, their local affiliates, and union members. She has practiced before state and federal courts, state and federal administrative agencies (including the National Labor Relations Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Department of Labor), and before arbitrators and mediators. Dash also has provided training and education about labor and employment issues to various professional and nonprofessional groups throughout her career.
Kathleen M. Evans, MLS
Kathleen M. Evans earned her bachelor of science in English from Bloomsburg University and her master's degree in library science from Kutztown University. Evans is a 15-year veteran of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, where as a field representative she gained experience in negotiating contracts, grievance processing and arbitration, training members in advocacy, expert witness testimony in fact findings, and dealing with various employment issues for teachers and school support personnel. She has also been a classroom teacher, librarian, and local union president.
Paul Whitehead, MS, JD
Paul Whitehead is a professor of practice specializing in labor and employment law. He earned his BS in labor studies and MS in industrial relations from the University of Wisconsin. He is also an honors graduate of Harvard Law School. Whitehead practiced labor, bankruptcy, and benefits law for almost 30 years for the United Steelworkers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, serving as general counsel from 2001 to 2009. His career has included, in addition to years of collective bargaining, the representation of workers and retirees affected by corporate restructurings, foreign trade disputes, and the design of benefit programs. He joined the Penn State faculty in early 2009 and offers courses in both the School of Labor Studies and Employment Relations as well as Penn State Law.
Justin Zartman, JD
Justin Zartman is an instructor in the School of Labor and Employment Relations. A Penn State graduate with degrees in labor and employment relations and political science, he received his juris doctorate from the Texas Wesleyan School of Law, and has been admitted to the Connecticut bar. In addition to being a World Campus instructor, Zartman also works for the Connecticut Education Association (CEA), negotiating teachers' contracts and representing teachers at arbitration and state labor board hearings. Prior to joining CEA, Zartman worked for the National Labor Relations Board in their Fort Worth, Texas, office.