Graduate Student Handbook

Welcome to the Employment Relations Studies Graduate Student Handbook. This handbook is designed to assist you in progressing through your graduate degree program and to provide you with associated instructions and documentation along the way. Key components have been given their own page to clearly outline the details associated with that step in the process and includes the specific form where applicable. Many of our forms are also available in the Forms at a Glance section below. 

Our handbook is a living document and we welcome your assistance in including any/all information that you the student expect to find in a handbook. If you cannot find a detail or explanation of a process associated with your degree in this handbook please contact the MIR Program Administrator and we will work together to enhance our handbook with that new information.

Students must successfully complete 30 credits to obtain their Master of Industrial Relations degree. Full-time students complete these over the fall, winter, and summer semesters. The requirements are generally comprised of eight 3-credit core courses and two 3-credit electives (or a combination of 3 and 1-credit elective courses, to add to a total of 12 elective credits). Core classes are intended to cover those content areas deemed to be critical for successful IR/HR practice. Electives vary from year to year and provide students with an opportunity to further refine their interests in a particular area of study.

Students in the full-time MIR program usually complete their degree requirements in 10-12 months, depending on individual course selection. Most full-time students complete the program in 10 months.

Course Registration

Students in the MIR program do not need to self-enroll for any of their classes. Students will be automatically enrolled in their core courses. Elective courses will be handled by request, usually through an online survey system.

The MIR classes are blocked in SOLUS for administrative enrollment only. Classes are only open to students in our program, or by permission of the department.

Students wishing to add or drop courses should email the MIR Program Administrator with their requests. If a course needs to be added or dropped after the official add/drop date as listed in the School of Graduate Studies Sessional Dates, students must fill out an appropriate Academic Change Form (found under the "Forms at a Glance" section on this page) and have it signed by the appropriate parties. For more information on the add/drop policy see the "University / School of Graduate Studies General Policies" section in the handbook.

Choosing Electives

Choosing electives is left to the discretion of individual students. Selection should be based on each student’s professional goals, personal interests, and timetable. The program works to accommodate top preferences. There are, however, times in which the demand for certain electives exceeds the number of seats available. In such circumstances, a lottery is held, with some students ultimately being enrolled in their second choice.

Please note that elective offerings vary from year to year and not all options will be available in any given year.

It is also important to note that our skills seminars have a very specific internal policy regarding attendance and adding/dropping courses, given the compressed course duration. Specifically, attendance is mandatory for all classes and skills seminars and no changes in enrollment will be considered after the end of the first class, without appropriate academic consideration documentation and express permission of the instructor.

Textbook and Course Packs

Textbooks are not included in the tuition fees for the program. Textbook requirements will be listed in the course syllabi. Should you be required to get a textbook prior to the start of class, you will be informed of this in plenty of time, and information on where you can get it will be provided to you.

Most textbooks are available at the Campus Bookstore.

Courseware packs or case studies that are distributed by the program will be available at the main office and will require a cash-only payment.

Students must successfully complete 30 credits to obtain their Master of Industrial Relations degree. Students complete these over the fall, winter, and summer semesters. The requirements are generally comprised of six 3-credit core courses (18 credits in total) and a combination of 3 and 1-credit elective courses, to add to a total of 12 elective credits. Core classes are intended to cover those content areas deemed to be critical for successful IR/HR practice. Electives vary from year to year and provide students with an opportunity to further refine their interests in a particular area of study.

The part-time PMIR program is structured so that it can be completed within 2 years, as the course schedule is set to allow these individuals to continue working while obtaining their degree. A sample of the structure can be found here (PDF, 103 KB)

In order to complete the PMIR program within this time period, students are expected to take the courses offered in each term. 

Course Registration

Students do not need to self-enroll in their classes. Students will be automatically enrolled in their core courses. Elective courses will be handled by request, usually through an online survey system.

The classes are blocked in SOLUS for manual administrative enrollment only and classes are only open to PMIR students.

Students wishing to add or drop courses should email the MIR Program Administrator with their requests. If a course needs to be added or dropped after the official add/drop date as listed in the School of Graduate Studies Sessional Dates, students must fill out an appropriate Academic Change Form (found under the "Forms at a Glance" section on this page) and have it signed by the appropriate parties. For more information on the add/drop policy see the "University / School of Graduate Studies General Policies" section in the handbook

Choosing Electives

Elective choices in the PMIR program are primarily 1-credit skills seminars that are offered across the Fall, Winter, and Spring/Summer terms.  Approximately 20 unique skills seminars will be offered across a two-year period so that PMIR students can choose from 12 to 20 elective options. A 3-credit fully remote course (MIR 875) is offered each Summer term as well.

Attendance is mandatory for all classes and skills seminars and no changes in enrollment will be considered after the end of the first class, without appropriate academic consideration documentation and express permission of the instructor.

Textbook and Course Packs

Textbooks are not included in the tuition fees for the program. Textbook requirements will be listed in the course syllabi. Should you be required to get a textbook prior to the start of class, you will be informed of this in plenty of time, and information on where you can get it will be provided to you.

Most textbooks are available at the Campus Bookstore.

Courseware packs or case studies that are distributed by the program will be available at the main office and will require a cash-only payment.

The Master's Research Project Option

The MRP is a full-year, six-credit course option. It is a time and effort-intensive undertaking, and many students find that it far exceeds the 72 instructional and 168 personal learning hours suggested by its six-credit allocation (each 3-credit unit represents 36 instructional and 84 personal learning hours). The student and faculty advisor typically negotiate the scope and content of the MRP, yet the final project is expected to reflect a significant contribution to research, theory, and/or practice in the field of IR/HR or labour law. A MRP typically requires a comprehensive review of the academic literature, original field and/or laboratory studies, data analysis, and write-up.

Upon completion, the MRP will be distributed to the MIR program director who will identify a ‘second reader’ for the manuscript. Second readers are MIR faculty or adjuncts with research or teaching interests in an aligned area. After reviewing the MRP, the second reader will usually request revisions. Once revisions are completed, the advisor and second reader will again review the work and assign it a pass/fail grade.

The MRP is ideally suited for students with strong research backgrounds (e.g., those who have written undergraduate honour’s thesis or who have worked as research assistants). If interested in pursuing this option, students should identify a topic area and approach a MIR faculty member with similar interests to request the possibility of supervision. The availability of faculty to supervise MRPs varies from year to year. Final approval to pursue the MRP option must be granted by the director or designate.

More information on MRP

  • Asynchronous– does not require attendance at a specifically scheduled class time; work can be done at your own pace and convenience, in accordance with the course outline/requirements. Can involve such things as onQ lessons, recorded lectures, podcasts, etc.
  • Online – often interchangeable with the term “asynchronous”.
  • Synchronous– attendance is required; the term usually refers to a scheduled remote/virtual-delivered class that is held on specific days/hours. Queen’s tends to use Microsoft Teams as the preferred platform for this type of delivery.
  • Remote/Virtual – often interchangeable with the term “synchronous”.
  • In person – classes are held face-to-face, in a group setting, with all students in one location. Attendance is required.
  • Hybrid – this method of course delivery is one that allows students the option of attending a scheduled class either remotely/virtually or in person. The Collective agreement at Queen’s University does not allow for this type of course delivery. 
  • Blended – use of this term relates to course design only. A blended course has been designed to have a combination of in-person/synchronous and remote components as well as asynchronous/online coursework. Up to 25% of the course can be delivered via asynchronous methods, resulting in fewer and/or shorter synchronous sessions needed to meet the course's learning hour requirements.

The MIR program prides itself on offering students a strong, positive, and inclusive culture. We are here to help and facilitate each other’s success. Thus, an expectation of our faculty, staff, and students is that they always conduct themselves in a professional manner. 
Much of how you will be regarded in this rather small network of individuals in the field will come down to your reputation – your honesty, integrity, resilience, and ability to work with, and respect, individuals who may be very different from you. Building your brand begins now. Please consider how your actions today, and over the coming months will begin to shape how you will be perceived personally and professionally in the years to come.

Professional behavior is expected. This includes:

  • Arriving at class on time and staying for the duration
  • Restricting technology use during class time to note taking and participating in class activities
  • Preparing for class by completing required readings and deliverables on time
  • Engaging and participating in classroom discussions
  • Being respectful in all written and verbal communications

MIR Program - Civility and Safe Space Policy (PDF, 320 KB)

Academic Integrity

Queen’s students, faculty, administrators, and staff all have responsibilities for upholding the fundamental values of academic integrity; honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility and courage (see www.academicintegrity.org). These values are central to the building, nurturing, and sustaining of an academic community in which all members of the community will thrive. Adherence to the values expressed through academic integrity forms a foundation for the "freedom of inquiry and exchange of ideas" essential to the intellectual life of the University (see the Senate Report on Principles and Priorities http://www.queensu.ca/secretariat/policies/senate/report-principles-and-priorities).

Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the regulations concerning academic integrity and for ensuring that their assignments and their behaviour conform to the principles of academic integrity. Departures from academic integrity include plagiarism, use of unauthorized materials, facilitation, forgery and falsification, and are antithetical to the development of an academic community at Queen's. Given the seriousness of these matters, actions that contravene the regulation on academic integrity carry sanctions that can range from a warning or the loss of grades on an assignment to the failure of a course to a requirement to withdraw from the university.

https://www.queensu.ca/academicintegrity/students-and-academic-integrity/students-and-academic-integrity/NP
https://integrity.mit.edu/handbook/academic-writing/avoiding-plagiarism-paraphrasing
http://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/QPA_paraphrase.html

Copyright of Course Materials

Course materials created by the course instructor, including all slides, presentations, handouts, tests, exams, and other similar course materials, are the intellectual property of the  instructor. It is a departure from academic integrity to distribute, publicly post, sell or otherwise disseminate an instructor’s course materials or to provide an instructor’s course materials to anyone else for distribution, posting, sale or other means of dissemination, without the instructor’s express consent. A student who engages in such conduct may be subject to penalty for a departure from academic integrity and may also face adverse legal consequences for infringement of intellectual property rights.

Failure of a Primary Course

Occasionally, there are instances when a student does not achieve a minimum course grade of B-, the passing standard required by the Graduate School. In such cases, students are encouraged to speak directly with their course instructor and subsequently seek the counsel of the graduate coordinator. The director will then recommend to the faculty graduate council/committee that the student:

  1. Repeat the examination (or equivalent) within one year after the original examination (or equivalent), or
  2. Repeat the course, or
  3. Take a substitute course. If approved, a student may take another course approved by the faculty graduate council/committee to allow them the opportunity to complete the degree requirements, or
  4. Withdraw from the program

The school of graduate studies complete policy on coursework requirements can be found at: https://www.queensu.ca/grad-postdoc/grad-studies/policies

Grade Appeals

Consistent with graduate school policies, a student must achieve a B- minimum grade in order to pass a course. Students wishing to appeal a course grade must follow a series of prescribed steps, as outlined below:

  1. Speak directly with the course instructor and request a review of the grade
  2. If the instructor confirms the original grade and the student wishes to appeal further, he/she should contact the graduate coordinator, clearly stating the grounds for change
  3. If the graduate coordinator confirms the grade or declines the appeal, the student may appeal directly to the director
  4. If the director confirms the grade or declines the appeal, the student may appeal directly to the dean of graduate studies. The entire policy may be viewed at: https://www.queensu.ca/grad-postdoc/grad-studies/policies

Adding or Dropping Courses

Students in the MIR program are not able to add or drop courses themselves, due to restrictions in SOLUS. This is mainly to ensure that students remained enrolled in the required number of courses to complete their degree requirements.

Should a student wish to add or drop a course, they must email the Program Administrator with the request to do so within the required deadline, as outlined in the School of Graduate Studies Sessional Dates. If a student misses the add/drop deadline, registration can still be amended, but at the discretion and approval of the instructor. the Graduate Coordinator and the School of Graduate Studies.

Dropping a course after the deadline will result in a DR on the student transcript, even with approval.

An appeal of a DR designation must be made to the School of Graduate Studies. 

Provisional Status

As you know the requirements for admission to the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (SGSPA), and specifically our program is a 4-year undergraduate honours degree with a B+/3.3/77% academic average or higher in the final 2 years of study.

Sometimes applicants to the program will not clearly meet these requirements, but based on the strength of their application as a whole, the Admissions Committee members feel that there is every chance that the individual could be successful in the program.

In cases such as this, the program will recommend that the SGS will make a provisional offer. Students with provisional status must meet the University requirement to earn a B+ or higher average in fall semester courses to continue in the program. It is important to know that your status is kept completely confidential, from all teaching faculty and fellow students, to ensure equity in the classroom. Our mandate is for every student in our program to succeed and we will provide you with the best guidance to help you reach your goals!

Once all Fall term grades are submitted and approved, we will calculate the term average. In most cases, students with provisional status meet the B+ average required by the SGS, and so we can then make the recommendation to have the provisional status be lifted. We would notify you of this status change at the same time.

It is important that students take the onus of responsibility for success upon themselves, by ensuring that they are availing themselves of the resources available from the Student Success Services, reaching out to instructors for clarity and additional information as needed, and ensuring they are continually keeping up to date with assignments. 

Should any student have concerns that they may not be able to meet the requirements of their provision, they are urged to speak to either the Program Administrator or Graduate Coordinator, in confidence, as soon as is possible. 

While the department is governed by the policies of the Senate, the School of Graduate Studies, and the Faculty of Arts & Science for most regulatory matters, there are some policies that are set by the department.

Here are some of the more common aspects that concern our students regarding policies within the Employment Relations Programs unit.

Administrative Hierarchy

There is a standard hierarchy to be followed in the case of all concerns in the program. While we strongly encourage you to take an informal approach to resolve issues, if you feel that your concerns require a more formal approach, please follow the appropriate steps:

Academic Concerns:

Exemptions, difficulties with course materials, syllabus / exam / or grading questions, academic integrity issues, etc.

  • Step 1:  Course Instructor
  • Step 2:  Graduate Coordinator/Chair
  • Step 3:  Program Director

Administrative Concerns:

Questions about registration, fees, enrollment, graduate school policies, accommodations, etc.

  • Step 1:  Program Administrator
  • Step 2:  Graduate Coordinator/Chair
  • Step 3:  Program Director

These steps must be followed in the order specified – it is a requirement of the SGSPA.

Academic Accommodations

If you require any academic accommodations, you must register with and provide documentation (e.g., from a physician, psychiatrist, etc.) to Student Wellness Services, who will then recommend appropriate accommodations to you, in the form of a Letter of Accommodation. It is your responsibility to then provide this information to the appropriate members of the department. This should be but is not limited to, the Program Administrator for your student file. It would be important for you to direct your course instructors to any in-class accommodation requirements for which you have received approval. 

Pre-existing conditions that require academic accommodation must be identified & arranged for as far in advance as it is possible, to ensure the department is adequately prepared to assist students properly. More information on the appropriate process

It is important that students understand their rights and responsibilities. You can find additional information on the Student Wellness Services website.

Assignment Extensions/Late Work

Please note the late work policy outlined by each instructor. Unless they state otherwise, all coursework must be submitted by the end of each term as stated in the School Of Graduate Studies calendar. A completion plan and date should be negotiated with the instructor at the time of the request. Should that completion plan go beyond the end of term, an Incomplete Grade form must be submitted to ensure the student does not receive an F grade in the course.

NOTE: Students with academic accommodations are asked to refer to their LOA for specific requirements regarding this policy

Course Substitutions for Core Courses

Core classes are foundational to the degree and as a general rule exemptions/substitutions are not granted. If, however, a student feels an exemption from a specific required course is a possibility (based on previous graduate or research work, for example), he/she should:

  • Attend the first day of class;
  • Set up a time to meet with the course instructor;
  • Provide materials (e.g., previous course syllabi) indicating at least 70% overlap with current course content to the course instructor; and
  • Indicate proof of having earned at least a B+ in that relevant work.

Please note that this information is necessary but not necessarily sufficient to be granted an exemption.

The instructor may request additional information. The course instructor will form a recommendation to the graduate coordinator to accept/deny a request for an exemption – even in cases where the above criteria are met. Final approval must be granted by the director or designate.

An exemption does not lessen the number of course credits required for the MIR degree. Students who are granted an exemption must take an additional course to replace the credit requirement.

Transfers between Programs

While the full-time MIR program (MIR) and part-time Professional MIR program (PMIR) result in the same degree, students have different course requirements, they draw from categorically different applicant groups, and have different admission requirements and application processes. Students in the part-time professional MIR program are required to possess at least 3 years of dedicated HR/LR experience to be considered eligible for admission, whereas students in our regular full-time program are not. Furthermore, these two programs have a separate, competitive, application procedure.

Given that there are differences in admission requirements,  as well as in how the degrees are delivered (i.e., 1 year versus 2 years), a transfer between programs is considered only in special circumstances. Ultimately, students seeking to transfer between the  PMIR and MIR programs are required to reapply to the university,  following the admissions guidelines of the program they are seeking transfer into.

Inquiries regarding transfer should be made to the Graduate Coordinator

Use of Email for Course Deliverables

All Queen's related academic-related materials must be sent and delivered to your Queen's email account. This is part of the FIPPA regulations.

Our program normally encourages the use of onQ for electronic deliverable submissions, upload to a pre-arranged Queen's network location or hard copy directly to the drop box in the hallway/instructor. We do not encourage the submission of deliverables by email unless absolutely necessary. Should you need to resort to this mode of delivery, it is your responsibility to ensure that the deliverable has been received by the instructor by the due date expected. You may either use the "read receipt" functionality (again not recommended) or by specifically requesting a reply from the professor, ensuring the email was received and the document attached.

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