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2023 Best Online Human Resources Degrees

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 10/16/2023
2023 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Human Resources Badge

Individuals who enjoy solving problems, building relationships, and improving people's working lives may find their true calling in a human resources (HR) career. Our list of the best online bachelor's programs in HR highlights top schools based on Salary Scores, which focus on alumni earnings with that degree. If you are most concerned about immediate costs, you may also explore our list of the most affordable online HR degrees

View our methodology for more details about our list, or learn about OnlineU.

2023 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Human Resources Badge
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Online Human Resources Bachelor's Degrees You May Be Interested In

#1 Waldorf University

  • Salary Score: 98
  • Median Starting Salary: $58,151
  • Locations: Forest City (IA)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Waldorf University is a private, for-profit institution that offers an online Bachelor of Applied Science in Business Administration - Human Resources Management, including competencies identified by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Students complete 120 credit hours to graduate, with 12 in the human resources concentration. Those attending full time may meet program requirements in four years. Additionally, Waldfor offers an online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Human Resource Management for those interested in leadership roles. Waldorf accepts 61% of applicants, and 50% of students graduate.

Waldorf delivers the program's online curriculum via Blackboard. Online HR management students complete courses such as Employment and Labor Law, Recruitment and Staffing, Human Resource Management Strategy and Emerging Issues, and Compensation and Benefits. Most graduates pursue positions managing staff and recruiting talent.

#2 UMass Global

  • Salary Score: 97
  • Median Starting Salary: $56,794
  • Locations: Multiple Locations
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

The University of Massachusetts Global (UMass Global) is a private, nonprofit institution offering an online Bachelor of Business Administration - Human Resources. This 120-credit program may take less than four years to complete if students attend full time, or they may choose the self-paced option called MyPath. Overall, UMass has a 95% acceptance rate, and 57% of undergraduates earn their diplomas.

UMass utilizes the Blackboard learning management system (LMS) to facilitate classes remotely. Courses in the online HR program include Conflict Resolution, Labor Studies, Performance Improvement, and Foundations in Spatial Communication. This program also prepares students for a Master of Business Administration program. Alumni often enter careers as human resource specialists, training and development specialists, compensation and benefits managers, and human resource managers.

#3 Colorado State University Global

  • Salary Score: 94
  • Median Starting Salary: $55,055
  • Locations: Greenwood Village (CO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Colorado State University Global (CSU Global) is a public institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Human Resources Management that integrates SHRM practices. Though not a degree requirement, students can choose from several HR specializations, such as Healthcare Management or Criminal Justice Management. Graduating requires completing 120 credit hours of coursework. Classes begin every four weeks, allowing full-time students to complete this online bachelor's degree program in less than four years. CSU Global has a 98% acceptance rate and a 46% graduation rate.

CSU Global provides access to the LMS Canvas, which allows students access to the online program curriculum. HR students take a range of courses, such as Human Resource Management in a Global World, Creating a Diverse and Ethical Workforce, and Business Policy and Strategy. The program curriculum helps prepare students for various administrative and leadership roles after graduation.

#4 Capella University

  • Salary Score: 90
  • Median Starting Salary: $53,132
  • Locations: Minneapolis (MN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Capella University is a private, for-profit institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Business - Human Resources Management that has a curriculum aligned with SHRM principles. Students can either enroll in the structured GuidedPath plan — requiring 180 quarter credit hours — or the faster, self-paced FlexPath plan that requires 90 credit hours. Full-time students generally complete the GuidedPath program in four years, but FlexPath can finish faster if they choose. Capella accepts 100% of applicants, and 16% of students graduate.

Capella's Blackboard LMS delivers online coursework and instruction. Online HR management students can access and participate in courses such as Employee Training and Development, Employee and Labor Relations, and Legal Issues in Human Resource Management. Importantly, Capella also offers preparation for SHRM and Human Resource Certification Institute certification exams.

#5 University of the Incarnate Word

  • Salary Score: 80
  • Median Starting Salary: $49,998
  • Locations: San Antonio (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) is a private, nonprofit, and faith-based institution offering an online Bachelor of Arts in Human Resources that is in complete alignment with SHRM's HR Curriculum Guidebook and Templates. The courses are eight weeks long, and there are six terms each year. Students must complete 120 semester credit hours to graduate, which may take four years of full-time attendance. UIW has a 97% acceptance rate and a 53% graduation rate.

UIW's online students access instruction and coursework via Canvas. Classes within the online HR program include Performance Management, Leadership Organizations, Theories and Concepts of Personnel Management, and Business Information Processing. Students must also complete a capstone project to graduate. Alumni often pursue management positions in HR, recruitment, and payroll.

#6 Bellevue University

  • Salary Score: 78
  • Median Starting Salary: $49,441
  • Locations: Bellevue (NE)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Bellevue University, which is a private, nonprofit school, offers an online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in human resource management. In addition to core business courses on topics such as management principles, accounting, and business strategy, students specializing in HR take classes on compensation, recruitment, selection, and talent development. The program is designed to help students develop problem-solving, communication, and decision-making skills. Learners must complete 127 credits, including a semester-long internship, to graduate.

Online students at Bellevue use B.R.U.I.N. — the Bellevue Real-Time User Information Network — to access their coursework. The school also provides student coaches and technical support to keep distance learners on track.

#7 University of Maryland Global Campus

  • Salary Score: 76
  • Median Starting Salary: $49,149
  • Locations: Adelphi (MD)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

All of the University of Maryland's online degree offerings are consolidated into its Global Campus, including the Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management. HR management, organizational communications, talent acquisition and management, information systems, and finance are just a few of the key subjects covered in this program. The curriculum is designed to help students develop both technical and leadership skills so they're prepared for HR roles in any industry.

While enrolled, HR management majors can pursue additional undergraduate certificates in HR, organizational communications, and organizational culture and change. Students use the LEO learning management system to access their online assignments and communicate with their peers and instructors.

#8 Pennsylvania State University

  • Salary Score: 75
  • Median Starting Salary: $48,779
  • Locations: State College (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

A public institution, Pennsylvania State University offers both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Labor and Human Resources. Either online program requires the completion of 123 credit hours. The BA curriculum mixes business and HR management classes with social sciences, humanities, and language courses. This program is designed for students who want to focus on organizational culture and behavior, workforce diversity, and employment law. The BS program, on the other hand, includes more quantitative courses, such as accounting and communications, to prepare students for HR roles in training and development, staffing, recruitment, compensation, and benefits.

Penn State students use the Canvas learning management system to view written or recorded lectures, complete homework assignments, and engage in class discussions.

#9 Temple University

  • Salary Score: 73
  • Median Starting Salary: $48,337
  • Locations: Philadelphia (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Temple University's online Bachelor of Business Administration in Human Resource Management is closely aligned with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a global organization for HR professionals. In general, the curriculum is designed to prepare students to pass the SHRM Certified Professional exam. Courses in the 124-credit hour program address such topics as compensation and benefits, labor relations, performance appraisal, recruitment and retention, training and development, public policy, and career management.

Online students at Temple access their coursework through the Canvas learning system. Temple is a public university with a 72% acceptance rate and a 75% graduation rate.

#10 Thomas Edison State University

  • Salary Score: 72
  • Median Starting Salary: $48,272
  • Locations: Trenton (NJ)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Thomas Edison University, a public institution, offers two programs for students who want to study human resource management online. The Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies program with a concentration in human resources management covers business and management practices, HR functions, industrial relations, and organizational behavior. The Bachelor of Science in Business Administration program with a concentration in human resources management and organizational management covers many of these same topics but with an emphasis on HR's role in business strategy.

At Thomas Edison, online students use the Moodle platform to complete assignments and participate in class discussions. They also have access to academic advising and technical support services.

2023 Best Online Human Resources Degrees

RankSchool Salary Score Median Starting Salary
# 1 #1 Waldorf University 98 98 $58,151
# 2 #2 UMass Global 97 $56,794
# 3 #3 Colorado State University Global 94 $55,055
# 4 #4 Capella University 90 $53,132
# 5 #5 University of the Incarnate Word 80 $49,998
# 6 #6 Bellevue University 78 $49,441
# 7 #7 University of Maryland Global Campus 76 $49,149
# 8 #8 Pennsylvania State University 75 $48,779
# 9 #9 Temple University 73 $48,337
# 10 #10 Thomas Edison State University 72 $48,272
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Overview of Online HR Degrees

Colleges design human resources (HR) degrees to prepare students to run administrative operations for their employers. You can choose from a range of HR degrees online or in person, including some with concentrations that might help you specialize in a particular area during your HR career. Many programs end with an internship to give you practical experience with real-world situations.

HR majors study the critical functions that keep organizations running, including businesses, government agencies, and nonprofits. These functions include hiring and training employees, administering compensation and benefits, creating and enforcing a variety of policies, and overseeing employee relations with management. Students who study human resources gain skills that will allow them to pursue careers hiring, managing, and assisting employees with various legal concerns. 

Bachelor's programs in human resources management require four years of study, and the curriculum includes both general liberal arts requirements as well as core classes and electives in HR subjects. HR majors may take classes that cover employee and labor relations, psychology, organizational development, and conflict mediation. Other classes that may be required include information technology, business management, and finance.


To apply to a human resources bachelor's online, students are often required to submit entrance exams, like the SAT or ACT, as well as a copy of their high school transcript. If students are interested in financial aid in the form of grants, scholarships, or student loans, they should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) when applying.

Explore our Guide to Applying to Online College to learn more about the steps involved.

Human Resources Certification

Professional certification is a voluntary process whereby you earn an extra credential that you can tour on your resume. Although certification isn't necessary for every job in HR, it may give you an advantage in a future job search.

Students and early-career employees can pursue the SHRM Certified Professional credential, which requires passing an extensive exam on HR practices. You can test for the SHRM Senior Certified Professional designation once you have at least three years of experience and some level of strategic leadership. 


Accreditation is a testament to a college's quality and allows it to accept federal financial aid, so it's important to attend an accredited school. Additionally, accredited colleges will only accept transfer credits from schools with the same status. You can find the recognized regional accreditors on the Council for Higher Education Accreditation site.

There is no programmatic accrediting body that formally certifies HR degrees.

There is no programmatic accrediting body that formally certifies HR degrees. But the SHRM has developed the Academic Alignment Program, which is a series of key learning outcomes that it encourages colleges to consider as they write a curriculum. You can search the SHRM's directory of aligned programs, which includes both online and on-campus HR degrees. Graduating from an aligned program helps ensure that you meet the prerequisites for certification in the future.

Online Courses for an HR Degree

Many HR programs contain similar coursework at each level. In general, bachelor's degrees feature introductory courses to the discipline as a whole and to each of its major specializations, such as compensation and recruitment. Although HR professionals often specialize during their careers, most HR degrees are generalist programs — concentrations are uncommon. Master's degrees tend to focus on organizational leadership and HR management.

Below are some common courses in HR bachelor's degrees:

Human Resources Functions

This foundational course exposes students to the inner workings of human resources departments, including what purpose they serve, how they function, and best practices when it comes to HR. Students become aware of the latest developments in HR, including HR software and trends. They will also learn how HR departments can contribute to the overall success of a business or organization.

Employee and Labor Relations

One part of an HR professional’s job is to mediate disputes between employees and employers. In some cases, this may involve working with union representatives. In non-unionized workplaces, it may involve addressing employee concerns with an employer. In this course, students learn about best practices when it comes to employee and labor relations.

Employment Law

Whether you are making a decision about hiring contractors, firing an employee, or dealing with employee misconduct situations, as an HR professional, it's important to understand the basics of employment law. While you won't need to understand law to the same extent that a lawyer would, it's important for HR professionals to analyze laws and rights as well as determine how to best comply with them. HR professionals are in charge of coordinating with attorneys to ensure that their company is implementing lawful policies. Courses typically cover legal basics and employment law.

Workforce Planning

HR professionals are often in charge of recruiting, interviewing, and hiring new talent, as well as making sure employees are happy within an organization. Classes in workforce planning expose students to best practices when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent. Students also learn how to prepare in advance for staffing needs, including analyzing an organization’s labor supply, identifying gaps, and working to train or recruit relevant employees.

Principles of Management

As those responsible for hiring, firing, and supporting employees, it’s essential that HR professionals have strong management and leadership skills. Principles of Management exposes students to topics surrounding communications skills, human behavior, employee training principles, and labor relations. This course also provides practical skills that you can take directly into your first HR job.

Careers Requiring a Human Resources Bachelor's Degree

Students with a bachelor’s degree in human resources can pursue a variety of careers related to HR. They may choose to pursue careers directly in human resources, or in adjacent fields, like management.

Below are a few career options for graduates of an online human resources degree:

Human Resources Managers

Annual Median Salary: $130,000
Job Growth: 5%

Human resources managers are in charge of HR departments at businesses and organizations. They oversee recruitment, the interview process, hiring, and training new employees. They also deal with issues, including employee benefits and compensation, staffing issues, strategic planning, and other administrative functions.

Human Resources Specialists

Annual Median Salary: $64,240
Job Growth: 6%

Like human resources managers, human resources specialists oversee HR tasks, like recruiting and interviewing employees. While human resources manager is a managerial role that requires at least five or more years of experience, human resources specialists is an entry-level position in the same field, and students can expect to be hired for this position after graduating.

Compensation and Benefits Managers

Annual Median Salary: $131,280
Job Growth: 2%

Compensation and benefits managers specifically oversee employee compensation and benefits packages. They’re responsible for supervising an organization’s benefit structures and rates of pay, ensuring that they comply with local, state, and federal regulations. They also ensure that employees get paid on time and are enrolled in any benefit programs that they’re eligible for. 

Labor Relations Specialists

Annual Median Salary: $82,010
Job Growth: -1%

Labor relations specialists oversee labor contracts and act as a mediator between union representatives and employers. They help businesses navigate the collective bargaining process and ensure that union agreements and HR policies are in sync.

Training and Development Managers

Annual Median Salary: $120,000
Job Growth: 6%

Training and development managers help organizations and businesses appropriately train and support employees in developing new skills. They may be in charge of managing training budgets, overseeing employee training and development, and planning for future training needs. Training and development managers are also responsible for selecting, reviewing, and updating training materials to keep up with industry trends and ensure quality.

Administrative Services Managers

Annual Median Salary: $101,870
Job Growth: 5%

Administrative services managers are responsible for a wide range of office-related tasks, including supervising other administrative staff, overseeing accurate recordkeeping, and assisting in coming up with organizational policies and procedures. In smaller organizations, administrative services managers may also take on other HR-related duties, like payroll and scheduling.

Still undecided on your major? Similar degrees include a bachelor's in organizational leadership, a business degree, or a bachelor's in accounting program.

Is Human Resources Schooling Worth It?

Whether or not a degree in human resources is worth it for you depends on a variety of factors, including the cost of your degree, career expectations, and what you hope to get from the degree. Many people with human resources degrees online go on to pursue successful careers in HR or related fields. However, a bachelor’s degree may not be necessary for all entry-level positions related to HR, and most jobs provide on-the-job training and experience for new hires.

Consider the following pros and cons about getting your degree in human resources online:

Potential Benefits

  • Careers in this field can be highly compensated. HR professionals who work their way up to advanced positions — such as human resources manager or compensation and benefits manager — can expect to make over six figures, as the BLS data above indicates.

  • Human resources is a people-oriented career. If you like getting to know other people and working with a diverse array of employees across an organization, then a career in human resources may be a good fit.

  • Online degrees are flexible for students with other responsibilities. Whether you’re aiming to balance school with work or family responsibilities, completing an online degree in human resources can make it easier to meet all of your obligations.

Potential Drawbacks

  • A bachelor’s degree in human resources may not be necessary to pursue a career in HR. While a degree can certainly give you a leg up on the competition, many entry-level HR positions accept employees with a bachelor’s degree in other disciplines besides HR.

  • You may need to work your way up the ladder. HR professionals have the potential to be highly compensated, but entry-level recent grads tend to make less than employees with several years of experience.

  • Online degrees can be expensive. While obtaining an HR degree online can make it easier for you to succeed in the career of your choice, it can also be expensive, so you should carefully weigh the financial pros and cons before deciding to pursue a degree.

FAQs About Online HR Degrees

Can I Get a Human Resources Degree Online?

Online learning is more popular than ever, and many colleges offer online HR degrees to satisfy the demand for trained professionals. This includes options at every level from certificate to doctorate. If an online HR degree is unavailable at your school, students should consider an online management degree, online psychology degree, or something related to business.

Distance learning provides a different experience from on-campus study. Most notably, your online courses will likely be asynchronous. This means that you don't need to sign in to the learning management system at set times; instead, you watch lecture recordings and post in discussion forums at your convenience. Your program may also feature classes with some synchronous elements, such as live project presentations or class discussions over video conferencing software. Internships will still take place in person.

How Long Does It Take to Get an HR Degree?

If you take a full-time schedule, you can finish an online bachelor's degree in four years and a master's in two. However, nearly 60% of students actually take longer.

Is Human Resource Management a Business Degree?

Not exactly. A bachelor's degree in business is broader and can encompass functions such as finance, supply chains, and project management. HR degrees tend to focus more narrowly on the core HR competencies. But there is some crossover in the soft skills that the curricula emphasize, including communication, decision-making, and problem-solving.

Can I Get a Career in Human Resources Without a Degree?

All available evidence points to the necessity of a degree, from SHRM's site to this explainer on However, the degree doesn't need to be in HR specifically. You can study a number of subjects that teach broadly applicable skills, including business and communications.

Bottom Line

An HR online degree is a great way for students to prepare themselves for a career in HR. Students learn about best practices and current trends in human resources management. They also strive to gain a holistic understanding of the discipline of human resources as well as practical skills that they’ll be able to use in HR internships or jobs going forward.

While a bachelor’s degree in human resources, specifically, may not necessarily be required to land an HR job, this degree adequately prepares students for potential careers in a wide range of business-related disciplines.

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