As the backbone of most mid-size and large business operations, the human resources department provides a positive workplace environment that helps the organization run efficiently and effectively. Human resources professionals are primarily responsible for recruiting and hiring talent, developing compensation and benefits programs, and resolving issues that help retain great employees. Graduates with master’s in human resources degrees will find the advanced business knowledge and leadership skills they acquire will most likely open the door to better-paying employment opportunities.
2020 Best Online Colleges Offering Master's in Human Resources Degrees
Students seeking an online master's program in human resources will find that these 24 colleges offer the best value based on affordability and alumni salaries. American University is ranked #1, offering a MS in Human Resource Analytics and Management for $20,175 per year. Graduates of the school reported a median salary of $149,900. New York University ranks #2, with a median salary of $151,214 and an annual tuition rate of $41,769.
Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.
2020 Online Colleges Offering Human Resources Degrees - Ranking Details
#1 American University
Annual Tuition: $20,175
Median Salary: $149,900
Locations: Washington D.C. (DC)
The Master of Science in Human Resource Analytics and Management program at American University provides students the opportunity to expand their professional opportunities with an advanced education in the field. Students complete 30 credit hours of coursework with a curriculum designed by experts in human resources. Instruction includes courses in hiring, performance, and employee metrics, data-driven decision-making, adaptive project management principles, and principles and theories of evaluation. Students of the online degree program graduate with the education and credentials needed for a career as a human resource manager, human resource management analyst, or training and development manager.
#2 New York University
Annual Tuition: $41,769
Median Salary: $151,214
Locations: New York (NY)
New York University offers a Master of Science in Human Resource Management and Development for students seeking to advance their careers in human resources. The 42-credit hour program provides students the option of concentrating their studies in human capital management, organizational effectiveness, global talent management, or learning, developing, and executive coaching. Graduates of NYU's online human resource management and development degree program have gone on to establish careers with Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Marvel Entertainment.
#3 University of Southern California
Annual Tuition: $23,136
Median Salary: $124,843
Locations: Los Angeles (CA)
The University of Southern California offers a Master of Science in Human Resource Management for students seeking to take on a leadership role in their career in human resources. Students complete 24 units of coursework in the advanced practices and techniques used in the modern industry. The curriculum includes instruction in talent management, organizational culture, and leadership in human resources. Graduates of the online human resource management degree program are prepared to lead HR teams in the private, nonprofit, and government sectors.
#4 National Louis University
Annual Tuition: $17,182
Median Salary: $117,100
Locations: Chicago (IL)
National Louis University offers an online Master of Science in Human Resource Management and Development and a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Human Resource Management. The MS program curriculum instructs students on employment law and regulations, performance analysis, and organizational effectiveness. The MPA program offers an education in human resources as it fits and functions in the public administration and policy sector. Both the MS and MPA programs require the completion of 36 credit hours and can open the door to a career in education, healthcare, and government.
#5 Florida Tech-Online
Annual Tuition: $12,821
Median Salary: $114,757
Locations: Melbourne (FL)
Accreditation: SACS COC
Florida Tech offers two online master's degrees in the area of human resources, the Master of Science in Human Resource Management and the Master of Science in Management with a concentration in acquisition and contract management. The 33-credit hour MS in human resource management instructs students in organizational planning and development, leadership theory, and business ethics. The MS in management includes 33 credit hours of coursework in material acquisition management, contract changes, terminations, and disputes, and government contract law. Both programs graduate knowledgeable professionals prepared to lead HR teams in the private, public, and military sectors.
#6 Villanova University Online Graduate Programs
Annual Tuition: $18,630
Median Salary: $116,600
The online Master of Science in Human Resource Development at Villanova University is a generalist degree that gives students a broad overview of the human resources field. A total of 10 courses comprise the program, and the curriculum delves into subjects such as critical evaluation and research writing, financial and human capital, employment law, management of talent, training, and organizational development. A total of 36 credits are needed to complete the degree, but students with specific work or educational experience may be able to waive six credits of prerequisites. Working professionals can finish the program in about two years, but students have up to four years to do so. Classes start every eight weeks. Students are required to attend one virtual class meeting per week, which is held in the evening. The curriculum includes a capstone experience. The faculty and curriculum are the same as for on-campus courses. A graduate certificate can be earned simultaneously within the degree (no additional credits) or as a stand-alone credential. Online learners at Villanova have access to academic support, writing and research assistance, technical support, and career counseling. Applicants must provide official transcripts, three recommendation letters, a statement of goals, a resume, and an academic writing sample.
#7 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide
Annual Tuition: $10,335
Median Salary: $104,100
Locations: Daytona Beach (FL)
Accreditation: SACS COC
The Master of Science in Management at Embry-Riddle Worldwide blends theoretical and practical knowledge with hard and soft skills to prepare students to move into management and leadership roles within companies and other organizations. The degree is available with five different concentrations, including Human Resources Management; students explore subjects such as talent acquisition, workforce planning, and comprehensive reward systems. A total of 30 credits is needed to complete the degree, with 12 in the specialization. Online degree programs at ERAU feature nine- to 12-week sessions, and ten start dates are available throughout the year. Students can stagger courses and accelerate courses if they wish. Distance learning includes both asynchronous and synchronous learning. Students share in web video conferencing and access coursework through the Canvas online learning management system. Online learners should plan to spend eight to 10 hours per week on coursework. Career support, 24/7 technical support, and library resources are accessible to online students. Advisors provide degree-planning assistance. First-time and transfer students must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum overall GPA of 2.5; those who already hold a master’s degree are required to have a cumulative GPA of 3.0. Official transcripts from previous post-secondary coursework must be submitted.
#8 Florida International University
Annual Tuition: $35,000
Median Salary: $113,900
Locations: Miami (FL)
Accreditation: SACS COC
Florida International University offers an online Master of Science in Human Resource Management that can be completed in as little as 12 months. Coursework covers areas such as critical thinking, employment law, strategy and planning, labor issues, and conflict management. The 38-credit program begins each August and January, and cohorts are organized into eight-week sessions, with two courses completed in each session. Coursework is delivered via the Canvas online learning management system. This system allows students to access their classroom, get assignments, use audio and video material, interact with instructors and fellow students, reply to message boards, and more. Applicants to this program should have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 in upper-division coursework. They should also have at least five years of professional full-time work experience with at least three in human resources. Applicants who do not have this experience should have a graduate degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. Along with the application, a statement of purpose, GMAT/GRE score, and two letters of recommendation should be submitted. Each online student is assigned a success coach with whom they work for the duration of the program. Technical assistance is also available.
#9 Walsh College of Accountancy and Business Administration
Annual Tuition: $14,706
Median Salary: $105,600
Locations: Troy (MI)
The online Master of Science in Management at Walsh College can be taken with two concentrations, including Human Resource Management. Students develop their leadership and decision-making skills and learn the essential components of organizational management. The curriculum explores areas such as information technology, design thinking, and leadership of projects and programs. In the Human Resource Management concentration, students study labor relations and management of employee development, and they complete a capstone. The program is delivered in 11-week courses, year-round registration is available, and coursework can be completed entirely online. A total of 30 credits are needed to complete the 10-course degree. Distance learning includes a syllabus, readings, lectures, weekly goals and objectives, participation in discussion boards, assignments, activities, various media, quizzes, and tests. Class size is small, usually about 25 students. Those applying for this degree should have an undergraduate degree or higher with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75; those with a lower GPA can be admitted provisionally. GRE/GMAT scores are not required. Students at Walsh have access to tutoring, professional mentoring, technical support, career services, and networking opportunities. This program is also available as an MBA/MSM dual degree in Human Resources Management.
#10 Pepperdine University
Annual Tuition: $62,400
Median Salary: $122,600
Locations: Malibu (CA)
Pepperdine University offers an online Master of Science in Human Resources that incorporates both human resource management and best business practices so students can assume leadership roles in strategic planning for business and other organizations. The curriculum covers areas such as accounting, talent management, leadership, ethics, legal issues, and digital platforms used in human resource management. Although coursework is completed online, the program includes two immersion experiences in the Los Angeles area. On an accelerated schedule, the degree can be completed in as little as one year, or students can study part-time and complete it in two years. The 14-course program requires 39 units to complete. Online learning in this program includes weekly meetings with classmates and instructors in real-time, and students participate in group activities, view videos and class recordings, and participate in chats, polls, and surveys. Students have 24/7 access to coursework. Applicants must submit all transcripts from post-secondary education, a statement of purpose, and a current resume. GRE/GMAT scores are not required. Student services at Pepperdine include academic advising, writing assistance, and technical support.
#11 University of Denver
Annual Tuition: $22,816
Median Salary: $105,800
Locations: Denver (CO)
The online Master of Science in Strategic Human Resources at the University of Denver is available with five concentrations: Human Capital in Organizations, HR Employment Relations, HR Management and Development, HR Operations, and Learning and Development. Core coursework examines areas such as finance, principles of human resources, and research practices. Each concentration is comprised of four courses, and students complete either a capstone project or capstone seminar. A total of 48 credits is required for the degree. It is entirely online, and students can finish the program in as little as 24 months. Additionally, DU offers a fully online MS in Organizational Leadership with a concentration in Human Capital in Organizations. This 12-course, 48-credit degree can be completed in as little as 18 months. Term lengths are ten weeks, and learning is asynchronous. Courses begin four times per year. Those applying to a master’s degree program at DU must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum overall GPA of 2.5 or a graduate degree with a minimum overall GPA of 3.0. Official transcripts, a current resume, and a personal statement must be submitted. GMAT/GRE test scores are not required. Students have access to academic support, career assistance, technical support, and more.
#12 Western Carolina University
Annual Tuition: $13,620
Median Salary: $101,800
Locations: Cullowhee (NC)
Accreditation: SACS COC
The online Master of Science in Human Resources at Western Carolina University is designed to prepare students for leadership HR positions in private organizations, non-profits, and government work. The program examines issues such as research and evaluation methods, human resource development, and principles and practices related to HR. A capstone seminar is included in the curriculum, but there is no thesis or comprehensive exam. Students can study full- or part-time and can finish the program in two years. A total of 36 credits is required to complete the degree, with a maximum of six transferred credits. The university holds online informational sessions for those interested in enrolling. Online coursework is delivered via the Blackboard online learning management system, and WCU’s website contains comprehensive orientation material for prospective online students. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, and they must submit three letters of recommendation. GRE/GMAT scores are also required, with the exception of those with a graduate degree or with a minimum GPA of 3.25. Online students can download free software such as Microsoft Office Suite, Audacity, Gimp, and Linux. Academic support, technical assistance, career support, advising, and tutoring services are available to distance learners at WCU.
#13 University of Maryland Global Campus
Annual Tuition: $11,862
Median Salary: $99,471
Locations: Adelphi (MD)
The online Master of Science in Management at UMGC is available with 13 different specializations, including Human Resource Management. Students gain a broad education in theory, knowledge, and research, as well as in procedures employed by top executives and specialists in the fast-changing HR field. In the specialization, students study subjects such as employee and labor relations, recruitment, job analysis and assessment, and management of virtual and global teams. The curriculum also includes a capstone. The degree can be completed entirely online, and some courses can also be taken in a hybrid format. A total of 36 credits of coursework is required. UMGC allows a maximum of six credits to be transferred in. Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA for the duration of the program, and they have up to five years to finish the degree. Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree or complete a bachelor’s degree by the last day of the first term of the MS program. Official transcripts from post-secondary coursework must be submitted. Distance learners at UMGC have access to academic advising, tutoring, technical assistance, veteran resources, the university bookstore, career services, and library resources.
#14 City University of Seattle
Annual Tuition: $14,595
Median Salary: $99,700
Locations: Seattle (WA)
City University of Seattle offers an online Master of Science in Management and Leadership with two concentrations, one of which is Human Resource Management. Students enrolled in the program gain the knowledge and skills needed to strategize and improve business practices as well as move into leadership roles. For the Human Resources concentration, students study areas such as staffing, employee development, labor laws, and employee compensation. The program culminates in a six-credit capstone. The 42-credit degree can be taken completely online and completed in as little as 15 months. Students can enroll in any quarter. Online coursework is delivered via the Blackboard online learning management system, which supports receiving and submitting assignments, discussion boards, journals, blogs, email, videos, tests, and more. Technical assistance is available 24/7, and students have access to library services, the university bookstore, and more. Applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree. Students with prior graduate coursework may transfer up to 25 percent of the required credits but transferred credits must reflect a GPA of at least 3.0. Graduates can pursue careers as executive directors, business managers, sales directors, training managers, nonprofit administrators, and other related positions.
#15 Drexel University
Annual Tuition: $29,969
Median Salary: $104,000
Locations: Philadelphia (PA)
The online Master of Science in Human Resource Development at Drexel University provides students with a broad education in areas such as training, career development, performance improvement, talent development, coaching and mentoring, and assessment and evaluation. They learn how to effect positive changes and improve performance on the individual, group, and organizational levels. The degree can be taken entirely online as a part-time program. Students can choose the thesis track, lesson study track, or practitioner track; depending on the track, a total of 45-46.5 credits is required to complete the degree. Instead of the traditional two-semester format, the program is taken in four 10-week quarters per year. This allows students to take more courses in a shorter period of time and complete the degree faster. There are four starts per year. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum overall GPA of 3.0; those with a lower GPA may be granted provisional admission. Along with the application, students should submit official transcripts from all post-secondary education, two or three letters of recommendation, a 500- to 750-word personal statement, and a current resume. Drexel University provides distance learners with academic support, career development, writing assistance, English assistance, and technical support.
#16 Webster University
Annual Tuition: $18,720
Median Salary: $98,943
Locations: St. Louis (MO)
Webster University offers two online master’s degrees in the human resources discipline: a Master of Arts in Human Resource Development and a Master of Arts in Human Resources Management. The MS in HR Development is designed to give HR professionals a deeper understanding of development strategies that can be applied to individuals, groups, departments, and organizations. The program prepares students to work in a variety of settings that include corporate offices, nonprofits, consulting firms, and more. The MS in HR Management examines both theory and practice as it relates to managing a workforce in business, industry, nonprofit, and government institutions. Both programs require 36 credits to complete and can be combined with an MBA for a dual degree, requiring 51-54 credits. Coursework is delivered using the Canvas online learning management system, and learning is generally asynchronous. Applicants to these programs must have a bachelor’s degree in business or a business-related subject, with a minimum overall GPA of 2.5. Those whose degree does not meet the requirements can take additional courses at the university to qualify for admission. Support available to distance learners at WU includes IT support, library resources, an online learning center, academic advising, career counseling, financial aid, and an online success coach.
#17 Troy University
Annual Tuition: $7,410
Median Salary: $94,200
Locations: Troy (AL)
Accreditation: SACS COC
Designed for busy working professionals, the Master of Science in Human Resource Management at Troy University can be completed entirely online. A total of 30-33 credits is required, and the curriculum covers areas such as ethical leadership, management in a global economy, planning and staffing, and employee health and safety. Applicants must have a graduate degree or a bachelor’s degree in business with a minimum overall GPA of 2.5 or a minimum GPA of 3.0 in the last 30 semester hours. If the bachelor’s degree is not in business, students must take prerequisite courses in their first term at TU. Those without a master’s degree must submit GRE/GMAT scores along with a letter of recommendation. Troy University also offers an online MPA in Public Human Resource Management. The 36-credit program consists of 12 courses and can be completed in as little as 15 months. Also, an online MS in Management with a concentration in Talent Development and Training is available. Students must complete 30 credits of coursework. All of these programs are entirely online and delivered in convenient, nine-week terms. Support services at Troy University include academic support and counseling, study skills instruction, career planning, financial assistance, technical support, and more.
#18 National University
Annual Tuition: $11,934
Median Salary: $87,400
Locations: La Jolla (CA)
National University offers a fully online Master of Arts in Human Resource Management that prepares students for senior management or consultant positions that relate to human resources and planning strategies for change within organizations. The comprehensive curriculum explores areas such as legal, ethical, and safety issues; compensation and benefits; and workforce planning, development, and outsourcing. Students must also complete a thesis. A total of 54 quarter credits is required to complete the degree. Classes are offered in a four-week format so students can focus on one class at a time and complete their degree sooner. There is an optional specialization in Organizational Leadership, which gives students a deeper understanding of how to develop groups and teams, initiate changes and adjustments, and manage conflict and power dynamics. Online learning at NU is asynchronous, and coursework includes assignments, reading, presentations, quizzes, exams, lectures, and plenty of interaction with instructors and fellow students. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum overall GPA of 2.50 or 2.75 in the last 90 quarter units. Those with a GPA lower than 2.50 must submit GRE/GMAT scores. Unofficial transcripts of prior post-secondary coursework should be submitted. Distance learners have access to academic support, career guidance, tutoring, technical assistance, and more.
#19 Northeastern University
Annual Tuition: $16,698
Median Salary: $88,300
Locations: Burlington (MA)
Northeastern University offers a Master of Science in Human Resources Management that can be taken either at the Boston campus or completely online. The program teaches students the important components of management and leadership in human resources, including how to understand and navigate the latest technologies that are emerging in the field. Six concentrations are available in the program: Artificial Intelligence for Human Resources, Digital Human Resources, Global Talent Management, Leadership, Organizational Communication, and Project Management. Students participate in short-term consulting projects with employers to gain real-world experience. Both full- and part-time study options are available, and the 45-quarter-credit degree can be completed in 1.5-two years. There are four starts per year, in the fall, winter, spring, and summer. Applicants must submit undergraduate transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a current resume. Online learning at Northeastern University is asynchronous, and distance learners receive coursework via the Canvas online learning management system. Online learners have access to tutoring, writing assistance, counseling services, and technical support. Northeastern University also offers an online MS in Corporate and Organizational Communication and an MS in Leadership, both of which can be taken with a Human Resources Management concentration.
#20 Liberty University
Annual Tuition: $18,080
Median Salary: $83,600
Locations: Lynchburg (VA)
Accreditation: SACS COC
A fully online MBA in Human Resources is available at Liberty University. In addition to studying theory and practice that is directly applicable to the human resources field, students acquire a deeper understanding of organizational behavior, compensation management, and planning and training at the management level. The 45-credit degree can be completed in two years. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. Those with a graduate degree or at least 12 credits of graduate-level coursework will be assessed on that. Transcripts from prior college coursework should be submitted. LU also offers an MS in Healthcare Administration with a specialization in Human Resources. The 48-credit program can be completed in two years. Coursework is designed to better equip students to more effectively fulfill leadership roles in various healthcare settings and organizations. In the specialization, students examine workforce planning and employment, compensation management, and ethics and policies in healthcare. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. Both programs are delivered in eight-week courses. Online learning at LU is generally asynchronous through the Blackboard online learning management system. Students have access to academic support, tutoring, library services, writing assistance, career counseling, and live webinars.
#21 Bellevue University
Annual Tuition: $10,530
Median Salary: $79,586
Locations: Bellevue (NE)
The online Master of Science in Human Resource Strategic Management focuses attention on the most critical and important aspects of the HR field: diversity and inclusion, legal and ethical issues, and working within the framework of organizational goals. The 36-credit curriculum explores areas such as human resource law, global HR management, recruitment and management of talent, and strategic business partnerships. Students complete a capstone as a culminating experience. Online materials include lessons, assignments, discussion boards, and links to other resources and information. Most online degrees at BU have multiple start dates throughout the year. Classes are kept to no more than 24 students. Applicants to master’s degree programs at Bellevue University must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree with a minimum GPA of 2.5 in the most recent 60 credits of undergraduate work or 3.0 in graduate work. Depending on the program, letters of recommendation and/or an essay may also be required. Distance learners have access to writing assistance, peer tutoring, 24/7 library resources and support, online tutorials and tools, and technical assistance.
#22 Southern Wesleyan University
Annual Tuition: $10,170
Median Salary: $78,200
Locations: Central (SC)
Accreditation: SACS COC
The Master of Science in Management and Leadership at Southern Wesleyan University is available with four different concentrations, including Human Resources. Students develop their skills in the areas of decision-making, planning, scheduling, information management, and organization. The Human Resources concentration focuses on using these skills and abilities in recruitment, management, and developing HR strategies that are commensurate with the larger goals of organizations. A total of 36 credits is required, and students can finish the degree in 24 months. Flexible assignment deadlines allow students to study at their own pace. Coursework is delivered in 15-week terms that are divided into 7-week subterms, with one week in between. Students receive materials via the Canvas online learning management system, which supports lecture videos, receiving and submitting assignments, discussion boards, email, chats, grades, and more. Applicants to the program must have a bachelor’s degree and submit official transcripts along with employment information. Distance learners at SWU are provided career services, library resources, 24/7 tech support, and a dedicated personal success coach. Courses at Southern Wesleyan University are taught with a Christian worldview and are centered around Christian values.
#23 Southern New Hampshire University Online
Annual Tuition: $11,286
Median Salary: $76,700
Locations: Manchester (NH)
The online MBA in Human Resources at SNHU is designed for HR professionals who wish to advance to a level where their policies and decisions will have a significant effect on organizational goals regarding growth and profit. Students study subjects such as recruitment, hiring, compensation, and benefits, and they gain a better understanding of how these relate to the overall strategy of a private company or nonprofit organization. A total of 36 credits is required to complete the degree. SNHU also offers an online MS in Human Resource Management. This program helps HR managers or future managers to develop problem-solving and decision-making skills as well as integrate empathy and ethics in their leadership and management roles. Those applying to this program should have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 2.75; those with a lower GPA are eligible for provisional acceptance. Learning in these programs is asynchronous and completely online. Distance education at SNHU includes assignments, presentations, individual and group projects, and more. No GMAT or GRE scores are required for admission, and those interested should contact an admissions counselor for details relative to the specific degree. Students have access to technical support, academic advising, career assistance, online clubs and organizations, and more.
#24 Wayland Baptist University
Annual Tuition: $9,760
Median Salary: $58,700
Locations: Plainview (TX)
Accreditation: SACS COC
Wayland Baptist University offers an online Master of Arts in Management with three different concentrations, including Human Resource Management. Students improve their skillsets in the areas of communication, leadership, and interpersonal skills, and they gain both confidence and ability to set and implement goals and make decisions that will help them move forward in their careers. The HRM concentration focuses on recruiting, employment law, and diversity in the workplace. A total of 39 credits is required to complete the degree, and students can count up to 12 credits for work experience or military service; they should contact an admissions counselor for details. Coursework is delivered via the Blackboard online management system, which supports email, video, discussion boards, receiving and submitting assignments, tests, journals, blogs, and more. Learning is asynchronous, allowing busy adults to study when it is convenient for them. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and must submit official transcripts from all prior college coursework. Those with a minimum GPA of 3.0 in the last 60 hours of coursework do not need to submit a writing sample or be interviewed; applicants with a GPA below 2.50 will not be admitted. Online students have access to technical support, career assistance, and other services.
Online Master's in Human Resources Overview
Human resources is the branch of an organization that oversees the inner workings of the organization and its employees. The role of a human resources professional encompasses many functions, including recruiting and hiring, orientation and training, compensation and benefits, workplace relations, and retention. Students who wish to pursue a graduate-level degree in HR have two options: an MBA with a concentration in human resources or a master’s of science degree in human resource management. The curriculum for the two degrees may appear to have some overlap, but the MBA will be more generalized in terms of business applications while the MS-HRM will focus fairly narrowly on HR examples, situations, and areas of specialization.
Many master’s programs prepare students to become HR generalists, but some programs require students to focus on a particular aspect of HR, such as diversity and inclusion, benefits and compensation, international HR management, or human capital management.
Most online master's in human resources programs can be completed in one to two years. Students enrolled on a part-time basis may take up to five years to complete their degree. The exact time for completion will depend upon a variety of factors, including the program format, the course load, and whether any credits were transferred into the program.
Admission into an online master's in human resources program requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Students applying to an MBA program with a human resources specialization may need a bachelor's degree in business or a related field. Beyond this, criteria will vary by school but may include a minimum GPA, professional experience, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and GRE/GMAT scores. While some programs will request scores, there are online master's in human resources that require no GRE or GMAT scores for admission.
The core of an online master's in human resources program includes advanced courses in human resources and business strategy. General graduate-level business courses will include statistics, performance management, finance, and leadership. Master's in human resources students will also take classes that examine HR topics such as staffing, compensation and benefits, workplace ethics, labor management relations, labor law and procedure, communications and interpersonal relations, organizational leadership, and training.
Many programs also require an internship or a capstone course. The capstone course involves working on a research project to address a human resources problem.
How to Choose an Online Master's in Human Resources Program
When evaluating online master’s in human resources degree programs, students should consider which structure works best for them. Program options include part-time, full-time, fully online, and hybrid programs that incorporate both online and on-campus learning. They should also think about whether their schedule allows for synchronous classes— which must be attended at a designated time—as opposed to asynchronous classes that they can access at their convenience.
Another factor to consider when choosing an online master's in human resources is whether the program offers any concentrations or unique features, such as graduate assistantships, field experiences, or internships. If students are interested in pursuing SHRM certification, choosing a program that is aligned to the SHRM’s curriculum guidelines may also be beneficial.
After evaluating the programs on these criteria, assessing each school's reviews, faculty credentials, and graduation rates can help determine which program will best fit their needs and career goals.
How to Finance an Online Master’s in Human Resources Degree
Students seeking financial aid for their online master’s in human resources degree have several options. Completing a FAFSA application will help students determine which federal student loans and grants may be available to them. Students should also contact their school's financial aid department to determine whether they qualify for any aid offered through their office. Scholarship opportunities may also be available through industry organizations, such as the SHRM, The National Public Employer Labor Relations Association (National PELRA), or through private companies.
How Important is Accreditation for Online Master's in Human Resources Programs?
Prospective online human resources master’s students are encouraged to select an online degree program that has received accreditation from a national or regional accrediting organization recognized by the US Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, particularly from HRCI or SHRM. Accreditation is a comprehensive evaluation process that schools and programs may choose to go through in order to demonstrate they meet established standards of excellence. In the accreditation process, master’s programs are evaluated based on their curricula, faculty members, research programs, and student resources, among other things.
While accreditation is not required for graduates studying human resource management, the designation may add more authority to the student’s resume when applying for jobs. Accreditation may also be beneficial if the student plans to transfer credits to another accredited school or apply for federal financial aid. Most schools and financial assistance programs require applicants to attend an accredited school. To learn more about accreditation, please visit our comprehensive accreditation hu.
What Are the Different Specializations in Human Resources?
Human resources generalists are typically trained to handle all aspects of HR, from identifying the employers’ needs to recruiting and selecting candidates, and from monitoring employee benefits to administering the company payroll. However, it is also possible for HR professionals to specialize in particular aspects of the field, becoming experts in specific areas:
Recruitment: After identifying the organization’s employment needs and developing job descriptions for all of the various roles, a recruitment specialist will find, screen, and interview viable candidates on an ongoing basis. Recruitment specialists often use job postings to recruit potential candidates, but they may also travel to college campuses and job fairs to find and interview candidates. Other tasks related to this role include testing applicants, conducting background checks, and negotiating job offers. Some recruitment specialists may also be responsible for introducing new employees to the organization, a process typically known as “onboarding.”
Compensation and Benefits: Particularly in larger organizations, employee compensation and benefits programs are extensive and complex, which is why they often require specialists in these areas. These professionals are responsible for developing and overseeing an organization’s employment policies and benefits, which generally includes salaries, other forms of compensation, paid time off, 401K or pension programs, and all types of insurance packages. Some organizations are particularly concerned about their employees’ health and welfare, so compensation and benefits specialists may also be called upon to monitor occupational safety and health standards and practices, as well as premium benefits offered to employees, such as food service, recreational activities, childcare and elder-care programs, and counseling services.
Training and Development: HR professionals who particularly enjoy teaching and assisting others in their professional growth may be interested in specializing in training and development. This can translate into working with managers and employee supervisors to develop performance improvement measures, conduct orientation sessions, and arrange on-the-job training, and it can also mean working directly with employees to help them improve and maintain their job skills. Organizations known to invest in their employees’ development often attract more ambitious and motivated employees.
HR Information Systems Management: As in so many other areas of business, organizations are increasingly relying on sophisticated and complex information systems to manage their HR departments. Therefore, there is a need for specialists who have a passion for IT while also understanding the intricacies of HR departments. HRIS analysts typically only need an associate or bachelor’s degree, but to move into management positions, a master’s degree may be required.
Do I Need a Certification for Advancement in the Field of Human Resources?
Graduates of an online master’s in human resources program can pursue additional certifications as an HR professional. These certifications are often a requirement of higher-level human resources positions and can elevate one's earning potential. Some of the most recognized certifications include:
SHRM-CP Certification: This certification demonstrates a superior level of knowledge and skills among early- to mid-career HR professionals. Earning this designation is considered beneficial for HR professionals and their employers.
SHRM-SCP: This senior-level HR certification designates credential holders as experts in the human resources field. The certification is applicable to companies all over the world and in many industries.
Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS): Those who want to specialize in employee benefits can achieve this designation, which confirms that professionals have been trained to guide all facets of an organization’s benefits strategy.
Professional in Human Resources (PHR): This designation, offered through the HR Certification Institute, helps human resources professionals master the technical and operational aspects of HR management.
Frequently Asked Questions for Online Master's in Human Resources Degrees
What can you do with an online master's degree in human resources?
In addition to gaining an in-depth knowledge of the HR field, graduates of a master’s in human resources program will have developed important skills in areas such as research, communication, and leadership. Depending upon their education and experience, they may be prepared for positions in HR management, compensation and benefits management, or training and development management. Most HR managers will work in office environments, although recruitment specialists may have the opportunity to travel to job fairs and college campuses to meet potential candidates.
The advanced skill set acquired through an online master’s in human resources program is useful beyond the realm of HR. Human resources professionals may be well suited for jobs in consulting, corporate training, social and community service management, administrative service management, and many other areas.
How much can I earn with an online master's in human resources?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for human resources specialists is $61,920 as of May 2019. However, HR professionals with more education and experience can work their way up to management positions. At this level, median salaries as of May 2019 were $116,720 for human resources managers, $122,270 for compensation and benefits managers, and $113,350 for training and development managers. Employment in these fields is projected to increase at a rate of approximately 5% through 2028. While competition for these jobs is predicted to be strong, those with a master's degree are expected to have the best prospects.
What is the difference between an MBA with a specialization in HR and an MS-HRM?
According to members of the Society of Human Resource Management, there is some overlap between the two degrees available to graduate students interested in HR—the MBA with a specialization in HR and the master’s of HR management—but they are quite different. Students who are seeking a broader perspective on business in general will probably prefer the MBA program with a concentration in HR. The majority of courses for this degree are advanced business courses, such as management, statistics, finance, accounting, MIS, and marketing. These will be accompanied by three or four elective courses in HR management to meet the requirements for the HR specialization. Students who are intent on pursuing a lifelong career in HR management, however, will probably benefit from the more narrow curriculum of an MS-HRM degree that focuses exclusively on HR management. In this type of program, students will do a deep dive into various aspects of the profession, such as compensation and benefits, international HR, labor relations, labor law, and so forth.
Can I get a doctorate in HR management?
Students who are interested in research and academia may want to consider pursuing a doctoral degree in human resources management. PhD candidates study advanced concepts in HR and conduct original research for their dissertations. They can go on to teach in academia, where they also will most likely continue to conduct research, or they may seek executive-level positions and apply research to solving problems in the field of HR management. Most doctorate programs take two or more years to complete.
Are there industry organizations for HR professionals that I could join?
Joining a professional human resources organization enables graduates to stay up-to-date on industry news and trends and extends their networking opportunities. The following are a few prominent human resources organizations for graduates to consider:
Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM): SHRM is the largest professional network of HR professionals. It hosts local and global events and offers educational and professional tools to help members stay at the forefront of their profession.
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