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Human resources departments are crucial to the success of companies. These departments attract talent and ensure employees receive proper training and are satisfied in their roles. They handle payroll and benefits, mediate issues between employees and management, and ensure organizations comply with regulations and laws. Companies need human resources professionals who are well-versed in the field.

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A doctorate in human resource management provides knowledge and skills necessary to secure high-paying positions in the field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), top executives -- including chief human resources officers -- can earn median salaries exceeding $180,000. Earning a Ph.D. in human resources online is a convenient way for current professionals in the field to hone their skills or transition into academia.

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The Best Online Doctorate in Human Resources Programs

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign View School Profile Champaign, IL The U of I is regionally accredited from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

The flagship campus of the University of Illinois operates out of the cities of Urbana and Champaign; however, distance learners nationwide can earn an online doctorate in human resource management from the school. This particular program is unique in that it focuses on diversity and equity in education, examining race, class, sexual orientation, and gender and the role that these topics play in education.

The program primarily caters to part-time students who are also working professionals. Students who complete two courses per term can finish in eight consecutive terms, or about three and a half years. The program's curriculum includes a qualifying exam and a thesis as a concluding experience. The program delivers coursework synchronously, although students also complete asynchronous forum posts. Courses last eight weeks each in the fall and spring terms and six weeks each during the summer term. Applicants must prove a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better in their prior studies and do not need to submit GRE scores.

University of Arkansas View School Profile Fayetteville, AR U of A is regionally accredited from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

The U of A has offered an online doctoral human resource management degree since 2001. The 96-credit program delivers its coursework primarily asynchronously but does include a single on-campus residency. The curriculum includes coursework in organizational development and statistics in addition to a dissertation and a candidacy exam. Though not a requirement, students may also choose to complete a practicum experience as an elective.

Applicants must submit GRE scores proving a score of 153 or better on the verbal section, 150 or better on the quantitative section, and 4.0 or better on the writing section. Prospective students must also have relevant work experience. The program accepts students for fall, spring, and summer start dates. Once admitted, students must complete the program requirements within seven years. Despite the U of A's status as the state's flagship school, all online students in the program pay the same per-credit tuition.

Liberty University View School Profile Lynchburg, VA Liberty is regionally accredited from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS). The school's business programs have received national accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

Based in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty has become one of the nation's leaders in online education over the past decade. The school currently enrolls over 110,000 students — including 30,000 military students — many of whom take courses online. As such, the school's online doctorate in human resource management program is one of the best of its kind. Students enrolled in the program can complete the 60-credit curriculum without ever having to visit campus in Lynchburg unless they choose to complete optional on-campus intensives.

The program's curriculum includes studies in research methods, human resource development, and organizational and executive coaching. Students must also complete a dissertation. Applicants must have earned a master's degree in business administration, accounting, or information science with a GPA of 3.0 or better. Transfer students may apply up to 15 approved credits toward their Liberty degree.

The University of Texas at Tyler View School Profile Tyler, TX UT Tyler is regionally accredited from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).

UT Tyler is a somewhat recent addition to the University of Texas System, becoming a member in 1979. The school now offers a hybrid Ph.D. in human resources online, requiring students to visit campus only five times per semester, often on weekends. The 24-month program prepares students for leadership positions in human resources, blending theory and practice by combining 60 credits of statistics, research, and human resources management courses with a required dissertation.

Applicants must have already earned a master's degree in a relevant field — management, business administration, human resources development, or a similar academic area — with a GPA of 3.0 or better. Prospective students must also submit GMAT scores. Most accepted students score 500 or better on the GMAT.

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What Else can I Expect from an Online Doctorate in Human Resources Program?

Earning an online Ph.D. in human resources prepares students to fill HR management roles. While coursework varies by program, classes typically cover the laws and regulations that govern employment issues, unions, employee recruitment and retainment, and compensation and benefits. Most programs require students to complete a dissertation, which involves extensive research into a human resources topic or issue.

Curriculum for an Online Doctorate in Human Resources

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Doctorate Degree in Human Resources?

Most full-time students take at least four years to earn a Ph.D. in human resources online. Programs typically require about 60 credits and a dissertation. Along with program requirements, factors such as enrollment status and program structure affect degree completion time. Students with personal or professional responsibilities may complete fewer credits per term, increasing the time necessary to graduate. Schools generally require students to complete their Ph.D. within ten years.

Some programs use a cohort model in which students complete coursework in a prescribed sequence with a small group of peers. Individually paced programs allow students to move through the curriculum at their own speed, providing learners the opportunity to graduate more quickly. Before pursuing a Ph.D. in human resources online, you should determine your ideal learning style. Students who thrive in a community-based environment may benefit more from a cohort structure, whereas those who require scheduling flexibility generally opt for individually paced programs.

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Accreditation for Online Doctorate in Human Resources Degrees

Students planning to earn a Ph.D in human resources online should only consider accredited programs. Accreditation ensures schools provide quality educational programs and gives students access to federal financial aid. Accrediting agencies are private entities that hold institutions to academic and professional standards.

The two main types of accreditation in the U.S. are regional and national. Regional accreditation is the most common and the most highly regarded. Many employers require job candidates to hold a degree from a regionally accredited institution, and credits earned from regionally accredited schools transfer easily. Trade, vocational, and online schools often hold national accreditation. Programs may also hold specialized accreditation from a field-specific agency. Some online human resources programs receive accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

Although the U.S. Department of Education (ED) does not accredit institutions, the department oversees the accreditation system and recognizes accrediting agencies. Federal financial aid is only available to students at institutions with accreditation from an ED-recognized agency. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is a nonprofit organization that recognizes accrediting agencies and works to ensure the quality of U.S. education. CHEA member institutions include 3,000 degree-granting colleges and universities. CHEA recognizes 60 institutional and programmatic accrediting organizations and maintains a searchable online database of institutions and programs accredited by recognized agencies.

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Employment Outlook for Doctorate in Human Resources Graduates

Doctorate in Human Resources Careers

After earning a Ph.D. in human resources online, graduates often pursue managerial positions within HR departments or teaching careers at the college level. These high-level roles require leadership, communication, and critical-thinking skills, and HR professionals commonly work more than 40 hours per week.

  1. Business Postsecondary Teacher: Postsecondary teachers specialize in a certain subject, such as human resources. They teach courses and sometimes conduct research. Business professors at four-year colleges and universities typically need a doctoral degree in their field. Community and technical colleges generally prefer applicants with a doctorate.
    • Median Annual Salary: $77,490
    • Projected Growth Rate: 18%
  2. Chief Human Resources Officer: These top executives direct human resources departments. They manage the department's operations, create and execute policies, and work closely with other leaders in the organization. Top executives typically hold a bachelor's or master's degree in business administration. Professionals often advance to this role after serving in lower-level management or supervisory positions. Chief executives generally have extensive managerial experience.
    • Median Annual Salary: $181,210
    • Projected Growth Rate: 8%
  3. Human Resources Manager: Human resources managers direct the administrative functions of human resources departments. They oversee recruitment, interviewing, and hiring processes. They also manage employee relations and ensure regulatory compliance. These managers may hold specific titles, such as labor relations director, payroll manager, or recruiting manager. These professionals need at least a bachelor's degree, but some positions require a master's degree in human resources, labor relations, or business administration.
    • Median Annual Salary: $106,910
    • Projected Growth Rate: 9%
  4. Training and Development Manager: These managers oversee an organization's training programs, staff, and budgets. They supervise training and development specialists and consult with top executives and financial officers to ensure training priorities align with the company's goals. Training and development managers typically need a bachelor's degree in human resources or a related field, though some positions require a master's degree.
    • Median Annual Salary: $105,830
    • Projected Growth Rate: 10%

Doctorate in Human Resources Degree Salary

Professionals who earned a Ph.D. in human resources online can earn increased salaries throughout their careers. The median salary for late-career training and development officers is about $20,000 higher than the median salary for entry-level officers. Similarly, human resources managers with more experience tend to earn higher salaries. The table below highlights median salaries for human resources professionals at various career stages.

Median Salaries for Human Resources Professionals

Job Title Entry-Level Employees Mid-Career Employees Late-Career Employees
Postsecondary Professor $60,185 $71,115 $86,320
Chief Human Resource Officer $88,000 $122,336 $152,326
Human Resources Manager $55,309 $64,693 $71,824
Training and Development Manager $61,009 $72,984 $84,586

Human Resources Professional Organizations

While earning an online Ph.D., human resources students can join professional associations to receive access to networking and career development opportunities. Many professional organizations provide online resources such as webcasts, training programs, and job boards. These associations often host in-person conferences and meetings, allowing members to connect with professionals in the field.

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Paying for Your Online Doctorate in Human Resources

Students earning a doctorate in human resource management have a variety of options for saving money and financing their degree. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your eligibility for federal grants, work-study programs, and loans. Students can complete the FAFSA for the upcoming academic year beginning October 1. The federal due date for the FAFSA is June 30, but schools often set their own deadlines.

Many schools and outside organizations, such as professional associations, award scholarships based on academic merit and financial need. Some schools, states, and employers also offer tuition assistance reimbursement programs to students who meet certain criteria. If you want to earn an online Ph.D. in human resources, contact your school's admissions office for information about available scholarships.

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