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Earning a master's in human resources online gives students the flexibility to balance their studies with professional and personal obligations. Online learners can also attend top programs in the country without relocating.

Graduates with a master's degree in human resources can work in roles such as compensation and benefits manager, human resource manager, and top executive. These roles offer high average salaries and strong projected job growth. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for human resource managers to grow 7% between 2018-2028. The BLS also reports that these professionals earned a median annual salary of $113,300 in 2018.

Top 10 Online Master's in Human Resources 2020

#1 Averett University Danville, VA
#2 Baker College Flint, MI
#3 Belhaven University Jackson, MS
#4 Brandman University Irvine, CA
#5 Brenau University Gainesville, GA
#6 Central Michigan University Mount Pleasant, MI
#7 Champlain College Burlington, VT
#8 Charleston Southern University Charleston, SC
#9 Clemson University Clemson, SC
#10 CSU Global Greenwood Village, CO

Table of Contents

This guide ranks the best online master's in human resources programs to help students find the right programs for their needs. It also covers important information, such as common courses, professional organizations, and potential careers and salaries for graduates.

Best Online Master's in Human Resources Programs

1
Averett University
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4

Brandman University 

Irvine, CA

About this school

Brandman University is a private university with more than 25 campuses across California and Washington. Brandman offers more than 50 online and on-campus degrees for undergraduate and graduate students. The school's online master's in human resources prepares students for leadership roles in diverse industries. 

Online students learn to assess the effects of multiculturalism, globalization, and multi-generational workforces on organizational practices, policies, and performance. They also focus on developing and designing strategies to ensure workforce performance and capabilities align with organizational needs.

Applicants must hold a regionally accredited bachelor's degrees and submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, and resumes. Applicants with a GPA below 2.5 must submit GRE, GMAT, CSET, or MAT scores. 

5

Brenau University 

Gainesville, GA

About this school

Brenau University is a private institution that hosts over 3,500 students from 17 countries and all 50 states. The school offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs, including online options like the master's degree in human resources. 

The 45-credit online master of business administration with a human resource management concentration gives students specialized training in talent acquisition, employment law, strategy, and total rewards. This program includes 15 courses in topics like human resource strategy, human resource management, talent acquisition and management, and employment law. Students also explore business topics, such as marketing strategy, business law and ethics, and financial management.

Applicants need a regionally accredited bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0. 

6

Central Michigan University 

Mount Pleasant, MI

About this school

Established in 1892, Central Michigan University hosts 20,000 students across 200 undergraduate and graduate programs. Distance learners can choose from a variety of online programs, including a master's in human resources.

During this online MBA in human resource management, learners explore business, leadership, and human resource concepts and competencies. The 36-credit program includes courses on the global economic environment, managing information systems in a global economy, employee selection and evaluation, and marketing-based management. Learners also study finance and accounting concepts.

Applicants need a regionally accredited bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.7 GPA. They must also submit transcripts, GMAT scores, a resume, and a personal statement.

7

Champlain College 

Burlington, VT

About this school

Champlain College is a private school that offers undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs across 80 subject areas. Champlain enrolls students from 44 states and 17 countries and features an "upside down" curriculum, allowing students to take courses related to their majors during their first semester. 

The school's fully online master of science in human relations and organization development comprises 30 credits. Students learn how to inspire, lead, and cultivate diverse talent through courses in coaching in the workplace, human resources foundations, organization development foundations, and creating a culture of inclusion. 

The curriculum focuses on applied learning, giving learners the problem-solving skills and leadership abilities needed to work as change management specialists, training and development managers, compensation and benefits managers, human resources analytics specialists, and directors of human resources. 

8

Charleston Southern University 

Charleston, SC

About this school

Founded in 1964, Charleston Southern University hosts nearly 4,000 students each year. Affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention, CSU offers more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs across a variety of disciplines, including an online master's degree in human resources.

This online master of science in human resource management gives students the practical and theoretical tools they need for roles such as human resources manager, employee relations manager, and benefits manager. The 33-credit program features courses on topics like human resource law and ethics, advanced organizational behavior, employee training and development, and employee compensation and benefits. 

The fully online program gives students the flexibility to balance their studies with professional and personal obligations. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Applicants must hold a regionally accredited bachelor's degree and submit transcripts, a resume, an academic statement, two letters of recommendation, and GMAT scores.

9

Clemson University 

Clemson, SC

About this school

A public land-grant research university, Clemson University hosts about 25,000 students through seven schools and colleges in disciplines like business, education, and science. Students at Clemson can pursue a variety of online undergraduate and graduate programs, including an online master's in human resources.

The online master of human resource development includes an optional concentration in athletic leadership. This 36-credit program features core courses on topics such as human performance improvement, research concepts and skills, and instructional materials development. Graduates can pursue jobs such as HR generalist, training manager, program designer, and training facilitator. 

Applicants need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution and a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must submit official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal statement.

10

CSU Global 

Greenwood Village, CO

About this school

Colorado State University - Global Campus offers a variety of online undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, including an online master's in human resources. The program teaches students how to make legal, ethical human resource decisions, lead diverse and dynamic teams, execute human resource initiatives, and manage employee performance.

The online master's degree in human resource management features specializations in healthcare administration, project management, and organizational leadership and change management. Regardless of concentration, all learners take core courses in strategic labor relations, maximizing human capital, and staffing and talent development.

In addition to coursework, learners complete an internship to gain experience in the field. Students culminate the degree with a capstone course that synthesizes degree knowledge and skills. The program aligns with the Society for Human Resource Management HR Curriculum Guidebook and Templates.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university or college and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants with lower GPAs may receive provisional admission. 

11

Concordia University - Saint Paul 

Saint Paul, MN

About this school

Founded in 1893, Concordia University - Saint Paul is a liberal arts institution affiliated with the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. The university has a variety of on-campus and online programs for undergraduate and graduate students, including an online master's in human resources.

The 36-credit, online master of arts in human resource management features seven-week courses. Learners develop skills in strategic and financial thinking, innovation, and human resource leadership. The fully online program gives students the flexibility to balance their studies with professional and personal obligations. Learners study topics like compensation and benefits, research methods and design, and finance for human resources leaders. 

The curriculum aligns with the Society for Human Resource Management's HR Curriculum Guidebook and Templates. Applicants must hold a regionally accredited bachelor's degree and submit transcripts and a personal statement. 

12

Concordia University - Wisconsin 

Mequon, WI

About this school

Concordia University - Wisconsin is a private university affiliated with the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. The school offers 80 undergraduate programs and almost 20 graduate degrees across five colleges and schools, including an online master's in human resources.

The 36-credit, online MBA in human resource management program includes classes on topics like ethics and organizational leadership, corporate finance, fraud management, and compensation and benefits. Students prepare for careers as human resource specialists, human services assistants, and human resource managers. 

All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit a resume, two letters of recommendation, and official transcripts. 

13

Cornell University 

Ithaca, NY

About this school

A private, Ivy League research university founded in 1865, Cornell University offers diverse programs through seven undergraduate colleges and seven graduate divisions. The school offers a variety of online programs, including an online master's degree in human resources.

The online executive master of human resource management degree is ideal for learners with at least eight years of human resource experience. Learners build on prior knowledge and experience through courses on advanced topics like global human resources and labor relations, leadership development and training, talent acquisition and management, and negotiation and mediation skills. The program uses a mostly online format, but students must participate in three one-week, on-campus sessions. 

Full-time students can complete the degree in 15 months. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university and submit transcripts, a resume, two letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.

14

Dallas Baptist University 

Dallas, TX

About this school

Founded in 1898, Dallas Baptist University is a Christian liberal arts university that offers online and on-campus programs through seven colleges. Distance learners can pursue an online master's degree in human resources.

The online master of arts in human resource management gives students knowledge and skills in areas like training and development, compensation strategies, compliance requirements, and risk mitigation. Students take required classes on topics like workforce analytics, human resources strategy, and leadership development. Learners culminate the degree with a capstone course that synthesizes degree knowledge and skills. 

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university and submit official transcripts and GMAT scores. Applicants with five or more years of professional management experience and a minimum 3.0 GPA, and applicants with a minimum 3.4 GPA do not need to complete an entrance exam. 

15

Davenport University 

Grand Rapids, MI

About this school

A private, nonprofit university, Davenport University has campuses across Michigan, plus an online division. The school offers undergraduate and graduate programs in 50 areas of study through five colleges. Distance learners can pursue an online master's in human resources.

The online MBA with a human resource management concentration gives learners skills in areas like project management, financial management, strategic management, and information management. The 39-credit program includes courses in corporate finance, managerial economics, organizational development and training, and marketing strategies. Learners culminate the degree with an integrative capstone requirement. 

The program boasts a 100% job placement rate within six months of graduation. Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor's degree and submit transcripts. Applicants with a relevant undergraduate degree do not need to submit GRE scores. 

16

Emmanuel College 

Boston, MA

About this school

Founded in 1919, Emmanuel College is a private, Roman Catholic liberal arts college and a member of the Colleges of the Fenway consortium. The school offers a variety of on-campus and online programs, including an online master's in human resources.

The 36-credit master of science in human resource management program teaches students how to develop effective recruitment practices, manage total rewards, and navigate employee and labor relations. Learners take courses like organizational development, leadership and strategic planning, ethics and diversity, and financial management. Students culminate the degree with an applied learning capstone project. Many students complete this project at their current places of employment. 

Prospective students need a regionally accredited bachelor's degree. Applicants must submit transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and optional standardized test scores. 

17

Excelsior College 

Albany, NY

About this school

Excelsior College is a private institution that offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs, including many online programs. The school's online offerings include a master's degree in human resources.

The 45-credit, fully online MBA with a concentration in human resource management teaches learners how to analyze legal requirements and apply resource management principles to support organizational objectives. Students take core business administration classes such as global business environment, project management principles and applications, and accounting for managers. Learners also study human resource topics like compensation and benefits, labor relations and conflict resolution, and change management.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university and submit official transcripts.

18

Fitchburg State University 

Fitchburg, MA

About this school

Fitchburg State University is a public university that offers undergraduate and graduate degrees across 25 academic disciplines. The school offers a variety of on-campus and online programs, including an online master's degree in human resources.

The online MBA in human resources management emphasizes risk management, employee training and development, and recruitment. Students can complete the flexible program in as little as one year. Core courses include corporate finance, marketing management, and accounting practices for managers. Learners also complete human resources management courses on topics like legal issues in human resources management. 

All online students at Fitchburg State pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Applicants need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university and a minimum 2.8 GPA. They must also submit official transcripts and a resume. 

19

Florida Institute of Technology 

Melbourne, FL

About this school

The Florida Institute of Technology is a private research university that hosts four academic colleges focused on psychology and the liberal arts, business, aeronautics, and engineering and science. The school offers a variety of online undergraduate and graduate programs, including an online master's in human resources.

The online master of science in human resource management examines new technologies, different work styles and schedules, economic and political conditions, and new security concerns. Students take classes on topics like business law, employee relations, financial accounting, and business ethics. 

During their final year, students complete a practicum at an approved local organization, gaining practical experience in the field. Learners culminate the degree with a capstone project, working with a team to recommend human resource management solutions to a real organization.

Graduates can work in public, private, nonprofit, and government organizations. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. 

20

Florida International University 

Miami, FL

About this school

Florida International University is a public research university that belongs to the 12-campus State University System of Florida. FIU is one of the state's premier graduate research universities, offering a variety of on-campus and online graduate programs, including an online master's in human resources.

The online master of science in human resource management program features innovative, career-focused coursework created with the input of industry executives. Students can complete the accelerated program in as little as one year. The curriculum examines topics like employment law and human resource management, human resource strategy and planning, and performance and talent management.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution and submit official transcripts demonstrating a minimum 3.0 GPA, a statement of purpose, two letters of recommendation, and GMAT or GRE scores.

21

Fordham University 

Bronx, NY

About this school

Founded in 1841, Fordham University is the oldest Jesuit Catholic university in the northeastern United States. Distance learners can pursue a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs, including an online master's degree in human resources.

The 30-credit online master of science in management takes one year to complete and covers advanced concepts in finance, marketing, business, and accounting. Students take courses like leading organizations in the 21st century, managerial statistics, global initiatives in management, and financial fundamentals. The program courses are fully online, but students must participate in one three-day, on-campus residency to apply degree knowledge and skills to a real-world business or organization.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. They must also complete an admissions interview and submit transcripts, a resume, GMAT or GRE scores, and two essays. Applicants with a minimum 3.0 GPA and at least two years of professional experience and applicants with a minimum 2.5 GPA and three or more years of professional experience receive a GMAT/GRE waiver.

22

Franklin Pierce University 

Rindge, NH

About this school

Established in 1962, Franklin Pierce University is a private institution that offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs. Distance learners can choose from diverse programs, including an online master's in human resources.

The online master of business administration in human resource management examines advanced concepts in management, finance, leadership, business, and public relations. Courses include labor relations and employment law, quantitative research techniques for leaders, legal and ethical issues in organizations, and training and development for adults.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 2.8 GPA. They must also submit official transcripts, a current resume, an essay, and a statement of purpose.

23

Franklin University 

Columbus, OH

About this school

Founded in 1902, Franklin University is a private institution with more than 25 learning centers across the U.S. and an expansive online division. The school offers a variety of online undergraduate and graduate degrees, including a master's in human resources.

Students can complete the 36-credit, fully online master of science in human resource management in 16 months. The curriculum includes classes like performance appraisal systems, compensation design and administration, strategic human resource planning, and international human resource management. Learners culminate the degree with a capstone component in which they apply degree knowledge and skills to an independent research project. 

Applicants need a regionally accredited bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA. Applicants with lower GPAs may need to submit GRE or GMAT scores. Prospective students must also submit letters of recommendation, transcripts, and a resume. 

24

George Washington University 

Washington, DC

About this school

Chartered as an act of the United States Congress in 1821, George Washington University is a private research university that comprises 14 colleges and schools. GW offers a variety of on-campus and online programs for undergraduate and graduate students, including an online master's degree in human resources.

Designed for both new and experienced HR professionals, the 30-credit, online master of human resource management includes core courses in team leadership, employee development, and human performance management. Students can tailor the degree to their interests through electives in entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and employment law and ethics. Students need a minimum 3.0 GPA to graduate. 

Applicants must hold a regionally accredited bachelor's degree and submit official transcripts, a resume, one letter of recommendation, and a statement of career objectives. 

25

Golden Gate University - San Francisco 

San Francisco, CA

About this school

Golden Gate University is a private, nonprofit institution that offers six undergraduate degrees and 15 graduate degrees. GGU offers many of its degrees online, including a master's in human resources program.

The online master of science in human resource management features a curriculum aligned with the Society for Human Resource Management curriculum guidebook. During the program, learners focus on advancing employee engagement and inclusion to cultivate productive, effective business environments. 

The 27-credit program covers topics like human resources data and performance metrics, human resources as a strategic business partner, ethics in managing people at work, and total compensation. In addition to coursework, learners must complete an internship at a local approved site or through a study abroad opportunity.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university and submit transcripts, a personal statement, and GRE or GMAT scores.

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End of list, bravo!

Ranking Methodology

Online Master's in Human Resources Programs Ranking Guidelines

Best Online Programs - Master's in Human Resources

We selected the following degree programs based on quality, curricula, awards, rankings, and reputation, including the school's reputation for providing quality online programs.

Choosing an Online Master's in Human Resources Program

Students interested in earning a master's in HR should consider several factors when researching prospective programs, including length, available concentrations, and cost. For example, public schools typically offer lower tuition rates than private schools, and in-state students at public schools generally pay the lowest tuition rates. However, many programs allow all online students to pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency.

Most online master's in human resources programs take four years of full-time study to complete, but some programs offer accelerated timelines that allow students to graduate faster.

Most online master's in human resources programs take four years of full-time study to complete, but some programs offer accelerated timelines that allow students to graduate faster. Additionally, students with transfer credits should ensure their chosen schools offer generous transfer credit policies, which may save money and expedite graduation.

Students should also consider their career goals before choosing a program. Many programs offer concentrations that prepare for specific careers after graduation. Common concentrations include project management, organizational leadership, and recruiting and staffing.

What Is a Master's in Human Resources?

With a bachelor's degree in human resources, professionals can work as human resource assistants or specialists. A master's degree prepares students for more advanced roles with more responsibilities and potentially higher pay, such as human resource manager, compensation and benefits manager, and top executive.

During a human resources master's program, learners expand upon the knowledge and skills they developed at the bachelor's level, studying advanced concepts like organizational strategy, employee hiring and retention, and employment law. Many master's in HR programs also offer concentrations that allow students to tailor the degree to their interests and career goals.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Human Resources

Online master's in human resources programs typically offer knowledge and skills in the following areas.

Employment Law

Human resource professionals need a strong understanding of employment law because they must adhere to laws, procedures, and regulations to ensure fair, ethical treatment of employees across their organizations.

Human Behavior

Human resource professionals must understand human behavior to effectively work with a variety of employees. This understanding helps HR professionals manage conflicts and ensure employees are treated appropriately.

Business Tools

HR professionals can take advantage of various business tools to help them better manage employees and the functions of their organization. These tools may include effective communication methods, organizational software, and training programs.

Compensation and Benefits Management

Human resource professionals in managerial roles often oversee compensation and benefits packages for employees. To ensure fair treatment of employees while adhering to an organization's budget, they need a strong understanding of the best methods for choosing and administering these packages.

Conflict Resolution

Human resource professionals often manage a variety of employee conflicts, including sexual harassment claims, employee complaints, and disputes among employees and supervisors. Therefore, these employees must understand best practices for resolving conflicts in diverse scenarios.

Accreditation for Online Master's in Human Resources Degrees

Accreditation of Colleges and Universities: Who's Accrediting the Accreditors?
Accreditation of Colleges and Universities: Who's Accrediting the Accreditors?
If you want a college or university degree, you need to understand school accreditation.
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When researching potential programs, students should check accreditation status. Accreditation indicates that a school meets high standards with respect to faculty qualifications, student learning outcomes, and academic rigor. Schools may receive national or regional accreditation. Regional accreditation typically applies to nonprofit, degree-granting institutions, while national accreditation applies to for-profit, vocational, and technical schools. Regional accreditation is generally considered the more prestigious of the two.

Accreditation benefits students in several ways. First, only learners at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid, and many schools only recognize degrees and transfer credits from accredited institutions. Additionally, many employers prefer or require candidates to hold an accredited degree.

Programs within a school, such as teaching, social work, and business schools, may also receive accreditation. Human resource programs taught within a business school may hold accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Learners can verify a school's accreditation status through the Department of Education's database.

Human Resources Certifications and Licensure

SHRM-CP

Human resource professionals who deliver human resource services and are the main point of contact for stakeholders and staff can benefit from earning the SHRM certified professional credential.

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What Can You Do with a Business Degree?
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Candidates for this credential must meet education and experience requirements. Candidates who hold a master's degree in HR and currently work in HR automatically qualify to sit for the exam, which comprises 160 questions and takes four hours to complete. SHRM members receive a discount on exam fees.

Professional in Human Resources

PHR certification demonstrates expertise in the technical and operational aspects of human resource management, including employment laws and regulations and HR program implementation.

Candidates for certification must meet experience requirements, which vary by level of education. Candidates with a master's degree need one year of experience in an HR position to qualify to sit for the exam. The exam comprises 150 questions and takes three hours to complete. Candidates must pay an application fee and an exam fee.

Human Resources Jobs

Earning a master's degree in human resources prepares graduates for advanced human resource roles such as human resource manager, top executive, and compensation and benefits manager. Below, we cover several common roles and potential salaries for graduates of master's in human resources programs.

Human Resource Managers

Human resource managers direct, coordinate, and plan the administrative functions of an organization. They oversee employee recruitment and hiring, mediate disputes, and determine disciplinary procedures. Human resource managers also oversee employee benefits programs. They often oversee a team of human resource professionals and work with other managers in the organization.

Median Annual Salary

$113,300

Projected Growth Rate

7%

Human Resource Specialists

Human resource specialists work with employers to identify employment needs and help organizations recruit and interview potential employees. They may contact references, screen candidates and inform them about potential job duties, and conduct new employee orientation programs. They also maintain employment records and process paperwork.

Median Annual Salary

$60,880

Projected Growth Rate

5%

Compensation and Benefits Managers

Compensation and benefits managers plan, develop, and maintain employee compensation and benefits packages. They often research competitive rates and packages, prepare program budgets, and keep business operations within budget. These managers also identify appropriate outside vendors and partners, including benefits vendors, investment managers, and insurance brokers. They may also oversee HR specialists and other staff.

Median Annual Salary

$121,010

Projected Growth Rate

3%

Top Executives

Top executives devise policies and strategies to help organizations meet long-term goals. These professionals direct and manage the budgetary activities of their organizations, often analyzing financial statements, performance indicators, and sales reports to improve business operations. They may also conduct contract negotiations.

Median Annual Salary

$104,980

Projected Growth Rate

6%

Human Resources Professional Organizations

Human resources students and professionals can benefit from joining professional organizations. These organizations often offer scholarships, career search assistance, and mentorship opportunities. Members may also benefit from professional development, continuing education, and networking events.

Society for Human Resource Management

SHRM represents and supports more than 300,000 HR professionals and business executives across 165 countries. Members have access to career development tools, networking opportunities, discounts on professional services, various SHRM publications, and legal and compliance resources.

National Human Resources Association

NHRA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the careers of human resources professionals. The association provides networking and professional development opportunities in addition to HR publications and webcasts.

Human Resources Professionals Association

HRPA aims to advance the human resources profession and protect public interests by ensuring ethical HR practices. Members have access to professional development opportunities, annual conferences and trade shows, career planning tools, and information on HR best practices and salary data.

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