The Best Online Doctorate in Human Resources Programs 2021

by TBS Staff
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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.

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.

The Best Online Doctorate in Human Resources Programs

Bellevue University true View School Profile Bellevue, NE 40% 85% Bellevue University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

A private university founded in 1966, BU offers a doctor of philosophy in human capital management. Students finish 51 credits solely online, along with a comprehensive examination and dissertation.

Required courses include strategic management of human-derived capital, the economics of human capital valuation issues, human learning and decision-making, and a seminar in leadership theory. Students complete research courses in preparation for the dissertation.

Students need a master's degree in a related field with a minimum GPA of 3.0 GPA to qualify for admission. Students do not need to submit standardized test scores.

Liberty University true View School Profile Lynchburg, VA 50% 60% 90% Liberty University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

A private Christian university founded in 1971, Liberty offers a doctor of business administration in human resources. Students complete 60 credits completely online in convenient eight-week terms.

Students complete courses such as workforce planning and employment, compensation management, human resource development, and strategic thinking for decision-making. Students explore leadership from a faith-based perspective and complete a doctoral project to complete the degree.

Applicants need a master's degree in business or a related field with a minimum GPA of 3.0 for admission in good standing.

Northcentral University true View School Profile San Diego, CA Northcentral University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior Colleges and University Commission (WSCUC).

A private university founded in 1996, NCU offers an online doctor of philosophy in human resource management. Students complete 60 credits, and most students can finish the program in about 48 months.

Students complete coursework in business strategy and innovation, ethics in business, compensation and benefits, and legal issues in human resources management. Learners also complete and defend a dissertation online.

Applicants need a master's degree either in a business specialization or a master's in any field with an undergraduate degree in business.

Regent University true View School Profile Virginia Beach, VA 59% 80% 91% Regent University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

A private Christian university founded in 1977, Regent offers an online doctor of philosophy in organizational leadership with a concentration in human resource development. Students complete 60 credits, mostly online, with two required 4-day residencies.

Students complete courses such as human resource development, design of adult learning communities, ethical human resource development, and trends in organizational leadership research.

Learners can apply to one of eight start dates per year. Applicants need a master's degree to qualify for admission. Students do not need to submit standardized test scores.

Thomas Edison State University true View School Profile Trenton, NJ 18% 100% Thomas Edison State University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

A public university founded in 1972, TESU offers an online doctor of philosophy in business administration with a domain of study in human resource management.

Students begin with business administration courses such as models of decision-making and organization achievement; a seminar in organizational dynamics; a seminar in marketing and entrepreneurship; and a seminar in law, ethics, and global society. Students complete human resources courses to finish the program.

Applicants need a master's in business with a 3.0 GPA plus a minimum of three years of related professional experience to qualify for admission.

University of Arkansas-Fort Smith View School Profile $$ Fort Smith, AR 32% 37% 51% University of Arkansas Fort Smith is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

A public land grant university founded in 1871, UAFS offers an online doctor of education in human resource and workforce development education. Students complete courses with no residency requirements.

Learners complete courses in research and statistics before beginning human resources courses. Notable options include career theory and decision-making, leadership models and concepts, entrepreneurial development, and foundations of human resource and workforce development.

Applicants need a master's degree to qualify for admission. Students must also possess a minimum GRE score of 153 verbal, 150 quantitative, and 4.0 analytical.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign View School Profile $$$ Champaign, IL 84% 35% 35% University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

A public university founded in 1867, Illinois offers a doctor of education in human resource development. Students complete 64 credits with no residency requirements.

Learners complete courses such as principles in human resource education, instructional and training design, organizational development, and learning technologies. Electives include special topics in human resource development and international human resource development. Students must also complete a comprehensive exam and dissertation.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 to qualify for admission. Students do not need to submit standardized test scores.

Best Online Doctorate

Online Doctorate in Human Resources Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

Featured Online Doctorate in Human Resources Programs

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

  • Labor Relations: Students learn about unions, including their history, politics, processes, and relationships with businesses. Learners explore how unions affect the attitudes and behaviors of management and employees. This class prepares students for HR positions within unionized organizations.
  • Attracting and Retaining Talent: One of the most important duties of an HR leader is recruiting top employees and keeping them satisfied. This class discusses how diversity, succession planning, and competition for talent help create an appealing work environment.
  • Laws, Ethics, and Culture: Companies must adhere to laws and regulations to ensure the welfare of employees; HR managers are responsible for understanding these rules. This course examines the regulatory environment in which human resource professionals operate, their role in communications, and how to manage diversity and inclusion within an organization.
  • Organizational Performance and Behavior: This class discusses the principles and practices of improving employee performance. Students learn how to establish organizational performance requirements, create performance improvement proposals, and assess the results of performance improvement interventions.
  • Compensation Management: HR managers must know how to create, implement, and manage a compensation and benefits program. This class reviews the components of compensation systems, bases for pay, and legally required and discretionary employee benefits.

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.

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.

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.

true Business Postsecondary Teacher $77,490 18%

Business 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.

true Chief Human Resources Officer $181,210 8%

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.

true Human Resource Managers $106,910 9%

Human resource 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.

true Training and Development Manager $105,830 10%

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.

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.

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

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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