Pursuing a human resources master’s degree online appeals to many individuals, and for good reason: graduates of these programs enjoy above-average salaries and work in an industry poised to see significant growth in the coming years. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that human resources managers earned median annual salaries of $113,300 in 2018. Additionally, the BLS projected employment for these professionals to grow by 9% between 2016 and 2026.
Human resources careers offer many opportunities for customizing your job and working in a field that speaks to your interests and passions. Companies in every imaginable industry and sector need professionals to help oversee their staff, so human resources managers can find enjoyable, interesting job environments.
Many prospective students know they want to pursue master’s degrees in human resources, but they can’t take the time to visit campus multiple times each week to take in-person classes. Learners in this camp often turn to online learning, especially since human resources topics transfer so easily to distance education. Read on to learn about available jobs, common courses, specializations, and the value of professional organizations.
The Most Affordable Online Master's in Human Resources Degree Programs
Affordable Online Master's in Human Resources Degree Program Ranking Guidelines:
We selected the online human resources programs based on their quality and online human resources class offerings, as well as their faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation, including the school's reputation for effectively providing quality online degree programs.
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The Most Affordable Online Master's in Human Resources Degree Programs
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Colorado State University-Global Campus
Greenwood Village, CO
Beginning in 2008, CSU-Global developed an online learning system to accommodate working professionals and busy students. One of more than 25 online degrees, including 13 at the master's level, the online master's in human resource management at CSU-Global allows students to advance their education and develop their careers from the comfort of their own homes.
The 42-credit online master's in human resources includes 30 core credits on topics like labor relations, maximizing human capital, and organizational behavior and development. Students also complete a final capstone project and internship. Students can customize their degree with a 12-credit specialization, such as healthcare administration, project management, or organizational leadership and change management. Recognized by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the curriculum qualifies graduates to sit for the SHRM certification exam.
Online classes at CSU-Global run asynchronously in an accelerated eight-week format. Classes start monthly, and students can take breaks during their program or complete work as quickly as possible. The school offers online learners a variety of resources, including online tutoring, a digital library, and a virtual writing center. Online students all pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency.
Applicants typically need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Admitted students with a GPA lower than 3.0 may need to complete an additional research and writing course, which can bring the total credit requirements up to 39. Similarly, candidates from a program lacking national business accreditation may need to take a business prerequisite. Transfer students may apply up to nine credits toward their degree.
University of Houston-Clear Lake
Established in 1974, UHCL offers more than 90 programs, including 17 online degrees and nine online certificates. The online MA in human resource management runs asynchronously throughout the fall, spring, and summer semesters without the need for on-campus visits.
The 36-credit online master's degree in human resources features 30 credits of core courses, six credits of elective courses, and three business principles credits. Core courses include management processes, finances, and training and development. Electives allow students to study areas like accounting, labor relations, and technology management. The program also features a capstone project and a theory-to-practice course option.
Students who complete three courses each semester typically graduate within 16 months. Online learners gain access to the same resources as on-campus students, including counseling and career services, student support, and academic advising.
Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Candidates with lower grades must also submit GRE or GMAT scores. Texas residents benefit from lower tuition rates than nonresidents.
Established in 1901, TWU embraces its history while also introducing innovative learning options for students. The online MBA with an emphasis in human resource management features fully online courses, and most classes are offered asynchronously.
The online master's in human resources features 36 credits, including 24 core MBA credits and 12 emphasis credits. The core program covers topics like decision analysis and business ethics, along with a capstone project in the final semester. For the human resources emphasis, learners take courses in staffing, administration, compensation, and development. While completion times vary, most students complete this degree in one year.
Online classes follow an accelerated, five-week schedule. Once learners earn their degree, they may qualify for certification through the Society for Human Resources Management or the Human Resource Certification Institute.
Successful applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA, although candidates may receive provisional admission with a 2.5 GPA or higher. While TWU does not require that applicants possess a business degree, students without prior business training must also take nine prerequisite credits.
Thomas Edison State University
Designed to accommodate working professionals, TESU offers flexible and accessible degree options. The school features more than 100 areas of study, including over 50 online degrees. The online MS in human resources management prepares students for careers as human resources practitioners and leaders.
The 36-credit online master's degree in human resources features 24 credits of core courses, including strategic recruitment and enterprise management. Learners then take two elective courses outside of the business and management school, plus two advanced courses in research and a capstone project. Students can begin on any of six start dates each year. Courses last eight weeks and participants can earn their degree within one year. Graduates may qualify to take the Society for Human Resource Management certification exam.
The online courses at TESU run primarily asynchronously. Regardless of where online learners live, they pay the same tuition rate. Students gain access to the school library, career services, and other student support services. Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Candidates with lower GPAs can still apply, although they may also need to submit GMAT scores. Transfer students can receive up to 12 credits based on prior learning.
BU offers a variety of accessible and innovative study options for learners. The school's online MS in human resource strategic management prepares students for leadership positions in the field and may qualify graduates for certification with the Society for Human Resource Management.
The 36-credit online master's in human resources includes courses such as human resource law, contemporary issues, and action planning. The program finishes with a capstone project. Online learners join the program as part of a cohort and progress through the program one course at a time. BU features a variety of start dates each year.
Online courses at BU typically run asynchronously. Some classes, however, may feature scheduled meeting times or sessions. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Transfer students need a 3.0 GPA in previous graduate-level study. Once admitted, online students can access BU's library, career services, tutoring, and the writing center. No matter where they live, online students pay the same tuition rate.
To accommodate students countrywide, USU oversees 33 campuses and centers, as well as many online programs. USU offers 18 online graduate degrees, including an online master of human resources professional program. This program provides distance learners with the practical training they need to become leaders in the field.
This 36-credit online master's degree in human resources includes courses in analytics, employment law, and negotiations for executives. Students may also need to complete a series of business acumen courses, though learners with prior business training may receive waivers for those courses.
Online students can choose between 12-month, 16-month, and 24-month tracks. To complete the quickest pathway, learners take two courses during each of three semesters; the 24-month track allows students to complete one course at a time. Every semester contains two seven-week blocks. Students complete online classes through live videoconferencing or interactive online sessions.
Applicants need a bachelor's degree and letters of recommendation. Applicants must also submit GRE, GMAT, or MAT scores. Online students may need to participate in on-campus sessions to fulfill the school's residency requirements. Admitted learners gain access to USU's library, career development services, and student support services.
Louisiana State University-Shreveport
Online programs at LSUS allow students to pursue higher education and develop their careers from anywhere in the country. The online MBA programs at LSUS offer nine specializations, including an online MBA with a specialization or concentration in human resource management.
In this 30-credit online master's in human resources, students complete seven core courses for a total of 21 credits. They then choose between a specialization or a concentration in human resource management. Both options feature courses in human capital management and employment law. The concentration includes a course on leadership communication, while the specialization features an elective.
Online students can begin their program on any of several start dates throughout the year. Learners can complete the degree in less than 10 months. All online students at LSUS pay the same tuition rate, regardless of where they live.
Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Candidates with lower grades may qualify if they possess relevant experience or strong GMAT scores. Transfer students may bring in up to six applicable credits. Online students can access the school's library, career services, and academic support services.
Founded as a distance learning institution, Excelsior offers online programs in a variety of disciplines, including nursing, technology, public service, and business. The online MBA with a concentration in human resource management prepares students for a leadership career in a global industry.
This online master's degree in human resources comprises 36-45 credits, including 27 credits of core business courses and nine specialization credits. Human resource students choose from courses like staffing, rewards, and staff performance. The degree also features nine credits of foundation courses for students with no prior business training. Learners may receive waivers for these credits if they have completed applicable undergraduate courses with a 3.0 GPA or higher.
At Excelsior, online courses run eight weeks and students can start on any one of several start dates throughout the year. Applicants need a bachelor's degree, and students may receive up to 24 transfer credits. Once admitted, online students can access the online library, the career center, and other student support services.
National Louis University
With five campuses in Chicago and 18 different degree offerings, NLU provides flexible and accessible study options. The school's online MS in human resource management and development provides students with the professional training necessary to take on organizational leadership positions while meeting standards established by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
The online master's in human resources comprises 36 credits, which students can complete within 20 months. The curriculum breaks down into gateway courses, core courses, electives, and a capstone class. Classes start in the summer, spring, and fall. Courses run asynchronously but feature some interactive experiences. Graduates may qualify to take credentialing exams through SHRM and the HR Certification Institute.
Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Candidates with lower grades can still apply, but they may need to submit scores from a writing assessment. Transfer students may receive up to nine credits for prior training, including six credits for applicants with valid certification or licensure. Online students can access NLU's digital library, online academic advising, and career support services.
The University of West Florida
At UWF, students can choose from more than 70 undergraduate and graduate degrees. Additionally, the school's online learning platform features 25 degrees, including 19 at the master's level. UWF's online MBA with an emphasis in human resource management prepares students for leadership roles in the field.
The 36-credit online master's degree in human resources features 27 credits of core MBA classes. For the remaining nine credits, students choose three human resource courses from a list that includes recruitment, compensation, performance management, and strategic issues. Learners take two courses during each of the three annual terms, following a course-by-course sequence along with the rest of their cohort. By following this path, students typically complete the degree in less than two years.
Online classes at UWF run primarily asynchronously, though some courses may feature scheduled class times. In addition to technical support, online students can access the school's library and career support. While Florida residents pay lower tuition rates than nonresidents, out-of-state online students may receive tuition waivers that grant them access to in-state rates.
To meet admission requirements, applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA, plus a minimum GMAT score of 450 (or the GRE equivalent). Candidates with lower scores may receive provisional admission. Transfer students with a minimum 3.0 GPA may receive up to six credits toward their degree. In addition to general education prerequisites, candidates must have completed two human resource foundations courses before starting the program
Golden Gate University-San Francisco
San Francisco, CA
Since 1901 GGU has offered professional degrees to its students. The online MS in human resource management is one of more than 60 online programs at GGU. Online courses run mostly asynchronously.
The online master's in human resources comprises 27 units, including 24 units on topics like workforce trends, performance metrics, and human resource legalities. Learners also choose between an internship or an international human resources course. Online students benefit from resources like tutoring, wellness services, and student clubs and organizations. They can also access career services, including consulting, workshops, and internships.
While GGU offers all courses online, some may only run during certain semesters -- students should plan their schedule in advance if possible. The school also offers a cohort program, which students can complete in three semesters. Online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency.
Applicants need a bachelor's degree. The school may also require candidates to submit GRE or GMAT scores. Some applicants may need to complete business and writing proficiency prerequisites prior to starting the program. Transfer students with a minimum 3.0 GPA may transfer in up to six units.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
U of I offers more than 1,700 online course sections and 90 online programs. The school offers 35 online master's programs, including an online M.Ed. in human resource development.
Featuring 32 credits, this online master's degree in human resources requires students to complete eight courses, including foundation, education policy, and educational psychology courses. Learners also complete technology, training, and elective courses. For their electives, students can choose between courses like adult education, diversity in the workplace, and work analysis and evaluation. Online classes run asynchronously through eight-week sessions during the fall and spring semesters and six-week sessions in the summer.
Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Some candidates may need to submit GRE or GMAT scores or additional materials for consideration. Students may qualify for up to 12 transfer credits. Once admitted, online students gain access to the school's career services center, academic support, and a digital library. No matter where they live, all distance students pay the same tuition rate.
The University of Texas at Tyler
Part of the University of Texas System, UT Tyler offers more than 80 degrees on campus and online. Designed to help professionals connect business and HR strategies, the online MS in human resource development is one of nine online degrees available at UT Tyler.
During this 36-credit online master's in human resources, learners complete professional core, elective, and human resources core classes. Human resources core courses cover topics like adult learning, quality management, and conflict resolution. Most of the online courses run asynchronously, though some classes may require live, scheduled sessions.
For successful admission, applicants must possess a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.25 GPA or a strong combination of grades and GRE or GMAT scores. Candidates with three years of relevant experience may receive standardized test score waivers. Transfer students can apply up to nine credits toward their degree. To graduate, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA. Texas residents benefit from lower tuition rates than nonresidents.
University of North Texas
UNT offers more than 200 degrees, including 20 online master's degrees and a variety of certificate programs. The online MBA with a concentration in organizational behavior and human resources management enables students to complete coursework at their convenience. Learners can specialize in marketing, strategic management, marketing analytics, supply chain analytics, or supply chain management.
The 36-credit online master's degree in human resources requires students to complete 12 courses in total, including six core courses, one elective, and five courses dedicated to the human resources concentration. For the concentration, learners take courses in labor relations, leadership, compensation, management, and organizational design.
The online MBA features five annual start dates, and students can choose to take one or two courses per eight-week session. This schedule enables learners to finish their degree in less than 14 months.
Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA, plus strong GMAT scores. State residents benefit from lower tuition rates than nonresidents. Depending on their academic background, admitted students may need to complete additional business courses before enrolling in master's-level coursework.
Florida International University
FIU boasts more than 20 years of experience delivering online education. The school offers more than 100 degrees, including a variety at the graduate level. In the online MS in human resource management, students can pursue an advanced degree, develop their career, use new technologies, and prepare for leadership roles in the field.
The 38-credit online master's in human resources features 12 three-credit classes, plus two credits dedicated to professional development seminars covering finance and career services or an HR internship. The program also includes an optional residency course. Learners can start in the fall or spring and complete the degree in one year. The curriculum aligns with standards established by the Society for Human Resource Management.
At FIU, online students join a cohort and take two classes per eight-week session. Courses combine the flexibility of asynchronous learning with the interactive nature of collaborative cohorts. Learners can access a variety of online resources, including career management services, student success coaches, and academic advising.
Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Candidates with lower grades need at least five years of professional experience, including three in human resources. FIU may also request GRE or GMAT scores. State residents pay a lower tuition rate than nonresidents.
With four campuses and online learning options, OU offers flexibility and accessibility to its students. The fully online MA in human resources offers concentrations in healthcare management and leadership and management. The program requires no campus visits.
While pursuing this online master's degree in human resources, learners complete 11 required courses, covering areas like professional ethics, employment law, and planning and administration. They also choose a human resources elective. Since the curriculum aligns with standards set by the Society for Human Resource Management's, the degree also prepares graduates for SHRM certification.
Online programs run asynchronously through eight-week terms. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA, plus professional work experience. OU may also request GRE or GMAT scores. No matter where they live, online graduate students pay the same tuition rate. Online learners can also access student support resources, career services, and the school's digital library.
Northwest Missouri State University
Established in 1905, Northwest offers over 120 undergraduate degrees and 40 master's degrees, including an online MBA in human resource management. This program does not require any on-campus components.
The online master's in human resources comprises 33 credits, including eight core courses and three concentration courses. The concentration courses cover topics like advanced human resource management, compensation, and training and development. Online classes at Northwest run asynchronously and last seven weeks. Students can start on any of six start dates throughout the year.
Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA, plus GRE or GMAT scores. Some candidates with especially strong grades may receive waivers for the standardized test requirements. All online students pay the same tuition rate. Once admitted, learners can access Northwest's library, student success services, and career services.
Middle Tennessee State University
Since 1997, MTSU has offered online programs to students from across the country. The school now offers 14 online degrees, including nine at the master's level. The school's online master of professional studies with a concentration in human resources management does not require any campus visits.
The online master's degree in human resources includes 12 credits of core courses, 15 concentration credits, and a three-credit professional project. The concentration includes three courses in human resources theory, one course in leadership theory, and one course in a specialty elective. For the final professional project, learners propose and complete an in-depth research project during their final semester.
Most of the online courses run asynchronously, though some classes may require students to attend scheduled sessions. Learners may also need to complete in-person proctored exams. Students can start classes during the spring, summer, or fall.
Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA. Candidates with lower grades may receive conditional acceptance. Transfer students can bring in up to six credits. Online students can access the school's library, online tutoring, and career services.
University of Wisconsin-Stout
UW-Stout offers more than 30 degrees online, including 16 graduate degrees. The online MS in training and human resource development prepares students for leadership roles in a variety of industries.
This 30-credit online master's in human resources includes 24 credits in the core program and six in research preparation. Learners can also complete an optional five-credit professional elective component. Before students complete nine credits in the program, they must meet with an advisor to ensure their educational plan aligns with their career goals.
Online programs at UW-Stout run mostly asynchronously, though some classes may feature scheduled sessions. Classes run in eight-, 12-, or 16-week sessions throughout each of the four quarters. Students can take up to 16 credits per term, though online courses and summer sessions may feature some restrictions.
Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA, as well as experience in organizational leadership and training systems. Online students can access a virtual writing center and tutoring lab. UW-Stout offers two optional certificates that students can apply to their degree.
University of Maryland-University College
UMUC offers more than 90 online programs. Connected to many of the universities in the state, UMUC makes up part of the largest online public university in the country. The school's online MS in management with a specialization in human resource management provides students with the practical training and skills necessary to lead in the field.
While earning this 36-credit online master's degree in human resources, students complete an introductory course, three core courses, seven courses in the specialization, and one capstone course. Specialization courses include labor relations, recruitment, and managing global and virtual teams. Online courses usually last eight weeks, though some sessions may run twice as long. Online courses are delivered asynchronously.
For admission, applicants need a bachelor's degree. They may also need to submit GRE or GMAT scores. Transfer students can receive up to six credits based on previous learning. Though UMUC may accept students with little or no business experience, ideal candidates should possess a business foundation, effective writing skills, and research training. Online learners can access career services, academic support services, and the school's digital library.
Founded in 1889, Clemson offers more than 120 graduate programs, including 15 online programs. The school's online master of human resource development prepares students to take on leadership positions in the field.
The 36-credit online master's in human resources requires participants to complete courses in sequence over two years. The first year includes courses in human performance improvement and consulting for education. In the second year, learners take courses in instructional materials development and knowledge management. Students can start their degree during the fall, spring, or summer semesters. Online learners can access the school's library, academic support services, and career development services.
Most classes run asynchronously, though some classes may require scheduled sessions. Regardless of where they live, all online students pay the same tuition rate. For successful program admission, candidates need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must also submit a personal statement and an essay. While Clemson does not require GRE or GMAT scores, students can submit test scores to bolster their application.
University of Connecticut
UConn offers more than 25 distance programs, including a hybrid MS in human resource management. This program combines online courses with four on-campus sessions. The program meets standards established by the Society for Human Resource Management.
Students in this 33-credit human resource development program join a cohort, and new cohorts start every fall and spring. Participants complete one course at a time during each of the accelerated seven-week sessions, plus one during the six-week summer session. By following this sequence, learners can graduate in 20 months. Students can choose from electives in employment law, diversity, or marketing.
Online courses combine asynchronous and synchronous delivery. Online learners pay the same tuition rate, no matter where they live. For successful admission, applicants need a bachelor's degree. They may also need to submit additional application materials, like GRE or GMAT scores. Once admitted, students can access the school's library, academic support services, and career services.
ISU offers more than 70 programs that students can complete entirely online. Designed to accommodate working professionals and busy students, the fully online MS in human resource development prepares graduates for leadership roles in the industry. Affiliated with the Society for Human Resource Management, this human resource development degree may qualify graduates for industry certification.
The 33-36-credit online master's degree in human resources includes 18 credits of core requirements. Students also complete electives and either a capstone project or a thesis. Students can complete the program in less than 18 months.
At ISU, online courses typically run asynchronously, but some courses may require synchronous sessions. Indiana residents pay a lower tuition rate than nonresidents. Online students benefit from online tutoring, career services, and academic support.
Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. While ISU may accept applicants without relevant experience, these candidates may need to complete a human resource development course in addition to other required courses.
Established in 1891, WSC currently offers 27 online degrees, including an online master's in human resource management. Students in this program take courses from WSC, Chadron State, and Peru State.
This online master's in human resources comprises 36 credits, including 18 core credits, 12 human resource management credits, and six credits of a capstone project. Students complete courses on topics like data analysis, leadership, communication, organizational behavior, and conflict management. To satisfy the capstone requirement, learners can complete a thesis, a research project, or an internship.
Online courses run asynchronously and do not require on-campus visits. Online students can access academic advising, career services, and the school's library. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA, and transfer students should have a minimum 3.0 GPA in graduate-level coursework. State residents pay lower tuition rates than nonresidents.
University of Arkansas
Founded in 1871, UA offers more than 20 online master's programs. The online M.Ed. in human resource and workforce development education teaches students the skills needed to lead, train, and assess groups and organizations. Online programs at UA use the same instructors and resources as the school's on-campus programs.
This 33-credit online master's degree in human resources includes required courses in research, career development, organizational development, and training and development. Students also complete supplemental courses and a capstone course. Learners need to complete the program with a 3.0 GPA and pass the capstone course to graduate.
At UA, online courses combine asynchronous and synchronous delivery. Classes may run on five-week or 10-week schedules during each of the three annual semesters. To satisfy residency requirements, all students must complete at least 24 credits at UA.
For successful admission, candidates need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Transfer students may qualify for up to six transfer credits. Regardless of their location, all online students pay the same tuition rate. Online students can access the digital library, academic support services, career services, and academic advising.
The Advantages of an Human Resources Education
Earning an online master’s degree in human resources opens important professional doors, allowing graduates to take on managerial and leadership positions unavailable to those holding associate or bachelor’s degrees. Associate degree graduates qualify for support positions only, while those with advanced degrees can work as decision-makers, change agents, and leading industry voices. They also hold senior-level titles and make substantial salaries.
Some degree-seekers continue pursuing education beyond a master’s degree. Completing a doctorate in human resources is a great option for individuals interested in working as researchers, industry leaders, or higher education professors. If you’re interested in learning more about salary outcomes, commonly held job titles, and typical responsibilities, continue to the next section.
Average Salary by Degree Level
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Human Resources Degree Salary Information
Graduates of an online master’s in human resources can select from several potential professional paths after earning their credentials. Businesses across all industries require human relations specialists to manage administrative and staffing functions, so individuals interested in topics spanning the arts, business, engineering, the sciences, and real estate can find roles supporting their passions. Most individuals in these careers work during standard business hours and enjoy interacting with others to solve problems as they arise.
- Human Resources Manager
- HR managers oversee all the staff administrative functions associated with a business. They manage employees, starting by posting job openings and ending with exit interviews. They handle hiring and firing, benefits, continuing education and training, and management of consultants and short-term workers.
- Administrative Services Manager
- Administrative services managers differ from their HR counterparts in that they focus more on facility and process maintenance. Job responsibilities include overseeing clerical staff, managing record-keeping processes, creating new policies to improve efficiency, managing their facility to create a safe and efficient working environment, and meeting organizational or governmental regulations.
- Compensation and Benefits Manager
- These professionals focus their efforts on ensuring employees get paid and can easily access benefits. Common responsibilities include researching and setting competitive wages, developing streamlined services for disbursing payment, following all governmental regulations around employee pay, and creating a benefits package comprising various insurance plans and other vendors.
- Top Executive
- C-Level human resources professionals oversee HR managers and specialists, but they focus on big-picture objectives rather than everyday minutia. They set strategic plans around company growth and hiring new staff, negotiate large-scale contracts with training companies and benefits providers, and report on their successes.
- Training and Development Manager
- Individuals in these roles focus on ensuring all staff, regardless of focus area, receive the training and continuing education needed to continually improve in their roles. They assess the needs of staff, identify training vendors, manage budgets, evaluate instructors and training materials to ensure they align with company values, and collect data on the usefulness of various training methods to make decisions about forthcoming educational programs.
Salary by Experience Level for Human Resources Careers
|Human Resources Manager
|Administrative Services Manager
|Compensation and Benefits Manager
|Top Executive (Director of Operations)
|Training and Development Manager
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Choosing an Online Human Resources Degree Program
Picking the right online master’s degree in human resources takes time, lots of research, and ample consideration. With so many of these programs available through distance learning, you can afford to wait until you find the right one. Consider several factors when choosing a school. For some students, cost reigns as the most important aspect, while others need flexible programs that can take them from matriculation to graduation as quickly as possible.
Consider your top priorities when assessing the list below, and make your choice accordingly.
- Program Cost: Cost weighs heavily on many students, and for good reason. As the price tag for higher education continues to soar, it becomes more essential to find ways to manage these costs. Public schools offering in-state tuition usually cost the least, while private schools tend to cost the most.
- Transfer Policies: Despite best-laid plans, sometimes the school you thought would best serve your needs doesn’t quite match up. Because there’s always a chance of this happening, make sure any school you attend maintains proper accreditation to make it easier if you need to transfer credits to a new school.
- Size and Type: Some learners may prefer the hustle and bustle of a large, immersive state school, while others find they learn best in small, intimate academic communities. Consider your learning style and ask about student-to-teacher ratios to ascertain what classes may look like.
- Program Length: How long it takes to complete a master's in human resources online can vary significantly based on whether a learner enrolls full- or part-time. Full-time programs usually take 18 months, while part-time paths can take up to three years. Accelerated programs sometimes take as little as 12 months.
- On-Campus Requirements: Online master’s degree in human resources programs translate well to distance learning, meaning most distance learners can complete their degrees without ever visiting school. However, some programs may require you to visit campus for week-long intensive learning experiences, so check with the administrator if this could prove problematic with travel, schedule, etc.
Accreditation for Online Human Resources Degrees
Accreditation may not be the most exciting topic to discuss when finding a top online master’s degree in human resources, but it is a critical component to success -- both in the classroom and long after graduating. Institutional and programmatic accreditation both serve specific functions. Institutional accreditation, available as regional or national accreditation, assesses entire schools to ensure they provide qualified faculty, adequate support services, and career tools to help graduates succeed.
Regional accreditation is the more rigorous option, and it typically applies to four-year institutions. National accreditation, conversely, usually applies to vocational schools and community colleges. Search the U.S. Department of Education’s database of accredited postsecondary institutions and programs to ensure any school you select has successfully earned accreditation.
The second type of accreditation, programmatic, takes a more granular look at individual degree paths or academic departments. Programmatic accreditation ensures the curriculum meets discipline standards and students are prepared to pursue jobs in the field after graduation. In the world of human resources, the Society for Human Resource Management provides accreditation to bachelor’s and master’s programs. The society maintains a program directory, which you can search to find a school that matches your goals. Students may also seek business-focused programmatic accreditation from organizations such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Human Resources Concentrations
Because online master’s degrees in human resources lead to so many careers, many of these programs allow learners to concentrate their knowledge in a specialty area of the discipline. The concentrations highlighted herein represent just a sample of your options, so conduct additional research to find the right one for you.
- Compensation and Benefits:
This concentration gives learners the nuanced knowledge to create large-scale compensation and benefits packages befitting different levels of employees. Degree seekers learn about trends in compensation, innovative yet cost-effective methods for providing benefits, and governmental regulations around both.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: Compensation and benefits manager, job analysis researcher
- International Human Resources:
A great fit for individuals who aspire to work at international companies, this concentration helps students understand international human resources, cultural differences, and principles for working within local country laws.
- Careers this concentration prepares for:
- Employment Law:
Students following this concentration gain an advanced knowledge of local, state, federal, and international laws surrounding employment. They learn about legislation and settled law around compensation, benefits, ethical considerations, and insurance management, as well as how to handle reports of inappropriate behavior in the workplace.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: Compliance manager, employment law consultant
- Organizational Development:
This concentration gives learners the skills to improve their companies by developing, training, and maintaining competent staff members. Courses revolve around studies in psychology, behavioral science, and business management. In this concentration, students learn to hire competent employees and manage them during times of change.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: Organizational development manager, management consultant
Learners with an interest in helping employees reach their full potential often pursue this concentration, which focuses on creating innovative and effective training and continuing education programs. Students consider existing models and best practices before delving into current trends and common training needs in modern companies.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: Training and education manager, human development coordinator
How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Human Resources?
Before enrolling in an online master’s degree in human resources, it’s natural to wonder how long you should plan to be in school. No two programs are the same, but most require between 45 and 60 credits, or two to three years of full-time study. Factors affecting these timelines include credit numbers, thesis/culminating project requirements, and mandatory internships.
Some students can handle a full-time schedule, while others need a part-time learning path to balance personal and professional responsibilities. These usually require three to four years to complete, depending on how many credits learners take each term. Conversely, some learners want to graduate as quickly as possible, in which case accelerated programs may prove more appealing. These degrees can take as few as 18 months to complete.
Credits should cost the same for any type of program, but part-time degree seekers end up paying more in semester-based fees because they stay in school longer than their peers.
Courses in an Online Master's in Human Resources Program
- Lifestyle Benefits in the 21st Century
As workforces continue to evolve and younger workers enter the professional arena, HR managers look for ways to appeal to new professionals. This course examines benefits that speak to the new generation, including flexible work days, the ability to work from home, and communal activities that bring employees together.
- Human Resources Management
Typically taken in the first semester, this class looks at the role HR professionals play in the companies they oversee. The course emphasizes topics such as improving the recruitment process, appraising employee outcomes, developing retention policies, introducing diversity training, setting policies around workplace behavior, and responding to labor relations issues.
- Legal and Ethical Considerations
This course familiarizes learners with landmark legal requirements, including the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities act, Equal Employment Opportunity regulation, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Students also consider questions around handling employee claims, creating equitable and ethical work environments, and responding to unlawful acts in the workplace.
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- Leading Change
Students in this class learn to act as agents of change within human resources management. They consider methodologies and theories around leadership, study management techniques and strategies, and discover how organizational culture can help or harm a company when evolving.
Human resources professionals spend much of their time negotiating. They may negotiate salaries for new employees; contracts for outside vendors, consultants, and freelancers; and benefits and services for existing employees. This course reviews common negotiation strategies and gives students the tools to assume these roles effectively.
Paying for Your Online Master's in Human Resources Degree Program
Students pursuing an online master's degree in human resources can explore a variety of ways to pay for their education. All students should complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine their federal student aid eligibility. The FAFSA helps learners explore types of financial aid and how much aid they can receive, including in the form of loans and grants. While learners do not need to repay grants, they are responsible for paying loans back after graduation. Other opportunities degree-seekers can explore that they do not need to pay back include scholarships and fellowships.
Scholarships for Accounting Students
Barbara Sanchez Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Available to outstanding human resources professionals working full time in broadcasting or media, the Barbara Sanchez Scholarship requires applicants to pursue a degree in human resources at an accredited college or university. Awards are granted based on financial need, volunteer experience, career plans, work experience, and letters of recommendation.
Drew Young Student Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The Dallas HR Association features the Drew Young Student Scholarship for undergraduate and graduate students planning on pursuing a human resource management career. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited college or university full time and meet a 3.0 minimum GPA requirement. The scholarship program selects recipients based on involvement with HR-related organizations, internship experience, and academic achievements.
Garden State Council SHRM Leadership Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The Garden State Council Society for Human Resources Management Leadership Scholarship supports both aspiring and current human resources professionals studying at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Applicants must live in New Jersey, meet a 3.0 minimum GPA requirement, and complete at least 60 college credits from an accredited institution.
HR Leadership Scholarship Awards
Who Can Apply: A scholarship program sponsored by the HR Leadership Awards of Greater Washington, the HR Leadership Scholarship Awards serve undergraduate and graduate students pursuing a career in human resources. Applicants must attend an accredited college or university and meet a 3.0 minimum GPA requirement.
Amount: $3,000 annually
IPMA-HR Graduate Study Fellowship
Who Can Apply: Administered through the International Public Management Association for Human Resources, the IPMA-HR Graduate Study Fellowship serves master's students pursuing a degree in human resources, public administration, or business administration. Applicants need a 3.0 minimum GPA and must have at least five years of work experience in the public sector of human resources.
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