Best Online Master’s in Human Resources 2022

by TBS Staff Writers, N. Susan Emeagwali
• 0 min read
reviewed by TBS Rankings Team
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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.

Related Programs That Might Interest You

The Best Online Master's in Human Resources Programs

#1 Online College in New York

Cornell University

School Information
Location Ithaca, New York
Admission Rate 11%
Graduation Rate 95%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 4% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: N/A

Accredited By: Middle State Commission on Higher Education

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

Cornell offers an executive master of human resource management program for experienced practitioners. The 15-month hybrid program enrolls HR professionals with at least eight years of experience. Learners can complete the online master's in human resources program from anywhere in the world.

Coursework explores strategic market positioning. Students learn to understand financial statements and improve results through talent management. Participants apply new skills to a case project addressing an issue within their organization. Students complete week-long residencies on campus in March, July, and August.

Admission requires a bachelor's degree and significant HR experience. Cornell does not require GRE or GMAT scores.

Available Scholarships: Cornell grants and scholarships

#2 Online College in California

University of Southern California

School Information
Location Los Angeles, California
Admission Rate 11%
Graduation Rate 92%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: N/A

Accredited By: WASC Senior College and University Commission

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

USC designed the online MS in human resource management in partnership with industry experts. The program benefits HR professionals who aspire to leadership roles. Students complete the 24-unit degree in 1-2 years.

The curriculum explores employee relations, leadership in human resources, and HR analytics. Students learn how to train and retain employees. Degree-seekers prepare to develop a total rewards program that addresses organizational needs.

Students pursuing the online master's in human resources can apply for financial aid, tuition reimbursement programs, and military and veterans benefits. Applicants need a bachelor's degree and do not need to submit GRE scores. Individuals residing in Arkansas, Minnesota, and Puerto Rico cannot apply.

Available Scholarships: Society for Human Resource Management scholarship, Nitro scholarships

#3 Online College in District of Columbia

Georgetown University

School Information
Location Washington, District of Columbia
Admission Rate 14%
Graduation Rate 95%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 15% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: Strategic human capital management, talent and organization development, global human resources management, diversity and inclusion management, and HR analytics and technology

Accredited By: Middle State Commission on Higher Education

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

Georgetown offers a customizable online master of professional studies in HR management. Students enroll full time or part time and complete the degree in 2-5 years. The curriculum features classroom learning and action projects.

Core courses explore research methods, data analysis, and human capital analytics. Students learn ethical strategies and best practices to engage employees and manage workplace conflicts. Participants can choose from five focus areas, including global HR management.

Georgetown offers the online master's in human resources in fully online and hybrid formats. Admission requires a bachelor's degree, school transcripts, and no GRE or GMAT scores.

Available Scholarships: Georgetown service scholarships

#4 Online College in Virginia

Averett University-Non-Traditional Programs

School Information
Location Danville, Virginia
Admission Rate 24%
Graduation Rate 100%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 97% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: N/A

Accredited By: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

A private school located in Virginia, Averett provides flexible and affordable online programs designed for working professionals. The 40-credit MBA in human resource management requires coursework, case studies, and projects. Learners can complete the degree fully online.

Students examine business operations aspects including marketing, management accounting, and financial administration. Learners pursuing the online degree in human resources explore key issues including compensation and benefits and labor and employment law.

Enrollees learn best practices for employee recruitment, hiring, and training. Small class sizes promote personalized learning and discussions. All degree-seekers pay the same affordable tuition rate, regardless of residency status. Applicants need a bachelor's degree, and Averett prefers candidates with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Available Scholarships: Averett military scholarship

#5 Online College in New Jersey

Rutgers University-New Brunswick

School Information
Location New Brunswick, New Jersey
Admission Rate 61%
Graduation Rate 84%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 24% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Public

Concentrations Available: N/A

Accredited By: Middle State Commission on Higher Education

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

Experienced professionals can earn an HR degree online from Rutgers. Students earn the professional master's in human resource management in 18-60 months. The 36-credit curriculum helps learners become HR experts. Graduates can manage international workforces, workforce flow, and rewards systems.

Participants learn to use data to develop, implement, and measure HR strategy performance. Students can use electives to pursue advanced skills in a specialized area, such as HR and healthcare administration.

Students use their training to address a challenge within an organization. Applicants to the online master's in human resources program need a bachelor's degree. Rutgers does not require GRE or GMAT scores.

Available Scholarships: Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship

#6 Online College in Florida

Florida International University

School Information
Location Miami, Florida
Admission Rate 58%
Graduation Rate 63%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Public

Concentrations Available: N/A

Accredited By: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

FIU's 38-credit MS in human resource management program helps HR professionals qualify for career advancement and industry certification. Students can complete the accredited program online in 12 months. Enrollees can meet with peers and faculty during an optional in-person residency in Miami.

The curriculum covers employment law, HR knowledge management, and HR analytics. Degree-seekers learn to implement effective systems to measure, monitor, and optimize staff performance. Enrollees can participate in an internship with a partnering organization.

In-state and out-of-state students pay the same tuition rate. Admission requires a bachelor's degree. Applicants with a minimum 3.0 GPA receive preference. FIU waives the standardized test score requirement for some applicants.

Available Scholarships: FIU University-Wide Scholarships

#7 Online College in Massachusetts

Boston University

School Information
Location Boston, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 19%
Graduation Rate 88%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: N/A

Accredited By: New England Commission of Higher Education

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

BU's MS in human resources management program explores ways to maximize productivity and optimize business performance. The 32-48-credit curriculum builds on HR experience. Enrollees develop finance management and project management skills.

Participants learn how to conduct market and economic research and plan and operate new ventures. The online master's in human resources program delivers specialized training in enterprise risk management, planning, and compliance. Degree-seekers prepare to develop new products and services and manage employees and teams.

Students with the certified employee benefit specialist credential complete 32 credits. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and either five years of professional experience or the professional certification.

Available Scholarships: Society for Human Resource Management scholarship

#8 Online College in District of Columbia

George Washington University

School Information
Location Washington, District of Columbia
Admission Rate 41%
Graduation Rate 82%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: N/A

Accredited By: Middle State Commission on Higher Education

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

Located in the District of Columbia, GW offers a flexible master of human resource management program. Seasoned HR professionals and those new to the field can earn the degree in 18-48 months. Students can complete the 30-credit curriculum entirely online or in hybrid format.

Learners pursuing the online master's in human resources prepare to lead teams and implement effective performance management systems. Students develop executive leadership competencies, including critical thinking skills. Degree-seekers complete 12 elective credits in areas such as employment law and conflict management and negotiations.

Participants can study full time or part time. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and no GRE or GMAT scores.

Available Scholarships: GW School of Business fellowships

#9 Online College in New York

Stony Brook University

School Information
Location Stony Brook, New York
Admission Rate 44%
Graduation Rate 76%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Public

Concentrations Available: N/A

Accredited By: Middle State Commission on Higher Education

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? No

Stony Brook's MS in human resource management curriculum aligns with the Society for Human Resource Management's standards. Degree-seekers explore practical applications of HR theories. Leading scholars and practitioners instruct courses. The 30-credit curriculum covers topics including employment law, employee relations, and labor management.

Students pursue specialized HR training through electives. Course options include performance management and human relations and workforce planning. Students earning the master's in human resources online complete a strategic HR project.

Enrollees can complete a 45-hour internship with an HR organization. Applicants need a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Available Scholarships: Graduate Opportunity Program

#10 Online College in Pennsylvania

Villanova University

School Information
Location Villanova, Pennsylvania
Admission Rate 28%
Graduation Rate 90%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 23% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: HR leadership, HR business partner, inclusion and diversity strategy, people analytics and research, and organization development

Accredited By: Middle State Commission on Higher Education

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

Villanova has offered an MS in human resource development since 1980. The program emphasizes evidence-based HR practices. Working professionals can complete the 30-credit program online in two years. All classes hold approval from the Society for Human Resource Management and the HR Certification Institute.

Students learn in-demand skills related to HR analytics and financial and employee management. Degree-seekers prepare to optimize business performance through training and development. Elective courses provide training in areas such as HR technology and total rewards.

Students can use electives to obtain certification in an area such as HR leadership or people analytics and research. Admission to the online master's in human resources program requires a bachelor's degree.

Available Scholarships: OppU Achievers Scholarship

Best Online Programs

Online Master's in Human Resources Programs Ranking Guidelines

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

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. 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

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

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.

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.

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
Median Salary (2019): $113,300 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 7%

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.

Human Resource Specialists
Median Salary (2019): $60,880 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 5%

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.

Compensation and Benefits Managers
Median Salary (2019): $121,010 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 3%

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.

Top Executives
Median Salary (2019): $104,980 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 6%

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.

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.

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. 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. 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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