Best Online Master’s in Human Resources

Meg Embry
Updated February 26, 2024
Edited by
Do you want a satisfying, people-centered career with an even more satisfying paycheck? Discover the best online master's programs in HR that can set you up for success.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Human resources is a great field for anyone who is passionate about shaping the culture of work, maximizing the potential of organizations, and helping people thrive.

HR professionals play a crucial role in attracting top talent, fostering employee engagement, and driving organizational success. On top of that, they love their work: A recent survey by the Society for Human Resources Management found that about 85% of HR folks are satisfied with their jobs.

Getting an online master’s degree in HR can give you all the latest industry knowledge about important topics like talent acquisition, performance management, employee development, and employment law. You can leverage that expertise into high-level positions with more impact and a bigger paycheck.

Whether you’re an HR professional looking to level up or are a working professional looking to transition into a satisfying new field, an online master’s degree in HR can help you accomplish your goals. Keep reading to discover which programs will get you the best return on your investment.

Featured Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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Top Colleges With Online Human Resources Programs

#1 Best Online Master’s in Human Resources

Columbia University in the City of New York

  • Location-markerNew York, NY
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$59,450
  • Out-of-state$59,450
  • Retention Rate99%
  • Acceptance Rate4%
  • Students Enrolled33,776
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment23%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Best Online Master’s in Human Resources

University of Southern California

  • Location-markerLos Angeles, CA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$60,446
  • Out-of-state$60,446
  • Retention Rate96%
  • Acceptance Rate13%
  • Students Enrolled49,318
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment46%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Best Online Master’s in Human Resources

Georgetown University

  • Location-markerWashington, DC
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$59,784
  • Out-of-state$59,784
  • Retention Rate98%
  • Acceptance Rate12%
  • Students Enrolled20,935
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment38%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 Best Online Master’s in Human Resources

Rutgers University-New Brunswick

  • Location-markerNew Brunswick, NJ
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$12,536
  • Out-of-state$29,737
  • Retention Rate94%
  • Acceptance Rate68%
  • Students Enrolled50,804
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment74%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 Best Online Master’s in Human Resources

Florida International University

  • Location-markerMiami, FL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,721
  • Out-of-state$16,529
  • Retention Rate90%
  • Acceptance Rate64%
  • Students Enrolled56,664
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment65%
  • AccreditationYes
#6 Best Online Master’s in Human Resources

Ottawa University-Surprise

  • Location-markerSurprise, AZ
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$29,600
  • Out-of-state$29,600
  • Retention Rate54%
  • Acceptance Rate31%
  • Students Enrolled972
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment93%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 Best Online Master’s in Human Resources

Colorado State University-Global Campus

  • Location-markerAurora, CO
  • 4 year
  • Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$8,400
  • Out-of-state$8,400
  • Retention Rate35%
  • Acceptance Rate96%
  • Students Enrolled10,844
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment0%
  • AccreditationYes
#8 Best Online Master’s in Human Resources

Johnson & Wales University-Online

  • Location-markerProvidence, RI
  • 4 year
  • Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$13,365
  • Out-of-state$13,365
  • Retention Rate0%
  • Acceptance Rate45%
  • Students Enrolled2,349
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment0%
  • AccreditationYes
#9 Best Online Master’s in Human Resources

Purdue University-Main Campus

  • Location-markerWest Lafayette, IN
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$9,718
  • Out-of-state$28,520
  • Retention Rate91%
  • Acceptance Rate69%
  • Students Enrolled50,344
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment47%
  • AccreditationYes
#10 Best Online Master’s in Human Resources

Stony Brook University

  • Location-markerStony Brook, NY
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,070
  • Out-of-state$24,990
  • Retention Rate89%
  • Acceptance Rate48%
  • Students Enrolled26,608
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment66%
  • AccreditationYes

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.

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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.

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.

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 Careers

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 (2022):$130,000

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 (2022):$64,240

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 (2022):$121,280

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 (2022):$100,090

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.

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.

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.

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.

Common Questions About Online Master’s in Human Resources

How long does it take to complete an online master’s degree in HR?

It typically takes between 2-3 years to complete an online master’s degree in HR. Students who want to earn a degree even faster should consider accelerated programs.

Is an online human resources degree worth it?

Yes; an online human resources degree can be very valuable. It will help you to compete for senior positions where you will have the most influence and impact. According to SHRM, the five highest-paying HR jobs have salaries ranging from $196,000-$308,000 per year.

Is human resources a stable career?

Yes. The BLS projects demand for human resources specialists to grow by 6% between 2022 and 2032. Every company and every industry needs qualified HR experts.

What is the hardest part of being in HR?

Many human resources professionals report that helping employees navigate personal tragedies can be emotionally very difficult, though meaningful, work. SHRM also reports that finding — and keeping — talented workers has become more challenging during a period of especially low employee engagement.