Human resources involve all aspects of an employer-employee relationship, such as salary, workforce diversity, labor laws and performance incentives. Many schools focus on strategic human resource management via bachelor's and master's degree programs in general human resources. The focus of a bachelor's degree program often includes fundamental business, statistics and organizational management courses. Certificate and master's-level programs are typically geared toward professionals in the field looking to sharpen their skills. These two programs may be taken simultaneously and they could offer opportunities for online study. Both undergraduate and graduate programs allow students to gain or further develop professional skills through internship experiences.
In addition to having a high school diploma, most bachelor's programs require that applicants have solid ACT or SAT test scores and previous coursework in English, math, science and social science. Graduate programs usually require and an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution to enroll. Although not necessarily needed, some schools recommend that graduate applicants have some business foundation coursework.
- Program Levels in Strategic Human Resources Management: Bachelor's degrees, graduate certificates, master's degrees, Ph.D. degrees
- Prerequisites: A high school diploma for a bachelor's; a bachelor's degree and prior related coursework for a master's
- Online Availability: Many programs available
- Experiential Learning: Internships
- Other Requirements: Graduate research or writing project
Bachelor's Degree in Strategic Human Resource Management
Study in strategic human resources at the baccalaureate level typically results in a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Business Administration. Programs are meant to prepare individuals for decision-making and planning roles in human resources for all types of organizations. The typical bachelor's degree program will include general education classes along with fundamentals in business courses, such as accounting, economics and business law. Some programs also have an internship option. Classes may address:
- Strategic human resource management
- Organizational management and behavior
- Employee compensation
- Global human resource management
- Staff training and development
Strategic Human Resource Management Certificate
Certificate programs often allow for focused graduate study into the issues surrounding human resource management, such as developing talent, attracting good employees and handling challenging work issues. Like a master's degree program, this graduate option is typically geared toward professionals in the field looking to sharpen their skills. Many of these programs can be completed entirely or partially online. Some coursework may transfer to a master's degree program in strategic human resource management. Some schools award this certificate while a student is en route to completing a master's degree program in a related field. Classes may touch upon:
- Strategic human resource management
- Human behavior in organizations
- Organizational training and development
- Diversity issues for human resource professionals
- Workforce planning and talent development
Master's Degree in Strategic Human Resource Management
These programs are intended for business professionals seeking focused, advanced study on human resource issues, such as law and ethics, information and technology, and management issues in a global economy. Some schools offer a strategic human resource management specialization within a master's degree program in business administration (MBA), while others may offer a dual MS/MBA program or a combined bachelor's and master's degree program in strategic human resource management. Many schools allow students to further customize their degree programs via elective courses. This type of program usually includes an internship or professional work experience, as well as a graduate research and writing project. Classes often discuss:
- Human resource solutions
- Employment legal and ethical issues
- Supervisory decision-making
- Compensation and benefit packages
- Human resource consulting
Popular Career Options
Professionals who are well-versed in strategic human resource management are able to plan for a workforce that will be most beneficial to an organization. Earning a bachelor's degree in strategic human resource management can prepare an individual for many professional careers within a public or private organization. Among them are:
- Benefits specialist
- Employee communications specialist
- Executive recruiter
- Human resources administrator
- Job placement specialist
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment growth for human resources managers should increase by 13% between 2012 and 2022, which is about as fast as the average for all job fields. The median annual salary for human resource managers was $102,780 as of May 2014 (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education and Certification Information
Several colleges and universities offer Ph.D. in Human Resource Management programs to prepare individuals for high-level management jobs, research roles or teaching positions. Graduates seeking credential can find several organizations offering professional certifications.
The Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI), which is a part of the Society for Professional Human Resource Management, offers several certification programs. Candidates can pass an exam to earn the Professional in Human Resources, entry-level credential or the Senior Professional in Human Resources designation. Both designations require at least two years of professional experience. The HRCI also has certification programs for global human resource professionals as well as those who work in human resources in California. Continuing education opportunities help to satisfy certification renewal requirements.
The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans has certifications for experts in group benefit, retirement and compensation. To earn certification, a candidate must take college-level courses and pass an exam. Each certification gives a candidate credit toward becoming a Certified Employee Benefits Specialist. The WorldatWork Society also offers certification programs in the areas of compensation, benefits, work-life and global remuneration. All four programs require candidates to pass an exam. This professional organization also offers continuing education classes. Additionally, the American Society for Training and Development offers certification in nine areas, each of which involves passing an exam and having a certain amount of work experience.