Employment Law Degree and Certificate Program Overviews

Oct 11, 2019

Essential Information

Certificate programs in employment law vary greatly, depending upon their purpose. Programs may be at the graduate or undergraduate level. Courses usually offered in all types of certificate programs include equal opportunity employment regulations, conflict resolutions and ethics. Students in master's degree programs examine laws that relate to the hiring, disciplining, terminating and compensating of workers.

Prerequisites for these programs vary. A bachelor's degree is usually required, though not in some certificate programs. Some programs are offered online. Master's degree programs take 18-24 months while professional certificate programs can last as few as three months or up to three years to complete all requirements.

Certificate in Employment Law

Several schools offer certificate programs in employment law through completion of a series of courses, seminars and workshops. Certificate programs in employment law offer a focus in two main areas: human resources management and the legal profession. Possible course topics include:

  • Discrimination and equal opportunity laws
  • Conflict resolution
  • Employee labor unions
  • Disciplinary actions
  • Employee and employer rights
  • Employment law ethics

Master's Degree in Employment Law

Master's degree programs can focus on the study of employment law or offer coursework in the concentration within a broader legal or human resources curriculum. Students of employment law receive a comprehensive education on the highly regulated relationships between employers and employees.

The curriculum for employment law programs includes a comprehensive review of regulations associated with hiring, paying, promoting and disciplining workers. Specific class topics could include:

  • Foundations of employment law
  • Federal and state employment law
  • Contract employment
  • Harassment and discrimination
  • Employment policies
  • Occupational safety

Popular Career Options

Some schools tailor the curricula to help human resources or legal professionals advance their knowledge of employment law relevant to their current career. Graduates might also qualify for work in the following roles:

  • Recruitment specialist
  • Staffing professional
  • Compensation analyst
  • Benefits administrator

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated a 7% job growth for human resources managers from 2018-2028 ( The increase was expected due to new laws pertaining to employment laws, such as equal opportunity, health care benefits and family leave legislation. The BLS listed the median annual salary for labor relations specialists as of May 2018 at $67,790per year.

Those interested in a career in law could anticipate a 6% increase in demand for lawyers between 2018 and 2028, according to the BLS. Lawyers who performed better in law school and are free to relocate for work could find better opportunities. The BLS reported that the median annual salary for lawyers of all disciplines was $120,910 as of May 2018.

Continuing Education

Human resource professionals must stay abreast of constantly changing employment policies and regulations. Therefore, numerous professional organizations, such as the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), offer conferences and seminars to provide such information. SHRM also offers a professional certification process that requires professional experience and completion of an examination (

There are two types of certificate programs in employment law: one for human resources professionals and another for legal professionals. Master's degree programs in employment law are designed to help human resources professionals.

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