Human Resource Management Degree Program Overviews

Apr 14, 2021

Essential Information

Individuals interested in human resource management may consider bachelor's, master's or doctoral degrees in the field. Undergraduate programs in human resource management give students foundational knowledge of this profession and prepare them for entry-level jobs as human resource managers. Master's degree programs, often aimed at working human resource professionals, prepare them to work with other business managers to make informed decisions about staffing. At the doctoral level, students engage in research in organizational development and management and also get training in teaching at the college level. Students have the opportunity to work on original projects, and the doctoral program typically culminates in a dissertation.

A high school diploma or GED and standardized test scores are required for admission to a bachelor's program, and a bachelor's or master's degree, professional experience and GRE scores are necessary for the master's and doctoral programs. Online learning and other flexible learning formats are offered by bachelor and master's degree programs.

Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management

A baccalaureate program in human resource management incorporates business management and organizational development studies to prepare students to develop policies and address human resource issues in entry-level roles. Graduates are prepared to take on numerous tasks, including staffing, employee counseling, career development and administration of compensation and benefits. Comprehensive 4-year programs are offered, with some available in nontraditional formats, such as distance learning.

In addition to completing traditional general education courses, human resource management students must take various business and management courses. Specific classes might include:

  • Employment law
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Collective bargaining
  • Training and development
  • Staffing and leadership
  • Computer information systems

Master of Human Resource Management

Master's programs in human resource management prepare students to work with organizational leadership in strategic decision-making processes that are necessary to manage organizational culture and best develop human capital. The types and lengths of master's degree programs in human resource management vary. Most programs are designed for working professionals and may include evening, weekend or online courses.

The curriculum of a master's program in human resource management encompasses the various areas of knowledge that make up the field. Common courses include:

  • Employment law
  • Performance appraisal
  • Recruiting and retention
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Personnel selection and training
  • Collective bargaining

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Human Resources and Organizational Behavior

Human resource management programs leading to a Ph.D. provide the opportunity for students to conduct original research related to organizational development and management. Graduates are generally prepared to work as scholars, teachers or consultants in the human resources field.

Doctoral programs heavily emphasize research and teaching. Students take a core selection of courses and then pursue individual projects. Doctoral students also might teach classes at the undergraduate level and be assessed on their teaching skills. Specific classes might include:

  • Research methodology
  • Labor markets
  • Human resource leadership
  • Organizational theory
  • Compensation
  • Interpersonal communications

Popular Career Options

Several paths are available for human resource management graduates. Most baccalaureate recipients begin at the specialist role and move into management positions over time. Common job titles include:

  • Compensation and benefits specialist
  • Recruitment and placement specialist
  • Training and development specialist
  • Labor relations specialist
  • Human resources generalist

Career Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for human resource managers are projected to increase 6%, which is faster than the average for all occupations, between 2019 and 2029. Salaries varied widely by area of specialization; however, the median annual salary for human resource managers in general was $121,220 as of May 2020.

Continuing Education Information

There are a variety of certification options available for human resource management professionals. The Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) offers four certifications based on area of specialty and level of experience. Other credentialing programs are offered by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, the American Society for Training and Development and the WorldatWork Society of Certified Professionals. Most designations require a specified amount of experience, completion of an examination and a certain number of hours of continuing education courses.

Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs in human resource management provide coursework on staffing, business and research, depending on the level. Human resource managers can work in a variety of industries and multiple certifications are available.

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