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Best Online Master's Degrees in Human Resources

Apr 02, 2021

What Is an Online Master's in Human Resources Degree?

Colleges offering master's degree programs in human resources are available across the country, including human resources colleges in California to New Hampshire. Many of these schools may also offer an online format for these master's degree programs that commonly culminate in a Master of Science (MS) degree, but may also award a Master of Arts (MA), Master of Professional Studies (MPS), or Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. Typically, these degree programs are available in human resources or human resource management. They are designed to prepare students for leadership positions in the field of human resources. These programs equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge in the field to work with the employees and management teams of their organizations.

Best Online Master's Degrees in Human Resources

1. Webster University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$28,700 57% 58% 96% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

2. Fitchburg State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$10,505 88% 58% 91% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

3. Brandman University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$12,440 89% 60% 89% Yes Yes AP / ACE Credits

4. University of Southern Mississippi

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8,896 97% 49% 93% Yes Yes AP Credits

5. Pennsylvania State University-World Campus

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$13,988 76% 71% % No Yes AP Credits

6. The University of Texas at Tyler

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8,742 83% 42% 85% Yes Yes AP Credits

7. Troy University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8,908 88% 47% 92% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

8. Florida International University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$6,565 58% 63% 90% Yes Yes AP Credits

9. Concordia University-Saint Paul

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$22,800 98% 51% 98% Yes Yes AP / ACE Credits

10. Pittsburg State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7,338 96% 52% 94% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

11. Western Carolina University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$4,277 69% 62% 85% Yes Yes AP / ACE Credits

12. Touro University Worldwide

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$14,600 No Available Data (2019-2020) 100% 90% No Yes AP Credits

13. Central Michigan University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$12,833 70% 61% 96% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

14. Midwestern State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$9,380 79% 45% 93% Yes Yes AP / ACE / NCCRS Credits

15. Indiana State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$9,236 90% 41% 92% Yes Yes AP / ACE Credits

16. Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$15,407 61% 84% 71% Yes Yes AP Credits

17. Mercy College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$19,594 82% 44% 96% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

18. Louisiana State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$11,962 75% 68% 96% Yes Yes AP Credits

19. Robert Morris University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$31,200 84% 65% 99% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

20. Tiffin University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$26,110 69% 39% 100% Yes Yes AP / ACE Credits

21. West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$10,421 75% 77% 81% No Yes AP / ACE / NCCRS Credits

22. Brenau University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$31,084 58% 46% 97% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

23. Clemson University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$15,558 51% 84% 92% Yes Yes AP Credits

24. Tarleton State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7,851 56% 49% 87% Yes Yes AP Credits

25. Temple University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$16,970 60% 74% 90% Yes Yes AP Credits

26. Indiana Wesleyan University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$9,345 No Available Data (2019-2020) 38% 85% No Yes AP Credits

27. Idaho State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7,872 No Available Data (2019-2020) 36% 92% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

To get a more in-depth look at our school ranking methodology, please visit Study.com's ranking methodology page.

Tuition information is based on published tuition and required fees, per data by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Why Should I Get an Online Human Resources Master's Degree?

Students interested in working in human resources may pursue their master's in the subject to further advance their careers. Earning a master's can often help qualify students for professional certifications in the field and/or more leadership- and management-based positions. This in turn may increase a student's job prospects, as they may qualify for more diverse positions.

A master's degree also usually increases one's salary. For instance, per ''PayScale.com'', those with a master's degree in human resources management made a median annual salary of $66,989, as of November 2020, compared to the median salary of $57,860 (as of October 2020) for those with a bachelor's degree in human resources management. Choosing to earn a master's degree online typically provides students with more flexibility in their schedules and may allow them to continue working full-time while earning their degrees.

How Long Does It Take to Earn an Online Master's in Human Resources?

Online master's degree programs in human resources can typically be completed in 2 years or less. There are several schools that may offer an accelerated format or plan their full-time program to be completed in 1 year. Students who need to take their master's program part-time can usually finish and earn their degrees in 2 years. Another factor that may allow students to complete their degrees faster is transfer credit. Some programs may allow students to transfer in up to 12 credits of prior graduate-level courses, but this depends on the program and the prior courses taken.

Curriculum for Online Master's Degree Programs in Human Resources

Online master's degree programs in human resources commonly require between 30 and 36 credits of coursework, but there are some programs that may require as many as 39 units. Most students in these programs will be required to take core human resources courses and some elective courses. Some programs may also require a culminating experience and/or have other additional requirements or unique learning opportunities. For example, some programs may require a couple on-campus immersion experiences, and other programs may offer an optional study abroad opportunity. Explore details for the curriculum of these programs below.

Human Resources Foundational Courses

Some online master's programs in human resources' curriculum consists solely of core human resources courses, but even those programs with some electives usually require students to take half or more of their required courses in core human resources topics. These core courses are designed to help equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge in various subfields of human resources. Some programs may include a final capstone experience in the required core courses that helps students apply what they have learned to a project or assignment. While specific titles vary by program, human resources master's students can expect to take core courses in areas like:

  • Total rewards
  • Talent management
  • Employment law
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Ethics
  • Behavior in organizations/organizational behavior
  • Human resource strategy

Human Resources Specialist and Elective Courses

It is fairly common for online master's programs in human resources to allow students to further focus their studies and/or pursue personal interests in the field through elective courses. Although concentrations are not very common, some programs may allow students to choose to focus their studies in areas like employment and labor law, benefits and compensation, labor unions, or staffing, training, and development. While it depends on the program, students may be able to take elective courses in areas like:

  • Human resources analytics
  • Negotiation
  • Innovation
  • Change management
  • Consulting
  • Advanced leadership

Licensure and Certification in Human Resources

Professionals in human resources can pursue a variety of professional certifications in the field to help further advance their careers and/or make them more competitive. While certification is usually voluntary, it can help demonstrate a professional's expertise in the field. Although there are several, a couple of the professional organizations that provide human resources certifications include the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and the HR Certification Institute (HRCI).

The SHRM offers the Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) credentials. Students must meet education and experience requirements to sit for an exam. Once they have earned the credential, students must maintain it every 3 years with 60 professional development credits or by retaking an exam.

The HRCI provides multiple human resources-related certifications, including the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certifications. Again, students must meet education and experience requirements to sit for an exam and then recertify every 3 years with 45 to 60 hours of related human resources activities.

Admissions Requirements for Online Human Resources Master's Programs

Admissions requirements for online master's programs in human resources may vary by institution. Therefore, students should be sure to check the specific requirements for their program of interest. However, applicants to these programs typically need to have at least a bachelor's degree, and some programs may require students to meet a minimum GPA requirement, such as a 3.0 or higher. Several of these online master's programs do not require or may make it optional for students to submit their GRE or GMAT test scores. Depending on the program, students may need to contact an admissions counselor or may be able to complete the online application on their own. Students may be expected to include their official transcripts, letters of recommendation, essay(s), resume, and/or video essay with their application.

Choosing an Online Human Resources Master's Program

There are several different factors to consider when choosing an online master's program in human resources. Students may first need to determine which type of degree they want to earn. While there may not be too many big differences between an MS or an MA in Human Resources, an MBA in the field may require more core business courses and fewer core human resources courses. Some students may also want to find a degree program that allows them to focus their studies through concentrations or elective courses.

Another factor to consider is accreditation and alignment with professional standards of the field. While most schools with these online programs have regional accreditation from groups like the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), many also have business-related accreditation from groups like the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). This means that these programs have met business-related academic standards to help provide students with a quality education for the field. Many online master's programs in human resources also align their curriculum with the principles set by the SHRM to help prepare students for professional certifications offered by the organization.

Other factors to consider may be the cost of a program, the format of a program, or any unique requirements or learning opportunities. For example, some students may need to consider a full-time vs. a part-time program or one that requires some on-campus visits that may or may not fit into their schedule. Other students may want to find a program that offers extra support, such as online mentoring, or unique learning options, like study abroad.

What Can I Do with a Human Resources Master's Degree?

Graduates with their master's degree in human resources can choose from a variety of human resources positions, as well as other closely related positions. These positions may be available in a range of industries, including healthcare, finance, manufacturing, government, and more. Usually, within the field of human resources, a master's degree helps professionals move into human resource management or human resource executive positions, but graduates may also work as human resource consultants or other leadership positions in specific areas of human resources. They may take on titles like:

  • Compensation and benefits manager
  • Training and development manager
  • Administrative services manager
  • Labor relations specialist

Job Outlook for a Master's in Human Resources

Since earning a master's degree in human resources qualifies students to work a range of different positions, students should be able to find work. Although the specific job outlook differs amongst positions, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that from 2019 to 2029 the job outlook for human resources managers should increase by 6%, which is faster than average. This job outlook equates to approximately 13,300 new positions for human resources managers. This may be due in part to individual companies' growth, and the BLS noted that those with a master's degree and/or certification in the field will have the best job prospects.

How to Become a Human Resources Manager

Human resources managers need to have at least a bachelor's degree and multiple years of work experience. However, some positions may require or prefer those with a master's degree. Prospective managers typically need to have a degree in human resources or a closely related area, like business management, information technology, or conflict management. These managers usually need 5 or more years of work experience and may begin their careers as human resources specialists, labor relations specialists, or other human resources-related positions. Certification in the field is not usually required, but can help make professionals competitive.

Per the BLS, human resources managers made a median annual salary of $116,720, as of 2019. These managers typically oversee the activities of human resources staff and act as the connection between employees and management. They may manage the hiring process, address employee issues, consult on human resources issues, and plan the benefits program for employees.

How to Become a Training and Development Manager

Training and development managers also usually need to have at least a bachelor's degree and a few years of work experience. Some positions or employers may require these managers to hold a master's degree. Professionals may have a degree in areas like human resources management, business administration, education, and other related topics. Training and development managers may need to have 5 years or more of related work experience and may begin their careers as training and development specialists. Professionals in this field may pursue general human resources certifications from groups like the SHRM, or certification from groups like the Association for Talent Development or International Society for Performance Improvement. Certification is not typically required, but may increase job prospects and some employers may prefer it.

As of 2019, the BLS reported that training and development managers made a median annual salary of $113,350 and that positions within the profession are expected to increase by 7% by 2029. These managers are responsible for increasing the skills and knowledge of an organization's employees. This position may require candidates to manage training and development staff, create trainings based off of employee needs, and then teach, evaluate, and update trainings as needed.

Human Resources Professional Organizations

Professional organizations are available in many different fields, including human resources. Although each organization may have its own specific goals and resources, these groups typically work to advance the subject area and help professionals in the field further their careers. Most of these groups offer membership and may have additional benefits for members. Other resources these groups may provide include networking, education, and professional development opportunities. A couple examples of professional organizations in human resources include:

  • Society for Human Resources Management- The SHRM not only offers membership and professional certifications for human resources professionals, but also posts a human resources magazine, blog, and newsletters to keep professionals up to date on current trends in the field. Professionals can also take advantage of SHRM educational programs, teaching materials, webcasts, and conferences.
  • Human Resources Certification Institute- The HRCI also offers professional certifications and an annual Higher Standards Summit. The group also provides on-demand learning resources and can help certify entire organizations in the field.

Common Undergraduate Degrees for Human Resources

Online master's degree programs in human resources do not typically require applicants to have a bachelor's degree in any particular field. Students who are interested in pursuing a master's in human resources may already work in the field and have an academic background in areas like human resources, information technology, education, or business management. It may be helpful for those wishing to pursue advanced positions in human resources to take courses in areas such as conflict management and psychology.

Post-Graduate Options After Completing a Master's in Human Resources

Students wishing to further advance their knowledge in the field of human resources can pursue a few different online doctoral programs in the field. Students can choose from an online Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in areas like human resources management or human capital management, or a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Human Resources. Students should be aware that some of these online programs may require some on-campus residencies. Interested students should also look for programs accredited by business-related organizations, like the ACBSP.

Financial Aid, Scholarships and Grants for Online Master's in Human Resources Programs

Students in online master's programs in human resources may need help paying for the tuition and fees associated with their education. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) should always be students' first step in the financial aid process, as this application helps inform students of any federal or state funding they may qualify for in the form of loans or grants. Students may also need to investigate any tuition discounts their school may offer, such as military discounts.

Outside of loans, grants, and discounts, students may search for scholarships to help make up any difference left in the cost of a program. Scholarships can come from a wide range of sources, including schools and professional organizations, and do not have to be repaid. Scholarships typically have various eligibility requirements and criteria students have to meet, such as financial need or academic merit. A couple examples of scholarships available to online master's students in human resources programs include:

  • SHRM Graduate Scholarships- The SHRM provides $5,000 scholarships to winning SHRM members pursuing graduate-level education in the field. Applicants must have a graduate 3.5 GPA or higher, or an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher if the student has yet to attend graduate level classes.
  • EdAssist Partner Employees- Pepperdine University offers an online master's program in human resources and has the EdAssist Partner Employees program to provide discounted tuition and scholarships to students. New students, their spouse, and/or dependents may qualify for 10% off of tuition if their employer is affiliated with EdAssist. Current students may qualify for $1,000 scholarships.
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