Degrees in Human Resources



Whether in small start-ups or multinational corporations, a company’s human capital is its soul source of progress and innovation. From talent acquisition to labor relations, HR teams are central to finding and retaining the talent a business needs to achieve its objectives. Find out more about earning an undergraduate or advanced degree in human resources or human resource management (HRM) today.


Masters in Human Resource Management (HRM)

New standards for conduct and compliance in the workplace, a decentralized workforce, and issues such as offshoring and outsourcing all add to the complexity of human resource management in today’s business environment. This new landscape requires HR managers to possess an in-depth knowledge of business along with a mastery of HR management skills— all of which can be gained through a master’s degree program in human resource management.

Serving as senior-level managers, directors and company executives, today’s master’s-prepared human resources professionals are responsible for shaping key policies and focusing on talent as a strategic resource for a business’s overall success.

Content and Standards for Master’s Programs in Human Resource Management

Since 2005, HRM programs have been moving toward a more defined business foundation in response to the needs of the marketplace.

In an initiative designed to strengthen HRM programs and align them with management programs that meet accreditation standards set by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) published the SHRM Human Resource Curriculum: An Integrated Approach to HR Education, a guidebook detailing standards for advanced HRM education.

These guidelines are flexible and focused on outcomes. This allows educators to realign existing curricula and effectively measure the results of their programs.

One of the most important features of these guidelines is that they offer academic institutions the flexibility to devise their own HR courses, while still providing a level of content standardization. This modular approach has been effective, with nearly 300 HRM programs now aligned with the guidelines.

SHRM guidelines for minimum required HRM content areas in undergraduate and graduate programs are (Set forth below, with slight modifications, are content areas developed by SHRM and originally published in the SHRM Human Resource Curriculum: An Integrated Approach to HR Education):

  • Employment law
  • Ethics
  • HR’s role in the organization
  • Job analysis/job design
  • Managing a diverse workforce
  • Metrics and measurement of HR
  • Performance management
  • Staffing: recruitment and selection
  • Strategic HR
  • Toward rewards (compensation and benefits)
  • Training and development
  • Workforce planning and talent management

According to a 2013 SHRM study, academicians and senior professionals agreed that the focus areas and competencies most valuable to human resource management graduate students are (Set forth below, with slight modifications, are focus areas and competencies recommended by academicians and senior professionals originally published in the SHRM Human Resource Curriculum: An Integrated Approach to HR Education):

  • Change management
  • Globalization
  • Internal consulting
  • Organizational development

Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Human Resource Management

A 2005 SHRM study of graduate and undergraduate HR curricula found that senior HR professionals overwhelmingly indicated the need for students to develop business knowledge beyond human resources. In addition, senior HR professionals believed that a degree in business with a concentration in HRM was more valuable than a degree in HRM without a business emphasis.

The results of this study support current research that shows business-based HR degrees are becoming increasingly important in the marketplace. Both students and employers are becoming increasingly aware that business knowledge is critically important because it allows HR professionals to make better decisions regarding where, how, and when to integrate HR strategies that improve business performance.

One of the more well-recognized graduate programs is the Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Human Resource Management.

The SHRM details a sample curriculum for an MBA in Human Resource Management, which generally includes 5 or 6 HR-specific courses, including an introductory course and a capstone course (Set forth below, with slight modifications, is the sample curriculum for MBA-HRM programs developed by SHRM and originally published in the SHRM Human Resource Curriculum: An Integrated Approach to HR Education).

Business core courses in an MBA in Human Resource Management are likely to include the following as part of the degree program’s general education requirements:

  • Accounting
  • Business law
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • General management
  • Statistics
  • Strategic management

Some of the above courses may be prerequisites to admission, depending on specific university requirements.

Sample course outline for an MBA in Human Resource Management:

  • Workforce planning and talent management
    • HR’s role in organizations
    • Ethical decision-making in human resources
    • Labor market analysis, trends, and forecasting
  • Creating a strategic staffing plan
    • Legally compliant recruitment, selection, and staff management strategies
  • Total rewards
    • Linking individual and team performance to organizational outcomes
    • Job analysis and job design
    • Compensation and benefits philosophy and structure
  • Strategic human resource management
    • HR within the global business environment
    • Managing human capital assets for competitive advantage
    • Organizational development
    • HR in the role of internal consultant and advisor
  • Employment law
    • Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (amended in 2008)
    • Reasonable accommodations
    • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 1991
    • Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938
    • Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
    • Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970
    • Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988
  • Employment relationships and the legal environment
  • Analyzing HR metrics
  • Linking HR to the organizational scorecard
  • Leveraging human resource information systems data to manage human capital

Master of Science (MS)/Master of Arts (MA) in Human Resource Management

A Master of Science (MS) or a Master of Arts (MA) in Human Resource Management (or in another business discipline, such as management, with HRM as a major or area of concentration, emphasis, or focus) is typically a 30- to 42-credit hour program. These programs are comprised of a wide array of HR-specific courses and may also include an introductory and capstone course (Set forth below, with slight modifications, are course outlines developed by SHRM for MS/MA-HRM programs and originally published in the SHRM Human Resource Curriculum: An Integrated Approach to HR Education).

The business core courses cover the following areas as part of the program’s general education requirements (in addition to courses in the major area of study or concentration):

  • Accounting
  • Business law
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • General management
  • Statistics
  • Strategic management

Some of the above courses may be prerequisites to admission based on university requirements.

A sample course outline of an MS or MA in Human Resource Management will vary depending on areas of specialization, such as:

Compensation

  • Developing a total rewards strategy
  • Communicating a total rewards philosophy
  • Pay for performance and merit pay systems
  • Incentive compensation
  • Special compensation situations
  • Managing compensation and benefits in employee separations
  • Controlling benefits costs

Global Human Resources

  • Staffing strategies for multinational organizations
  • Managing expatriate compensation
  • Global legal environment
  • Security issues
  • Green management issues
  • Cultural sensitivity

Employment Law

  • Overview of employment law (ADA, FLSA, FMLA, OSHA, etc.)
  • Staffing
  • Unlawful harassment

Labor Management Relations

  • Employee engagement and involvement strategies
  • Union-related and labor relations law
  • Union membership
  • Union/management relations
  • Union decertification and de-authorization
  • Collective bargaining issues
  • Collective bargaining process
  • Strikes, boycotts, and work stoppages
  • Managing union organizing policies and handbooks

Staffing, Performance Management, Training, and Workforce Planning and Talent Management

  • Creating an employment brand
  • Environmental considerations
  • External and internal recruitments strategies
  • Reference/background checks
  • Structured interviewing
  • Job offers
  • Performance appraisals
  • Career development
  • Employee development
  • Workforce planning and talent development

Analytics, Metrics, and Problem-Solving in HRM

  • Research theory
  • Research design and methodology
  • Benchmarking HR
  • Balanced scorecard
  • Tend and ratio analysis
  • Reputation and brand enhancement
  • Accountability and transparency
  • Risk management

Leadership, Organizational Behavior, and Change Management

  • Individual, group, and organizational dynamics
  • Equity, ethics, and fairness in the workplace
  • Productive work environments
  • Theories and strategies for developing an organizational behavior model
  • Leadership, motivation, and individual behavior
  • Decision-making
  • Managing diverse groups and work teams
  • Leadership and communication styles
  • Internal consulting
  • Role of power and influence in HR
  • Organizational development
  • Workplace culture and trust building

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