HR Degree Programs Give You Online Education Options for the Career You Want

Online Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral Programs in HR and HR Management

A major challenge in business today is establishing HR teams capable of addressing the opportunities and challenges of the evolving modern business environment and recruiting the best and brightest talent.  And the fact is, it takes HR departments staffed with the best and brightest to pull it off.

Think about it– one department responsible for:

  • Effectively motivating employees to bring out their best performance
  • Headhunting new talent
  • On-boarding new employees and off-boarding soon-to-be-former ones
  • Fielding employee concerns and getting ahead of issues before they turn into serious problems
  • Developing and deploying training programs around everything from internal processes to cultural awareness
  • Negotiating with union reps
  • Managing employee benefit plans

HR is a huge job, and one that takes a lot of skill and dedication.

One of the challenges of today’s businesses is establishing HR teams capable of addressing the opportunities and challenges of the evolving, modern business environment and attracting and retaining the best and brightest talent.

If recent job posts serve as a reliable indicator of requirements for human resource jobs, then it is clear that companies are more often than not, requiring their HR staff to hold bachelor’s degrees. For senior-level leaders and labor relations managers, MHR or MBA programs in HR management are the preferred qualifications.

Anything less than a bachelor’s degree can prove to be a significant limiting factor when it comes to job advancement.

At the bachelor’s level, a degree in human resources is about building a solid foundation in HR basics like compensation, benefits, training, and recruitment. At the master’s level, a degree in human resources is your opportunity to specialize, build upon your bachelor’s foundation, and advance your general business knowledge while developing HR-relevant insights in key issues like corporate sustainability, managing remote work forces, diversity in the workplace, globalization and off-shoring.

Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Human Resources

Because HR departments operate in a business environment, you’ll find most of these programs housed within a college or university’s school of business. HR degrees, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, enjoy a level of standardization, thanks to guidance from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) – largely considered the foremost expert in issues affecting the workplace.

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The SHRM Human Resource Curriculum, a guidebook that details standards for human resources education, recommends that HR degrees contain the following content areas:

  • Compensation, benefits
  • Employee/labor relations
  • Employment law/job analysis/job design
  • Ethics
  • Globalization
  • HR’s role in organizations
  • Managing a diverse workforce
  • Organizational development
  • Outcomes: metrics and measurement of HR
  • Performance management
  • Staffing: recruitment and selection
  • Strategic HR
  • Training and development
  • Workforce planning and talent management
  • Workplace health, safety, and security

Today’s bachelor’s degrees in HR are designed as:

  • Bachelor of Science (BS)
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA)
  • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)

Foundational courses of a bachelor’s degree program are usually in line with the design of the program BA (liberal arts foundational courses), BS (scientific foundational courses), and BBA (business foundational courses),

You’ll find most BA or BS degrees designed as:

  • BS/BA in Human Resource Management
  • BS/BA in Management with a concentration in Human Resources

BBA programs are designed with a business focus and a concentration in a specific area of human resources:

  • BBA with a concentration in Human Resources
  • BBA with a concentration in Organizational Behavior
  • BBA with a concentration in Industrial Relations
  • BBA with a concentration in Management and Leadership

Bachelor’s degree programs prepare students for entry-level positions in any number of HR areas, such as:

  • Employment and recruitment
  • Training and development
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Employee services
  • Employee and community relations
  • Personnel records
  • Health and safety strategic planning

Graduates of these programs are prepared to meet the needs of a business in the dynamic landscape of corporate culture and to understand the impact of economic trends on hiring, personnel practices, and organizational behavior.

Master’s Degree Programs in Human Resources

Because the human resource management profession has evolved beyond traditional administrative functions, organizations are now seeking highly skilled HR professionals who can assume specialized roles within the HR team and take active roles in building the strategic vision of an organization.

With a clear trend toward specialized roles in HR, the master’s degree in human resources management has become the standard among senior-level HR professionals. These programs include in-depth study in the following core principles:

  • Compensation
  • Employee benefits
  • Hiring
  • Outplacement
  • Performance
  • Recruitment
  • Relocation
  • Termination
  • Training

These programs allow you to either complete a generalist course of study in HR management or pursue an HR specialization, such as labor law, labor and collective bargaining, equal opportunity employment, and benefits and compensation.

Master’s degrees in human resource management build on undergraduate studies in human resources, as well other business-related undergraduate majors. Although you won’t need to complete specific undergraduate courses to gain admission into a master’s degree program in human resources, chances are you’ll find that most colleges and universities require the completion of specific undergraduate business courses prior to admission.

Online programs, blended programs, and part-time study options are commonplace among human resources management graduate programs. Given the exceptional challenges and limitations of in-person learning in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, more programs than ever are offered through a fully online format.

Human resources master’s degree options may be structured as Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS), and Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs and offered as:

  • MA in Human Resource Management
  • MS in Human Resources
  • MA/MS in Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • MA in Management with an HR concentration
  • MBA with a concentration in:
    • Human Resource Management/Organizational Leadership
    • Leadership Development with an HR concentration
    • Human Capital Development
    • Organizational Behavior
    • Labor Relations
    • Industrial Relations

Master’s degree programs provide you with the opportunity to meet the critical needs of today’s businesses, assume top-level roles in HR innovation, and address some of today’s most significant executive-level issues in HR, such as:

  • Ethical scrutiny
  • Global volatility
  • Corporate sustainability
  • Emerging web-based technologies

Doctoral Programs in Human Resources

If you have careers goals that take you into HR academia or research, a PhD is what you covet. Typical titles for doctoral programs in human resources include:

  • PhD in Human Resource Management
  • PhD in Human Resources and Industrial Relations
  • PhD in Human Resources and Workforce Development
  • PhD in Human Resources and Leadership Development
  • PhD in Human Resources and Organizational Behavior
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Doctoral degrees in human resources provide a solid foundation for academic careers in research-oriented universities. These programs include study in research methods, cutting-edge theories, and the analytical techniques used when conducting impactful research.

(Shown here with slight modifications, are recommended content areas developed by SHRM and originally published in the SHRM Human Resource Curriculum: An Integrated Approach to HR Education.)

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