Bachelors and Masters Programs for a Human Resources Management Career in Illinois

As of 2014, Illinois was home to 6,780 human resources managers, the third highest number of any state in the U.S. Of these, more than 4,600 were located in the Chicago-Joliet-Naperville Metropolitan Division. According to the Illinois Department of Labor, the number of human resources managers in the state is expected to grow by 17% in the ten-year period between 2012 and 2022, making Illinois a current and future hotspot for HR managers.

As of 2014, Illinois was also home to 17,120 human resources specialists, 11,920 of whom worked in the Chicago area, the highest of any metro area in the nation. The number of jobs for specialists is also expected to grow, with the state expecting a 14% increase in the number of HR specialist jobs statewide between 2012 and 2022.

Online master's in HR. Aligns with SHRM requirements - No GRE/GMAT required
Rasmussen College
Online Human Resources and Organizational Leadership Associate's/Bachelor's
Capella University
100% online DBA, PhD, MS, and BS degrees in Human Resources Management
Southern New Hampshire University
MS and BS in Human Resource Management
Benedictine University
Online Bachelor of Arts in Management in Human Resources Management
University of Scranton's
Online Master of Science in Human Resources Program
Saint Joseph's University
MS in Strategic Human Resource Management Program

As the Illinois Department of Labor projects an 8% overall increase in the number of jobs statewide during the ten-year period leading up to 2022, a growing demand is being created for the HR professionals responsible for recruiting, training and managing the state’s growing workforce.

Exploring Human Resources Careers with Illinois’s top Employers

Typically, larger companies require the most substantial HR departments. Illinois’ five largest employers are also among those that are driving the greatest demand for HR managers and specialists:

  • Orlando Lynn Salon – 60,477 employees
  • Antiques On Main – 60,417 employees
  • Adjutant General Springfield – 13,000 employees
  • Allstate Insurance Co Northbrook 13,000 – employees
  • State Farm Mutual Auto Ins Co Bloomington – 13,000 employees

A review of job descriptions from advertised postings provides a glimpse into what various HR positions with some of Illinois’s top employers entail (taken from a survey of job vacancies in May 2015 and shown for illustrative purposes only):

Market Human Resources Manager, Sam’s Club The manager will work with management associates at multiple facilities on a variety of workplace matters, oversee HR strategies, and ensure compliance with federal, state, and local laws and regulations and company policies and procedures.

HR Representative, TNS Job duties include overseeing HR metrics, managing on-boarding and off-boarding of staff, and overseeing the HR intranet site.

Human Resources Coordinator, Erie Family Health Center Job duties include providing daily assistance to employees, overseeing employee data, and overseeing all processes related to Erie’s Non-Employees (students, volunteers, residents, etc.).

The Right Degree for a Career in Human Resources

Among the areas of study relevant to the HR training specialists, recruiters, compensation and benefits managers, labor relations specialists, and HR managers that work for Illinois’s top employers are:

  • Human resources
  • Human resource management
  • Business administration
  • Industrial relations
  • Industrial organizational relations/psychology

A bachelor’s degree is appropriate for most positions, including those in lower-to-mid-level management. Upper-level management, consultant and executive positions are generally reserved for those with a master’s degree of specialized MBA.

Job announcements help illustrate the value of undergraduate and graduate degrees related to human resources in the eyes of Illinois’s top employers (from a survey of job vacancies taken in May 2015, shown for illustrative purposes only):

  • Human Resources Generalist, Follett Corporation – A bachelor’s degree in human resources, business administration, or related field is required, while a master’s degree is preferred.
  • Human Resources Specialist, Cornerstone Credit Union – A bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Human Resources or other related field is required.
  • Human Resources Generalist, Berry Plastics Corporation – A bachelor’s degree in a relevant field is required, while a master’s degree is preferred. PHR or SPHR certification is considered a plus.

Bachelor’s Degrees in Human Resources

Bachelor’s degree programs related to human resources prepare students for the broad assortment of tasks that human resources specialists, generalist, and managers perform. These degrees, in the form of a Bachelor of Science (BS), a Bachelor of Arts (BA), or a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), are often minimum requirements for human resources management positions.

A few examples of the most common bachelor’s degrees include:

  • Bachelor of Business Administration in Human Resource Management
  • Bachelor of Arts in Management with a Human Resources Specialization
  • Bachelor of Arts in Human Resource Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Human Resources
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a Human Resources concentration.

Just some of the areas covered in undergraduate human resources courses include:

  • Communication strategies
  • Labor relations
  • Management theory and practice
  • Management of personnel
  • Program design and development
  • Recruiting
  • Staffing

Master’s Degrees in Human Resources

A large number of graduate programs related to human resources accept students with undergraduate degrees in a variety of majors, though specific undergraduate courses in areas like management and business law and are often required. Additionally, some programs require students to possess a 3.0 GPA or above in their undergraduate studies, as well as high scores on the GMAT exam.

Mid-to-upper-level management positions typically include a master’s or specialized MBA in HR Management:

  • Master of Arts (MA) in Organizational Management with a concentration in Human Resources
  • Master of Arts (MA) in Human Resource Management
  • Master of Arts (MA) in Management with a Human Resources concentration
  • Master of Science (MS) in Human Resources Management
  • Master of Human Resources (MHR)
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a specialization in Human Resources
  • Master of Science (MS) in Human Resources

Typical coursework in a master’s degree program related to human resources include:

  • Managerial accounting
  • Financial management
  • Information technology
  • Strategic management
  • Marketing strategies
  • Operations management
  • Quantitative analysis for decision making

Professional Certification in Human Resources

While specialized HR certification is not always required, it is often preferred. Examples of the best-recognized organizations and their certification options include:


  • Recognition Professionals International (RPI)
    • Structuring Recognition Systems for Success – CRP I
    • Strategic Planning & Measurement – CRP II*
    • Recognition Management & Maintenance – CRP III*
    • Applying Recognition Systems – CRP IV*


  • HR Certification Institute (HRCI)
    • Professional in Human Resources (PHR)
    • Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)
    • Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR)
    • Human Resource Management Professional (HRMP)
    • Human Resource Business Professional (HRBP)
    • California Certification for PHR and SPHR certified professionals


HR Employers and Professional Associations in Illinois

Human resources professionals in Illinois are employed in the state, nonprofit, and private sectors. Links to just some of the HR employers and professional associations in Illinois are provided as a resource:


Professional Associations

Private Staffing Firms

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