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

The Massachusetts job market continues to impress. A recent Boston Globe article quoted a national staffing firm that reported an uptick in requests for human resource recruiters in Massachusetts, a clear indicator that the state’s employers are getting ready to hire.

Human resources jobs in the state should therefore remain plentiful, thanks to hiring surges in in the financial services, high tech, biotechnology, and healthcare fields. The Massachusetts economy is expected to expand by 6.3 percent by 2016, generating more than 216,000 new jobs. An additional 768,000 job openings are expected to replace workers who retire or change jobs.

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

In short, nearly 1 million jobs will need to be filled in Massachusetts by 2016, creating a need for human resources professionals who can recruit, hire, and provide assistance to these new hires.

Human resources specialists remain on Massachusetts’ Labor and Workforce Development’s list of “most job openings in Massachusetts.” In 2012, there were 10,976 jobs for human resources specialists. By 2022, this number is expected to rise to 11,794.

Jobs for other human resources professionals in Massachusetts are also expected to increase during this period:

  • Compensation and Benefits Managers: 1,163 jobs by 2022
  • Human Resources Managers: 3,769 jobs by 2022
  • Training and Development Managers: 1,306 jobs by 2022

Where the Jobs are for Human Resources Professionals in Massachusetts

Job trends for human resources professionals in Massachusetts follow the growth trends seen in the state’s biggest industries. For example, the clean energy industry continues to create thousands of jobs every year, highlighting the need for professionals who can create, implement, and oversee policies related to employee recruitment, hiring and benefits.

By the end of 2015, Massachusetts’ clean energy industry is expected to boast 6,000 employers and more than 100,000 workers. Clean energy firms in Massachusetts have added more than 28,000 clean energy workers to their payroll since 2010.

Just a few of these companies include:

  • A123 Systems, Watertown
  • American Superconductor Corporation, Devens
  • Ameresco, Framingham
  • Aeronautica Windpower, Plymouth
  • Boston-Power Inc., Westborough
  • EnerNOC, Boston
  • General Compression, Newton

Many of the other big employers in Massachusetts are non-profits. In fact, of the top ten employers in Massachusetts, seven are non-profits:

  • Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
  • The Stop & Shop Supermarket Co., Quincy
  • The University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • Steward Health Care System, Boston
  • Harvard University, Cambridge
  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston
  • UMass Memorial Health Care, Worcester
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge

Degree and Certification Requirements to Become a Human Resource Professional

College degrees are a foundation for nearly any managerial or senior-level human resources job in Massachusetts. More specifically, many employers require human resources professionals – human resources directors, analysts, consultants, and recruiters – to possess a bachelor’s degree or above.

Bachelor’s Degree Programs for Human Resources Professionals

A bachelor’s degree in human resources may be designed as a Bachelor of Arts (BA), a Bachelor of Science (BS), or a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA). Just a few of the undergraduate programs in human resources include:

  • 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
  • Bachelor of Business Administration in Human Resource Management

A bachelor’s degree in human resources, which is designed to prepare students with knowledge and skills in business and labor practices, often includes coursework in:

  • Leadership and Management
  • Business Law and Ethics
  • Global Business
  • Project Management
  • Workforce Planning: Recruitment and Selection
  • Compensation and Benefits
  • Advanced Human Resource Management

Master’s Degree Programs for Human Resources Professionals

Senior-level positions in human resources are often achieved through the completion of a graduate program, such as:

  • Master of Arts in Human Resource Management
  • Master of Arts in Management with a Human Resources concentration
  • Master of Arts in Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations
  • Master of Science in Human Resources
  • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership with a specialization in Human Resource Management
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Human Resources specialization
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

Most graduate programs in human resources accept students with a variety of undergraduate degrees, although the completion of specific undergraduate courses in areas like business and management is often required. Many competitive programs require students to possess a 3.0 GPA or above in their undergraduate studies.

Many master’s degree programs in human resources allow students to focus their graduate degree on a specific area of human resources, or complete a general track of study. Just a few areas that may be explored in a master’s degree in human resources include:

  • Human resources management
  • Organizational development
  • Training and development
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Employee and labor relations

Coursework in a master’s degree in human resources often includes:

  • Diversity management
  • Employee relations
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Staffing and selection

Most master’s programs culminate in a capstone project. Some programs offer campus-based instruction, some offer online instruction, and some offer or a blended program of both online and campus-based instruction.

Professional Certification Options for Human Resources Professionals

Although certification for human resources professionals is voluntary, it is commonplace for employers to strongly encourage candidates to possess a nationally recognized professional designation.

Two of the most widely recognized professional certifications in human resources include:


  • 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

What Massachusetts’s Employers Look for in an HR Professional

Massachusetts’s HR specialists and managers are found in federal, state, and local government, as well as in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors.

Recent job descriptions for open human resources positions provide some valuable insight into responsibilities, and the minimum employment requirements employers expect (Surveyed in May of 2015 and shown for illustrative purposes only):

HR Generalist/Recruiter, The Cambridge Institute of International Education, Waltham:

This position involves partnering with department leaders to meet hiring needs, assisting with job posting ads and descriptions, posting open jobs, and sourcing applicants through social networks, research, college networks, and job fairs.

Candidates for this position must possess a BA or higher in business or human resources, as well as some experience recruiting in an educational environment.

Human Resource Generalist, Energy Efficient & Renewables, Framingham

This position is responsible for working with the senior HR business partner to coordinate regional outreach to attract, source, screen, select, recruit, and hire qualified candidates. This job involves conducting new hire orientation, filing paperwork, ensuring statutory compliance, and overseeing benefits orientations and enrollments.

To qualify for this position, candidates must possess a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business, or a related discipline, along with at least three years of experience in progressive HR sourcing, recruiting, and employee relations.

Human Resources Generalist, Globoforce Limited, Southborough

This position involves providing HR support and communications to U.S. management and employees, working closely with administration and HR teams, and supporting HR initiatives, which include the development of programs that focus on retention, performance management, and career development.

Candidates must possess a bachelor’s degree, with advanced courses in human resources management desirable, along with at least three years of experience in a similar role within human resources.

Assistant Executive Director, Human Resources, Office of the State Treasurer (Massachusetts State Lottery Commission)

This position requires enhancing, planning, and administering all aspects of the human resources function and for the development of HR plans and strategies that support business objectives and the mission of the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission. This involves providing leadership and guidance in the areas of staffing, retention, workforce planning, talent acquisition, professional development, and employee relations.

Candidates for this position must possess at least six years of supervisory or management experience in human resources, business administration, business management, or public administration, and preferred candidates will possess a college degree and SPHR/PHR certification.

Resources for HR Professionals in Massachusetts

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