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

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Oklahoma had some 1,290 human resource managers employed in the state as of last count in 2018.

But that’s not nearly enough to meet the growing demand in the coming years, with the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission expecting the number of jobs for HR managers and specialists to continue growing during its ten-year projection period between 2016 and 2026:

HR Management Roles

  • Compensation and Benefits Managers2 percent increase for an average of 20 openings per year
  • Human Resources Managers6 percent increase for an average of 150 openings per year
  • Training and Development Managers3 percent increase for an average of 40 openings per year

Non-managerial HR Roles

  • Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists: 6 percent increase for an average of 70 openings per year
  • Human Resources Specialists8 percent increase for an average of 590 openings per year
  • Training and Development Specialists:1 percent increase for an average of 330 openings per year
  • Labor Relations Specialists: 3 percent increase for an average of 150 openings per year
  • Human Resources Assistants: 2 percent increase for an average of 160 openings per year

Job growth in major industries signals growth in the field of human resources, as these professionals are needed to recruit, hire, train, and manage a growing workforce. According to the Oklahoma Economic Research and Analysis Division, as of 2019 the unemployment rate in Oklahoma dropped to 3.2 percent, nearly lowest it had been since 2008.

The Oklahoma Department of Commerce has listed the top employers in the state, and by extension, some of those with the greatest demand for human resource professionals in the state:

  • Wal-Mart – 32,100 employees
  • Integris Health – 8,900 employees
  • Chickasaw Nation – 7,500 employees
  • S. Postal Service – 6,900 employees
  • U. Health Sciences Center – 6,800 employees
  • University of Oklahoma – 6,600 employees
  • Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. – 6,600 employees

What Oklahoma’s Top Employers Look for When Hiring and Promoting HR Professionals

From talent resource leaders to employee relations specialists to HR managers, Oklahoma’s top companies employ a diverse range of specialists and leaders within their human resources departments. Together, these professionals work to recruit, hire, train, and develop employees, along with providing them with legal, compensation and benefits support (shown for illustrative purposes only):

HR Specialist at Brookside Nursing Center in Ardmore – Applicants for this position should hold a minimum of two years of experience in an HR support role in a healthcare environment, and a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business management, or another related field is preferred.

This role will maintain and audit personnel files, administer employee status changes, provide background and fingerprinting requests, track performance reviews, and assist with FMLA administration and OSHA logs (shown for illustrative purposes only):

Talent Resource Leader – HR Manager for JCPenny in Oklahoma City – The person in this role will benefit from obtaining a bachelor’s degree in human resources or business management, since the job entails being responsible for a team, and being accountable for all store training programs, all scheduling resources, and all talent acquisition.

Human Resources Generalist at Sprouts Farmers Market in Edmond – Applicants for this position should have a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business, or a related field, along with two years of experience in an HR role.

This position will monitor hiring, fielding complaints, conducting investigations, and employee training.

Employee Relations Specialist for Loves Travel Stops & Country Store in Oklahoma City – Applicants for this position should have a bachelor’s degree in human resources. The person who eventually wins the job will be responsible for developing and implementing company employee policies.

Human Resources Manager for Universal Health Services in Bethany – The applicant for this position should have a bachelor’s degree in human resources, and it is preferred that they also hold some advanced designation, such as HR certification, a master’s degree, or a strong HR generalist background.

This position will manage the screening, selection, orientation, training, and development of all employees in the sixty-bed behavioral health hospital.

Human Resource Business Partner at the OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City – Applicants for this position will be required to hold a bachelor’s degree in human resources or a related field, will need two years of experience, with HR certification preferred.

This position will be responsible for implementing HR programs, implementing development programs, supporting employee and community engagement, and implementing business performance initiatives.

Employment Specialist (Employment Coordinator) with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs in Oklahoma City – A successful applicant for this position should have extensive professional experience or a master’s degree in human resources or business management.

This professional will oversee the readiness of job-seekers, counsel disabled veterans to make informed employment decisions, coordinate and perform evaluations and assessments, and coordinate development courses for veterans.

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Earning a Degree in Human Resources

Many HR professionals begin a career as specialists or lower-level managers with a bachelor’s degree in human resources or business administration. Upper level management and executive positions are typically reserved for those with several years of experience, a master’s degree or specialized MBA with a human resource management concentration, and professional certification.

Obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources

Some degree options for students looking to obtain a bachelors in the field of human resources include: 

  • Bachelor of Arts or Science (BA or BS) in Human Resources
  • Bachelors of Business Administration (BBA) in Human Resource Management

While a bachelor’s in human resource can prepare students to become generalists, some degrees, such as the BBA, can prepare students to fill HR management and HR specialist roles upon graduation.

Generalists are more likely to work in smaller companies that employ one human resources professional to manage all HR duties—from hiring, training, and developing employees to implementing employment laws and serving as an advisor for both management and employees. On the other hand, specialists are more likely to fit within bigger companies that require many different HR professionals to perform different specialized functions. These bachelor’s degrees will generally include core courses that will prepare students to excel in all human resource roles. For example, core courses will likely include:

  • Human resource management
  • Human resource training and development
  • Recruitment and selection
  • Human resource international business
  • Legal environment of business

More focused degree programs, such as a BBA in human resource management, will include specialized courses such as:

  • Accounting I
  • Microeconomics
  • Principles of business statistics
  • Operations management
  • Management information systems
  • Principles of management and marketing
  • Fundamentals of business finance
  • Business communication

Job opportunities for human resource professionals in Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree are listed here:

  • HR Manager for Oil States International in Tulsa
  • Human Resources Technician I for Oklahoma State University in Stillwater
  • Training Specialist II for the State of Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation in Oklahoma City

Obtaining a Master’s Degree in Human Resources

Obtaining a master’s degree can be a great way to gain further specialization or depth of knowledge in the field of human resources, and it has the potential to open up advanced job opportunities, such as those in human resource management or even a partnership in a company. Master’s degrees in human resources are generally offered in both online and in-person formats, and they can be found under many different titles, including:

  • Master of Arts or Science (MA or MS) in Human Resources
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA) with human resources concentration
  • Master of Arts or Science in Human Resource Management
  • Master of Science in Human Resources and Organizational Development (MS HROD)
  • Master of Management (MAM) with human resources concentration

In some of these programs, such as the MS HROD (Human Resources and Organizational Development), graduate students may choose to focus on a certain aspect of human resources, such as human resource leadership, workplace learning and performance, or health professions education. While some courses may overlap, distinguishing courses for a few degrees are listed here:

MA or MS in Human Resources

  • Corporate Communication
  • Strategic Human Resource Management
  • Law, Ethics, and Politics in Human Relations
  • Human Resource Information Systems
  • Negotiation and Advocacy in the Workplace
  • Talent Development and Workforce Planning

MBA with Human Resources Concentration

  • Management
  • Human Capital Management
  • Business Law and Human Resource Law
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Economics
  • Accounting
  • Operations Management
  • Strategic Planning and Implementation
  • Organizational Training and Development

MS in Human Resource Management

  • Human Resource Systems
  • Staffing Tools and Systems
  • Compensation
  • Industrial Relations
  • Business Analytics
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Employment Law
  • Managerial Communications
  • Microeconomics
  • Accounting or Financial Management
  • Talent Management

MS HROD with Human Resource Leadership Concentration

  • Talent Acquisition and Management
  • Performance Management and Rewards
  • Organizational Change and Consulting

MS HROD with Workplace Learning and Performance Concentration

  • Instructional Design and Development
  • Methods of Facilitation
  • E-Learning Design and Development

MS HROD with Health Professions Education Concentration

  • Teaching and Learning in Health Professions
  • Adult and Organizational Learning

Job vacancies that showed a preference for candidates with a master’s degree are listed here:

  • HR Director for Ponca City Medical Center & Blackwell Hospital in Ponca City
  • HR Manager for HE&M, Inc. in Pryor
  • HR Generalist at Harsco Corporation in Catoosa
  • HR Business Partner for Nortek Air Solutions in Okarche

Certification for HR Professionals

Employers often seek candidates with HR certification, which will distinguish the human resources professional and show their dedication to excellence in the field:

Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

  • SHRM-CP (certified professional)
  • SHRM-SCP (senior certified professional)

HR Certification Institute (HRCI)

  • Associate Professional in Human Resources (aPHR)
  • Associate Professional in Human Resources – International (aPHRi)
  • Professional in Human Resources (PHR)
  • Professional in Human Resources – International (PHRi)
  • Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)
  • Senior Professional in Human Resources – International (SPHRi)
  • Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR)

International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR)

  • Certified Professional (IPMA-CP)
  • Senior Certified Professional (IPMA-SCP)

HR Associations and Staffing Firms in Oklahoma

Joining a human resources association is an easy way to network with other human resources professionals, to learn about happenings in the field, and to find both employment and legislative information:

HR Associations

HR Staffing Firms


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Examples of HR positions were taken from a survey of job listings in the state at the time of this writing and are shown for illustrative purposes only. These examples do not represent job offers or positions that are currently available.

Job growth projections sourced from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission and published in the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Long Term Occupational Projections (2016-2026) database – Employment conditions in your area may vary.

All salary and job growth data accessed in October 2019.

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