Best Online Master’s in Human Resources Programs

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Badge (Online) with 2-Line TitleMaster'sin Human Resources2017
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Whether you want to advance your career in human resources or transition into HR for the first time, earning your online master’s in human resources can help you achieve your goals. And the right degree program can literally pay off — workers with a master’s degree in human resources earn almost $20,000 a year more than those who only hold a bachelor’s degree.

Workers with a master’s degree in human resources earn almost $20,000 a year more than those who only hold a bachelor’s degree.

Human resources (HR) is a professional field dedicated to ensuring safety, fair treatment, and compensation for employees at work. As an HR professional, you can find work in a wide range of industries, and may be employed by private companies, government agencies, or nonprofit organizations. You are responsible for planning, directing, and managing various administrative functions. Day-to-day duties may include interviewing and hiring job candidates, developing training programs for new employees, and acting as a liaison between workers and management.

Most master’s-level HR programs belong to one of two categories: a master of science (MS), which is focused on technical and career-related subjects; and a master of arts (MA), which incorporates liberal arts studies into the curriculum. The coursework for an MS or MA in human resources will explore in-depth topics like leadership and management, ethics, communication and technology, as well as finance, business law, and other key aspects of the corporate sector. Most master’s programs end in a capstone project, which may take the form of a thesis, a research paper, and/or an internship.

If you want to advance in the competitive field of HR and enjoy higher earning potential, a master’s in human resources online can help get you there. Explore our comprehensive guide below to learn more about what you can do with a master’s degree in the dynamic field of human resources.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that a bachelor’s degree will be sufficient for most human resources job roles, including HR managers, HR specialists, and compensation and benefits managers. By earning a master’s degree in HR, you’ll set yourself apart from other job candidates and increase your standing in the workforce. Additionally, you’ll be eligible for positions that are normally reserved for applicants with an advanced degree, such as upper-level managerial roles.


Web-based coursework offers a convenient alternative to classroom-based learning. Students are able to access course lectures and readings, submit written assignments, take exams, and communicate with their professors any time of day from the comfort of their home computer. Current technology also enables them to study on the go using a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or other device with Wi-Fi capabilities. Most master’s in HR degree programs include optional internships for students who wish to gain some supervised hands-on experience before entering the workforce. Online students can usually work with school officials to arrange internships that are close to their home or current residence.


The field of human resource management is vast and constantly changing due to an expanding global business environment and rapidly evolving technology. As organizations grow and change, well-trained HR professionals will be in high-demand. As a master’s in human resources graduate, you’ll be more than qualified for most entry-level positions, as well as some managerial roles. A degree specialization and internship will boost your standing even further. However, post-degree professional experience may be a prerequisite for some jobs. For example, BLS notes that many HR managers begin their careers as HR specialists or labor specialists, and then advance after a few years of job experience.


The best online HR master’s programs equip you with the interpersonal skills and workplace knowledge you’ll need to not only attain a solid entry-level position, but also launch a successful career in human resources. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online master’s in HR programs across the country. We encourage you to explore the learning outcomes, educational services, specialization and internship opportunities, graduation rates, and other key offerings at all of your target schools — dedicated research will help ensure that you select the best HR master’s program to fit your career goals.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 New York University 73.47 83% New York, NY

NYU, located in the heart of Manhattan, offers several graduate-level programs for distance learners, including an online HR master's degree. The master of science (MS) in human resource management and development prepares students for leadership positions with extensive study of data-driven business theory and strategies for effective team organization and task-tracking. The NYU program allows students to personalize their degrees with specializations in human resource management, organizational effectiveness, global talent management, or learning, development, and executive coaching.

The 30-credit curriculum consists of advanced core classes, an elective, a capstone project, and courses in the concentration area. Online HR students have access to several professional opportunities, including internships with companies like Hewlett-Packard and membership in The Society for Human Resource Management. Financial assistance is available, including the NYU School of Professional Studies Grant, which is rewarded on the basis of financial need. NYU welcomes international and military students, offering specific awards and payment options for these groups.

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2 Nova Southeastern University 69.11 42% Fort Lauderdale, FL

Located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, NSU offers a number of graduate degree programs to distance learners through courses at their several regional campuses or online. Among these degree options is a master of business administration (MBA) with a concentration in human resource management.

Consisting of a 39-credit curriculum, students in this master's in HR online program learn how to balance leadership and task-management skills in order to effectively manage and drive their employees. Graduates leave the program fluent in management theory and conflict resolution, among other important skills. With five start dates annually, students can enter the program when it is convenient for them and graduate in about 21 months if they pursue their degree full time. Nova also offers online students the opportunity to enroll in dual degree programs, earning a law, psychology, or pharmacy doctorate alongside their MBA. Several scholarships are available, including awards specifically for government employees and graduate business students.

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3 Brandman University 67.87 40% Irvine, CA

Brandman designs its distance learning program through the iDEAL (Instructional Design for Engaged Adult Learners) model, ensuring online students get the same level of training and personal attention as their campus peers. Located in Irvine, California, Brandman offers an MBA in human resources. Students learn to manage training and development programs and to understand the connections between individual performance, incentives, and performance appraisals.

The curriculum for this online master's in human resources program ranges from 36 to 48 credits, depending on how many of the core requirements a student gets waved through prior college-level classes or work experience. Admissions requirements include a combination of portfolio credentials and cumulative GPA, though students can bypass these criteria if they have earned another master's degree at any regionally accredited institution. Tuition is $620 per credit hour and financial aid is available to all students. As one of the most military friendly schools in the West Coast, Brandman offers assistance to personnel and their spouses, including a hefty tuition discount.

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4 Colorado State University-Global Campus 66.93 40% Greenwood Village, CO

Colorado State's Global Campus is facilitated from the school's flagship Greenwood Village location and was the first 100% online state university in the U.S., offering several degree programs including an online master's of human resources management. Students graduate from the program with firm knowledge of ethical decision-making, diverse organizational culture, and much more, preparing them for successful careers in private businesses and public organizations worldwide.

This 36-credit master's degree consists of core classes, a capstone project, and four courses in a specialization area. With choices from accounting and fraud management to criminal justice leadership and healthcare administration, to name a few, students can personalize their degree to their interests and career goals. The school guarantees fixed tuition rates for the duration of a student's time at CSU. Financial assistance is available to all and includes scholarships, federal loans, and employer tuition reimbursement options.

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5 University of St Francis 66.30 56% Joliet, IL

Located in Joliet, Illinois, the University of St. Francis is a Catholic university dedicated to mindful community engagement and providing excellent liberal arts and education and career preparation. Among the school's catalog of degree programs is an MBA with a concentration in human resource management. Unlike other online HR master's programs, the St. Francis curriculum allows students to begin work on their specialization area immediately, enabling them to cultivate tangible skills, experience, and professional relationships relevant to their career upon graduation.

Students may finish the 36 hour of required coursework, which consists of classes in core, competency, and concentration areas, in as little as one year if they choose the accelerated option. St. Francis accepts up to nine transfer credits towards degree completion. Online students have access to a variety of student services and opportunities, including the option to join Delta Mu Delta, an international honors society.

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6 University of Hawaii at Manoa 64.63 56% Honolulu, HI

The University of Hawaii at Manoa is located on the Big Island of Honolulu and offers several fully accredited degree programs to distance learners, including a master of human resource management. The 30-credit curriculum covers advanced topics such as organizational behavior, labor relations, and compensation and benefits, preparing students to enter leadership roles in a wide range of business and professional sectors.

Like other business programs at the University of Hawaii, the MHRM program has a distinct global focus and students are also trained in methods of international negotiations and multicultural employee training. Students can finish this online master's degree in human resources in about 16 months and admissions requirements include a GMAT score and an interview. Applicants with two or more years of full-time work experience in HR or a related field are much more likely to be accepted in this program. Total cost is estimated at $36,000, an overall affordable price for any graduate-level degree program. All forms of financial aid are available to online learners with the exception of tuition waivers.

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7 Webster University 64.57 64% Saint Louis, MO

Located in Saint Louis, Missouri, Webster is a global Tier 1 university that enrolls 17,000 students globally each year. Offered through the College of Business and Technology, Webster offers two options for those seeking a master's in human resources online: the MA in human resources development and the MA in human resources management.

While both programs train students in areas such as employee training and strategies for improved productivity, the development track is geared towards those who want to specialize in creating and implementing HR initiatives, while the management track is for those who want to lead teams towards the effective completion of projects. The curriculum totals 36 credit hours, but students have the option to pursue an MBA instead of an MA, adding an additional 12 hours to their coursework in related courses in areas such as corporate finance and managerial economics. Tuition is priced at $780 per credit hour and financial aid is available, including assistance dedicated to military and transfer students.

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8 University of Denver 62.76 76% Denver, CO

The University of Denver was created in 1864, only a few years after the eponymous Colorado city was founded, and is one of the state's premier private institution of higher learning. The school offers more than 120 graduate and professional programs, many of which can be accessed through a distance learning platform.

DU's online human resources master's degrees stand out among other schools for its specialized program options. The master of science (MS) in strategic human resources program allows students to pick among four concentration areas immediately upon enrollment: HR employment relations, HR management & development, HR operations, and learning and development. All four curricula total 48 credit hours, combining core classes, electives, and courses in the concentration. For example, students in the operations track take courses in analytics and research to predict the outcome of capital investments. Online courses are offered in 10-week terms, allowing students to complete their coursework at their own pace.

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9 Central Michigan University 61.04 57% Mount Pleasant, MI

Located in Mount Pleasant, Central Michigan traces its roots to a teacher's college established in the late nineteenth century. Today CMU is nationally renowned for its degree programs and enrolls over 7,000 distance learners annually. Among the many remote programs is an MBA with a concentration in human resource management. Ranked as one of the top online HR master's programs, CMU's MBA teaches students to effectively manage capital and employee productivity toward the success of their organization's goal.

Coursework totals 36 credit hours and classes range in topic from accounting and data analysis to integrative management and global business sustainability. Tuition is $600 per credit hour and the program is accredited by the HLC as well as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Online learners enjoy a variety of student resources, including Blackboard support, career counseling, and access to a personal "Online Student Ally", who will assist with all aspects of academic life.

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10 University of Houston-Clear Lake 60.18 40% Houston, TX

The University of Houston at Clear Lake is located on scenic parkland and since its inception in 1974 has been dedicated to providing community-oriented learning and career-advancement opportunities for all students. UHCL offers several distance learning programs, including a master's in human resource management online.

Students in this comprehensive MA program gain expertise in areas of international labor markets and strategic recruiting, as well as fundamental business management and decision-making skills. Coursework also covers topics like HR metrics and human behavior in organizations, providing a well-rounded and advanced education. Like their campus peers, distance learners have access to student services and professional development, like internships and getting involved with the Society for Human Resource Management. The 42-credit curriculum consists of a combination of foundational and degree requirements and students may enter the program at three points throughout the year. Tuition is priced per credit hour and dependent on residency status. UHCL provides a number of scholarships, including awards designated specifically to College of Business students.

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11 Troy University 59.62 35% Troy, AL

One of Alabama's premier public institutions of higher education, TROY has been offering distance learning opportunities for over 20 years and is renowned for its online programs. Among the selection of graduate degrees is the MS in human resource management, which fully aligns with SHRM's recommended requirements for HR degree programs.

This online HR master's degree prepares graduates for leadership positions in HR all over the world, teaching them how to use their HR knowledge to help organizations achieve strategic goals. The 10-course curriculum, which can be completed in as little as one year, includes courses in areas such as staffing, training, compensation, organizational change and developmenet, and international HRM. TROY is one of the most affordable online colleges in the state of Alabama; through its military assistance, corporate partnerships, and federal and private financial aid, students can find a variety of ways to fund their education.

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12 Saint Mary's University of Minnesota 58.79 62% Winona, MN

Located in the city of Winona, Saint Mary's is a private, non-profit school offering over 54 degree programs, many of which can be access remotely. Among Saint Mary's catalog of graduate-level degrees is an online master's in human resources, consisting of 39 credit hours that can be completed in about two years. With a curriculum that is aligned with the industry standards set forth by the Society for Human Resource Management, the MHR consists of advanced coursework in areas like talent management and organizational support, ranging from compensation analytics to strategic goal-setting.

Graduates leave the program with a holistic, and more importantly ethical understanding of HR, prepared to become leaders in the field. Online students enjoy much of the same academic and professional services as their campus peers, including advising, library privileges, and for HR students, access to a large database of career-specific articles and tools. Tuition is $610 per credit hour and financial aid is available, including employer reimbursement options and additional assistance for active military and veterans.

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13 Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus 58.74 86% University Park, PA

With its flagship location situated in scenic University Park, Penn State enrolls over 100,000 students annually and is one of the premier institutions for research and graduate-level education in the United States. Through its World Campus initiative, the school offers degree programs to distance learners, including a master's in HR online.

With a curriculum consisting of 33 credit hours, the master of professional studies (MPS) in human resources and employee relations is a comprehensive program that trains students to become experts in the areas of ethical leadership, union organization, employment/labor law, collective bargaining strategies, and much more. Distance learners get access to services like career counseling and tutoring in several areas of writing and mathematics. With a faculty of industry veterans, courses are taught 100% online, though students also have to option to take intensive summer courses on campus to finish their degree more quickly. Furthermore, students have the opportunity to transfer up to 15 credits towards the completion of their degree.

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14 Concordia University-Saint Paul 58.37 47% Saint Paul, MN

Located in St. Paul, Minnesota, Concordia is dedicated to providing career-focused degrees to traditional students as well as working professionals and distance learners. Among Concordia's catalog of graduate degrees is a master's in human resource management online, a program that equips students with strong leadership and strategic thinking skills as well as knowledge in employee recruitment and compensation.

The 36-credit curriculum also consists of courses in business ethics, law, and a research-based capstone project. Distance learners enjoy largely the same institutional services as traditional counterparts, including access to program resources and professional development opportunities. Courses are structured in flexible seven-week sessions and tuition is priced at $475 per credit hour. Financial aid is available and specific accommodations are offered to active military, veterans, and their spouses, which includes tuition discounts and the Military Service Scholarship. Concordia also has a corporate partnership initiative, enabling companies and organizations to enroll their employees in degree programs at the school for a reduced cost, among other reciprocity agreements.

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15 Western Carolina University 57.40 48% Cullowhee, NC

WCU, located in Cullowhee, North Carolina, offers an online master's in human resources. Designed for busy professionals, the MSHR is a 36-credit program that can be completed in two years while maintaining a full-time job. With a cutting-edge curriculum accredited by the Society for Human Resource Management, students take classes grounded in research-based evidence and techniques that impart a global view of HR and a passion for community engagement.

Students take a set number of core classes and have the option to pursue several electives that are concurrent with their interests and goals. To emphasize the importance of civic stewardship, students in this online master's of human resources program participate in pro-bono consulting work for nonprofit organizations as part of their professional development. Tuition is priced per credit hour and based on residency status, with North Carolina residents paying an affordable $286.42 per hour. All online students have access to institutional services like advising, information technology help, and post-graduate job placement assistance through WCU's Career Services Center.

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16 University of Scranton 57.29 83% Scranton, PA

Founded in 1888, the University of Scranton is a Jesuit-identified institution of higher learning based in Pennsylvania. Its mission is a holistic education that prepares students to be engaged citizens and effective professionals in their field. Scranton Online offers several graduate degree programs for distance learners, including an MS in human resources.

Designed for beginners and those experienced in the field, this online master's degree in human resources presents a rigorous 39-credit curriculum that teaches students necessary skills for effective human capital management, from understanding control and fiscal systems to designing and implementing strategic plans, and much more. HR students are encouraged to join the Society for Human Resource Management, thereby gaining access to the organization's networking and professional development opportunities. They also receive personal mentorship and career placement help through Scranton's Business & Leadership Resource Center. Tuition is priced per credit hour and financial aid is available, including loans, scholarships, employer reimbursement options, and tuition deferment for eligible students.

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17 Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion 56.19 70% Marion, IN

Indiana Wesleyan offers over 38 graduate degree programs and enrolls nearly 10,000 nontraditional and distance learners annually. Among the school's catalog is a master's in human resource management online program. Based out of the DeVoe School of Business, the MS-HRM is designed to turn students into experts in the HR field, able to fully realize human potential towards the fulfillment of organizational values and goals.

The 36-credit curriculum consists of coursework in topics like managerial finance, strategic risk management, and international HR labor relations, culminating with a research-based capstone project. With several start dates per year, distance learners can enter the program on their schedule and a personal academic advisor is there to help you with every step of the journey, from application to post-graduation career advice. Financial assistance is offered to all students, including grants, scholarships, employer reimbursement, and veterans benefits for those eligible.

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18 Benedictine University 56.16 53% Lisle, IL

Located in Lisle, Illinois, Benedictine University traces it roots back the order of monks who founded the school in 1887. Today the university offers several distance learning opportunities, including a modified online human resources master's degree. Benedictine is one of the few schools to offer a dual MBA and MS in management and organizational behavior program.

The 26-course curriculum (as opposed to the 39 courses that it would take to complete each degree individually) is flexible, research-based, and grounded in a teaching style modeled after actual business scenarios. Like more traditional HR degrees, students in this program learn theories of organization behavior and strategic planning and management. They also garner more specialized knowledge in global business interdependence, social media marketing, and much more. Online students at Benedictine enjoy much of the same services as their campus peers, including academic counseling, tutoring, and professional development services. Financial assistance is accessible, including a $4,000 scholarship for students in this particular degree program.

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19 Dallas Baptist University 55.85 54% Dallas, TX

Located in the third largest Texas city, Dallas Baptist enrolls over 5,000 students annually and offers 29 master's programs for traditional students and distance learners. Among DBU's catalog of remote programs is a master of arts in management (MAM) degree with the option to concentrate in human resource management, designed to carefully balance theories in talent management and strategic planning with practical skills in recruiting and safety control, among other topics.

The curriculum consists of 24 credit hours of core management classes and 12 hours of HR concentrations. Students may also need to complete prerequisite courses before enrolling in the program proper, though these requirements can be satisfied with undergraduate work. DBU's master's in human resources online program also stands out for its dual degree options, enabling students to pair their MAM with graduate degrees in pastoral studies, education, leadership, and kinesiology. Each degree pair comes with application and graduation requirements specific to that program.

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20 Robert Morris University 55.51 54% Moon Township, PA

Robert Morris University is located in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, near the city of Pittsburg. RMU offers over 35 graduate degree programs and is ranked highly for its distance learning options, including an online master's in human resources. This MS program prepares students to become leaders through study and practical application of HR skills like employee benefits administration, staff motivation and retention, and strategic planning for organizational growth.

Online students at RMU get the one-on-one attention that their campus peers receive, including a dedicated student counselor, a career advisor, and access to other professionals who help you with personal, academic, and professional challenges. Several forms of financial aid is open to online students, including specific opportunities for military and transfer students. RMU also offers a corporate discount program and employees in participating business and organizations receive discounted tuition rates, among other perks.

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21 Concordia University-Wisconsin 54.82 59% Mequon, WI

Concordia University was founded in 1881 and champions accessible education and professional opportunities for students of all backgrounds. The school's online MBA program with a concentration in human resource management offers students an immersive learning experience in areas such as risk management, labor law, and strategies for alternative dispute resolution.

This 39-credit master's in HR online program is among one of the most affordable in the country, with opportunities for financial aid such as the Wisconsin Tuition Grant or the Veterans Educational Assistance. Because Concordia boasts a large population of distance learners or otherwise nontraditional students, the school has an integrated online network of student services, including career assistance, student success advisors, an online writing lab, and subject tutoring through the Smarthinking platform and Learning Resource Center.

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22 University of North Texas 54.64 48% Denton, TX

Located in Denton, the University of North Texas enrolls over 37,000 students annually and offers over 200 degree programs, many of which are accessible to distance learning, including an accelerated MBA in organizational behavior and human resource management. The curriculum is designed to sharpen organizational and leadership skills, so that graduates can best optimize their company's competitive advantage.

Courses in topics like marketing concepts and personnel training are structured in eight-week formats and students may enter the program at any five points during the year, allowing for maximum flexibility and keeping a pace that lets students earn their online master's degree of human resources in as few as 14 months. Financial assistance is available in the form of loans and grants based on merit or need. UNT is a generous benefactor, awarding over $350 million in aid every year.

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23 Fitchburg State University 54.52 51% Fitchburg, MA

Established in 1894 as a normal school by the Massachusetts Legislature, Fitchburg State is now a fully accredited public university that offers over 20 graduate degree programs, including a master's in human resource management online. This MBA pathway is accessible to those with little or no experience in the field, who will be required to take 24 credits in foundational courses, 18 credits in advanced coursework, and 12 credits in the HRM concentration, covering topics like the ethics of labor relations and functions of management policies.

Those who have previous college credits or equivalent work experience can opt out of many, if not all of the foundation requirements and finish their degree in about 17 months. Like their campus colleagues, online students also get access to career counseling, information technology help, and other services through the Office of Student Development. Graduate tuition is $319 per credit hour regardless of residency status, making Fitchburg one of the most affordable online colleges in the U.S.

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24 LeTourneau University 54.27 61% Longview, TX

Located in Longview, Texas, LeTourneau started as a training facility for current employees of founder R.G. LeTourneau's factories. The school has carried that tradition of providing quality education to busy adults to this day, offering several fully online degree programs, including a professional masters of business administration in human resource management. Designed for working professionals looking to gain mid-level management positions, LETU's 36-credit MBA combines the study of theoretical topics like decision analysis and entrepreneurial leadership.

Students move from these general management courses to concentrated work in their HRM concentration, learning skills that allow them to analyze the team dynamics in order to maximize the efficiency of its members, and finish their degree work with a capstone project. Online students also enjoy several forms of student services, including academic advising, tutoring through the Achievement Center, and a personal learning community of three colleagues who stay with them throughout their entire academic journey at LETU.

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25 Utah State University 54.16 50% Logan, UT

Utah State, located in the city of Logan, is a respected public university known internationally for its intellectual leadership and technological research. USU also boasts some of the best remote graduate degree programs in the United States, including an online master's of human resources. Located in the Jon M. Huntsman School of the Business, the MHR program prepares students for jobs in recruitment, leadership, and compensation management through rigorous academic work and real-world projects.

The curriculum totals 33 to 43 credits, depending on a student's previous college work, with most finishing the program in less than two years. All students have access to USU's student services network, which includes eTutoring, academic advising, career services, and software discounts, among other perks. USU has an established database of financial aid opportunities, including scholarships and fellowships specifically for graduate students.

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2 years or less
Program Costs (when available)
$10,000 to $25,000 per year in tuition
Project Management, Recruiting and Staffing, Compensation and Benefits, Training, Organizational Development, Employment Law
No dedicated agency, although many HR master’s degree programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business School Programs (ACBSP)

Job Placement: Master vs Bachelor of Human Resources

In recent years, job growth in the human resources sector has reached a plateau. Most roles — including HR managers, HR specialists, compensation and benefits managers, and training and development managers — are projected to grow by 6-9% between 2014 and 2024. According to BLS, this estimate is on par with the expected growth rate for all occupations.

A recent survey by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce notes that human resources professionals who earn a graduate degree face an unemployment rate of 4.4%; HR professionals with a bachelor’s degree, by comparison, face a 6.6% unemployment rate. This 2.2% differential represents the largest margin in unemployment between graduate and bachelor’s degree-holders among all business professions on the survey. The complete results can be found in the table below.

Occupation Unemployment Rate for Bachelor’s Graduates with Work Experience Unemployment Rate for Graduate Degree-Holders
General Business 4.8% 4.2%
Accounting 4.8% 3.8%
Business Management & Administration 5.4% 4.4%
Marketing & Market Research 6.0% 5.4%
Finance 5.2% 4.6%
Human Resources 6.6% 4.4%

Source: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

The number of graduates with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in HR is one reason behind these different employment rates. Because fewer bachelor’s-holders go on to earn a master’s in HR, candidates with a graduate degree are more attractive to job recruiters and hiring managers.

Earning a Living

In addition to higher employment rates, HR professionals with a master’s degree tend to earn higher annual salaries than their counterparts with bachelor’s degrees. According to BLS, the average bachelor’s degree recipient stands to earn $1,137 per week, while the average master’s-holder pulls in $1,341 on a weekly basis. Using PayScale data, the following table breaks down the pay disparity between bachelor’s and master’s graduates with different HR majors.

Academic Major Average Salary for Entry-Level Employees (Bachelor’s) Average Salary for Entry-Level Employees (Master’s) Entry-level Salary Difference (Bachelor’s v. Master’s) Average Salary for Mid-Career Employees (Bachelor’s) Average Salary for Mid-Career Employees (Master’s) Mid-Career Salary Difference (Bachelor’s v. Master’s)
Human Resources Management $41,400 $49,000 18.4% $66,500 $84,100 26.5%
Human Resources $41,300 $50,400 22.0% $66,400 $82,900 24.8%
Human Resources Development $40,300 $55,100 36.7% $62,200 $79,700 28.1%
Organizational Development $50,200 $57,200 13.9% $79,100 $103,000 30.2%

Source: 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report

As the above table shows, the average HR professional with a master’s degree will outearn his/her bachelor’s-holding colleagues by roughly 22.8% at the entry-level mark and 27.4% at the mid-career mark. Individual earnings in the HR sector will vary by specific job title. Additionally, you can expect your salary to increase incrementally over the course of your career. The following graph reveals the masters in human resources salary estimates for HR positions at four different career benchmarks.

Occupation Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 years) Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)
Human Resources Specialist $43,558 $48,823 $50,903 $55,163
Human Resources Generalist $47,148 $51,917 $53,484 $54,965
Human Resources Manager $51,565 $62,068 $67,345 $69,268
Training Manager $53,982 $64,234 $75,333 $80,855
Training Manager $53,982 $64,234 $75,333 $80,855
Training Specialist $46,972 $52,413 $59,057 $63,469
Compensation and Benefits Manager $61,673 $77,669 $88,025 $94,202

Source: PayScale

Career Opportunities

Based on their specialization, professionals with a master’s degree in human resources may pursue roles in a number of different areas of HR. The following job titles are some of the most common career pathways for graduates of master’s-level HR programs.

Compensation and Benefits Managers: Compensation and benefits managers are responsible for coordinating, monitoring, and evaluating how much employees are paid. They also oversee 401K and other retirement plans, health insurance coverage, commuter subsidies, and other employee benefits offered by their organization.
Human Resources Specialists: HR specialists are primarily responsible for evaluating and hiring new employees. They often handle recruitment procedures, applicant screenings, interviews, and reference checks, as well as hiring and orientation of chosen candidates.
Human Resources Managers: HR managers work with top organizational leaders to develop effective recruiting, screening, and hiring practices. They often represent the middle ground between employees and their managers, and may serve as intermediaries when conflicts or workplace issues arise.
Training and Development Managers: Training and development managers often handle two key organizational responsibilities: the hiring and training of new job candidates, and the continued education of current employees. They typically work with organizational leaders to develop, deliver, and evaluate different training and development programs.

The following table features the median annual earnings and expected job growth for these four occupations.

Job Title Median Annual Salary Projected Job Growth (2014-24)
Compensation and Benefits Managers $111,430 6%
Human Resources Specialists $58,350 5%
Human Resources Managers $104,440 9%
Training and Development Managers $102,640 7%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning about different approaches is crucial to your success in the field of HR. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you’ll find three of the country’s most prominent organizations established for professional educators. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates. Resources like these often prove invaluable as you complete your degree requirements and prepare to enter the job market.

  • Society for Human Resource Management: Considered the world’s largest HR-oriented professional organization, the SHRM boasts 285,000 members in 165 different countries. The website features a vast online resource library, as well as links to continuing education opportunities and an events calendar.
  • National Human Resources Association: Founded in 1951, the NHRA seeks to assist aspiring HR employees through networking events, job training, and continuing education. Individual, corporate, and student memberships are all available.
  • Academy of Human Resources Development: This international organization seeks to address problems and issues in HR using academic research. AHRD’s monthly online journal, AHRD Digest, features a publication archive that dates back to 2006.

Despite the relative affordability of online master’s in human resources programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.


Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.


Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.


Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.


Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We’ve curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.


Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.


Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.

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Our page dedicated to resources for business students includes links to professional organizations, open courseware, industry publications, books, and business-minded users to follow on Twitter.


Our career page for business degree graduates includes a state-by-state breakdown of business careers and academic options for business students, as well as popular job sites, professional organizations, and continuing education opportunities for established professionals.

Rankings Archive

Best Online Master's in Human Resources Programs of 2016
Rank School Location
1 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL
2 Webster University Saint Louis, MO
3 Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA
4 New York University New York, NY
5 Villanova University Villanova, PA
6 Colorado State University - Global Campus Greenwood Village, CO
7 Concordia University - Saint Paul Saint Paul, MN
8 Brandman University Irvine, CA
9 Tiffin University Tiffin, OH
10 Golden Gate University San Francisco, CA
11 Stony Brook University Stony Brook, NY
12 Benedictine University Lisle, IL
13 Western Carolina University Cullowhee, NC
14 Central Michigan University Mount Pleasant, MI
15 Eastern Michigan University MI
16 Wilmington University New Castle, DE
17 Upper Iowa University Fayette, IA
18 University of Houston - Clear Lake Houston, TX
19 Robert Morris University Moon Township, PA
20 University of St. Francis - Joliet Joliet, IL
21 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
22 Florida Institute of Technology Melbourne, FL
23 Catholic University of America Washington, DC
24 University of Colorado - Denver Denver, CO
25 Clemson University Clemson, SC