Best Online Associate in Human Resources Programs of 2021

portrait of Tessa Cooper
by Tessa Cooper
Published on November 17, 2021

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Organizations across the world rely on human resources (HR) professionals. These workers strive to create an environment where anyone can succeed. They oversee diversity training and foster equality in the workplace. They also ensure employees feel safe and valued. Active listeners and problem-solvers often succeed in this important business role.

Earning an associate in human resources can serve as the first step to becoming a human resources professional. This degree takes about two years to complete and opens many opportunities. While taking classes, learners can also connect with other aspiring professionals and begin building a network.

Busy people who want to maintain a job during their studies can consider earning an associate degree online. Depending on their situation, online students can save money on commuting costs and living expenses. In this guide, we talk about the benefits of earning this virtual degree. We also discuss common courses and careers in this field.

What Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Human Resources Program?

During their studies, learners hone their interpersonal communication and technical skills. Classes cover topics like labor laws and best practices for hiring and termination. Program participants also discover how to create a strategic recruitment plan. Additionally, they learn how to help an organization attract the best talent.

An associate in human resources program typically focuses more on practical applications instead of theories. Students learn how to assist human resources managers, rather than lead a team. This degree also provides foundational knowledge that may prepare people to succeed in a bachelor's program. However, a bachelor's degree is not a requirement to work in this field.

Most online courses include a combination of lectures, essays, tests, and discussions. Certain programs may feature an internship component where learners gain hands-on experience. Some internships offer a small stipend or salary, and they may lead to a full-time job offer after graduation. Online learners may complete internships remotely or at a business in their community.

Some students may also be able to choose a concentration. Two common concentrations include employee recruitment and conflict resolution.

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Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Associate in Human Resources Program?

Introduction to Human Resources

Most associate in human resources programs include an introduction course that offers a brief overview of topics that will be detailed in later courses. Some covered topics include training, workplace safety measures, and recruitment. Students also hone strategies for designing HR activities.

Talent Acquisition

This class covers the recruitment and selection process. Students learn about external recruitment systems and how to attract the best talent. Upon completion, aspiring HR managers can work to help their company create a competitive hiring edge.

Labor Laws

A labor law course outlines topics like equal employment requirements and compensation rules. Learners may study Supreme Court cases that relate to current labor laws. Class participants practice creating policies that comply with federal and state laws.

Conflict Resolution

Human resources managers must mediate conflicts among employees and coordinate negotiations. A conflict resolution course prepares students for these tasks. This class also teaches students how to collaborate with labor organizations like unions.

Compensation and Benefits

Future HR professionals discover how to coordinate equitable salary offers and benefits packages. Coursework covers common benefits like retirement matching and insurance plans.

What Are Admission Requirements for an Online Associate in Human Resources Program?

Schools set their own admission requirements. When applying as first-year students, individuals must usually submit their official high school transcripts and test scores. Competitive schools may set minimum GPA, SAT, and/or ACT requirements. However, not all schools require test scores.

In contrast, many community colleges offer an open-enrollment policy. Some learners opt to earn an online associate in human resources at a community college to save money or raise their GPA before applying to a four-year school. This may help them gain admittance to a more competitive bachelor's program.

Applications often require either short essay questions or one larger essay. Additionally, some schools ask applicants to turn in a recommendation letter.

What Can I Do With an Online Associate in Human Resources Degree?

Career Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) offers information on the job outlook for human resources positions, and many of these roles are projected to grow in the coming years. For example, the need for human resources specialists is projected to grow by 10% between 2020 and 2030.

Additionally, the exact job outlook also varies based on location. Small rural communities may have less need for human resources professionals.

It should also be noted that most growing jobs in the field require at least a bachelor's degree. In fact, entry-level positions that only require an associate degree — including office and administrative support occupations — are projected to decline in the next decade. The HR jobs detailed below typically require a bachelor's degree, although workers in some environments may be able to qualify for certain roles with an associate and ample job experience.

Career Paths

Human Resources Managers

These professionals coordinate employee relations and talent recruitment for an entire organization. They work with department managers on human resources issues. HR managers oversee human resources specialists and assistants. Through their leadership, they help ensure a safe and fair working environment. The need for these professionals is projected to grow by 9% between 2020 and 2030, according to the BLS.

Median Annual Salary: $121,220

Human Resources Specialists

Human resources specialists assist human resources managers. They conduct preliminary job screenings to narrow down job candidates. These professionals assist managers with big-picture decisions. They may also conduct research on available benefit plans and recruitment strategies.

Median Annual Salary: $63,490

Administrative Services and Facilities Managers

These workers ensure day-to-day operations run smoothly for a business. They perform duties like overseeing equipment maintenance, keeping records, and stocking supplies. The need for these workers is projected to grow by 9% between 2020 and 2030.

Median Annual Salary: $98,890

Compensation and Benefits Managers

Compensation and benefits managers oversee salary offers and benefits packages for employees. They also coordinate additional job perks, like gym memberships or company cars. The need for these professionals is projected to grow by 4% between 2020 and 2030.

Median Annual Salary: $125,130

Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists

These professionals assist compensation and benefits managers. They often conduct research to help managers make informed decisions on employee benefits. Specialists working in this role help ensure organizations follow federal and state labor laws. The need for this career is projected to increase by 10% between 2020 and 2030, according to the BLS.

Median Annual Salary: $67,190

Human Resources Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Continuing Education

Most top-paying jobs in the human resources field require at least a bachelor's degree. As a result, many students choose to advance their education beyond a two-year degree. Fortunately, associate degree-holders who attended an accredited program can often transfer the bulk of their credits and finish a bachelor's degree in about two additional years.

Alternatively, some professionals may choose to work their way up within a company. Individuals with a strong resume may earn an advanced job without a bachelor's degree.

Professional organizations offer continuing education webinars and informative conferences to help workers hone their skills. For example, the Society for Human Resource Management functions as a top professional organization in this field. Additionally, the HR Certification Institute oversees certifications for this industry.

How Do I Choose an Online Associate in Human Resources Program?

Cost

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) conducts research on the average cost of college. NCES found that students at two-year schools spent an average of about $12,000 on tuition, fees, room, and board during the 2019-20 school year. However, students can seek out financial aid packages to decrease out-of-pocket expenses. Contact schools directly to compare tuition costs.

Program Format

Program formats vary, and some cater to specific learning styles. Coursework may follow a synchronous or asynchronous format. Students in synchronous programs attend live virtual classes and discuss topics in real time. Asynchronous programs often include pre-recorded lectures and open-ended discussion boards. Learners who want to continue to work while enrolled in school should consider a part-time program. Alternatively, an accelerated program allows learners to graduate quickly but requires full-time devotion.

Location

Even online learners should consider a school's location when selecting a program. Professors often connect students with local businesses for projects, and these connections may lead to job offers. Additionally, some online programs may include occasional in-person requirements, such as orientations or proctored exams. Learners who want a blend of in-person and online classes can pick a hybrid program.

Accreditation

Before enrolling, ensure your target school holds appropriate accreditation. Schools with accreditation receive quality assessments from a third-party agency. The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation select and oversee these agencies. To check a school's accreditation status, you can use this database. Programs can also earn specialized accreditation — the Society for Human Resource Management works as the leading accrediting agency for this field.

Student Support

Schools offer varying levels of student support. For example, certain institutions provide a free tutoring center, while other schools may offer a counseling center. Getting the most out of campus resources may require campus visits. As a result, virtual learners who want access to a library may choose to enroll in an online program hosted by a nearby college. When researching schools, students should also pay attention to virtual student support. Additionally, schools that offer active alumni networks and internship programs can help graduates get ahead.

2021 Best Accredited Online Associate in Human Resources Programs

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Minnesota State Community and Technical College true View School Profile Fergus Falls, MN

M State offers two online associate in human resources programs: an associate of science and an associate of applied science. Students can complete all courses online or take some courses at M State's Moorhead campus. Both programs require all students to complete a human resources internship in the field.

Applicants must submit proof of a high school or GED diploma. Students with previous college credits can submit transcripts for possible transfer credit.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost-per-Credit: $199/credit
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 60 credits
  • Instruction Style: N/A
  • Format: Online, hybrid, on campus
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Lakeshore Technical College true View School Profile Cleveland, WI

Based in Cleveland, Wisconsin, LTC offers an associate in human resources administration program that students can attend online or on campus. They can also take accelerated courses. Assessments and lectures are the same no matter the delivery method.

Prospective students must submit proof of a high school or GED diploma and complete an online student success questionnaire. Once accepted, they must meet with a program counselor to talk over the questionnaire and plan out their first semester.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost-per-Credit: $141/credit in-state; $212/credit out-of-state
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 60 credits
  • Instruction Style: N/A
  • Format: Online, hybrid, on campus
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Chippewa Valley Technical College true View School Profile Eau Claire, WI

Located in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, CVTC offers an online associate in human resources program that allows incoming students to start in January or August. The program uses the MyChoice delivery method, which allows students to adjust whether they attend courses online or on campus week to week.

The school reports that its recent program graduates earn an average starting salary of around $40,570. Prospective students must submit proof of a high school or GED diploma.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost-per-Credit: $141/credit in-state and Minnesota; $212/credit out-of-state
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 60 credits
  • Instruction Style: N/A
  • Format: Online or hybrid
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Herkimer County Community College true View School Profile Herkimer, NY

Herkimer's online associate of applied science in human resource management program maintains transfer agreements with four-year programs at Bellevue University and SUNY Buffalo State. Relevant courses in the 63-credit curriculum include organizational behavior, business ethics, and performance evaluation.

All prospective students need a GED or high school diploma. Students can complete the program without ever needing to visit campus in Herkimer, New York.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost-per-Credit: $2,558/semester in-state; $4,000/semester out-of-state
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 63 credits
  • Instruction Style: N/A
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College true View School Profile Green Bay, WI

Located in Green Bay, NWTC provides an online associate in human resources program that offers increased flexibility through eight-week class sessions. Notable courses in the program include human resources organizational metrics, labor relations and negotiations, and compensation and benefits administration. All students must also complete a career experience in the field.

Applicants must possess a GED or high school diploma. Admissions advisors are available to assist all prospective students.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost-per-Credit: $158/credit in-state and Minnesota; $163/credit Bay de Noc and Gogebic County, Michigan; $228/credit out-of-state
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 63 credits
  • Instruction style: N/A
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Colorado Christian University View School Profile Lakewood, CO

A Christian school located in Lakewood, CCU offers an online associate in human resources program that allows students to graduate in under two years thanks to five-week courses. Incoming students can bring up to 45 transfer credits with them when they enroll. Transfer students can also take exams or submit portfolios to earn prior learning credit. Major courses include foundations of business law, leadership and management, and organizational behavior.

Prospective students must submit proof of a high school or GED diploma.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost-per-Credit: $469/credit
  • Program Length: Under two years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 60 credits
  • Instruction Style: N/A
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Private
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Cuyahoga Community College View School Profile Cleveland, OH

Based in Cleveland, Ohio, Tri-C offers an associate of applied business in business management degree with a concentration in human resources management. The program includes coursework in human resources law and applications, business law, and workers' compensation law. All students must also complete a capstone course in advanced human resources practices.

Students take 76% of the program through online coursework, completing remaining requires on campus in Cleveland. Applicants must submit a high school or GED diploma.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost-per-Credit: $120/credit in-county; $149/credit in-state; $286/credit out-of-state
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 60-61 credits
  • Instruction Style: Asynchronous, synchronous
  • Format: Hybrid
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Concordia University Wisconsin View School Profile Mequon, WI

A Christian school based in Mequon, CUW offers an online associate in human resources program that requires core courses in science and humanities, western culture and worldview, and biblical theology. The program culminates in an integrative human resources management project in which students plan and evaluate an HR initiative.

Applicants must submit a high school or GED diploma if they have fewer than 60 college credits. CUW requires a minimum 2.0 GPA in all prior coursework.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost-per-Credit: $540/credit
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 64 credits
  • Instruction Style: Asynchronous
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Private
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
South Texas College View School Profile McAllen, TX

Operating out of McAllen, South Texas College's online associate in human resources program includes courses in benefits and compensation, principles of financial accounting, employee relations, and organizational behaviors. All students also complete a relevant internship in human resources management during their final semester in the program.

Applicants must submit all prior transcripts.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost-per-Credit: $77/credit in-district; $87/credit in-state; $200/credit out-of-state
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 60 credits
  • Instruction Style: N/A
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Lehigh Carbon Community College View School Profile Schnecksville, PA

LCCC's associate in human resource management program allows distance learners to graduate without ever visiting campus in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania. The program's 61-credit curriculum delves into topics like human resources law, compensation and benefits, payroll administration, and labor relations.

The program maintains transfer agreements with Bloomsburg University, Muhlenberg College, and Upper Iowa University. Prospective students must complete an application, submit proof of a high school or GED diploma and their transcripts, and complete a placement test.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost-per-Credit: $122/credit in-district; $183/credit Schuylkill County; $244/credit in-state; $366/credit out-of-state
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 61 credits
  • Instruction Style: N/A
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Human Resources Programs

Is an associate degree in human resources worth it? true

Many students find an associate degree worth the effort. For starters, associate degree-holders typically earn more money than workers with just a high school diploma. NCES reported in 2019 that workers ages 25-34 with just a high school degree earned a median income of $35,000. During the same period, associate degree-holders earned a median income of $40,000.

Associate degree-holders may advance their education further. Advanced positions in the HR field typically require at least a bachelor's degree. These positions also tend to pay more than entry-level jobs. For example, human resources specialists earn a median income of $63,490, while human resources managers earn a median income of $121,220.

How fast can I get an associate in human resources degree online? true

An associate in human resources takes most full-time learners about two years to finish. Accelerated programs may only take 12-18 months to finish. However, the exact length of time varies depending on a few factors.

For example, part-time students take longer to graduate. Students who enroll in college courses while still in high school can also graduate faster, as can learners who pass placement tests to waive certain prerequisite courses. At some schools, learners may get permission to take a larger course load per term to finish faster.

Is an online associate degree in human resources credible? true

An online associate in human resources is credible if it is offered by an accredited institution. Schools may earn regional or national accreditation. Generally, employers view regionally accredited schools as more prestigious.

If your school is not appropriately accredited, you may have trouble transferring credits or qualifying for certain types of financial aid. And always avoid schools that advertise unrealistic promises. Additionally, applicants should read course descriptions to ensure the program covers information related to their target career. Aspiring students can also research professors' credentials, as well.

How much money can I make with an associate in human resources?

According to the BLS, human resources specialists earn a median income of $63,490. Human resources managers earn an even higher salary with a median income of $121,220. However, these positions typically require a bachelor's degree and some experience.

With just an associate in human resources, students may pursue some entry-level positions. The BLS reports office assistants earn a median income of $38,720. However, a worker's exact salary varies based on a few factors. For example, geographical location can have a significant impact on salary.

Is an associate degree in human resources in demand?

The need for many human resources professionals should continue to rise. The BLS projects the need for human resources managers and human resources specialists to increase by 9% and 10%, respectively, between 2020 and 2030.

However, the BLS projects the need for office assistants to decline by 3% between 2020 and 2030. This means learners should consider advancing their education beyond an associate degree. HR managers and specialists need at least a bachelor's degree.

Consider researching local job postings for human resources professionals. This can give you an idea of the job availability in your area.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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