Best Online Master’s in Human Resources Programs of 2022
Our higher education experts have ranked the best online master's in human resources programs. Read on to learn more about the best programs, career options for graduates, and what to expect in terms of salary.
Prospective students interested in an online master's in human resources may already work in the human resource or business field, while others may want to begin a new human resources career. Regardless of a learner's career experience, a master's in HR prepares graduates for leadership human resources roles within organizations both large and small.
HR professionals tend to be excellent communicators who are skilled in conflict resolution and thrive when working closely with people.
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Whether a student wants to augment their resume or increase their earning potential, a human resources master's degree provides specialized skills. It may be especially appealing to learners interested in managerial roles. In addition to expanding job options, online programs offer working professionals the flexibility they need to juggle academic, professional, and personal obligations.
Read on to learn more about online master's in human resources programs and compare offerings between our sponsored human resources programs.
What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Human Resources Program?
Online master's in human resources programs offer the flexibility that many working professionals need to navigate personal, academic, and professional obligations. Graduate students can typically complete the required 30-40 credits in around two years, although some programs offer accelerated tracks that only take a year.
Coursework varies depending on the specific program, but some HR master's programs offer concentrations in recruiting and staffing, compensation and benefits, and employment law. MBA and finance master's programs also offer concentrations in human resources.
Human resources experts tend to be effective communicators. While writing training manuals, giving presentations, and interviewing future employees, HR professionals rely on strong writing and speaking skills. Additionally, human resources professionals often display strong conflict resolution skills and help resolve many of the issues that employees experience on the job.
"As an HR professional, you have to wear many hats. You're an advocate of the workforce and an advisor to the company. In this field you have to be able to build relationships and gain trust on every level of the organization," says Eryn Gregory, an SHRM-CP HR business partner with an MBA in human resource management.
"Conflict resolution is also a big one, as oftentimes you find yourself playing the role of a counselor/coach very often. HR professionals are also leaders in their company, and tend to work very closely with other leaders from every department."
Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Human Resources Program?
Courses offered during an online human resources master's program vary depending on the school. However, most programs cover similar core topics. Read on to learn more about common courses in human resources master's programs.
Human Resources Strategy
This course explores the essential role HR managers play in an organizational structure. Students develop an understanding of human potential along with human and social capital. Coursework analyzes the complex nature of HR decisions and how they affect productivity within an organization.
Organizational Culture and Employee Outcomes
Preparing learners to create and manage organizations where people perform their best, this course examines the factors that influence the development of human and social capital. Students look at the impact of leadership on organizational culture, develop tools to create staff trust, and build a toolkit to implement HR best practices.
Leadership in Human Resources
This course encourages learners to develop the critical social intelligence skills required to lead people within an organization. Students assess the skills and behaviors of effective leaders, build the skills needed to lead change and overcome resistance from staff, and construct strategic plans for leadership development through assessments and simulations.
Through an exploration of talent management methods that impact employee experiences, students learn to develop and coach employees, improve HR approaches through data-driven resources, and create a talent pipeline to help reach organizational goals. Students also explore how organizations identify potential leaders while creating a succession pipeline.
Human Resources Information Systems
This course focuses on the different systems at play within workplaces and human resources management systems. Through an evaluation of leading HR performance tools, students examine the value of cloud-based tools and how human resources has evolved into a technology-based profession.
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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Human Resources Program?
Admission requirements for online master's in human resources programs vary by institution, but typically include similar components across institutions. Online and campus-based requirements typically mirror one another, though online programs may have some additional technical requirements.
Some schools require learners to possess an undergraduate business or related degree to meet prerequisite requirements, so review individual application components carefully. Particularly competitive programs may also require an interview. We look at common components below.
The application typically serves as the first step in the admission process and requires learners to provide basic demographic information such as their full name, address, date of birth, and citizenship status. Most schools allow students to submit online college applications these days as opposed to paper versions.
Some online master's in human resources programs may require applicants to provide GRE or GMAT scores, though some institutions have dispensed with this requirement in recent years.
Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendation can help admissions professionals see a different side of the candidate. Schools typically request letters of recommendation from previous or current professors, supervisors, internship managers, or other individuals who can speak to a student's preparedness for graduate study.
Resume and Work Experience
Some online master's in human resources programs require learners to possess relevant professional experience prior to enrolling. Students should prepare a resume outlining their work experience along with a cover letter, if requested.
Essays offer the opportunity for prospective learners to talk about how previous personal, academic, and professional experiences have shaped them and what they can bring to the program. Some schools provide essay prompts, while others ask students to write a personal statement or narrative that best conveys their motivations and aspirations.
Official transcripts both provide information on whether the student has met all prerequisite course and GPA requirements. In the case of learners transferring from one master's in human resources program to another, transcripts can help your new program determine which existing credits will transfer.
What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Human Resources Degree?
Career Outlook: Is a Master's in Human Resources Worth It?
Students who earn an online master's in human resources develop specialized HR skills, preparing them to pursue advanced leadership positions. Common titles include HR manager, information systems manager, and compensation and benefits manager. From 2020-2030, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 9% job growth for human resources managers.
"HR is going to be needed now more than ever," says Gregory. "We've gone a long way from being seen as admin tasks. Every company is going to need an HR advisor sitting at the table with its leaders. Especially as industries grow to focus on important matters like diversity and inclusion, adjusting to trends like remote working and being more competitive with benefits and employee wellness programs.
"I predict more companies focusing on initiatives like these and building out their HR teams with professionals who specialize in areas that are key to their strategic vision."
While many human resources careers only require candidates to have a bachelor's degree, human resources leadership roles often benefit from the additional training and expertise gleaned from a master's in human resources program.
Learn more about human resources careers, and see where a master's in human resources can take you.
Career Paths: What Can You Do with a Master's in Human Resources?
1. Human Resources Specialist
Human resources specialists work within organizations to recruit, interview, and place new hires. Working closely with management, these HR professionals identify employment needs, conduct applicant interviews, and communicate with applicants regarding job details, benefits, and responsibilities. These professionals also maintain employment records and process paperwork.
Median Annual Salary: $63,490
2. Compensation and Benefits Manager
Compensation and benefits managers plan and develop payment programs for employees while also setting pay and benefits structures. These HR professionals closely monitor competitive wage rates, modify compensation plans, and communicate with benefits vendors, insurance companies, and investment managers. Benefits managers also prepare budgets while ensuring that benefits plans adhere to federal and state regulations.
Median Annual Salary: $125,130
3. Human Resources Manager
Human resources managers plan and direct administrative functions. These HR professionals assess the best use of employee talent, plan and oversee benefits programs, and manage recruitment and the hiring process as a whole. HR managers also advise on a wide variety of human resources issues, including sexual harassment and equal employment opportunity.
Median Annual Salary: $121,220
4. Labor Relations Specialist
Labor relations specialists evaluate labor contracts and consider issues like wages, healthcare, and pensions. These professionals work closely with management to assess worker grievances and disciplinary measures, mediate meetings between management and labor, and meet with union representatives. Labor specialists also investigate labor complaints and create training procedures for labor relations.
Median Annual Salary: $73,240
5. Training and Development Specialists
Training and development specialists create and oversee employee training programs to improve skills, knowledge, and productivity. These HR professionals create metrics to assess an organization's training needs while interviewing employees and managers. Also responsible for creating training manuals and online learning modules, these HR professionals monitor training costs, schedule employee classes, and evaluate the efficacy of training programs.
Median Annual Salary: $115,640
Human Resources Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.
Continuing Education After Your HR Master's
After completing an online master's in human resources program, some students may decide they want to work towards additional education. These professionals can select from two routes: a Ph.D. or a DBA (doctor of business administration). The Ph.D. focuses more on building skills needed for academic and/or research positions, while the DBA focuses more on the business skills required for top business management positions.
Learners can also choose from a wide variety of professional certifications offered by organizations such as the Society for Human Resource Management.
How Do I Choose an Online Master's in Human Resources Program?
CollegeBoard found that public schools charged an average of $8,950 for master's degrees during the 2020-2021 academic year, while private institutions averaged $29,670 for the same timeframe. In general, attending a public university as a resident student will result in the lowest tuition rates, but learners should make sure they understand true program costs. They should also consider differences between online and campus-based programs.
Online master's in human resources programs often offer either asynchronous or synchronous learning options. Students seeking more flexibility typically opt for the asynchronous format. In terms of timelines, students can often pick either a part-time or full-time schedule. Some schools also provide accelerated degrees for motivated learners.
If an online master's in human resources requires any in-person components, students should probably choose a program reasonably close to their place of residence. If they find a fully online option, learners have the freedom to select a school thousands of miles away. Degree-seekers should make sure they understand the requirements of online vs. campus-based study before enrolling.
Making sure that you select an accredited program is one of the most important steps a prospective learner can take. Students should look for universities that hold regional accreditation at the institutional level. Some MBAs with human resources concentrations may also hold programmatic accreditation.
Student support services can make the difference between a good and great graduate school experience. The best programs connect students with industry mentors and offer opportunities to take on dynamic internships. Learners should fully understand what student services entail and where to find these as an online degree-seeker.
2022 Best Accredited Online Master's in Human Resources Programs
Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team
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