An online master's degree in training and development equips graduates with the communication and leadership skills needed to work for the human resource and corporate education arms of various industries. Training and development specialists assess a company's goals and current performance to create training programs that improve employee competence and effectiveness. Programs vary in length depending on proposed outcomes, and they may occur in a classroom setting or in a hands-on work environment. However, they usually emphasize collaboration, team building, and the integration of technology as part of daily best practices.

What are the best training and development programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

Rank School Location
1 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
2 Villanova University Villanova, PA
3 Clemson University Clemson, SC
4 Cairn University Langhorne, PA
5 Webster University Saint Louis, MO
6 Louisiana State University Baton Rouge, LA
7 Western Carolina University Cullowhee, NC
8 Lewis University Romeoville, IL
9 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
10 University of Louisville Louisville, KY

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics cites expansion in training and development field with 11% and 10% job growth rates for specialist and management positions respectively between 2016 and 2026. In addition to careers in private businesses and corporations, professionals may pursue careers in school settings as teachers, counselors, and curriculum designers. Using the academic and career information found in this guide, you can find the online training and development master's degree program that works best for you.

What Are The Best Online Master's in Training and Development Programs?

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 92%

The University of Southern California offers an online master of science in human resource management to prepare human resource professionals for careers in a global context. This program emphasizes concepts such as talent acquisition and retention, organizational culture, performance management, and employee relations.

This online master's in human resource management degree requires 24 credits and can be completed in 1-2 years. Core courses include human resource strategy, organizational culture and employee outcomes, organization design, and talent management.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. As a part of the application process, students should submit their transcripts, resume, statement of purpose, and 2-3 recommendation letters. USC is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

2

Villanova University

Villanova, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 91%

Villanova University offers an online master of science in human resource development that mirrors the curriculum of its on-campus degree. Designed for working professionals, this program is suitable for anyone looking to begin or advance their career in human resources.

This 36-credit degree can be completed in two years. Core courses include financial and human capital, HR analytics, training and development, and employment law. Military students are eligible to receive a 10% discount on tuition.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and have earned a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students who do not meet this GPA requirement may supplement their application by submitting GRE scores and other materials to provide evidence of their ability to succeed in graduate school. Villanova is regionally accredited by the Middle States Association Commission on Higher Education.

3

Clemson University

Clemson, SC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 83%

Clemson University's online master's in human resource development prepares graduates to improve human and organizational performance. Students may also complete an optional emphasis in athletic leadership as a part of their program.

Students can earn this 36-credit degree in two years. Core courses include human performance improvement, instructional systems design, consulting for education and industry, and organizational performance improvement. The optional athletic leadership emphasis offers courses such as psychological issues in collegiate athletics and ethical issues in collegiate athletic administration.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Clemson University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

4

Cairn University

Langhorne, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 62%

Cairn University offers an online master of science in organizational development that explores leadership principles and organizational behavior. This program is available in a hybrid format; some courses are delivered entirely online, while others are delivered mostly online with occasional Saturday meetings on campus.

This 39-credit master's degree can be completed in 20-24 months. Core courses include foundations of organizational leadership, philosophy of leadership, principles of research, and organizational culture and change. As a Christian university, the curriculum also includes courses in Christian theology.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and a minimum 2.5 GPA. Cairn is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

5

Webster University

Saint Louis, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

Webster University's online master of arts in human resources development prepares graduates for entry-level roles in human resources or to advance in their current HR-related careers. Webster also has a dual-degree program in which students can work toward an MBA and an MA in human resources development simultaneously.

Webster's 36-credit HR development program includes coursework in organizational behavior, training and development, group development and change, and career management. Students advance to candidacy status after they have completed 12 credits of the program with a "B-" or higher.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in a business-related discipline from a regionally accredited institution. Prospective students who do not meet this requirement must complete prerequisite courses, such as management theory and practices, financial accounting, marketing, and a few others. Webster is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

6

Louisiana State University

Baton Rouge, LA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 67%

Louisiana State University's online master of science in leadership and human resource development prepares learners for careers in HR and organizational development. Graduates are eligible for positions such as chief learning officers, human resource directors, HR specialists, and training coordinators.

Students can earn this 36-credit degree in just 12 months. Courses include philosophy of organization science, program evaluation and design, training and development in organizations, and managing change in organizational systems.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and have a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students with a GPA between 2.75 and 2.99 may qualify for probationary admission. Individuals are also required to submit a resume, GRE scores, and letters of recommendation. LSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

7

Western Carolina University

Cullowhee, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 62%

Western Carolina University offers an online master of science in human resources, preparing graduates for leadership roles in the human resource field.

This 36-credit degree takes two years to complete. Core courses include organization acumen for HR leaders, principles and practice in HR, HR research and evaluation methods, and HR consulting.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and competitive GRE scores. They must also submit three letters of recommendation. WCU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

8

Lewis University

Romeoville, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 64%

Lewis University offers an online master of arts in organizational leadership that emphasizes theories of organizational change, behavior, and management. Students can choose from five concentrations, including training and development.

This 36-credit degree can be completed in two years. Students pursuing a master's in training and development complete courses like assessing leadership skills, leading change, conflict management, and psychology of motivation. Students are also required to complete a capstone that includes a detailed case analysis.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and have a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students who do not meet this criteria may qualify for provisional admission; individuals admitted on a provisional basis must complete the first nine credits of the program with a 3.0 GPA or higher to continue. Lewis is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

9

Drexel University

Philadelphia, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 74%

Drexel University's online master of science in human resource development emphasizes training, organizational development, career development, and mentoring.

This degree requires 45-46 quarter credits and can be completed in four 10-week quarters. Courses include leading and evaluating change, coaching and mentoring for sustainable learning, principles of adult learning, and evidence-based evaluation. Students can choose a thesis track, a practitioner track, or a lesson study track. Each of these tracks requires a different capstone experience.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and have a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students who do not meet this GPA requirement may qualify for provisional admission. Applicants with a GPA below 2.75 must also sit for an interview. Drexel is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

10

University of Louisville

Louisville, KY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 57%

The University of Louisville offers an online master of science in human resources and organization development for working professionals, helping them advance their careers in the human resources field. Courses are available entirely online.

This 33-credit master's track includes coursework in strategic human resources, evidence-based research in HR, adult and organizational learning, and organizational analysis. Electives are offered on topics such as ethics in the workplace and performance improvement. Military students qualify for discounted tuition rates.

Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and a minimum 2.5 GPA. GRE scores are not required. Up to six credits of graduate coursework may be transferred into this program from another institution. UofL is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Training & Development Program?

In order to offer accredited master's degree in training and development programs, colleges and universities must adhere to rigorous academic standards, including similar core degree requirements. However, advanced classes and capstone experiences vary greatly between programs, particularly if one specializes in a particular sub-field like curriculum development and educational training. Prospective students should research schools carefully to ensure they find the degree track that best fits their professional goals.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Training & Development

  • The Adult Learner: In this course, students analyze the psychological and sociological theories related to adult learning, with an emphasis on their applications to instructional development and delivery. Topics include diversity in characteristics and backgrounds, motivation, and learning processes among learners in different educational contexts. This class covers topics that provide a foundation for all future training and development specialists.
  • Ethics in Decision Making: Students learn the essential theories behind values-based leadership by analyzing case studies that differentiate difficult choices from genuine ethical dilemmas. The course also focuses on developing a student's ability to communicate effectively and facilitate productive discussions among groups of diverse individuals. All training and development professionals, especially those hoping to work in the business sector, must complete this class.
  • Strategic Workforce Planning: In this class, students use strategic workforce planning (SWP) strategies to support organizational goals through an integrated talent management system. The course covers topics such as SWP models, components, processes, and the implementation and evaluation of successful training programs.
  • Integrating Technology into Training Program: Students in this course learn how to select the appropriate technologies for training scenarios with consideration to specific outcomes, adult learner needs, and organizational and training resources. Additional topics include multimedia platforms, computer-based tools, and performance-relevant training models for distance learning and classroom education. As technological tools become more common in academia, this course will continue to become more valuable.
  • Consultation for Education and Industry: This course prepares students to work in training and development firms or as freelance consultants. Topics include client situational assessment, the dynamics of professional relationships, and evaluation of consultation programs. The course also emphasizes general theories of human resource development for both internal and external practices.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master's in Training & Development?

Similar to other graduate business programs, online master's degrees in training and development usually include 30 to 36 credits of coursework. Students usually graduate within two years, though this may change depending upon the structure of a particular program. For example, while most distance education programs rely on asynchronous coursework, some schools require synchronous classes to foster relationships between students and faculty. Likewise, some institutions eschew individually-paced study for a cohort learning style that requires students to progress through the program concurrently with a small group of classmates. This means students usually complete one course at a time, which can be an attractive option for part-time students and other adult learners who want to continue to work while they earn their degree. Since graduate programs usually contain practicums and capstones, prospective students should also try to find a school that allows them to fulfill these requirements near their home or with their current employer.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Training & Development Prepares For

  • Society for Human Resource Management Certifications: As the leading professional organization for training and development specialists, SHRM offers standard and senior professional certifications. Both exams test candidates in eight behavioral competencies and 15 human resource knowledge areas. Test structure consists of multiple-choice questions and a four-hour exam period. SHRM-certified professionals need to recertify every three years.
  • Human Resource Certification Institute Certifications: HRCI offers eight certificates for training and development specialists. Candidates pick from exams based on geographic categories and degree levels. HRCI exams consist of multiple-choice, fill in the blank, drag and drop, and scenario response questions. Fees range from $400 to $595 and candidates can take the exam at locations all over the world.

Accreditation for Online Master's in Training & Development Degrees

To secure national and regional accreditation for their master's degree in training and development programs, schools must align with designated institutional goals and academic outcomes. National accreditation refers to official recognition from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Colleges and universities earn regional accreditation from one of six organizations, depending on their location, in exchange for meeting state educational standards. For example, an institution of higher education in Texas receives regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Some professional certification programs only recognize degrees regionally-accredited schools. Online training and development master's programs may also enjoy field-specific accreditation from organizations like the Society for Human Resource Management and the Human Resource Certification Institute.

ED and CHEA bestow national accreditation and indirectly support regional accreditation through partner organizations. Functioning as a government agency, ED maintains federal academic regulations by rewarding cooperating schools with financial incentives, like student grants and loans. CHEA boasts more than 3,000 member institutions and stands as the premier private nonprofit academic organization in the U.S. The organization advocates for its members through research and policy initiatives. CHEA also enforces standardization among its cohort. For additional information on nationally accredited online master's degree in training and development programs, visit the ED and CHEA websites.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Training & Development Graduates

Master's in Training & Development Salary

The following table uses information from Payscale to detail the salary information of five popular career for professionals who hold training and development master's degrees. In general, pay is commensurate with work experience and rewards skills and relationships cultivated in the field. However, the following data does not account for salary differences caused by location, employer, sub-field, postgraduate education, and optional certification/licensure earned by individual professionals. Additionally, many human resource professionals pursue leadership positions later on in their careers, which usually leads to substantial salary growth.

Job Title Overall Median Salary Entry-Level Employees Mid-Career Employees Late-Career Employees
Career Development Specialist $39,915 $38,315 $40,392 $52,000
Training Coordinator $48,250 $44,788 $49,675 $60,219
Curriculum Developer $59,547 $55,277 $61,659 $74,368
Training & Development Manager $73,498 $61,070 $72,987 $84,252
Human Resource Director $85,603 $60,852 $77,670 $97,912

Master's in Training & Development Careers

Online master's degree in training and development programs prepare graduates to pursue positions as organizational leaders and educators. These professionals enhance the performance of individuals by providing counseling and cooperative training programs designed for the specific structures and goals of their corporate clients. Training and development specialists possess exceptional creative problem solving and analytical skills, as well as the ability to communicate and instruct effectively. While some trainers work as self-employed counselors and contractors, many of those in training and development work in teams for a single consultancy firm or business.

Compensation Specialist

Working in a company's human resources department, compensation specialists oversee employee classification and related benefits, including salary and retirement plans. They also assess an organization's benefit policies to ensure they follow state and federal mandates. Compensation specialists need at least a bachelor's degree, though most obtain a master's and additional industry certification.

Median Annual Salary $62,080
Projected Growth Rate 9%

Human Resource Manager

HR managers oversee a team of professionals who design, coordinate, and implement administrative plans to ensure their company grows while remaining sustainable. These managers also serve as a link between employees and management, handling staff training and assessment. A master's degree, attendant leadership skills, and substantial work experience are required for this career.

Median Annual Salary $106,910
Projected Growth Rate 9%

Training and Development Manager

These professionals manage staff, assess job performance, and create training programs that motivate and enhance employee effectiveness. Training and development managers design every part of a program, from the instructional materials to learner participation strategies. As with most management positions, a master's degree and years of field experience is required.

Median Annual Salary $105,830
Projected Growth Rate 10%

Instructional Coordinator

Working in educational settings, instructional coordinators develop curricula and maintain teaching standards and student outcomes in accordance with government regulations. They also analyze student test data to assess the effectiveness of a school's performance, and recommend changes as necessary. These professionals usually hold a master's degree and possess work experience in teaching, school administration, and other related fields. Some states may require instructional coordinators to become licensed.

Median Annual Salary $65,460
Projected Growth Rate 11%

School and Career Counselor

These training and development specialists work in diverse settings, including schools, community centers, and private corporations. They provide career guidance and help individuals obtain the academic, social, and professional skills needed to pursue their goals. Nearly all states require public school counselors to earn a master's degree and professional certification.

Median Annual Salary $54,560
Projected Growth Rate 13%

Professional Organizations

In addition to pursuing an online training and development master's degree, students and recent graduates should consider participating in a professional organization to gain additional resources and career support. Most organizations require a yearly membership fee in exchange for access to academic scholarships, career resources, research grants, and training and certification opportunities. Professional organizations also facilitate networking events between their members and industry leaders to cultivate shared knowledge and a sense of camaraderie.

American Management Association

Founded in 1913, AMA stands as one of the leading training organizations in the world. The association offers memberships for professionals and students, with access to training programs and specific resources like the Women's Leadership Center.

Association for Talent Development

ATD members live in 120 countries and enjoy a wide variety of training programs and professional development resources, including online and self-paced classes. They can also take advantage of a job board and discounts on conferences.

National Career Development Association

A professional organization for career counselors, the NCDA advocates for industry rights through policy initiatives and educational programming. The association also provides ample training opportunities through webinars, in-person sessions, and professional certifications.

National Council for Workforce Education

NCWE improves job development and basic skills education within institutions of higher education. The council facilitates annual conferences and advocates for student rights at the federal level. Members can access resources like research reports, workshops, and an extensive job board.

Society for Human Resource Management

As one of the largest organizations for HR professionals, SHRM certifies schools and individuals through their accreditation program. Members receive eLearning and training opportunities, as well as career guides and job placement assistance. SHRM also offers student academic support and scholarships.

Financing Your Online Master's in Training & Development Program

While it's important to search for online training and development master's degree programs that match your interests and career goals, you should also prioritize price and financial aid opportunities when looking at prospective schools. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step to accessing numerous loans, scholarships, grants, and work-study awards. Beyond federal and state funding, look for scholarships through community and professional organizations, like the Susan R. Meisinger Fellowship for Graduate Study in Human Resource or this award from the Northeast Human Resource Association.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

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UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

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 STUDENTS

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.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

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.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

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.