Milestone Map for HR Professionals
Building a career in human resources involves a series of steps that often begins as early as high school. Here’s how certain key experiences laid the foundation for successful advancement for this vice president of human resources.
Elected student body president senior year
Studies business admin, serves as student representative at university recruitment fairs
Works at student employment office, helping place students in appropriate
Enters the Workforce
Takes job at supermarket chain and helps institute benefits packages for part-time employees
Back to School
Uses employer-sponsored program to complete online MBA in human resources
Leverages advanced education into specialized job as director of employee benefits
Human Resources MBA: A Look at the Online Process
Upon enrolling in an online program for an MBA in human resources, full-time students work to improve their leadership abilities and develop expertise in the operational areas of business. Online programs in this area of study offer students a flexible – and potentially more affordable – education while also granting a credible degree equivalent to that of a campus-based program.
Online MBAs in HR can be helpful in more intangible ways as well; an electronically-centered education demands initiative and self-reliance. Students develop independence, resourcefulness and decision-making skills—all of which translate well to HR leadership roles.
Online programs often require very little in-person collaboration, if any. However, educational technologies such as tutoring sites and live chat services help forge relationships between remote students and their teachers. Assignments, quizzes and discussion responses are often submitted through a learning management system (LMS) website, issued back to students with a grade percentage and, in some cases, a response from the instructor.
Some programs incorporate on-site internships and residencies. The selected program may label them a requisite or may simply encourage them.
Types of Human Resources MBAs Available Online
Online MBA programs in human resources (HR) are often separated into several categories to better fit the diverse needs of students who enroll. Popular examples include:
- Executive (2 years)
- Part-time (3-5 years)
- Full-time (18 months to 2 years)
Designed for human resources professionals with previous career experience, the EMBA enhances skills in hiring, training and employee relations.
Part-time studies naturally take longer to complete, but still provide the knowledge and skills for management and administration jobs in human resources. Work is largely completed independently and submitted online, and there are few, if any, requirements for in-person meetings.
Programs are geared to students who want to fully immerse themselves in the process of earning a degree. Students should graduate with a thorough understanding of the human resources field, including fundamental principles and strategies used in managerial roles.
Online MBA Curriculum: HR Course Examples
MBA programs include both core requirements as well as courses related directly to a student’s focus. Students specializing in human resources will often enroll in courses such as:
Managing Human Resources:
Students learn to organize and manage human resource systems; strategies include developing leadership capabilities and improving communications with customers to improve managerial efficiency.
Explores the process of hiring and retaining individuals who best complement a particular organization. This course covers topics such as collective bargaining, the handling of contracts, and the effective use of mediation and arbitration.
Financial Accounting Report Analysis
Focuses on the significance of keeping thorough, accurate financial records. Students gain an understanding of accounting principles, ratio analysis, and maintaining the integrity of financial information.
Business Decision Making
Concentrates on the factors that influence financial and economic decisions. Students focus on understanding quantitative and qualitative data, the central limit theorem, correlation analysis and more, all with an eye to developing effective commercial solutions.
Ethical and Social Responsibility
This course emphasizes the importance of promoting social and cultural diversity within a company or organization. Students learn to recognize and appreciate a wide array of ethics and values and their impact in a global environment.
Picking the Best School for a Human Resources MBA
Before making a final decision, ensure that a program can provide the necessary support. Whether it be technical support, tutoring, or academic or career advising, some features of higher education are critical to student success; be clear on what each program’s support system entails.
- Research the different types of online MBA programs that offer a focus in human resources. Determine which programs best correlate with your personal and professional needs to create a short list of candidates.
- Assess your eligibility for the desired programs. Some programs will require a minimum GPA or GMAT scores. If you do not meet the requirements, consider whether you have time to improve your grades or scores, or if you want to look at other options.
- Understand your financial situation. Knowing what you can and cannot afford will help narrow the list of suitable MBA programs. Also check your eligibility for scholarships, grants or other forms of financial aid.
- As your list gets smaller, begin a background check on your top choices to confirm their accreditation. Forums on the website for the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) can be helpful for gaining insight into credible schools.
A Note on Accreditation for Online MBA Programs
Looking for an accredited online MBA program is vitally important when searching through institutions, as this stamp of approval helps prevent prospective students from blindly enrolling in programs that do not meet minimum standards. Several agencies offer accreditation for online MBA programs, each providing a slightly different perspective on the schools they evaluate. Students would do well to investigate the selection criteria and results from a variety of organizations to get a balanced viewpoint. Detailed information on quality accreditors for business programs like the online MBA in human resources (HR) is available on our central page on MBA programs.
Applying to an Online MBA Program:
Key Steps and Dates
The application process can be intimidating, but breaking it into manageable steps will help reduce stress and keep things on track.
||Time Before Program Start Date
Earn bachelor’s degree
|2 years, 3 years
Get entry-level business job
Take GMAT, if necessary
Apply to desired program(s)
11 months for Round One admissions
8 months for Round Two admissions
Complete FAFSA®, apply for and secure financial aid like grants, loans and scholarships
The responsibilities of human resources professionals run the gamut, from relatively routine management duties to the more delicate aspects of arbitration or mediation in contentious circumstances. To develop such skills, there is no replacement for hands-on experience, and online MBA in human resources (HR) programs will expect students to have familiarized themselves with various aspects of the job. There are a multitude of routes available to students to acquire background experience before the start of their MBA journey.
- In high school and while pursuing an undergraduate degree, students can take communication courses that encourage them to develop interpersonal relationships.
- Leadership roles are key training grounds for human resources professionals. Coordinating events or holding principal positions in clubs or sports teams allows individuals to develop management and communications skills.
- Volunteering and interning offer additional opportunities for practical experience, often in a specialized role or environment that can hone a student’s skills in a particular area.
Career Possibilities for Human Resources Grads
The field of human resources has some elasticity, with many jobs open to those with a bachelor’s degree. Nonetheless, holding an MBA confers a distinct advantage on candidates seeking to move into more senior positions. Some careers that favor those with an advanced degree include:
Human Resources Manager
This career option entails tasks such as training managers on human resources policies; dealing with employee relations; handling business operations and planning; creating budgets; and overseeing procedures and programs to ensure they are being instituted legally and effectively. More advanced responsibilities within these tasks are typically assigned to a senior human resources manager, a position that typically requires several years of executive experience and will likely go to a candidate with an MBA.
Human Resources Director
This job takes the human resources manager position to the next level. A director’s job is geared toward planning and directing all facets of human resources, including benefits, training and compensation. The position does not always require a master’s, but the extra experience and education help to widen the window of opportunity.
Human Resources Business Partner
As a liaison between employees and a human resources department, this job entails advising employees and working to improve human resources programs overall. These individuals analyze and guide human resources teams on the issues of employee relations and policies, along with suggesting changes. As strategic thinkers with a comprehensive understanding of the field, human resources business partners can benefit from an advanced degree.
Chief Human Resources Officer
A higher-level job that depends heavily on experience, the tasks of a chief officer are to supervise and integrate all human resources disciplines, as well as adjust them to suit changing conditions. Other responsibilities include designing and improving business projects, as well as implementing rewards programs.
Vice President of Human Resources
A vice president typically serves as a member of senior management, making effective leadership a vital quality. An MBA degree, combined with well-rounded experience and skill in executive management, will help individuals on this path.
||National Job Growth(2012-2022)
||National Median Annual Salary(September 2015)
|Human Resources Manager
|Human Resources Director
|Human Resources Business Partner
|Chief Human Resources Officer
|Vice President Human Resources
Salary Information: Payscale
Job Growth Information: Bureau of Labor Statistics .
Note: Chief HR Officer and VP of HR job growth represent all Chief Executives.
Certifications for Human Resources MBAs
While there is no specific professional certification or license required for a career in human resources, certain optional certifications can demonstrate a level of skill and experience, and strengthen an individual’s professional standing. The following certifications are offered through the HR Certification Institute:
Professional in Human Resources (PHR)
Becoming a Professional in Human Resources is a useful method for individuals to officially establish themselves in the field and demonstrate they have the skill set necessary for a variety of HR positions.
Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)
Being deemed a Senior Professional in Human Resources takes the basic certification to the next level, recognizing individuals as leaders in the human resources industry.
Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR)
A Global Human Resources Professional is an individual who has extensive knowledge of cross-border human resources issues, and can be trusted with international affiliations.
Related MBA Specializations
Earning an MBA in human resources can position graduates for careers specifically in this field, but other MBA programs with slightly different focuses may interest those who want to advance their business knowledge in other areas.
MBA in Marketing
A marketing MBA program concentrates on the overall advancement of business strategy, including how that ties into other business aspects such as human resources and finance. Students learn about the principles of product management, consumer behavior and strategic communications.
MBA in Project Management
Students learn to organize and accomplish projects undertaken by a business. Essentially, this degree specialization emphasizes developments taking place in the big picture, rather than the big picture itself.
MBA in Hospitality Management
While this MBA specialization often pertains to the hotel industry, it can also cross over to a broader business environment. Students gain the skills and knowledge to improve specific aspects of a business, such as customer service or revenue. Decision-making, event management, and marketing concepts and analysis are primary areas of focus.
HR Resources for Further Research