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Online Ph.D. in Human Resources

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Whether you already work in human resources or possess related business administration experience, a postgraduate degree in human resource management can help you achieve your goals of professional growth: working to improve business policies, consulting executives on development strategy, or even teaching university students.

Advanced degrees in human resources lead to work in a growing, global field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs in human resource management to grow by 9% between 2016 and 2026.

Reasons to Pursue an Online Doctorate in Human Resources

Pursuing a master's or Ph.D. in human resources online requires the completion of similar coursework and learning competencies, but the goal of each path is different. Master's degree students prepare for professional placement within a company or as an outside consultant. Ph.D. students train for work in research and academia, looking to advance the field. Most human resources careers can be achieved with a master's degree, but those looking to become a college or university professor must pursue a Ph.D. in the field. Students with nondissertation postgraduate degrees, or professional doctorate degrees, can pursue work within the field as managers or consultants.

What Can I Do With an Online Doctorate in Human Resources?

While a bachelor's or master's degree in the field provides access to entry-level and mid-level positions, a Ph.D. in human resources opens the door to work in academia or at high-level occupations in many industries. Graduates can pursue careers such as postsecondary professors, human resources managers, or human resources consultants.

Postgraduate HR professionals work extensively with others, educating colleagues, helping to analyze and solve problems, planning development and training initiatives, and promoting organizational cohesion.

Common Career Paths and Salaries

The jobs detailed below typically require a Ph.D. in human resource management. However, career paths of professionals with postgraduate degrees vary due to their experience and skill sets.

Postsecondary Business Teachers

Postsecondary business teachers work in colleges and universities, leading courses in business administration, management, and related areas like accounting, finance, and human resources. They also conduct and publish original research.

Human Resources Managers

Human resources managers handle tasks like coordinating the recruitment of new staff, completing strategic consultations with executives, and acting as intermediaries between employees and management.

Salary Progression

The earning potential of business, management, and human resources professionals vary depending on your location, employer, and level of experience. A doctorate degree may not guarantee a higher salary, but it will allow you to compete with other applicants for jobs in high demand. The greatest human resources salaries are usually found in large urban areas with higher costs of living.

Requirements and Outcomes of Online Doctorate in Human Resources Programs

Admission requirements for a Ph.D. in human resources online typically include a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0, GMAT or GRE scores, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and an interview with program faculty. Upon acceptance, a Ph.D. typically takes 4-5 years of full-time study to complete, with 90-120 credits required to graduate. Although an online Ph.D. in human resources allows for most degree requirements to be completed through distance learning, some programs require in-person attendance, often in the form of short-term residencies that are spaced throughout the program. During these residencies, students meet one-on-one with faculty members and work with peers on collaborative pursuits. Residencies vary in length; some schools may hold them over a weekend or require learners to remain on campus for eight days.

Common Courses

  • Attracting and Retaining Talent

    Courses on attracting and retaining talent explore the best practices of recruiting, examine advanced compensation and reward systems, and discuss how to form an organization of choice,"rather than an organization of last resort. Topics may include developing a pool of qualified candidates, labor force trends, and long-term retention.

  • Ethics and Leadership in Human Resources

    A course on ethics and leadership within the context of HR departments and managerial teams explores ethical issues and leadership styles. Topics covered may include organizational ethics, ethical challenges, confrontation and mediation, transformative leadership, and management theory.

  • Organizational Behavior

    A Ph.D. course in organizational behavior builds on the foundations of prior education through advanced study from psychological and sociological perspectives. Topics covered include how to meet the challenges of increasingly diverse workplaces and how being part of a global economy and community impacts organizations.

  • Human Resource Theory and Practice

    In this course, students explore human resource theory and how it can be applied to real-world scenarios through the examination of case studies and examples. Topics may include how management tactics and strategy affect the administration of policies and manager-employee relationships.

  • Research Methods

    Often offered in a seminar format, these courses explore advanced forms of research, including interviews and data collection, and how they pertain to human resources professionals. Courses may focus on qualitative methods, quantitative methods, or statistics.

Other Requirements

On-Campus Residencies

Ph.D. residencies require distance-learning students to stay on campus for a short period, during which, they meet with faculty and peers and complete research, training, or study. A typical degree requires up to three residencies, spaced evenly throughout the program.

Comprehensive Examination

Before Ph.D. students can begin their dissertations, they typically must complete a comprehensive written examination to display mastery of their coursework. Schools may give students up to a month to complete all exam requirements.

Dissertation or Final Capstone

Ph.D. students must complete a dissertation. Students in professional doctoral programs complete a final project, resulting in a written paper, project or portfolio, or a report that is designed to solve a problem within a specific organization.

Skills and Competencies

Whether you want to teach, consult, or lead, a Ph.D. in human resources online provides the skills you need to pursue advanced career options.

  • Hire Talent:

    Learning best practices, development strategies, and reward systems helps attract qualified applicants.

  • Keep Up With Trends:

    Studying trends in human resource management during your coursework prepares you to follow industry developments in your career.

  • Embrace Diversity:

    Learn to incorporate different cultural perspectives and demographics into business communities.

  • Utilize Research:

    Learn how to best use research methods to create and improve global businesses, effective management policies, and business strategy.

  • Evaluate HR Practices:

    Develop skills to evaluate policies and practice within the field or a specific organization through an examination of ethical frameworks.

Professional Organizations

Earning an advanced human resource management degree qualifies you for many jobs in the field. However, seasoned professionals know that membership in professional organizations can open even more doors. Organizations provide networking opportunities, access to the latest industry research and publications, and career services.

  • Academy of Human Resource Development

    This global organization promotes the development and advancement of the field through scholarly research. Membership benefits include access to four AHRD-sponsored, peer-reviewed journals, and an annual conference.

  • National Human Resources Association

    Powered by volunteers, this nonprofit organization dedicates itself to the professional development of those in the human resources field. Membership benefits include networking, leadership opportunities, and professional development programs.

  • Society for Human Resources Management

    The world's largest professional HR organization represents more than 300,000 members and offers a dedicated membership program for students. Members can access online resources and certification and scholarship opportunities.

  • College and University Professional Association for Human Resources

    Dedicated to HR professionals working in higher education, CUPA-HR monitors trends, explores issues, conducts research, and promotes discussion. Students can join for free and enjoy many benefits, including webinars, salary reports, and a members-only magazine.

  • International Association of Administrative Professionals

    This nonprofit organization works to advance the careers of office and administrative professionals, and offers student memberships for $25. Membership benefits include networking opportunities, IAAP certification, and continuing education programs.