Online Master’s in Human Resources 2021

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HR Master’s Degrees

Human resources managers play a central role in implementing initiatives and strategies to achieve an organization’s goals. They coordinate a company’s administrative functions, oversee recruitment, and administer payroll and benefit programs. Companies of all sizes hire human resources (HR) professionals.

A human resources degree equips learners with the expertise necessary to assume many mid- to senior-level HR roles. Graduates enter a job market with well-paying jobs and strong job prospects. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a need for about 10,400 HR managers between 2019-2029. HR managers with a bachelor’s degree and about five years of experience make an annual median salary of $121,220.

This guide provides an overview of common courses, salary and job information, certification, and scholarship opportunities for students pursuing online human resources degrees.

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Understanding a Master's in Human Resources


  • Do human resources jobs pay well?

    HR managers with a bachelor’s degree and at least five years of experience make a median $121,220 annually. The lowest 10% and those with less experience make $71,180 or less.


  • Is human resources a good career path?

    Companies of all sizes need human resources degree-holders. With good pay and thousands of projected job openings each year, HR offers great career prospects for qualified workers.


  • What can you do with a master's in human resources?

    Many professionals with a master’s degree in human resources assume roles as HR managers. HR master’s graduates pursue occupations in related areas, including compensation and benefits, training and development, and human capital management.


  • Is human resources a growing field?

    The BLS projects that positions such as HR manager and HR specialist will grow 6-7% between 2019-2029, faster than average.


Why Get a Degree in Human Resources?

Human resources offers great promise for professionals wanting to help organizations implement key strategies, increase productivity, and lead change. HR professionals serve as a critical link between management and staff, and know how to balance the needs of both. Some of the nation’s best institutions offer online human resources degrees specializing in HR management. A master’s degree in human resources provides inexperienced workers with the academic and hands-on experience they need for HR positions.

Those who already work in the field use a master’s degree in human resources to enhance their education and advance their careers. The BLS projects a need for about 64,500 HR specialists and 10,400 HR managers each year. Workers with at least a bachelor’s degree and certification enjoy the best job prospects, according to the BLS. They also earn more pay based on their expertise and education level. An online master’s degree in human resources allows students to meet eligibility requirements for some of the field’s top certifications.

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Calculating the Cost of a College Degree

Our affordability calculator lets online human resources degree-seekers determine the cost of tuition and how much they can afford.

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How Much Do Human Resources Majors Make?

An online master’s degree in human resources prepares students for mid- to senior-level roles. As workers establish their HR expertise with industry-respected certifications, they position themselves for better roles with higher earnings. Graduates entering the field with no experience may consider a role such as HR specialist. These professionals enjoy $63,490 median annual salaries and projected 7% job growth, above the 4% growth rate for all occupations.

Workers with a bachelor’s degree and about five years of experience pursue roles such as HR manager or compensation and benefits manager. These positions earn annual median salaries of $121,220 and $125,130, respectively. Workers with the least experience may earn between $70,920-$71,180 or less. Those with more experience can earn $208,000 or more.

A niche area for HR managers involves training and development. Training and development managers plan, oversee, and implement employee training. They work in various industries, with most employed at companies and enterprises; in management, scientific, and technical consulting; and in computer systems design. They earn a median $115,640 and may experience a projected 7% job growth rate between 2019-2029.

Courses in Human Resources

An online human resources degree gives students flexibility not available to residential students. Many programs offer asynchronous coursework and at-your-pace learning. Other online master’s degrees in human resources require live online sessions that simulate the in-person experience with the advantages of online learning. Students complete 30-48 credits exploring key HR topics, including talent management, leading teams, and leadership and executive development.

Students can specialize in areas such as employment law, negotiation strategies, or employee relations and labor management. The best master’s degrees in human resources provide hands-on experience during internships within a relevant organization. During a capstone course, students use lessons learned to address HR challenges in a project, case study, or thesis. The following lists a sampling of courses students may complete.

The course examines the use of HR best practices in strategic decision-making. Students learn how effective HR managers address issues such as talent acquisition, compensation, and performance management. Participants learn how the HR manager serves as a strategic partner in helping to achieve organizational goals that make the company more competitive.

The class explores individual and group behavior and dynamics within organizations. Enrollees learn how effective leaders influence employee behavior to boost productivity and achieve other goals. Topics covered include employee attitudes, organization culture, motivation strategies, and leadership best practices.

The course explores the federal laws that govern the employer-employee relationship. Students learn about each side’s rights and responsibilities, and the legal process established to address employment issues. Topics covered include sexual harassment, termination policies, family leave, and affirmative action.

Certifications and Licensure for Human Resources

Certifications validate an employee’s ability to effectively perform job tasks. Workers with certifications stand out in a competitive job market. Organizations such as HR Certification Institute (HRCI) offer certifications for workers at different career levels. The following lists three key certifications for HR workers.

Associate Professional in Human Resources


HRCI, the premier HR credentialing organization, offers aPHR for professionals beginning their HR careers. They do not need professional experience to qualify. Candidates must pass a 100-question computer-based exam administered at Pearson VUE testing centers.

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Professional in Human Resources


HRCI offers PHR for workers with a master’s degree and at least one year of professional HR experience. Candidates must pass a 150-question exam covering technical and operational HR management topics.

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SHRM Certified Professional


The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) offers SHRM-CP for professionals who implement HR strategies and policies within organizations. Candidates with a master’s degree and limited experience who currently serve in an HR role qualify. Candidates must pass a 160-question computer-based exam.

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Scholarships for Human Resources

Scholarships provide funding for tuition and educational-related expenses. The funding organizations establish eligibility criteria, which may include academic performance or financial need. The following lists three scholarships.


  • Citizens Bank Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Citizens Bank awards scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students pursuing any major. Eligible students must attend an accredited college at least part time. Applicants fill out an online application.

    Amount: $2,500-$15,000

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  • Alpha Kappa Alpha Educational Advancement Foundation Scholarships

    Who Can Apply: EAF awards merit- and need-based scholarships to full-time graduate students pursuing any major. Applicants must hold a minimum 2.5-3.0 GPA and demonstrable volunteer and community service. They must submit an application with supporting documents.

    Amount: Varies

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Online Master’s in Human Resources Degrees

  1. Fontbonne University
    Location

    Saint Louis, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    With an impressive employment rate and low student to faculty ratio, Fontbonne University is a promising option for students who want a personalized education that leads to a positive career outlook. While Fontbonne doesn't have a program strictly for human resources, its Master of Management and Leadership gives students the skills and knowledge to manage both people and projects. The program is available in a hybrid format, so students will be required to take at least half of their courses on-campus. Each course is offered in 8-week periods and a total of 31 credits are required to graduate. This consists of 10 courses related to management, human resources and organizational leadership, as well as a capstone course. There are concentrations available through this program, although they will require an additional 12-18 credits. Because Fontbonne charges a flat rate per credit for tuition, choosing a concentration would mean increasing the time and cost it takes to earn the degree. Transfer students can bring in up to 6 credits for the program, although the standards for accepting transfer credits are strict. On average, students can expect to finish this degree in 18-24 months. Prior to applying to the master's program, students will need to have earned a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5. Work experience is not required for admission, but students should submit a resume to show their previous experience.

  2. Saint Leo University
    Location

    St. Leo, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Saint Leo University is a private Catholic school with over 13,000 students. It offers a Master of Business Administration with a Human Resource Management Specialization specifically for online learners. In this program, you will acquire the skills to handle management positions in the HR field and work effectively in changing business environments. Focusing on current issues and challenges in the field, this curriculum will help you learn foundation theories and methods and apply them in modern business contexts. Employee training, selection, compensation and legal issues take precedence as the main topics of study. After completing the 36 required credit hours, graduates can explain and enforce effective HR practices while following practical and ethical guidelines. They will also have expert-level knowledge of employment laws and be able to articulate their importance and function in HR scenarios. Saint Leo MBA students may take an optional 3-credit internship to supplement their core curriculum. The internship can consist of a full- or part-time job in the HR field or related industry. These are typically paid positions and must be approved by the department faculty. Saint Leo also offers an academic achievement scholarship for online MBA students. To be competitive for the $6,000 award, students must be new, in their first term, with a 3.25 GPA in their previous undergraduate program. All scholarship candidates must submit an application for which the deadline changes with each term throughout the year. Incoming MBA students may be able to obtain credit for transfer courses, credit by exam, prior learning experiences and military service. The appropriate official documentation must be submitted to the registrar for evaluation. In most cases, up to 6 transfer credits may be applied toward the MBA. Applicants should also submit official transcripts, a resume, 2 letter of recommendation and official GMAT scores.

  3. Concordia University-Saint Paul
    Location

    Saint Paul, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Established in 1974, Concordia University is a public university with over 45,000 students. Offered entirely online and in a hybrid format, itsMaster of Arts in Human Resource Managementhelps distance learners acquire the essential financial, critical thinking and leadership skills to pursue upper-level careers in the HR field. The curriculum aligns with the Society of Human Resource Management's (SHRM) guidebooks and curricula templates. Throughout 36 credit hours of study, you will engage in a practical approach to learning HR competencies in today's organizations. The program focuses on preparing you to be a strategic partner within businesses and organizations. You will learn financial and strategic thinking skills and understand how to maximize the return on investment from a company's human capital. The program's course schedule is sequential and completed in a synchronous online format. As an MA student at Concordia, you will explore the foundational and innovative skill sets required by working professionals in the HR field through courses like Human Resources Leadership and Ethics, Research Methods and Design, Finance for Human Resources Leaders and Recruitment, Selection and Retention. All prospective online and hybrid students must complete the standard graduate application. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA or better. The application should also include official transcripts, a personal statement of 300 words or more and current resume. All distance learners pay a flat-rate tuition except for active military, veterans and their spouses, who receive a substantial discount per credit hour.

  4. Charleston Southern University
    Location

    Charleston, SC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Founded in 1964, Charleston Southern University is a Baptist college with over 3,700 students. The graduate school offers the Master of Science in Human Resource Management. The degree must be completed in a hybrid format, which follows a regular, synchronous schedule of class meeting times. In-person classes take place 1 night a week from 6-9 p.m. In total, you will complete 11 courses or 33 credit hours for graduation. Throughout the program, you will learn the necessary skills to be an effective leader in the HRM field. Students focus on communication skills, including writing academic papers, completing research projects and developing informational presentations. Core classes such as Staffing, Training and Development and Organizational Behavior cover basic HRM responsibilities. You will also get to choose 4 different electives to tailor your degree to fit your academic needs and career goals. Popular electives for students pursuing the MBA with a HRM concentration include Fundamentals of Leadership, Entrepreneurship, International Business and Trade and Information Systems Concepts. All students must take a pass/fail exit assessment that tests your knowledge and ensures your mastery of the material. A passing mark is required to graduate. Upon graduation, Charleston Southern students are prepared to sit for several professional certification exams, including the exam to become a Certified Professional in Human Resources. Prospective students must complete a standard online application and submit official transcripts, a resume, a 500-word essay/academic statement, GMAT scores and 2 signed letters of recommendation. Incoming graduate students may transfer up to 6 credits toward their MBA as long as they were earned with a "B" or better. All MBA students must complete their degree within 6 years of their oldest Charleston Southern or transfer credit.

  5. Belhaven University
    Location

    Jackson, MS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Belhaven University's Master of Business Administration with a Human Resources Concentration is available entirely online. This master's curriculum aligns with the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and focuses heavily on the study and application of human resource principles. You will explore the standard practices required of human resources professional working in today's modern workforce, including employee relations, compensation and benefits, organizational development and other current challenges in the field. This program includes some cohort learning, wherein you will join your classmates and work on online group projects and activities to enhance the learning process and work on team-player skills. Incoming students may transfer up to 6 hours of accredited graduate work with a "B" or better. You should have a bachelor's degree with a minimum cumulative 2.8 GPA. Your undergraduate transcripts should indicate successful completion of a college algebra or higher mathematics course with a "C" or better. Prospective students who don't meet the standard admission requirements may still be admitted on a conditional basis. In those cases, you must submit an essay and 2 letters of recommendation with your application. In order to remain in the program, those accepted on a conditional basis have to maintain a 3.0 GPA in the first 6 semester hours of graduate work. All required courses are 8 weeks in duration, and you will need 42 credits in total for graduation. Full-time students can often complete this program in 2 years. As a Christian university, Belhaven strives to create enjoyable service-learning opportunities for its students. Distance learners who live close to campus may engage in these activities in-person. Alternatively, Belhaven's spiritual outreach programs include far away distance learners as well. Prospective students who wish to earn an MBA with an HR concentration while actively practicing their faith among a Christian student body may find Belhaven to be a good fit.

  6. University of Valley Forge
    Location

    Phoenixville, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Founded in 1939, the University of Valley Forge's accelerated online Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership can be completed in as few as 18 months. Through a curriculum of 7-week courses and 33 credit hours, you will acquire the leadership principles and practices that will serve your current employment scenario or maximize your potential for success in the future. This program is structured around teaching leadership skills to effectively lead organizations. This includes understanding the dynamics of global and multicultural environments. You will gain useful day-to-day skills such as budgeting and financial planning, financial management and risk management, decision-making and business strategies, all of which are necessary for success in the HR field. There is a secondary emphasis on communication skills, including writing and presentation skills, that will help you articulate your agenda and strategies while working in the field. As a Christian school, the curriculum is taught with a biblical, Christ-centered worldview. As an MBA master's student, you must complete required program courses such as Effective Organization, Human Resource Leadership, Communications and Marketing, Ethics and Branding and Critical Issues for Leading People. Distance learners must also complete a capstone paper, a culminating project that offers a self-reflective, critical analysis of one's skills acquired through the program and an outline of career plans following graduation. The Student Success and Career Services Center provides 1-on-1 career counseling, mock interviews, career and internship exploration and resume assistance. You don't have to take the GRE or GMAT for admission to the online master's degree program.

  7. Central Michigan University
    Location

    Mount Pleasant, MI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Central Michigan University is a public research institution, established in 1892, with over 23,000 students. It is one of the nation's 100 largest public universities. Its Master of Business Administration in Human Resource Management degree focuses on making you the vital link between employees and management in virtually any kind of business or human resources scenario. CMU graduates of this program seek out careers as labor relations directors, employee relations managers, payroll managers, recruiting managers, directors of employee benefits, training and development managers and human resource directors. This MBA program requires an extensive set of core business classes, including Data Analysis for Managers, Global Economic Environment, Marketing-Based Management and Managerial Accounting. With a focus on human resources management, you will take 3 courses in that area: Human Resource Management, Employee Selection and Evaluation and Seminar in Organizational Development. Competitive applicants have a bachelor's degree with a 2.7 GPA or higher and GMAT scores of 450 or higher from within the last 5 years. Incoming students are expected to have already taken foundational undergraduate-level courses in economics, statistics, accounting and finance. You don't have to submit GMAT scores if you have a 3.0 GPA or higher in addition to 5 years of work experience in the field. CMU's Online Learning Resource Center can help incoming students prepare for the demands of the online classroom experience. From video tutorials on using the course delivery program, Blackboard, to time management tips, online study tools and technological assistance, this is an invaluable resource for getting the most out of your online education.

  8. Lincoln Memorial University
    Location

    Harrogate, TN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Lincoln Memorial University is a private 4-year liberal arts institution where online students can earn the Master of Business Administration - Human Resource Management Concentration. This fully online program consists of 36 required credits and features a rigorous curriculum in an asynchronous format. Degree seekers will take courses like Human Resource Management, Marketing Management, International Business and Organizational Leadership. The department prides itself on having a student-centered approach to teaching and strives to foster a comfortable interactive learning environment. With LMU's program, you will study with professors who have real-world business experience and prepare for leadership roles in virtually any position in the human resources field. Under their guidance, you will explore cases studies and participate in group projects, presentations and online class discussions to get the full experience of this MBA program. There are also learning opportunities for you outside of the classroom. In many cases, MBA students offer free business consulting for for-profit and nonprofit businesses in their communities. In addition to pursuing human resources job with businesses and organizations, some LMU students find careers teaching at college and universities as adjunct professors. Prospective students must submit an online application, 500-word essay, professional resume, official transcripts, 3 letters of recommendation and a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA. LMU provides career counseling, career exploration classes and personality assessments to help students locate the right career. The Office of Career Services can also direct recent graduates to open jobs for which they qualify. You can receive help constructing your resume and cover letters in addition to interview preparation instruction. Online students also have access to anonymous online health screenings and counseling.

  9. Davenport University
    Location

    Grand Rapids, MI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    At Davenport University, online students can earn theMaster of Business Administration - Human Resource Management Concentrationin an online, asynchronous format. Over the span of 39 credit hours in a series of 7-week courses, you will explore the essential systemic and strategic problem-solving strategies for human resources professionals in today's challenging business environment. The curriculum is aligned with the Society of Human Resource Management's education standards and prepares students to sit for the SHRM Certified Professional exam upon graduation. As a business degree, online learners will take 24 credits of business training including courses like Corporate Finance, Managerial Economics, Marketing Strategies and Managerial Accounting. Only 12 credit hours focus on the human resources concentration. From classes in compensation and benefits to organizational development and training, you will learn the foundational knowledge necessary for leadership roles in virtually any human resources or business environment. DU serves those professionals early in their business careers and other working adults who wish to sharpen their professional skills. To save those students time and money, you can earn credit for prior learning experiences and potentially transfer some previously earned credits toward your master's degree. You can even earn your MBA in a 12-month, accelerated format. Prospective students should already hold a bachelor's degree in a business-related field. Applicants who have a 2.75 GPA or above aren't required to take the Foundations of Business courses, which consists of 4 classes that function as undergraduate classes for non-business majors or remedial graduate courses for students with lower GPAs. All MBA degree candidates in the human resources management concentration must complete a capstone project. All degree candidates have access to DU's career services office, tutoring services and online library access to full-text documents, study materials and online course tutorials.

  10. Tiffin University
    Location

    Tiffin, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The Master of Business Administration in Human Resource Management program at Tiffin University is ideal for online students looking for maximum scheduling flexibility. This private university offers 6 convenient start dates throughout the year to accommodate even the busiest of schedules. For distance learners, there are 2, 7-week terms per semester starting in January, March, May, July, August and October. As an MBA program, you can expect to acquire solid foundational knowledge of business practices, spanning topics from economics and finance to strategic marketing and quantitative analysis. With such courses as Conflict Resolution and Talent Acquisition in the human resources concentration curriculum, you will also explore the theories and practices involved in developing a base of strong, talented employees, learn how to manage business relationships and use strategic human resource policies and practices to provide leadership in your place of employment. This is an accelerated program that full-time students can complete in as few as 14 months. Online students who take classes part-time can expect to spend about 2.5 years completing the degree. Prospective students must have a bachelor's degree with a recommended minimum GPA of 3.0. Incoming students with a 3.0 GPA or higher don't have to take 2 of the entry-level, no-credit business courses: Managerial Business Foundations and Fundamentals of Quantitative Business Models. Transfer credits may be accepted toward your master's degree. A Transfer Admissions Counselor will examine your transcripts and consider any previous academic work with a 2.0 GPA or higher. As an online student at Tiffin, you will also have academic support and career mentoring through the Career Services Office, as well as online technical support and library access.

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