Considering a PhD in Human Resources? A doctorate in human resources management is a potential step towards a fulfilling career in the business world. Expand your knowledge of global workplace issues and prepare for a position in the field.
Human resource management, as the name implies, refers to the processes that are involved when managing the workforce of an organization. Human resources managers work in nearly every industry and their job function involves the recruiting and hiring of new employees, planning and coordinating administrative functions, and serving as links between the management and employees of an organization.
Over the past century, the human resources profession has experienced drastic changes. The days when the primary functions of human resource practitioners were hiring, policing, and filing papers have changed, and in today’s work environment human resources professionals are also expected to add value to the organization. As a professional with a PhD in Human Resources Management, you can reasonably expect to contribute to solving organizational challenges including managing change processes during mergers and acquisitions, working with other members of the management team to enhance employee performance and quality, as well as supporting the company’s capability to churn out innovative products to the market. Consequently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates that human resource related job opportunities will grow by 13% between 2012 and 2022, which is slightly much faster than the average for all occupations (11%)(1).
An advanced degree in human resource management is awarded to students who earn either a masters in human resources or a PhD in human resources degree. With a master’s degree in human resource management, you may be
prepared to lead, examine, design, and assess human resources procedures across an organization, while incorporating those procedures and systems with business strategies. Most master’s degree courses focus on the basis of the human resource profession, including the concepts of human resources, labor relations, organizational design, training, and behavior, and employment law. Depending on the regulations of your school, you may be able to complete a master’s degree program in human resource management with almost half the credit hours required to complete a PhD degree program. Upon completion of the degree, you might be qualified to pursue careers such as: human resource generalist, executive, staffing director, employee manager, or compensation manager.
PhD programs in human resources management goes beyond the master’s degree and strongly highlights linking theories, research, and practice. A PhD human resources degree helps prepare students to lead, consult, and teach. Practically, you will likely acquire knowledge about diverse demographics and cultural viewpoints, the impact of emerging technologies within the work environment, and the effects of the dynamic external workplace. Furthermore, you will also discover research and best practices that support cutting-edge work environments to develop and keep top talent within an organization.
With a PhD in human resource management, you may be qualified to work toward careers such as:
Possible workplaces include:
Similar to other PhD degree programs, you are likely to be required to conduct research as a requirement for earning your PhD in human resources management. Depending on your specific interest and career goals, you can might be able to choose from a variety of topics.
For example, if you are interested in pursuing a career as a human resource manager and are interested in the dynamics of the workplace you can consider research areas such as “What are the pros and cons of in house recruitment:?” Exploration of this topic may allow you to dive deeper into the real-life issues that human resource managers might deal with on every day basis. This type of research might help you discover methods companies can employ to ensure that the best candidate is hired.
On the other hand, if you are more interested in working toward becoming a consultant and are interested in financing and cost-savings, a topic such as “How can time management help increase the revenue of an organization?” might help you gain insight into the ways proper resource management might help an organization maximize its profits. This topic is important because efficient resource management is vital for the success of an organization.
If you are more interested in the psychological side and employee relationships, a topic such as “Human Resource Manager’s role in shaping employees’ attitudes.” might help you gain knowledge in this area. You could explore the ways the attitudes that employees in an organization hold can be defined by the values promoted by the human resource department. Consequently, human resource management can be seen as one of the ways that organizations can use to shape the attitudes of their employees.
On the other hand, if you are more interested in the technology side of human resource, topics that deal with information technology (IT) might interest you more, such as “The role of IT in human resource development” or “Social networks and IT regulations in the workplace.”
The bottom line is, the thesis topics in Human Resource Management are endless, PhD candidates in human resources graduate programs can use their thesis to deeply explore a specific subject within the field, develop expertise in this area, and discover new knowledge to help advance the profession as a whole.
Several professional organizations provide resources to current human resource practitioners and students. When considering a career in human resource management, you should take advantage of the resources these organizations provide.
The National Human Resource Association, or NHRA , is a national association that provides information and resources for career advancement, leadership, and planning(2). You can find information on professional networking programs, career development seminars and workshops, and industry meetings. The main goal of the NHRA is to offer support and professional development tools and job openings to its members. They also run online meetings, conferences and seminars from their affiliate locations, delivered in association with their training partners. The NHRA also provides webcast and audio cast events on-demand
The Society for Human Resource Management, or SHRM, is the largest human resource membership organization in the world. It was established in 1948 and has over 275,000 members in more than 160 countries(3). The SHRM society is the foremost provider of resources for human resource professionals and also seeks to advance the development of the professional practice of human resource management. The organization has over 575 chapters affiliated to it in the United States and some other subsidiary locations in India and China
HumanResources.com is the go-to website for both current and aspiring human resource professionals looking to earn their PhD in Human Resources. They have been providing quality resources about employment opportunities, education, and carrier development and management since 1999(4).
Sometimes opinions and information about the practice of human resource management can be conflicting, which can be confusing to a prospective or a current student. Below are some common myths and realities about human resource management.
Myth:A PhD human resources management degree is not needed to work as a human resource professional.
Reality: Although you could pursue a career as a human resource professional after earning an associate or bachelor’s degree, but there are some crucial differences between these degrees and earning a doctoral degree. A PhD degree in human resource management helps you to acquire knowledge you would not learn with a basic degree. It also might help you to enhance your career or help you pursue additional professional opportunities. With a PhD in Human Resources degree, you might become qualified to pursue a career as an independent consultant, human capital or resource manager, director of human resources, or as a professor, giving you the option to teach, do research, or lead and organization.
Myth: Human resources managers will only file papers and deal with employee issues.
Reality: As a human resource professional, you can expect to contribute to a vast variety of tasks in an organization. Not only will you be responsible for the administration, selection, training, evaluation, and compensation of employees but you might also be responsible for supervision of organizational leaders, developing a healthy work culture, and ensuring the firm is in adherence to labor laws. The human resource department also takes part in solving organizational challenges including mergers and acquisition planning, enhancing performance and quality, as well as enhancing the company’s capability to grow.
Myth: Human resource manager will have the same job function in a small company as in a large company.
Reality: The dynamics of your role as human resource manager in a small company may be quite different from a considerably larger organization. You are more likely to perform more generalized functions and a larger variety of human resource tasks in a small company, whereas in a large company your tasks might be more specialized such as recruitment management or training of employees.
Myth: Human resource department does not drive company’s profits
Reality: It is true that the human resource department does drive revenue in the same manner as the sales, production, or marketing departments, but the human resource department will indirectly impact company’s profitability, for example by hiring new talent, managing time, and enforcing labor laws.
Human resource management is an exciting field that may offer many opportunities for individuals that hold a PhD in Human Resources degree. As a human resource management professional, you develop a broad knowledge about issues relating to your organization, its workforce, and its profitability. You may get to work in the frontlines to drive your organizations growth by managing its vital resources including selection, training, evaluation, and compensation of employees as well as the supervision of the entire organizational leadership, work culture, and the adherence to labor laws. Human resource management is a vital part of a functional organization.
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