Human Resources Management Graduate Programs
Why earn a Human Resource Degree? If you love working with people, pride yourself on your interpersonal skills, and hope to pursue a career with a positive impact, then Graduate Human Resources programs could help you develop knowledge and skills to turn that passion into action.
Human Resources Graduate programs explore advanced concepts in HR, such as employee relations, compensation and negotiation, to prepare students for leadership and management.
Below, you’ll find plenty of helpful information on what it might be like to pursue a graduate HR degree, plus tips on choosing a program that’s perfect for you.
Human resources management, or HRM, typically involves directing and coordinating the administrative aspects of a business or organization.
In particular, human resources managers usually oversee the hiring of new employees, including recruiting and interviewing. They may help both managers and employees to maintain productivity, use company talent effectively, and make sure laws and policies are followed.
For example, human resources managers might educate both managers and staff on equal opportunity employment, appropriate work behavior, and other HR topics.
Human resources graduate programs are designed to help both current HR professionals and those new to the field explore advanced concepts in HRM and prepare for leadership or management positions. They include masters, doctorate and certificate programs and may award a variety of degree types.
Graduate human resources degrees may come in the form of the MBA, the MS, the DBA, the PhD, the MPS and more. Each level and degree type may have slightly differently curriculum and requirements.
However typically, human resource programs cover both theories and methods of effective HR management. Classes may combine lectures with group projects, research and the examination of case studies.
Depending on the program, you might also explore related areas such as business, leadership, organizational effectiveness and research methods. Some HR graduate programs, especially Masters of Human Resource programs, may even prepare students for the SHRM-CP or Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) exams.
Finally, certain graduate human resources programs allow students to choose a concentration and explore a specific aspect of HR in depth. Examples include conflict resolution, career development, training and compensation.
Every school designs their program differently, so be sure to follow up directly to learn more.
The short answer is, possibly. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics states that human resource managers typically need to earn a bachelor’s degree, but some roles may require candidates to earn a master’s degree.
Employers may prefer candidates who have earned an MBA in human resources or else a master’s in human resources management or labor relations.
Those pursuing other types of roles related to human resources, such as Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, may opt to pursue a master’s degree or even a doctorate degree.iii And those who would like to teach business topics like human resources at the college level must usually complete a graduate program.
In fact, 66% of postsecondary business teachers earned a doctorate degree.iv In other words, the human resource graduate programs you pursue may depend on your personal interests and career goals.
Did you know?
18% of HR managers earn a master’s in human resources, while 9% pursue a post-baccalaureate certificate. v
Naturally, that depends on the human resources program you are interested in! You might take courses like conflict management or industrial psychology,ii examine issues and concerns facing businesses and organizations today, and explore labor relations and contract negotiations. You may also pursue independent research, participate in an internship or complete simulation scenarios.
Your experience may also differ depending on your choice of course delivery. Some students opt to pursue a graduate human resources programs online, while others prefer on-campus courses or hybrid programs that offer a blend of online and in-person learning.
Online HR graduate programs allow students to access coursework, lectures, assignments and discussion boards anywhere with an internet connection. This may be especially useful for working students.
On campus human resource programs, on the other hand, offer the opportunity for face-to-face interactions and provide access to helpful facilities like libraries, labs and more. Contact your preferred graduate human resources programs to learn more about individual learning formats.
Human Resources Masters programs are typically two year programs that require a bachelors degree. Schools may also request applicants have professional experience in the field.
You may notice a few different types of human resources masters degrees as you navigate potential options. Here are a few kinds of programs you might encounter.
A Graduate Certificate in Human Resources Management is typically a non-degree program that students may pursue after earning a bachelor’s degree. For example, if you have earned a bachelor’s degree in business management, but you’re hoping to pursue opportunities in the field of HR, maybe pursuing a graduate certificate in human resources is an idea worth considering.
Certificates are typically shorter, more focused programs and may be completed in as little as a year. In some cases, credits earned in this program may be transferrable to a later Masters in Human Resources program. Schools vary to reach out directly if this interested you.
Earning a doctorate, like the PhD in Human Resources Management, may involve original research and the defense of a dissertation, in addition to studying the theory and practice of human resources management. These are academic degrees and may therefore be more theoretical in nature.
Another option is the DBA with an emphasis on HR. This is a professional degree. While they do have a research component, these doctorate in human resources programs typically emphasize the application of research to real world scenarios.
Most programs at this level require a masters degree and some experience, but options for those with bachelors degrees may be available. Contact schools directly to learn about their specific requirements and structure.
Pursuing a graduate degree in human resources is a big step! It’s important to find a program you feel good about. Of course, every learner is different, and a program that’s perfect for one student may not be a great fit for someone else.
Here are a few factors that may help you evaluate potential graduate human resource programs.
School Accreditationvi – Is your prospective college or university accredited by an agency that’s approved by the U.S. Department of Education? Students who qualify for financial aid must attend an accredited institution in order to remain eligible.
Accreditation may also be available at the program level. This means the program you are interested in meets certain quality standards that may be required by future employers. Look for ACBSP accredited human resource graduate programs and those that match SHRM guidelines and standards. Do your homework to make sure your prospective program fits the bill!
Format – You’ll need to decide whether pursuing a campus-based program or online degree in human resources is perfect for you! Busy, working students – particularly parents – may appreciate the flexibility of learning from home.
Other students may enjoy attending classes on a vibrant campus and meeting like minded peers. Hybrid human resources programs might be another potential option. Be sure to put some thought into your own learning preferences, as well as your lifestyle.
Resources – All HR graduate programs are different, so make sure the school you are considering has the features and amenities you are looking for. Some potential resources may include on-site childcare, a fitness center, computer labs, career services, tutoring, and more.
Program reputation – Is your prospective human resource management degree program known for helping students pursue their goals? Some stats you may want to look at include retention rate, graduation rate, and the rate of students who successfully pursue career opportunities in their intended field.vii
You may also want to talk to current and former students to learn more about the prospective graduate program you are considering!
Are you ready to earn your HR degree? If so, start by reviewing Human Resource Graduate Programs listings on this page.
You can also sort by degree type (certificate, master’s, doctorate) or format (online, campus, hybrid) to find some Graduate Human Resources programs that may be a good fit.
When you're ready, click a program name to read details and contact schools directly. You'll be one step closer to your graduate Human Resource degree!
Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/management/human-resources-managers.htm#tab-2 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/management/human-resources-managers.htm#tab-4 | [iii] onetonline.org/link/summary/19-3032.00 | [iv] onetonline.org/link/summary/25-1011.00 | [v] onetonline.org/link/summary/11-3121.00 | [vi] studentaid.ed.gov/sa/prepare-for-college/choosing-schools/consider#accreditation | [vii] studentaid.ed.gov/sa/prepare-for-college/choosing-schools/consider#statistics