Getting an online Ph.D in Human Resources appeals to a large number of students. Our list of the top 10 most affordable Doctorate in Human Resources Online programs provides students with a list of which school offer HR programs and which programs charge the least in terms of tuition. Many of the students attending these programs are professionals who already have a business degree and work for a company, but want to make more. Some students hope to start companies of their own too. We created a methodology to show our readers how we ranked human resources Ph.D online programs.
Before we even considered looking at these programs and ranking each one, we needed to find out what programs were available through which schools. We started with the National Center for Education Statistics, which maintains an active database that includes information on all colleges in the United States. After narrowing down our search to schools that offered doctoral programs rather than master's and bachelor's programs, we still saw more than 100 schools.
Our next step required removing schools that offered only traditional programs that asked students to attend classes on their campuses. We did leave in hybrid programs. Hybrid programs ask students to take some classes on the campus or do some work on the campus through a residency component. That left us with more than 50 schools. Identifying which ones offered online programs was the last step.
The list that we created includes both public and private schools. All these schools charge a lower tuition rate than others, and we even found some colleges that offer online HR doctoral programs that cost less than $10,000 or even $8,000 a year. Our list places the colleges with the highest but still affordable rates at the top and those with the most affordable rates on the bottom.
Ranking Low-cost Online Human Resources PhD Programs
10. Capella University
Doctor of Philosophy in Business Management with Human Resource Management Specialization
Average Graduate Tuition: $13,998 per year
At a little under $14,000 a year, Capella University is one of the higher priced affordable colleges that we found. It's also one of the schools that offers an entirely online doctoral HR program. This program is unique because it begins at different points during the school year, which allows students to apply, enroll and start whenever they want. It features courses that focus on teaching students how to build teams, lead others, stay up to date on market trends and do their own independent research. Capella has a quarter tuition policy too. This policy keeps quarterly tuition rates from increasing and allows students to pay the same rate each quarter that they remain enrolled in the university.
9. Walden University
Human Resource Management Program
Average Graduate Tuition: $12,075 per year
Located in Minneapolis, Walden University was one of the first colleges in the state to offer online degree programs for students in Minnesota as well as those living in other states. The university has a grant program that provides students with a small grant that brings down their tuition costs, but this grant program is only available to American students living in the country. Its human resource program requires that students take 86 quarter credits and that they complete four residencies. Each residency requires that students spend four days on the campus. Students will also take classes such as qualitative reasoning and analysis, organizational behavior and effective human resource management and research theory, design and methods before doing a dissertation.
8. Northcentral University
Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Leadership
San Diego, California
Average Graduate Tuition: $10,368 per year
Northcentral University offers an organizational leadership program for students with an interest in human resources who also want to study online. It places a high level of importance on independent study and asks students to create an individualized study plan with the help of an adviser working in the program. More than 60% of the students in this program receive some form of financial aid to help them cover their expenses. Classes start every Monday, which allows students to quickly enroll and begin earning credits. The program includes 20 courses that students take to earn 60 credits, and the university encourages students to finish their studies within 45 months of starting.
7. University of North Texas
Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Business with a Concentration in Management
Average Graduate Tuition: $10,153 per year
The University of North Texas (UNT) offers a hybrid strategic management program that allows students to transition from graduate to doctoral level studies. It's open to those who earned a master's through the university and those who studied at other campuses. The Ph.D program has an emphasis on education and training those who want to work in academia. Students learn more about the disciplines within human resource management and how they can teach at the college level. This program features a few different concentrations too that include organizational theory, strategic management and health services management. There is a concentrations in organizational behavior and human resource management too.
6. Indiana Wesleyan University
Ph.D in Organizational Leadership
Average Graduate Tuition: $9,791 per year
The Ph.D in Organizational Leadership that Indiana Wesleyan University offers is an online only program that lets students earn their degrees without ever visiting Indiana or the IWU campus. A hybrid version of the program asks students to attend three sessions on the campus in the fall, winter and spring term and that they also spend a week working on the campus during the summer semester. HR students must do a dissertation and take a seminar to learn more about dissertation work. They'll also take classes like organizational and adult learning, leadership and personal development, global perspectives on leadership, application of research methods and advanced research design learning.
5. University of Arkansas
Online Doctor of Education in Human Resource and Workforce Development Education
Average Graduate Tuition: $8,820 per year
The online human resources Ph.D that the University of Arkansas offers is actually a Doctor in Education and designed for those who want to work in colleges, vocational schools and job centers. The U.S. News & World Report named this one of its top choices for online graduate education. The university gives students up to seven years to finish their degrees, though most students finish in around five years or less. Students applying will need to take and submit their scores from the General Records Examination and create an autobiographical sketch that explains their history with and in the education field. All the courses and work that students do will take place through the university's online system.
4. University of Nebraska at Lincoln
Ph.D. in Business with a Specialization in Management
Average Graduate Tuition: Tuition: $8,820 per year
The University of Nebraska at Lincoln (UNL) offers another hybrid program that allows students living in the Lincoln area to take one or more classes on its campus. This program is more selective than those offered by other colleges, because UNL accepts just three students each year. Those students have access to financial aid packages that bring down their overall costs. UNL will accept up to 36 credit hours of work that students earned in a master's program, but students must complete at least 90 credits of work at the master's or doctoral level. The program requires that students write a detailed research paper, take a comprehensive examination and do a dissertation.
3. University of Texas at Tyler
Human Resource Development PhD Degree
Average Graduate Tuition: $7,602 per year
The University of Texas at Tyler has an application deadline of April for students applying to its Human Resource Development Ph.D program, and the university requires that these students start classes the following fall. This selective program requires a resume, letters of recommendation, an official GMAT score and an admissions essay. Students can complete all their required courses and finish their dissertations in 2.5 years. One advantage of this program is that it keeps class sizes down, which allows students to form better working relationships with their peers. UT Tyler offers this as a traditional program or a hybrid program. The hybrid program asks students to come to the campus five times each semester.
2. Bellevue University
Ph.D. in Human Capital Management
Average Graduate Tuition: $7,365 per year
With a total cost of less than $8,000 a year, it's no wonder why Bellevue University made our list of the most affordable Ph.D online programs. It puts an emphasis on human capital management and looks at issues like how to invest in new workers, communicate as part of a team, take on leadership roles and create new programs that foster employee talent. The program divides itself into four key areas of study: productivity, organizational goals, measuring human capital and analyzing the effectiveness of human capital. Students will do a dissertation and take a final exam in addition to taking classes such as leading and aligning human capital and performance management.
1. University of Maryland – University College
Doctor of Management
Average Graduate Tuition: $7,176 per year
The most affordable Ph.D in Human Resources online program that we found is the one offered by the University of Maryland – University College. Also called UMUC, it started as a satellite learning center associated with the University of Maryland and then became a regional campus before separating from that school and establishing its own university system. Required courses in this Doctor of Management program include data analytics in practice, evidence-based research methods and research as a tool for management decision making. It includes three different courses called producing actionable knowledge classes that help students do research and write their dissertations. Those students will need to get approval from their advisers before beginning their dissertation work.
Additional Online Doctorate in Human Resources Offerings
Ph.D in Human Resource Management with Organizational Behavior
Average Graduate Tuition: $16,274 Per Year
University of the Rockies
Ph.D in Organizational Development and Leadership
Average Graduate Tuition: $18,336 Per Year
Ph.D in Human Resources
Average Graduate Tuition: $50,953 Per Year
George Washington University
Ph.D in Management and Strategy
Average Graduate Tuition: $51,950 Per Year
Frequently Asked Questions
Looking at cheap online human resources Ph.D programs isn't the only thing students should do before applying or enrolling. We highly recommend taking a look at some of the questions that others students asked and the responses to those questions.
What Disciplines Are Within Human Resources?
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the top professional organization within this field. It allows students and professionals to become members and attend conferences and other special events. Members can also post and apply for jobs on its job board and read its official publications. The SHRM lists the individual disciplines within this industry as including:
- Health, safety and security of employees
- Employee relations
- Rewards, compensation and benefits
- Organizational development
Employee health, safety and security deals closely with the methods and procedures that help workers stay safe on the job. This discipline can include treatment options for those diagnosed with specific diseases and medical conditions, planning for possible disasters and reducing mental health problems in the office. Employee relations is a discipline that focuses more closely on the connections between employers and their workers. It looks at how to improve retention, the best way to conduct exit interviews and methods used to recruit new employees.
Organizational development focuses on the organization as a whole and the ways in which that organization can improve itself. Workers might focus on improving communications between departments, changing the training that new workers go through and implementing mentoring programs to help new workers. Those working in rewards, compensation and benefits will look at what compensation employees deserve. This can include paid vacation time, paid health leave, health insurance and bonuses.
What Jobs Are Open to Those with a Human Resources Ph.D?
Many online Ph.D in Human Resources focus specifically on training students to work as teachers. There is a common misconception that students enter doctoral programs because they want to teach and work in academia. While there are jobs open in the education field to these graduates, there are other jobs open to them too. Some may prefer working as a human resources manager. These men and women are responsible for the needs of a large group or a department within an organization or corporation. They may assign duties such as writing up new job listings and going through candidates who apply for those positions. Managers will also work with employees to create better benefits that makes jobs more appealing to applicants. A small number of graduates may work as human resource specialists, but those working in these jobs usually need only a bachelor's degree.
Working as a college professor appeals to those who want to do research and teach at the same time. Many colleges have a tenure track, which is only available to full professors. Once those teachers receive tenure, they can spend more time doing research and less time teaching. Professors maintain office hours to meet with students and offer support to those who need extra help. They may work with teaching or research assistants or on their own. Adjunct professors work on a part-time basis and may teach just one or two classes every semester while working for an HR department in the same city or town.
How Much Can a Doctoral Degree Holder Earn?
Many prospective doctoral students will want to know how much they can make with this type of degree, because they want to know if taking the time to go back to school is worthwhile. It's usually worth it to earn a doctoral degree in human resources because these graduates can earn significantly more than those with only a master's degree earn. The median salary for a human resource specialist is around $59,000 a year, but this position requires just a bachelor's degree. Those with a doctoral degree can find work as an HR manager, which is a position that has a median salary of nearly $107,000 a year.
Human resources managers working for private companies and in enterprise positions earn the highest salary, which climbs to more than $120,000 a year. Those working in government and health care positions earn the lowest median salary, but those professionals can still earn more than $90,000 a year. The median salary for college professors is around $75,000 a year. Teachers working for private universities earn more than those working for public schools do.
Where Do HR Professionals Work?
Earning a human resources doctorate online allows students to live and work in one state or city while earning a degree from a completely different area. Before graduating, those students will find it helpful to look at which states hire these professionals. The highest concentration of HR managers in the United States is in California, where these managers earn a median salary of more than $135,000 a year. New York is also home to a number of these professionals and pays them a higher median salary of more than $140,000 a year. Managers typically live and work in major cities like San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles and Washington, DC.
The median salary for workers living in major cities is high because those cities have a high cost of living. Cost of living refers to all the costs that workers face, including rent or a mortgage, groceries, gas, clothing and utility bills. Those living in rural areas and smaller cities may earn less but still come out ahead because they spend less money on needed expenses.
What is a Human Resource Dissertation?
Online Ph.D. in Human Resources require that students do a dissertation in the last year of the program. This is similar to the thesis done by graduate students, but is much longer and more detailed. A student will first meet with his or her adviser to go over a list of possible topics. The two will work together to decide on the final project. Most colleges and universities give students course credit for their research and any other work they do on the dissertation. Students can pick topics that relate to what they want to do with their degrees or where they want to work. They can focus on topics such as the benefits of proper employee training programs, the best methods of conducting employee appraisals, how letting employees work from home will affect a company and the importance of wellness programs in the work space.
How Does the Dissertation Defense Work?
The dissertation defense refers to the way in which students present their final work. Online programs may offer students the chance to do this online, but some will require that students come to the campus to defend their work. Professors working in the human resource department, which usually includes the student's adviser, will ask the student to present his or her paper or project. After finishing the presentation, the panel has the chance to ask questions based on what they heard and read. It's the student's responsibility to answer all their questions and refer back to the work that they did. Successfully presenting a dissertation is usually the last step students take before getting a doctoral degree.
How Can Online HR Doctoral Students Gain Teaching Experience?
Traditional doctoral programs allow students to apply for positions as teaching assistants. A TA will work closely with a professor from that department and handles some of the teaching responsibilities. They might proctor midterm and final examinations, meet with students during office hours, pass out assignments and grade the work that students submit. Those enrolled in an online program will need to look for other opportunities to gain the teaching experience they need to work in academia. Many community colleges and vocational schools hire teachers with just a master's degree, especially if the teacher has practical experience. Students can also apply for jobs in job centers that offer training and counseling for locals looking for work.
Students have the chance to get their doctoral degrees while still working a full-time job and handling all their other commitments too when pursuing an online Ph.D in Human Resources