Most Affordable Online Master’s in Human Resources Programs 2021

Most Affordable Online Master’s in Human Resources Programs 2021
Most Affordable Online Master's in Human Resources Program Badge

Human resources (HR) serves as a link between management and employees, focusing on recruiting, managing, and developing employees within organizations. HR specialists perform many roles, such as interviewing potential employees, managing workplace policies, mediating employee conflict, and organizing company benefit policies. At all levels, HR employees need strong communication, organization, and decision-making skills to understand and address employee needs and craft effective organizational policy.

A master’s in human resources builds the advanced skills necessary for leadership and management positions in the HR field. These positions boast strong job growth and high salary potential. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that human resource managers earn a median annual salary of $116,720.

This page offers a guide to online HR master’s degrees, including top schools, typical courses, and common careers for graduates. It also includes information on financial aid options for graduate students.

Accredited Online College Programs

Best Accredited Online Master’s in Human Resources Programs

  1. Thomas Edison State University
    Location

    Trenton, NJ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Thomas Edison State University specializes in creating online degree programs for adults looking to balance higher education with their daily responsibilities. Core coursework for its 36-credit online master's in human resources covers the legal and ethical environment of human resources, strategic recruitment and selection, lifestyle benefits and compensation in the new millennium, and the effectiveness of a market-connected culture. Average tuition cost: $24,455 Graduation rate: N/A Estimated years of completion: Two years Admissions requirements: 3.0 GPA Program website: https://www.tesu.edu/business/mshrm/index

  2. Florida International University
    Location

    Miami, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    FIU offers a master's in human resources through the Alvah H. Chapman Jr. Graduate School of Business. The 38-credit MS degree takes 12 months to complete and runs fully online. A new cohort begins every fall and spring semester. Cohorts follow a block schedule, with two eight-week classes making up each block.

    Applicants must submit GRE or GMAT scores. They must demonstrate a strong academic background with at least a 3.0 GPA in upper-division coursework. The program gives preference to applicants with five years of professional experience, at least three years of which must be in the human resources field.

    The curriculum aligns with Society for Human Resource Management guidelines. Enrollees study subjects such as employment law and human resource management, performance and talent management, staffing organizations, and labor issues and conflict management.

    The program hosts an annual residency for online and on-campus students featuring networking events and professional development workshops. The optional residency lasts 2-3 days.

    Florida International University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  3. Tennessee State University
    Location

    Nashville, TN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    TSU's College of Public Service offers a master of professional service degree with a concentration in human resources leadership, strategic leadership, and training and development. The 33-credit program runs fully online. Students enroll in nine credits each of core courses and electives and 12 concentration credits. A three-credit professional project course completes the credit requirements.

    Regardless of concentration, all students enroll in three core courses: issues and ethics in a professional environment, globalization and the professions, and research methods. Coursework for the human resources leadership concentration includes statistical analysis, employment and human resources law, diversity in the workplace, and human resources management.

    The professional project course is the program's culminating activity. Although students enroll in the professional project course during the final semester, they begin preparatory consultation and research as soon as they gain acceptance to the MS program.

    Tennessee State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  4. Bellevue University
    Location

    Bellevue, NE

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The 36-credit online master's in human resources at BU features a curriculum aligned with Society for Human Resource Management guidelines. The program follows a cohort model of education. Students enroll in one course at a time.

    Courses for the MS degree focus on data-driven decision-making and strategic management. Students enroll in courses on human capital management and development; organizational behavior; human resource metrics, evaluation, and action planning; and strategic business partnerships.

    The program requires all candidates to complete a capstone project as the culminating activity. Students demonstrate mastery of the field by developing a comprehensive human resources plan for a real organization that incorporates relevant functional areas and in-depth research.

    Bellevue University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  5. University of Houston-Clear Lake
    Location

    Houston, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    UHCL's College of Business offers an online master's in human resources consisting of 36 credits. The college is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and the MA program's curriculum aligns with Society for Human Resource Management guidelines. These credentials attest to the program's quality and rigor.

    Students who enroll in three courses per semester (including summer terms) can earn the degree in 16 months. The curriculum includes coursework in employee planning, staffing, and selection; compensation and benefits; human resource information systems; and HR metrics and performance management.

    The program offers elective courses across a broad spectrum of the human resources arena that allows students to enroll in classes that support their career objectives. Elective courses cover subjects such as project management, global sustainability, labor relations, and international management.

    The University of Houston - Clear Lake is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  6. Indiana State University
    Location

    Terre Haute, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    ISU's master's in human resources comprises 33-36 credits that full-time students can complete online in 1.5 years. Learners can pursue the degree part time, but must complete the program within seven years. The MS degree focuses on human resource development for higher education and industry and is an affiliate of the Society for Human Resource Management.

    The core curriculum consists of six classes (18 credits) and covers topics such as international and cross-cultural teaching, developing a performance-based occupational curriculum, HR leadership, and systematic design of human resource development programs. Students can opt to write a thesis or complete an integrative capstone project as the program's culminating activity. Learners who write a thesis enroll in nine elective credits that support their thesis research and topic. Enrollees who opt to complete a capstone project enroll in 12 elective credits.

    Indiana State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  7. Ottawa University-Online
    Location

    Ottawa, KS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    OU offers a master's in human resources program that gives students ample flexibility to enroll in online or on-campus courses. Designed specifically for working adults, the MA program allows enrollees to earn credits for relevant work or life experience, military service, professional training, or through credit by exam, such as the College Level Examination Program. The program follows a liberal transfer credit policy.

    Students can concentrate in healthcare management or leadership and management. The healthcare management concentration allows students to explore the legal, ethical, and political aspects of healthcare delivery systems. Degree-seekers who pursue the leadership and management concentration enroll in classes in conflict resolution, project management, and organizational management.

    Ottawa University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  8. Troy University
    Location

    Troy, AL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Troy offers a master's in human resources through the Sorrell College of Business. The MS program fully aligns with Society for Human Resource Management guidelines. Sorrell College of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Students accepted to the MS program earn a top-tier degree with industry-wide acceptance.

    Applicants must have earned a bachelor's degree from an AACSB-accredited institution within the past eight years. Those who do not meet this requirement may earn acceptance on a conditional basis.

    The program comprises 30-33 credits, depending on a student's academic background. Learners can complete the degree entirely online. The core curriculum includes courses in ethical leadership and management in a global economy; workforce planning and staffing; employee relations, health, and safety; and international human resource management.

    The culminating capstone course focuses on strategic human resource management. In this course, candidates formulate and apply HR theories and concepts to develop solutions that address real-world challenges.

    Troy University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  9. Tarleton State University
    Location

    Stephenville, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Tarleton's College of Business offers a 30-credit online master's in human resources that learners can complete in 12 months. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recognizes the MS curriculum as meeting its standards for HR education. The college is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

    The program accepts applicants who hold a non-business undergraduate degree. However, they may need to take up to nine hours of leveling coursework. Credits for leveling courses do not count toward the MS degree. Students take core courses in recruitment and selection, labor relations, compensation and benefits, and organizational effectiveness.

    Toward the end of the program, students enroll in a capstone course that prepares them to sit for the Professional for Human Resources exam or the SHRM Certified Professional exam. The program gives students who plan to pursue a doctorate the option of writing a thesis to help prepare them for doctoral studies.

    Tarleton State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  10. Fort Hays State University
    Location

    Hays, KS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The College of Health and Behavioral Sciences at FHSU offers a master of professional studies (MPS) with a concentration in human resources management (HRM). The college offers all classes for the HRM concentration online. The MPS program requires enrollees to have a minimum 2.5 GPA. However, applicants who wish to pursue the HRM concentration must show a minimum 3.0 GPA during the last 60 hours of their undergraduate program.

    The 30-credit MPS curriculum includes core coursework in statistics, research, and a concentration-specific introductory course. The HRM concentration consists of five courses: labor relations and collective bargaining; recruitment, selection, and retention; training and development; total compensation; and principles of organizational leadership. HRM students can enroll in an optional internship course with their program director's approval. The HRM concentration requires students to complete a capstone project as the program's culminating activity.

    Fort Hays State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  • Our Methodology, Explained

    Grad School Hub compiles rankings based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics play a significant role in how we source our educational data. After collecting insight for each institution, we organize information into five weighted categories.

    Metric Data Used Percentage
    Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 30%
    Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 10%
    Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 30%
    Program Offerings Number of program options 20%
    Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 10%

    A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible on our Ranking Methodology page.

Frequently Asked Questions About Masters in Human Resources

Question Answer
What is human resources? Human resources refers to the organization, development, and management of employees in an organization. HR specialists take responsibility for managing a company’s personnel.
Can I earn a master’s degree in human resources online? Many schools offer online HR master’s degrees, enabling students to pursue graduate education while maintaining their current job. Some programs occur fully online, while others use a hybrid format.
How long does it take to earn a master’s in human resources? Completion times vary among programs, but most master’s in human resources programs take 1-2 years to complete.
Do you need a master’s degree to work in human resources? A master’s degree is not required to work in human resources. However, earning a master’s can help HR specialists progress to advanced positions with higher salary levels.
How has the COVID pandemic impacted human resources? Remote work especially has changed the way human resources managers take on everything from employee engagement to onboarding and recruiting. These professionals will have to keep up with the latest best practices and adapt to a changing work environment to guarantee a positive work culture and productivity.
How are companies improving diversity and inclusion efforts? Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) have become a priority for many organizations.Human resources professionals will have to show up with DEI training, ready to build a diversified staff and coach managers to incorporate inclusion. In fact, more employers are making DEI jobs available, proving that a different set of perspectives in the workplace is crucial for HR success.

Online Master’s in Human Resources Overview

Increasing your human resources knowledge with a masters degree is a great way to further your expertise and help advance your career. An online degree will be flexible enough to pursue while gaining essential on-the-job experience. You may even find some companies sponsor an additional degree if they can see the benefit of investing in your education.

Some of the courses you may take in a human resources masters program include:

  • Human resources management
  • The legal and ethical environment of human resources
  • Strategic recruitment and selection
  • The Effectiveness of a market connected culture

Why should I get a masters in human resources?

Pay increase

You’re more likely to receive a higher salary if you have advanced education. Companies often value the additional training and specialized knowledge that a masters degree can offer. Similarly, you can leverage that degree for raises if you’re already employed. Keep in mind, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the annual wage for human resource manager can vary depending on the industry one is working on.

Increase expertise

A master’s degree in human resources can allow you to specialize in managing an industry. Some degree programs have concentrations like health care, finance, economics, or leadership. By increasing your expertise in this way, you can enter the workforce more prepared for real-life work scenarios and responsibilities.

Maximize management potential

An advanced degree can help fast-track your career and make promotion easier. You’re more likely to be put in charge of managing teams and given more responsibility. You can also enter the workforce at a higher job level.

Career and Salary Outlook for Human Resources



Graduates of master’s in human resources programs almost always pursue careers in HR, but the field encompasses a wide assortment of positions . Entry-level jobs, like human resources specialist, may lead to more advanced positions, like human resources manager. At the highest levels of the field, HR specialists can assume top executive roles, such as chief human resources officer.

This table highlights some of the most popular high level human resources careers, along with annual salary data and projected job growth rates.

Career Median Annual Salary States with Highest Employment Level
Human Resources Specialist $61,920 California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois
Human Resources Manager $116,720 California, New York, Illinois, Texas, Florida
Chief Executive $184,460 California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Tennessee

What is the ROI for a human resources masters degree?

Tuition for a human resources masters degree can range from $11,000 to $24,000 depending on the program you choose. The average salary for an entry-level human resources specialist is about $62,000 per year. A career in the human resources field has the potential to help you advance to an executive position with an average salary of $184,000 per year. Your best bet for a great ROI will be internal promotion and work experience. Jobs in human resources are projected to grow 4-7% in the next ten years, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

What are the admission requirements for human resources master programs?

Admission requirements will vary depending on the specific masters program. Generally, most of our favorite schools for human resources will require:

  • GPA minimum of 2.5 or 3.0.
  • You’ll also need to have previously earned a bachelors degree, preferably in a field related to human resources or business administration.
  • A few letters of recommendation are also often required for your application.
  • Some schools also ask for GRE or GMAT scores, though many will make exceptions if you have relevant work experience.

Concentrations in Human Resources

Although it’s more common for human resources to be a concentration within a business administration degree — some programs do offer concentrations that allow you to focus your human resources learning by industry.

Leadership and management 

This concentration focuses on developing leadership skills like problem-solving, decision making, managing, and planning. Courses may include leadership of creativity and change, behavior in organizations, and project management. 

Health care management 

This concentration prepares students who wish to apply their human resource degree to the healthcare industry. It highlights healthcare-specific issues like public policies, ethical principles, and fiscal constraints. Courses can include planning and budgeting in health care, managing integration of health care systems, health care law and ethics, health care policy and regulations, and management of health care organizations.

Finance 

A finance concentration will dedicate your studies to financial management and strategy. You’ll be prepared to work in more accounting and finance-focused companies at a corporation and firm-level. Courses may include money and banking, investment finance, international finance, foundations of finance, and investment theory.

Data Science 

A data science concentration will focus on using data to enforce HR responsibilities. You’ll learn to use data to calculate use of company time, resource consumption, and benefit utilization. A data science concentration can also set you up with the skills to predict industry trends and solve high-level business problems. Courses may include analytics, HR analytics and issues, research design, data-driven decision making and innovation through new technologies.

Human Resources Certifications and Licenses

There are no specific licenses or certifications required to work in human resources. However, additional endorsements can help you obtain a competitive edge in the job market. A new certification can also increase your expertise if you’re looking to continue growing in your profession and staying up to date on industry tools and standards.

If you’re interested in furthering your credentials with a certification check out some top industry leaders in supplemental human resources education.

Scholarships, grants and financial aid for human resources students

Many companies and professional organizations offer scholarships for master’s in human resources students. This list highlights scholarships available to students pursuing master’s in human resources degrees.

  • AfterCollege Business Student Scholarship: Students enrolled in a business graduate program, including human resources, may apply for a $500 scholarship. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and demonstrate professionalism and a record of academic accomplishment.
  • Susan R. Meisinger Fellowship: SHRM members with at least three years’ HR experience who are currently enrolled in or accepted to a graduate program in human resources may apply for the $50,000 award. 
  • Timothy Sy Lam Education Scholarship: Graduate students enrolled in a hospitality human resources program may apply for a $2,000 scholarship. Applicants must submit a short essay and one reference letter. 

Financial aid functions differently at the graduate level. Some funding options available to undergraduates (such as Pell Grants) do not serve graduate students. Graduate students should complete the FAFSA to determine their eligibility for federal aid, such as subsidized federal loans. Deadlines for state-specific aid can vary widely.

What Are the Top Online Master’s in Human Resources Programs? Here Our Top 10



Rank School Location
1 Thomas Edison State University Trenton, NJ
2 Florida International University Miami, FL
3 Tennessee State University Nashville, TN
4 Bellevue University Bellevue, NE
5 University of Houston-Clear Lake Houston, TX
6 Indiana State University Terre Haute, IN
7 Ottawa University-Online Ottawa, KS
8 Troy University Troy, AL
9 Tarleton State University Stephenville, TX
10 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS

A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible through our Ranking Methodology page.

Danika Miller picture

Danika Miller

HIGHER EDUCATION REPORTER

Danika Miller is an education reporter at Grad School Hub who covers higher education news and trends, as well as paying for college. Her writing has also appeared in Best Value Schools, Affordable Colleges Online, and Her Campus, and her financial expertise has been featured in The Simple Dollar and CreditCards.com.

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