Most Affordable Online Master’s in Human Resources Programs 2020

| Staff

Most Affordable Online Master’s in Human Resources Programs 2020
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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.

Advertisement GradSchoolHub.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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FAQ

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.
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./td>
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.
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.

Most Affordable Online Master’s in Human Resources Programs 2020



This ranking features 25 of the top online master’s in human resources programs. Offered at schools around the country, these programs represent a mixture of rigorous education, strong professional preparation, and top-notch student support services. The programs on this list offer either fully or primarily online courses, giving candidates a high level of flexibility to complete their studies.

  1. Thomas Edison State University
    Location

    Trenton, NJ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    TESU's School of Business and Management offers a 36-credit online master's in human resources. Students can earn the MS degree fully online. The school allows enrollees to transfer up to 12 credits from another accredited institution with the approval of the program director. TESU's MS in human resources is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Preferred fields of study include business, psychology, and management. Students with a bachelor's degree in an unrelated field must speak to an admissions counselor before applying.

    The curriculum aligns with Society for Human Resource Management guidelines. Core coursework 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.

    Thomas Edison State University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  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.

What Do Human Resources Employees Do?



Human resources employees perform a variety of duties depending on their industry, specialization, and company. However, they generally focus on managing employee relations and ensuring worker satisfaction and productivity. Human resources specialists need strong communication and decision-making skills, as they must communicate frequently with employees, job applicants, and managers.

At lower levels, HR employees may take responsibility for interviewing and hiring job applicants, training new employees, and administering benefits. They may also handle employee conflicts and other HR issues, ensuring that all company activities comply with local, state, and federal employment regulations. Smaller companies may employ just one or two HR employees, while larger companies typically have entire HR departments.

At higher levels, HR managers may coordinate an organization’s administrative practices, overseeing recruiting and hiring, directing and planning employee management practices, and consulting with other managers on HR issues. Management positions often signify a transition from direct administration into broader strategic planning, addressing an organization’s overall HR functions.

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 human resources careers, along with annual salary data and projected job growth rates.

Human Resources Specialists $61,920 7%
Human Resources Managers $116,720 6%

Source: BLS

Accreditation for Master’s Degrees in Human Resources



Before applying to a master’s in human resources program, prospective students should research a school’s accreditation status. Accreditation indicates that a school adheres to high academic standards.

All reputable colleges hold either national or regional accreditation. National accreditation typically applies to trade and vocational schools, while regional accreditation applies to nonprofit, degree-granting institutions. Regional accreditation is generally considered the more prestigious of the two. Students should consult the Council for HIgher Education Accreditation’s list of recognized regional accrediting agencies to ensure that prospective colleges hold accreditation from one of six regional accrediting agencies.

Programs within a school may also hold accreditation. Online master’s in human resources programs may hold accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business or the Accreditation Council for Collegiate Business Schools and Programs. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), while not an accrediting agency, serves as the field’s premier professional organization. Any school with SHRM connections should offer quality education.

Courses in a Master’s in Human Resources



Master’s in human resources programs typically cover topics like talent management, employee relations, compensation and benefits, organizational behavior, and evaluation strategies. Students often culminate the program with a capstone project that ties together major program themes.

While specific course content and course titles may vary among schools, this list features five courses commonly found in master’s in human resources programs.

Fundamentals of Human Resources Management

Most programs include an introductory course that outlines the fundamental principles and practices of human resources management. The course typically examines the function of human resources in an organization, covering topics including labor relations, compensation and benefits, recruitment and selection, and training and development.

Human Resources Law

Employment law plays an important role in human resources, so many programs dedicate at least one course to the legal and regulatory aspects of HR. The course commonly examines topics like descrimination, unfair labor practices, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Family and the Medical Leave Act.

Organizational Behavior

Focusing on the interpersonal dynamics of workplaces, organizational behavior forms a key component of human resources. This course explores the application of communication and behavioral theories to individual and group workplace situations, highlighting the tools and strategies HR managers use to improve workplace culture and communication practices.

Strategic Recruitment

One of the main duties of HR specialists, the recruitment of talented new employees enables organizations to remain competitive in their industry. This course emphasizes key concepts and best practices of the employee recruitment and selection process, including sourcing, job analysis, selection, and evaluation.

Human Resources Capstone

Many programs include a human resources capstone, which generally serves as the culminating requirement for master’s candidates. Synthesizing major program concepts, the capstone often takes the form of an independent research project. Students may also work to develop new strategies that address HR issues at real-life organizations.

Financial Aid



Graduate students can take advantage of financial aid opportunities to help finance their education, including loans, scholarships, and grants. However, 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.

Working professionals can potentially receive employer assistance to finance their studies. Companies often pay for continuing education to keep their workforce competitive, and some organizations may provide partial or even full tuition funding for graduate education. Prospective students should check with their employers to see if they offer any funding for workforce development and continuing education.

Scholarships for Human Resources



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

Society for Human Resources Management Graduate Scholarships
Who Can Apply: SHRM members enrolled in a graduate program in HR or a closely related field can apply. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Amount: $5,000

AfterCollege Business Student Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Students enrolled in a graduate program in business, including human resources, may apply. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and demonstrate professionalism and a record of academic accomplishment.
Amount: $500

Susan R. Meisinger Fellowship
Who Can Apply: 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.
Amount: $20,000

HRIS Payroll Software HR Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Graduate students currently enrolled in a human resources program may apply. Applicants must have completed at least one HR course and hold a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA.
Amount: $1,000

Timothy Sy Lam Education Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Graduate students enrolled in a hospitality human resources program may apply. Applicants must submit a short essay and one reference letter.
Amount: $2,000

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