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Human Resources Master's Degree or HR MBA: Which One's Right for You?


There are many ways to succeed in human resources. But if you truly want to be a leader in your organization, an advanced degree is your best option. Both an MBA with a concentration in human resources and a human resource master's degree will prepare you to take on HR leadership positions in companies in every field imaginable: law firms, insurance companies, marketing firms, you name it.

Graduates of MBA and master's programs in human resources go on to attain such high-powered positions as director or vice president of human resources, and determine the direction of HR policies and procedures in their firms.

The Different Tracks of the Human Resource Master's Degree Programs

While each track offers advanced training in human resources, managerial concepts and theories, an MBA with a concentration in human resources will delve deeper into business operations, and help you play a strategic role to advance organizational goals, improve employee performance and increase employee satisfaction.

In contrast, the highly specialized master's in HR you'll gain a solid foundation in developmental, strategic and global HR issues. Some key topics that you'll study include organizational change, human resource planning, compensation, international human resources, organizational training and project management for HR professionals. Whether you want to pursue a master of science (M.S.) or master of arts (M.A.), you will acquire the knowledge and skills you need to succeed in today's competitive workplace.

MBA with an HR Focus and HR Master's Curriculum

  • The curriculum for an MBA in human resources generally involves corporate management and business strategies, organizational behavior and design, ethical leadership and in-depth HR concepts as they relate to general management. You'll take core courses in accounting, macroeconomics, financial management, marketing and more. You will then specialize in human resources with your elective courses.
  • Coursework for human resources master's degrees typically involves detailed studies of HR subsystems, including legal issues in the workplace, compensation and benefits, and recruitment and training. Students also take classes covering leadership and strategic management concepts, organizational design and psychology. What you learn in a master's in human resources will help you address the need for strategic management in the modern workforce. You'll tackle a wide range of topics including employee retention, diversity, the global economy, career development, new technologies, incentives and performance management.

And since colleges and universities across the country know that people pursuing advanced degrees are often working professionals, they offer many online options and flexible scheduling. These include blended programs in which you can do a lot of your work online, and then meet periodically on campus with other like-minded students.

Whether you decide to pursue a master's or an MBA, you'll get the training you need to help lead your company to success…today and tomorrow, no matter the vagaries of the job market.