In this Article
A Guide to a Master's in HR Management
What Is a Master's in Human Resources?
A master's in human resources is a graduate degree designed to help students gain the strategic knowledge and skills to succeed in positions at the managerial level and beyond.
What Are the Prerequisites to Enter a Master's in HR Program?
While requirements vary by program, applicants can expect to see some or all of these requirements for admission:
What Will I Study in a Master's-Level HR Degree Program?
Coursework varies from program to program, but some common courses include:
Leading organizations explores individual and group behavior in the workplace and how leaders can influence that behavior.
Designing talent acquisition systems focuses on creating hiring systems that align with an organization's strategy and culture while delivering a measurable return on investment.
Human capital analytics looks at the knowledge and skills necessary to use data and analytics in creating human resources policy.
HR management regulations covers public policy and legal issues facing HR professionals.
Strategic reward systems examines how compensation and employee reward systems contribute to an organization's success.
Ethical and socially responsible decision-making looks at an organization's responsibilities to various stakeholders, including employees, owners, consumers, and the community.
Research methodology covers fundamental research methods, how to use published research, and how to produce high-quality research.
Managing diversity in organizations introduces theoretical and practical ideas about establishing and maintaining diversity, reducing discrimination, and increasing fairness and equity.
How Long Will It Take to Earn My Master's in Human Resources?
Generally, full-time students can complete their program in one to two years, while part-time students can earn their degree in two to five years.
Can a Master's in HR Be Completed Online?
Yes, it's common for students to pursue advanced degrees while they continue to work, and online programs for master's in human resources accommodate the needs of these students and others who can't commit to attending onsite classes regularly or don't live close to a school.
Depending on your needs and learning preferences, you can find master's in human resources programs that offer classes onsite, online, or a combination of the two. Some online master's programs also allow you to complete courses at your own pace, with the option to move faster through content you already know and complete your degree sooner than you would in a campus program.
Depending on your needs and learning preferences, you can find master's in human resources programs that offer classes onsite, online, or a combination of the two.
Note that you'll have to attend internships in person and likely do fieldwork for a capstone project. In addition, some online degree programs require students to attend periodic seminars in person.
Which HR Certifications Will a Master's Degree Prepare Me For?
Common HR certifications that require advanced levels of experience or education and move beyond HR specialties at lower levels include:
Professional certifications complement your education with advanced skills and knowledge in your field, and earning one demonstrates your expertise. They're optional for HR professionals unless required by your employer, but having a certification can help you stand apart from your peers and demonstrate your commitment to lifelong learning.
"After college, a human resources professional will need professional HR certification" to be equipped to do their job and advance, says Dooley.
What Can I Do with a Master's Degree in Human Resources?
A master's in human resources, combined with experience, helps HR professionals move into the highest levels of HR management, including director, executive, and leadership roles.
Professionals seeking career advancement in human resources increasingly need a graduate-level education to remain competitive.
A master's in human resources, combined with experience, can help HR professionals move into the highest levels of HR management, including director, executive, and leadership roles.
"While in college, students should generally consider preparing themselves for graduate school, because the future of human resources will include more formally educated competitors for jobs," says Rue Dooley, SHRM-SCP, HR Knowledge Advisor with Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
A master's degree can give you the tools to become a leader in the development and administration of HR policies and procedures in positions such as:
- Chief human resources officer
- Director of diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Vice president of human resources
While many factors affect the salary you'll earn in an HR position, a master's can prepare you for roles with higher levels of responsibility and typically higher pay.