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Online programs in human resources are a blessing for HR managers. They’re extremely accommodating to working professionals and stuffed with career-focused coursework. If you like the idea of distance learning, but aren’t sure about the pros & cons, read on. We have tips on choosing an online degree, transferring credits, gaining real-world experience, earning professional certifications (e.g. PHR), and more. We also profile the top online schools in our rankings for both quality and price.
Want a little more background & info on the HR profession? Have a squizz at our guide to Affordable Human Resources Degrees. In addition to discussing job opportunities for degree holders, we take a good hard look at the certification debate between HRCI and SHRM.
Benedictine University offers two online options for its Master of Science in Management and Organizational Behavior degree. Students may take one course at a time in a traditional format, or they may sign up for the accelerated cohort model, which allows them to complete the degree in half the time and progress through the program with the same group of students. Courses are offered in six sessions per year, and no thesis is required. Students must complete 64 credits, with 34 credits in core management classes and 30 credits in the concentration and electives. The online Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership is a degree-completion program that includes courses in labor and management relations, organizational dynamics, and operations management.
Bethel University has an online program for adult undergraduates seeking a Bachelor of Science in Business Management with a concentration in Human Resources Management. The program requires students to complete 49 credits and can be completed in as little as 22 months. Required courses include financial accounting, business law, compensation, benefits, employment law, and talent management for the new world of work. Students must also complete a capstone project that involves experiential learning and helping a client to solve an organizational need. Applicants to this program must already have 60 credits; those who do not meet that requirement may be able to take courses through Bethel's associate degree programs. Students can start the program in the spring or fall.
Both undergraduate and graduate students can earn a degree in human resources in a fully online format through Brandman University. Graduate students can earn an MBA in Human Resources or a Master of Science in Human Resources. The MBA requires up to 48 credits, depending upon waivers, with 12 credits dedicated to the human resources emphasis. The M.S. degree requires 36 credits and covers topics such as conflict and negotiations, recruitment and selection, training, compensation, benefits, and legal issues in human resources. Both master's programs require a capstone project. The Bachelor of Business Administration in Human Resources requires students to earn 21 credits in human resources courses and 51 credits in core business classes. Sessions are eight weeks long.
Colorado Christian University offers online programs in human resource management that are designed for adult students. Options include an Associate of Science in Human Resource Management, a Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management, and a 12-credit Human Resource Management Certificate. Students in the bachelor's program take courses covering training and development, workforce planning, labor and employment law, performance management, and compensation and benefits. CCU allows students to apply up to 31 credits from prior learning and life experiences. The associate degree focuses on topics such as organizational behavior, human resource administration, leadership, and business law. The 60-credit program includes 15 credits in the major. CCU courses are offered in five-week blocks and include online forums and group discussions.
Colorado State University's online Global Campus offers entirely online programs that allow students to earn a Master of Science in Human Resource Management or to complete a Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management. Undergrads can transfer as many as 90 credits from other accredited institutions. The B.S. degree requires 120 credits overall, and the HRM curriculum includes 10 classes, including a capstone. The 36-credit master's program includes 24 credits in core classes. Both programs are delivered in a 100 percent online format with asynchronous classes. CSU-Global's classes are offered in an accelerated eight-week format, and a new term starts each month. All online courses are offered every term for ease of scheduling. The college does not charge out-of-state tuition fees.
Online students can earn a bachelor's or master's degree in human resource management through Columbia College. The master's program offered online is an MBA with an emphasis in Human Resource Management. The 36-credit program includes 27 credits in foundational and core business courses and nine credits in the HRM emphasis, including a required course in employment law and electives such as organization training and development, compensation and benefits, or recruitment and selection. Undergrads can earn a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a major in human resource management. Undergrads take 51 credits in core business classes and 18 to 21 credits in the major. Columbia College also offers an online, 18-credit Human Resources Management Certificate.
Concordia University St. Paul offers online programs leading to undergraduate and graduate degrees in human resource management. The Bachelor of Arts in Human Resource Management is a fully online, 40-credit degree completion program for adult learners. Classes are delivered in a seven-week format and include topics such as legal issues in human resources, staffing, compensation and benefits, and organizational development. Students must complete 128 credits to earn the degree. The Master of Arts in Human Resource Management is a 36-credit program offered completely online with no need to attend meetings on campus. The curriculum aligns with the Society for Human Resource Management's standards. Courses cover topics such as human resources leadership, recruitment and selection, and an action research project.
Davenport University has two online programs in human resource management. The Bachelor of Business Administration in Human Resource Management is a 120-credit program that prepares students for human resource careers. The program includes 39 credits in general education foundation classes, 32 credits in foundational business classes, and classes in the major. Students have the option to work an internship in a human resource setting or to do a field-based project where a team of students assists a client such as a non-profit. Either class fulfills the requirement for experiential learning. Davenport also offers an online post-baccalaureate Human Resource Management Certificate. The certificate is for students with a degree in business who want to learn the fundamentals of HRM.
Eastern Michigan University delivers coursework for a Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management in a fully online format. The program is open to students who have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college and a GPA of at least 2.7. The 15-credit program includes two required courses and three electives. Required courses cover organizational theory and behavior and strategic human resource management. Eligible electives cover topics such as employment law, staffing, compensation management, benefits administration, working in a unionized setting, and human resource technology. Students may be able to transfer three graduate credits to this certificate program.
Franklin University has fully online programs leading to undergraduate and graduate degrees in human resource management. The university has two options for the Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management. Students who do not have an undergraduate degree can complete a 124-credit program that requires 50 credits in general education classes, 28 credits in the business core, and 28 credits in the major. Students who have already earned a bachelor's degree can earn a subsequent Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management by competing 28 credits in the business core and 28 credits in the major. The Master of Science in Human Resource Management is a 10-course program that students can complete in as little as 16 months.
Geneva College offers an online program leading to a Bachelor of Professional Studies in Human Resources that students can complete in as little as 18 months. The program, offered through Geneva's Adult Degree Programs division, focuses on fundamentals of human resource management. Required courses include topics such as organizational analysis, business communication, personnel management, employee and labor relations, training and development, and career development. Courses are offered in two terms each semester, and students can access classwork at the time they choose. Full-time and part-time students are welcome to enter the program. The Adult Degree Program is for students who have been out of high school for at least five years and have at least 64 transfer credits.
CAG Score 95.9
Golden Gate University offers a variety of completely online graduate and undergraduate programs for students interested in human resource management (HRM). Options include an MBA with a concentration in HRM, a Master of Science in Human Resource Management, a Bachelor of Arts in Management with a concentration in HRM, a Bachelor of Science in Business with a concentration in HRM, and graduate and undergraduate certificates in Human Resource Management. The M.S.-HRM program is fully aligned with the curriculum outlined by the Society for Human Resource Management and allows students to work an optional internship to gain real-world experience. The Master of Science program requires 33 credits. The MBA program requires 54 credits, including 12 in the concentration area.
Indiana State University offers an undergraduate and graduate degree in human resource management through its online offerings. The Master of Science in Human Resource Development requires students to complete 33 to 36 credits and allows a choice of a thesis or a major project. The completely online program also includes electives so students can develop an area of specialization. Students are also required to complete a professional internship. The Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Development includes 14 required courses in the major and three electives chosen from departmental offerings. All required courses for the major are offered online, and students may be able to complete their foundational studies online or at a local college.
National University offers a completely online program leading to a Master of Arts in Human Resource Management. The program aligns with the curriculum guidelines set by the Society for Human Resource Management and uses case studies and experiential learning. The program consists of a minimum of 54 quarter units of coursework, with 11 required courses and one elective. Courses cover topics such as legal and ethical issues, workforce planning and development, employee relations, compensation and benefits, and organizational behavior. The capstone course requires a thesis or capstone project. Students have the option of completing a specialization in organizational leadership. National University also offers a four-course online program leading to a Certificate in Human Resource Management.
New York University's School of Professional Studies has several online options in human resource management. Undergrads can earn a Bachelor of Science in Leadership and Management Studies with a concentration in Human Resource Management. The fully online program includes 60 credits in required business courses and 16 credits in the concentration. The Master of Science in Human Resource Management and Development allows students to choose a concentration: Human Resource Management; Organizational Effectiveness; Learning, Development, and Executive Coaching; or Global Talent Management. Students take eight core classes and four classes in the concentration and complete a thesis or capstone project. Full-time students can earn the master's in two years. A two-course Graduate Certificate in Human Resources Management is also offered online.
Nova Southeastern University has an online option for students who want to earn a Master of Science in Human Resource Management. Students can complete the program in as few as 21 months, and they have the option of starting their studies at five times during the year - January, March, May, August, or October. Courses are delivered in eight-week terms and include real-time electronic classrooms and student discussion forums and bulletin boards. Courses in the 39-credit program cover topics such as managing organizational behavior, career development, managing and measuring human resources, talent management, employee relations, and tools and technology used in the human relations profession.
Palm Beach Atlantic University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management that allows students to concentrate in Human Resource Management. For the concentration, students take a required course in human resource law and three electives in topics such as adult education and human resource development, balancing work and life, and conflict coaching skills. The organizational management degree requires 121 credits, including 45 credits in general education and 44 credits in the major. Students may enter the program in the fall or spring semester. Palm Beach Atlantic University allows students to earn professional education credits to speed their degree completion. Credit may be awarded for certificates or licenses the student has achieved, and for professional or military training programs.
Penn State Online offers a variety of options for degrees in human resource management. The 100 percent online Master of Professional Studies in Human Resources and Employment Relations allows students to choose from seven concentrations: benefits and compensation; labor and collective bargaining, employment and labor law; staffing, training, and development; ethics and leadership; international human resources and employment relations; or labor unions: organization and strategy. Undergrads can choose from a major in Organizational Leadership or in Labor and Employment Relations. For either major, students may choose an online course of study leading to either a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science, depending upon their career goals and interests. Most courses are delivered in an asynchronous format.
Robert Morris University offers a completely online Master of Science in Human Resource Management. RMU's HRM program has a strategic focus and aims to prepare students to be HR managers and key members of the leadership team. Courses cover topics such as compensation management, employee rights, decision sciences for human resource management, and benefits administration. The program is designed for part-time students, and courses are arranged in eight-week sessions. Students can complete the program in two years by taking one course each session, including one course over the summer. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited university and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Prerequisites include accounting, statistics, finance, and organizational behavior classes.
St. Leo University offers online options for undergraduate and graduate programs in human resource management. The Bachelor of Arts in Human Resource Management prepares students for jobs in human resource positions and also qualifies them to take the Professional in Human Resource certification exam. In addition to completing general education courses and earning 36 credits in business core courses, students must earn 27 credits in human resource core courses. Topics covered include selection and placement, total compensation, personnel law, human resource development, and an internship. Online MBA students can choose a concentration in Human Resource Management. The 36-credit program includes 15 credits in HRM classes. A 21-credit Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management is also available online.
SUNY Empire State's online program allows students to earn a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Professional Studies in Business, Management and Economics with a concentration in human resource management or in labor relations. Students design an individualized program of study in consultation with a faculty mentor. The School for Graduate Studies also offers an online Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management that aligns with the professional competencies recommended by the Society for Human Resource Management. Students may begin work on the certificate program in the fall, spring, or summer semester. Required courses include high performance management, managing human capital, performance management and total rewards systems, and strategic human resource management. The credits may be transferred to the MBA program.
Thomas Edison State University has online programs leading to a graduate or undergraduate degree in human resource management. The Master of Science in Human Resources Management requires student to complete 27 credits in core courses such as strategic recruiting and retention, legal and ethical issues, and lifestyle benefits and compensation. Students also complete two electives and a capstone project. Students may be eligible for prior learning credit or to transfer up to 12 credits. The Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Human Resources Management/Organizational Management focuses on topics such as industrial relations, compensation, employee selection and training, and organizational behavior. Students must complete 120 credits including a capstone requirement that incorporates learning from across the degree program.
Students interested in human resources management can choose from undergraduate and graduate programs offered online through the University of Maryland's University College. The Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management combines theories with practical skills and applications. Students take at least 12 classes in the HRM major. The Online Master of Science in Management allows students to specialize in Human Resource Management. The program requires students to take several core courses and seven courses in the specialization. Master's students must also complete a capstone course. UMUC accepts a variety of transfer credits and grants academic credit for life experiences including military education and experience, workplace learning, and credit by exam. Online programs have multiple start dates per year.
The University of the Incarnate Word offers an online MBA program with a specialization in Human Resource Management. The program requires students to complete 30 credits and can be completed in 10 months. Students must meet prerequisites, including courses in accounting, information systems, economics, quantitative analysis and statistics, finance, global environment, marketing, business law, and management. The classes are offered in an asynchronous format so students can view class materials at a time they choose. The courses are delivered in accelerated, eight-week terms, with six terms per year. UIW Online also offers a Bachelor of Arts in Human Resources that can be completed 100 percent online. The program is for adult learners with at least three years of work experience.
Upper Iowa University has several online options for students interested in human resource management. Undergraduates can major in human resource management, and UIU's curriculum meets the standards set by the Society of Human Resource Management. Undergrads take classes in topics such as employee selection and evaluation, labor relations and negotiation, benefits management, and strategic management. Students in the online MBA program can choose human resources management as their area of emphasis. UIU requires MBA students to complete 36 credits, and the college delivers courses in six eight-week terms each year. All MBA students must complete a capstone experience that demonstrates their competency in the area of emphasis. UIU also has an online, five-course Post Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management.
Students interested in human resources can choose from two online graduate degree programs at Webster University. The Master of Arts in Human Resources Management prepares human resources professionals to work in business, industry, government and non-profit organizations. The Master of Arts in Human Resources Development is designed for students who work in corporate offices, training firms, or human resources development consulting firms. Students must complete 37 credit hours to earn either master's degree. Classes are delivered in an asynchronous format, so students do not have to log in at a specific time, although they must meet weekly deadlines. Classes are offered in eight-week, nine-week, and 16-week formats, with no requirement for a student to spend time on campus.
Students with some college credit or experience in human resources or in business can earn an online Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management from Western Governors University. The program covers all six categories of learning in the Human Resources Certification Institute's HR Body of Knowledge, and the curriculum aligns with the Professional in Human Resources Certification Exam. Required courses include topics such as recruitment and selection, employment law, and compensation and benefits. To earn the degree, students must earn 120 credits and complete a professional portfolio and capstone project. WGU uses a competency model where students can earn as many credits as they want (they must earn at least 12) every six months for a flat tuition fee.
In the online realm, Wilmington University offers a Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management, a Master of Science in Management with a concentration in Human Resource Management, and an MBA with a concentration in Human Resource Management. To earn the bachelor's degree, students complete general education requirements, 33 credits in core business classes, 33 credits in management core classes, and 12 credits in related business or HRM electives. Students may work a co-op experience for academic credit. For the MS degree, students must complete 18 credits in core business management classes, 12 credits in HRM courses, and six credits in electives. Two independent study projects are included in the curriculum. Wilmington may award up to six graduate credits for a Senior Professional HR Manager certification. And for the MBA, students must complete a 21-credit hour Business Administration core and 18 credits in the HR concentration, including courses in international HR, compensation & benefits, and training & development.
Let’s say you’ve looked through our rankings and you’re eyeing two or three online programs in HR management. They all have the same degree title and they all come from reputable schools. Is there a way you can decide between them? Yes! Just ask yourself the following questions:
Have you found an HR program that’s not listed in our rankings? Before you sign on the dotted line, double-check its credentials. Find out where the university is located and then have a look at our Online State Rankings. Under each state, we have a detailed list of Online Schools with Accreditation & Quality Concerns.
The following universities appear in our rankings of Top Affordable Schools for Human Resources and Top Online Schools for Human Resources. That means they have met some extremely tough criteria for quality, flexibility, price, and use of financial aid money (you’ll see a CAG Score next to their profiles).
Geneva’s Online BPS in Human Resources is handled by the Adult Degree Programs division, which posts current tuition costs in its section on Adult Degree Tuition & Aid. Geneva offers discount tuition rates to employees of its corporate and organizational partners.
More than 90% of Geneva’s adult students qualify for financial aid. The section on Adult Degree Tuition & Aid also includes details on military benefits (e.g. Yellow Ribbon Scholarship) and special grants for laid-off workers & transfer students. The James Naim Memorial Scholarship is open to students in the Adult Degree Programs; eligibility is based upon a scholarship essay and financial need.
Whatever HR degree or certificate you decide to pursue, make sure it comes from a university or college that holds regional accreditation. This accreditation is given to a school, not an individual department or program, so it encompasses both on-campus and online offerings.
There’s a reason we keep harping on about this. Earning an online qualification from a regionally accredited institution will make it easier for you to transfer credits; qualify for federal aid; apply for student loans, scholarships, and tuition reimbursement; and gain acceptance into graduate programs. Many regionally accredited schools will not accept credits from nationally accredited schools.
Thinking about an Online MBA or BBA? You may find that the business school is trumpeting that it holds one of the following accreditations:
AACSB is often regarded as the gold standard. We go into more detail about these organizations in our guide to Affordable MBA Programs.
There are two major certification bodies in the world of HR. We talk more about them in our guide to Affordable Human Resources Degrees, but here’s a quick summary:
There is an ongoing debate about which qualifications are better. PHR and SPHR are well-known in the business and can lead to higher pay scales. But SHRM is coming on strong. We don’t have a firm opinion. Talk to your mentors, do some research, and look at HR job descriptions to see which certifications are listed in the job requirements.
The good news? Many HR online programs will help prepare you for these certification exams. Universities should state this clearly on the program website. If they don’t, check with the program coordinator.