Online Human Resources Master’s Degree


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Human resources professionals are often thought of as the administrative backbone of an organization. They are responsible for recruitment and staffing, employee relations and handling payroll and benefits. Increasingly human resources staff are taking on new roles that include strategic planning and enforcement of complicated labor laws.

It’s not a surprise then that human resources was one of the few industries that did not see a drop in growth during the economic crisis. As baby boomers retire and organizations begin to rebound, more human resource professionals are needed to fill these positions.

An online master’s degree in human resources provides a comprehensive foundation for those looking to transition into the field and offers more specialized training to those looking for career advancement. Better technology, including automated recruiting software, has eliminated some positions in the field. A human resources master’s degree gives students a competitive edge by offering training in critical need areas such as employee rights, as well as preparing them for management roles.

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Course Work

Example courses
Strategic human resources
Project management
Benefits and compensation
Labor and collective bargaining
Employment and labor law
Staff, training and development

Online master’s degree programs in human resources train students in a vast array of skills, from structuring compensation and benefits packages to managing collective bargaining negotiations. Students should expect to take foundational courses in business, management and human resources. More specialized course work for human resources students includes employment negotiations, staffing and training, conflict management, labor relations and organizational change management.

Some online degree programs may require students to obtain certification in human resources prior to graduation, which makes individuals more marketable and can lead to further advancement. The HR Certification Institute and Society for Human Resource Management offer different levels of certification, each with its own set of eligibility requirements.  

Job Outlook

Median salaries*
Human resources specialist $53,000
Training and development manager $89,200
Compensation and benefits manager $89,300
Human resources manager $99,000

*per the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook

The job outlook for human resources is very strong, as the market is expected to grow 21 percent by 2020, adding more than 90,000 jobs, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The employment services industry, which includes employment placement agencies and professional employer organizations, is expected to grow 55 percent by 2020.

Salaries for human resources professionals can be quite varied, depending on the location and size of the organization. Human resources specialists earn a median salary of nearly $53,000, while human resources managers earn a median salary of approximately $99,000. The top 10 percent of human resources managers earn more than $166,000 annually, according to the BLS.

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