Best Master’s in Human Resources Degrees 2021

Best Master’s in Human Resources Degrees 2021

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Human resources focuses on an organization's most important resource: its employees. HR professionals take responsibility for employee management and development, overseeing practices such as hiring, training, compensation, and conflict resolution. 

Given the field's focus on employee relations, HR professionals need strong interpersonal communication skills, along with leadership, decision-making, and organizational skills. Most HR professionals work for private companies, but all types of organizations need employee management, including government agencies and nonprofits.

While most HR positions only require a bachelor's degree, earning a master's in human resources can help candidates progress to top positions in the field, such as human resources manager. This page offers an overview of the best human resources master's programs, including top schools, typical courses, potential career paths, and scholarships for human resources graduate students.

What is human resources?

Human resources refers to the management and development of an organization's employees. HR professionals oversee employee hiring, benefits, relations, and other personnel issues.

How long does it take to earn a master's in human resources?

Most human resources master's programs take 1-3 years to complete. Many programs offer part-time and accelerated enrollment options.

What can I do with a master's in human resources?

A master's in human resources degree prepares students for advanced roles in the HR field. With adequate experience, graduates can move into high-paying leadership positions, such as human resources manager.

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Career and Salary Outlook for Human Resources

In general, human resources managers oversee the management and development of an organization's employees. While individual department directors oversee employees' specific job duties, HR professionals oversee broad administrative processes related to staffing and hiring, employee training, compensation and benefits, employee relations, and organizational development.

HR specialists may oversee day-to-day operations related to hiring processes, benefits, and other employee relations practices. HR managers devise general HR practices and policies, determining how an organization manages its employees. Earning a master's in human resources can help candidates advance to upper management positions quickly.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects jobs for human resource specialists to grow 7% from 2019-2029 and jobs for human resources managers to grow 6%. HR specialists earn an annual median wage of $61,920, while HR managers earn an annual median wage of $116,720, demonstrating the impact that an advanced education can make on salary levels.

CareerLowest 10%Median Annual SalaryHighest 10%
Human Resources ManagersLess than $68,300$116,720More than $205,720

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Accreditation for Human Resources

When researching master's in human resources programs, students should ensure that a school holds proper regional accreditation. Schools may hold regional or national accreditation, with regional accreditation generally considered the more prestigious of the two. Read more about why accreditation matters in our accreditation guide.

Individual academic programs may also receive accreditation from programmatic accrediting agencies. While no specific agency accredits HR programs, top business schools may hold accreditation from the American Assembly to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business or the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

Courses in a Human Resources Program

Master's in human resources programs cover topics like hiring practices, employee management strategies, employee services and benefits, and legal and ethical compliance. Many programs end with a capstone that applies student learning to a major business project.

This list outlines five courses commonly found in human resources master's programs. While exact course content and titles vary among programs, these courses offer a representative sample of the average human resources master's curriculum.

Foundations of Nursing Practice

For students without previous RN training, most BSN programs include multiple foundation courses that introduce key concepts in nursing practice. Typically occurring during the first or second year of a program, this course highlights topics such as nursing assessment, therapeutic intervention, communication, and decision-making.

Nursing Ethics

Nurses face assorted ethical issues during their general duties. Most programs feature a course focusing on clinical ethics and ethical expertise. This course explores professional and ethical concerns such as diversity and cultural differences, economic constraints, political and religious factors, and current nursing legislation.

Nursing Research

Modern nursing uses evidence-based practice to offer the highest possible standard of care. This course highlights the role of research in nursing, giving students the tools to identify, assess, and evaluate various forms of research and their application to nursing practice. The course may also highlight research processes and methodologies.

Nutrition for Clinical Practice

Nurses promote health among patient populations, and nutrition plays a key role. This course emphasizes the role of nutrition both in health promotion and in medical nutrition therapy. Nurses gain the skills to perform nutrition assessments and interventions based on current dietary guidelines.

Clinical Placement

With very few exceptions, all online BSN programs include a significant clinical component. These components place students in a professional nursing environment for both observation and supervised clinical practice. Placements typically occur over multiple semesters, enabling students to gain hands-on experience in real-life healthcare settings, such as clinics, hospitals, and private practices.

Students in master's in human resources programs can apply for scholarship opportunities to help offset the cost of their degree. Offering higher education funding that does not require repayment, scholarships represent an ideal form of financial aid. This list highlights three popular scholarships for HR students.

Who Can Apply: The Society for Human Resource Management Foundation offers this scholarship for any member pursuing a graduate program in HR or a related field. Applicants need at least one semester remaining in their program.

Amount: $5,000

Who Can Apply: HR systems software company Lucerna offers this scholarship for students pursuing human resources degrees at the undergraduate or graduate level. Graduate applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Amount: $1,000

Who Can Apply: The National Forum for Black Public Administrators offers this scholarship for Black human resources students, preferably those attending historically Black colleges and universities. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Amount: $2,500

Best Master's in Human Resources Degrees 2021

Our ranking highlights some of the country's best human resources master's programs. Offering a combination of strong academics, professional preparation, and student support, these programs prepare graduates for top positions in the field. All of the schools on this list hold regional accreditation, ensuring students receive quality professional training.

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Ohio State University

    Columbus, OH



    Located in Columbus, The Ohio State University's main campus occupies a vibrant urban center. Columbus, the capital city, encompasses over 2 million residents in the metro area.

    Ohio State offers a master of human resource management (MHRM) with evening classes to meet the needs of working professionals. The program runs from within The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business. Taught by clinical and research faculty, the MHRM program gives students access to corporate executive guest speakers, career management services, and hands-on learning applications.

    This 39-credit degree program accepts both full-time and part-time students. Full-time students can complete the program in three semesters over an 18-month period. The Ohio State University holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and its MHRM curriculum is certified under the Society for Human Resource Management.

  2. University of Georgia

    Athens, GA



    The University of Georgia sprawls within the quaint town of Athens, just about 70 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta.The university comprises 18 schools and colleges, and its research library ranks among the nation’s best.

    UGA offers a master of business administration with a concentration in human resource management, which combines coursework from the Terry College of Business and the College of Education. Students in this concentration can expect to learn about data management and analytics, employment law, risk management, and more. The curriculum for this concentration includes 15 hours of required courses and six hours of suggested electives.

    The University of Georgia holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The Terry College of Business' accreditation comes through The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International.

  3. University of Connecticut

    Storrs, CT



    The University of Connecticut, founded in Storrs in 1881, now envelops regional campuses in Avery Point, Hartford, Stamford, and Waterbury. The main campus caters to more than 19,000 undergraduate students. UConn offers 17 graduate degree options.

    UConn confers a 33-credit hour master of science in human resource management within its school of business. This part-time, blended-format degree includes both on-campus and online learning. Seven-week accelerated sessions throughout the year allow students to focus on a single course each session and complete the program in 20 months. With the accelerated coursework, students must complete four integrated Saturday seminars at the Graduate Business Learning Center on the Hartford campus. UConn also offers a four-course graduate certificate in human resource management.

    The University of Connecticut holds regional accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education, and its school of business holds accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International.

  4. Texas State University

    San Marcos, TX



    Texas State University, a public research university founded in 1899, sits halfway between Austin and San Antonio in a town called San Marcos. Today, the university welcomes over 38,000 total students and boasts a course catalog of more than 200 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs.

    Texas State offers a master of science in human resource management degree within its McCoy College of Business. The 30-hour graduate program contains both part-time and full-time formats and includes 24 core credits and six required elective credits. The program carries Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International accreditation and comes Society of Human Resource Management-certified. Courses focus on industry topics including compensation and benefits, recruitment and selection, employee training, and more.

    Texas State University holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  5. Stony Brook University

    Stony Brook, NY



    Just 60 miles east of New York City lies Stony Brook University, founded in 1957. The campus stretches along the scenic north shore of Long Island. The university welcomes over 26,000 students and more than 60 majors and 80 minors.

    Stony Brook offers a 30-credit master of science in human resource management that consists of 10 three-credit courses. The university also offers a 15-credit advanced graduate certificate and a 30-hour, non-credit SHRM test preparation course. Degree-seekers can undertake full-time, part-time, and one-at-a-time course loads. Students can take up to five years to complete the master's program or three years to complete the advanced graduate certificate. The curriculum,taught by leaders in their respective fields, integrates theory and practice. The master's degree program ranks in the top five in the nation by College Choice, and the graduate certificate ranked in the top 10 by Best Colleges.

    Stony Brook University holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

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