The benefits of earning a master’s degree in human resources are numerous. Whether you are looking to get started in the field of human resources, or are a current HR professional seeking career advancement, human resources is required within every industry and offers a wide variety of steady job opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, human resource jobs are expected to grow by 7% by the year 2031. The average salary for a human resource manager is $126,230.
The demand for highly qualified professionals who can meet the challenges of an ever-changing global business economy will allow those within the field of human resources management ample room to grow their careers and provide leadership within the organizational setting.
Many professionals want to go back to school to aid in their ascent up the corporate ladder and advance their careers. They lack the time required to sit and attend courses in a traditional classroom setting. Online education has become an attractive alternative to a traditional college classroom for many busy professionals. Online masters in human resources programs allow students to complete coursework anywhere during any time of day, providing valuable flexibility.
A flexible schedule and the ability to attend class from the comfort of your couch is not the only benefit of obtaining a degree online. Many universities offer online students in-state tuition, a tuition rate that can be up to 50% lower than those attending a university that is not housed in the same state in which they live. This gives students the opportunity to attend their school of choice anywhere in the country without the expense of travel or having to move away.
So, with so many options, how do you choose which school is right for you and your career?
Presented in this article is a ranking of the 15 best online masters in human management programs. Each school and program can provide a student with a different educational experience. Before choosing, it is important to have a firm understanding of how the earned degree will be utilized in your chosen career field. The online human resources masters programs and schools selected for this list all provide a superior education. However, each school has something unique to offer. Students can choose the best school based on how the school’s curriculum aligns with their overall career goals.
Each school chosen to be on this list is worthy and deserving of attention. These top schools for master’s in human resources online are each accredited and are full-fledged universities, offering multiple degrees from an associate to a Ph.D. Schools were selected for ranking based on whether or not they offer online HR masters programs. During ranking, the following factors were considered:
- cost of tuition
- course offerings
- the involvement of faculty
- program completion time
- research and unique career opportunities
Schools featuring the latter were ranked higher due to the positive impact research and gaining real-world experience can have on a graduate’s career. The goal of obtaining an online master’s in human resources is to advance in the workplace, and schools that provided those opportunities for their students moved up a little further on our list.
The cost of tuition was also highly considered in the overall ranking of each school. Though some schools have higher tuition costs than others, the schools with the higher tuition provide students with valuable learning option that outweighs the con of such a high price tag.
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15. Western Carolina University
Online Master’s in Human Resources
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $4,435/year in-state and $14,842/year out-of-state
Beginning our list at number fifteen is Western Carolina University. This school offers a 36-credit hour online Master’s Degree in Human Resources (MSHR) that began in 1984. This affordable degree prepares students to become strategic human resource leaders for the profession by focusing on:
- evidence-based practices
- global perspective
- learning through community service
Students are drawn to the program for the opportunity to work with knowledgeable and accessible professors. They work closely with other seasoned professionals while developing a professional network. Students can gain valuable HR experience through the HR Consulting Initiative, providing pro-bono expertise to North Carolina non-profits.
Students complete a core series of courses that include:
- Human Resource Development
- HR Consulting
- Principles and Practice in Human Resources
Part-time students can complete their degree in two years by taking two courses per semester. No GRE is required for this best online human resources masters if applicants have already earned a graduate degree.
14. University of Houston Clear Lake
Online Master’s in Human Resource Management
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $7,920/year in-state and $17,316/year out-of-state
The University of Houston – Clear Lake School of Business, is accredited by the Associate to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and is also certified by the Society for Human Resource Management. Students can earn an online Master of Arts in Human Resource Management all while maintaining affordable tuition rates. The program focuses on five core areas of human resources:
- general business management
- human resource processes
- strategic decision-making
- change management
- personal mastery and influence
All faculty employed with the university are highly trained professionals within the field of human resources and each holds a PhD. The University of Houston – Clear Lake gives its students an advantage when entering the workforce by providing real-world experience through internships. Major requirements include:
- Human Behavior in Organizations
- HR Metrics and Performance Management
- Human Resource Information Systems
Courses are offered fully online, making this a great choice for working professionals. Standardized test scores are not required for admission for students who meet specific criteria including holding a graduate or professional degree.
13. Upper Iowa University
Master of Business Administration Human Resource Management
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $19,685/year
Upper Iowa University was established in 1857 and is a fully accredited institution offering multiple undergraduate and graduate degrees. Students attending this top University can obtain an online Master of Business Administration in Human Resource Management. The curriculum for this MBA program is certified by the Society for Human Resource Management. The program explores theories and methods of managing personnel. Students will take courses that cover:
- Organizational and Management Theories
- Development and Management of HRM
- Labor/Management Relations
Courses are taught by industry experts with real-world experience. Students gain expert knowledge of various employment laws critical to the workplace and hiring procedures. They also learn the importance of diversity within an organization and the various benefits of maintaining a diverse workforce.
The Upper Iowa University makes meeting individual needs a priority. This self-paced program offers flexible scheduling. Each course runs for an 8-week term. MBA students can begin their education in any session. Students are also able to transfer up to 12 graduate credits from another institution. Most students can complete their degree in two years or less.
12. Wilmington University
MBA in Human Resources Management
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $9,000/year
Wilmington University offers an online MBA with a concentration in Human Resource Management. In this program, students will learn how to become leaders in the workplace. They will gain the skills and knowledge necessary to manage an organization at the micro and macro levels while remaining flexible to adapt to a constantly changing global work environment. The emphasis on adaptability in this degree gives students a competitive edge over others entering the workforce and human resources professionals.
This 36-credit hour program includes courses in:
- Training and Development
- Compensation and Benefits
- Global Marketing Management
The program is academically aligned with the Society for Human Resource Management. Wilmington’s MBA is accredited by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education. The open admission policy means there are no GMAT requirements to be accepted. Students benefit by working with experienced faculty who share first-hand knowledge of today’s business environment.
11. Central Michigan University
Master of Business Administration-Human Resource Management Online
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $15,194/year
Central Michigan University was established in 1892 and offers an online Master of Business Administration in Human Resources Management. It is the third largest university in the state and serves more than 15,000 students, 7,000 of whom attend the school through one of its online programs. The school is large, it prides itself on maintaining a student-to-teacher ratio of 17:1.
The 36-credit hour online Master of Business Administration in Human Resource Management program is offered through the College of Business Administration. The College is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Courses consistently go under review to ensure they are aligned with current business trends. The human resource management concentration covers areas like:
- strategic human resource management
- fiscal management
- labor relations
The curriculum also focuses on employee retention, an important aspect of human resources, and a skill needed for a lasting career within the field. Students learn how to create a more efficient work environment and enhance productivity.
Students can attend on a full-time or part-time basis and earn their degree in one to two years. Graduates of this best online master in human resources are prepared for success working as:
- compensation and benefits specialists
- talent management professionals
10. The University of Texas at Tyler
Human Resource Development Master of Science
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $6,264/year in-state and $14,940/year out-of-state
Number 10 is the University of Texas at Tyler. The University of Texas at Tyler allows students to complete an online Master’s of Human Resource Development at their own pace. With a fully involved faculty, students can interact with instructors via online chat or Skype. For this master’s program, a thesis is not required. An attractive feature of this degree plan as it allows for more flexibility within a student’s schedule, especially full-time working professionals. Students complete the requirements through online coursework and research-based projects.
The HR core curriculum focuses on areas like:
- Performance Consulting
- Conflict Resolution
- Strategic Human Resources Management
- Organization Development
Graduates with their Master’s in Human Resource Development will be able to connect the functions of human resource development to organizational and business strategies. Students graduate with skills needed to be successful HR professionals working in a variety of roles including:
- human resources generalist
- corporate trainer
9. University of Maryland Global Campus
Online Master of Science in Management in Human Resource Management
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $9,072/year in-state and $11,862/year out-of-state
The University of Maryland Global Campus offers a Master of Science in Management with a Human Resources Specialization. The degree aligns with the Society for Human Resource Management. Students can prepare for the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certifications. The program curriculum overs specialized courses in areas like:
- Current Perspectives in Training and Development
- Job Analysis, Assessment, and Compensation
- Recruitment and Selection
- Employee and Labor Relations
Students will gain practical experience with a skill set that is in demand within the industry. All students complete a strategic management capstone course to complete their degree.
The ideal student is one who is already working as an entry-level human resources business professional or is familiar with the field of human resources and wants to advance their career. Students of this top online master’s in human resources degree program will learn the knowledge and skills required to properly manage employees within an organization. Through the human resource specialization courses, future HR professionals gain an understanding of theory, research, and HR procedures. Graduates are well prepared for a variety of HR roles including:
- Human Resources Executive
- HR Generalist
- HR Specialist Roles
8. Cornell University
Executive Master of Human Resource Management (EMHRM)
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $29,500/year
Human resource professionals seeking to advance their career in HR can obtain an Executive Master in Human Resource Management (EMHRM) from the esteemed Cornell University. This program is ideal for those with eight or more years of working experience in the field of human resources and who are seeking to move into senior HR roles.
The program is fifteen months long and includes three, one-week sessions of on-campus instruction. Though students will have to attend campus for three weeks, most of the coursework is completed online. Course offerings cover areas like:
- Strategic Talent Analytics
- Labor Relations Strategy
- Human Resources Leadership
- Managing and Developing Talent
Courses are taught by Cornell ILR School faculty and senior HR professionals. The faculty within this program are results-driven and take a hands-on approach to educating students, sculpting them into becoming elite professionals within their organization.
Though this accelerated human resources program comes with a much higher price tag, Cornell is a highly respected university with faculty who are regarded as experts in their field. The program is very exclusive, limiting admission to fewer than fifty high-potential candidates. This program is not for the graduate student who is looking to break into the field of human resources.
It is designed for those seasoned HR professionals who are aiming to claim the top executive spot of their corporation. This degree can provide the education and skills needed to advance one’s career. Due to the advantages that this degree can have for a student’s career, we believe it deserves a spot on our list.
7. Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
Master’s in Human Resource (HR) Management Online
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $10,890/year
Saint Mary’s University has a vast array of online programs, including a Master of Arts in Human Resource Management. Students enrolled in this program will learn how to approach organizational issues from a strategic viewpoint, along with analyzing and making the best decisions for the organization and employees. Saint Mary’s master’s degree focuses on people and multi-department cross-training, and the development of each area’s employees.
The program curriculum is aligned with the Society for Human Resource Management and prepares students for PHR/SPHR certification. Within this 36-credit hour program, students will gain the skills needed to relate to every department and bring forth a positive change. Coursework is focused on real-world scenarios and interactive exercises. Students learn the skills needed to sit for the Professional in Human Resources and Senior Professional in Human Resources certification exams. Students can customize their degree with a graduate certificate in an area like:
- organizational change leadership
- international human resource management
- nonprofit management
- project management
Saint Mary’s emphasizes the importance of staying up to date with the latest technology, including in the workplace. SMU prides itself on the utilization of the latest technology and mobile platforms in the classroom. Each student enrolled in the MA in Human Resource Management program will receive an iPad loaded with a mobile program so students can take their coursework with them anywhere. This accreditation and technology come with a higher price tag. On average, students graduate from Saint Mary’s with a master’s degree in 24 months. Graduates are prepared to work as HR professionals in a myriad of roles including:
- Labor relations manager
- Chief learning officer
- Human resource manager
6. University of Arkansas
Master of Education in Human Resources and Workforce Development Education
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $7,875/year in-state and $21,420/year out-of-state
The University of Arkansas’ Global Campus features one of the best online human resources masters programs with their Master of Education in Human Resources and Workforce Development. The program offers small class sizes and a low student-to-faculty ratio for a personalized learning experience. For the past 12 years, the University of Arkansas has been successfully offering this completely online master’s program which prepares students to:
- implement integrated training
- organizational development
- career planning
Students also gain skills that help them evaluate programs to improve individual and overall organizational effectiveness.
Upon completion, students will be able to pursue careers in a variety of areas including:
- customer service
- management development
- total quality management
While many master’s degree programs require students to complete a thesis, students enrolled at the University of Arkansas can choose between a master’s thesis or complete a final comprehensive exam which is built into a capstone course presented during the final year of study.
The University of Arkansas is the state’s flagship University. Also, according to the Carnegie Classification, the University of Arkansas is classified as a Research I university, dedicating a high priority to research and research education. No GRE is required for this master’s in human resources.
5. Louisiana State University
Master of Science in Leadership and Human Resource Development
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $9,132/year
Next on our list of the best HR masters programs online is Louisiana State University. The School of Leadership and Human Resource Development at LSU offers a Master of Science in Human Resource Education with a concentration in Human Resource and Leadership Development. This top human resources program prepares students to provide leadership development and change management skills to a variety of organizations including:
- information technology
- community development
This master’s program is available in an accelerated format. This means students can complete their degree in just one year if taking courses during the spring, summer, and fall semesters. With twelve courses to complete (thirty-six graduate hours total), a student will be in a new course every seven weeks.
The program is a great choice for a variety of different types of HR professionals including experienced professionals and those looking to transition into the field of organizational change and development. Upon completion of this program, students will learn how to capitalize on human resource efforts to enhance the organizational effectiveness of business through:
- strategic goal planning
- change initiatives
Louisiana State offers an advanced degree at a very affordable rate that also allows students to graduate and begin their careers at a faster pace.
4. Texas A&M University-College Station
Master’s in Educational Human Resource Development, emphasis in Human Resource Development
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $6,885/year in-state and $19,592/year out-of-state
The online Master of Science in Educational Human Resource Development at Texas A&M University is a unique program focused on:
- lifelong learning
- training and development
- organizational development
- career development
Students within this program have a variety of professional development opportunities available including:
- international travel
- conducting professional presentations at conferences
- writing for publication
This top master’s in human resources degree is geared toward future HR professionals interested in becoming:
- corporate trainers
- faculty members
- primary, secondary and postsecondary curriculum designers
At just under $7,000 per year in tuition cost, Texas A&M ranks as one of the most affordable schools offering an online master’s degree. New students are admitted during the spring and fall semesters. This 37-credit hour program does not require a master’s thesis or final exam, but students are required to complete a professional portfolio. The professional portfolio is a compilation of coursework and professional experience gained throughout the time spent earning the degree.
3. Florida Institute of Technology
Human Resources Management MS
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $16,128/year
The Florida Institute of Technology offers a Master of Science in Human Resource Management. Courses in this program prepare students to understand the issues of:
- multicultural work environments
- alternative work styles
- changing political and economic conditions in the workplace
Upon completion of the 33-hour degree plan, students will be able to effectively able to carry out the responsibilities specific to an HR department.
Students enrolled in this top school for masters in human resources will experience various learning techniques and approaches with the traditional lecture and discussion. They will also learn through individual and group work and case study analysis. Florida Tech also offers several non-traditional ways of learning such as actual case-study analysis and organizational consulting activities.
Students have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience during the final year of the program as part of the capstone course. Students are assigned to a team and will provide human resource consulting to an organization that is partnered with the program. This unique opportunity to gain real-world experience in the field of human resources can give the Florida Techs graduates an upper hand over the competition in the job market. This experience is one of the main reasons why it has gained the number three spot on our list.
2. Colorado State University Global
Online Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $9,000/year
With a Master of Human Resources from Colorado State University, students are prepared to enter the workforce in a variety of leadership roles in human resources. Future HR professionals enhance their legal and ethical decision-making skills while learning effective strategies in performance management and strategic planning.
This best master’s degree aligns with the Society for Human Resources Management’s Curriculum and Guidebook Templates. The program is also accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). Colorado State University Global students receive a discount of almost 90% on SHRM training materials to prepare students for certification exams.
CSU also offers 13 specialization areas for this master’s degree that encompass a broad range of industries. Some of the most popular specializations include:
- project management
- organizational leadership and change management
- applied business management
These specializations allow students to focus their degree on a specific industry, such as their current field or a field in which they are looking to advance. Even with the specialization options, the program can still be completed in 36 credit hours and comes at an incredibly affordable price.
The estimated salary after receiving this master’s in human resources is $76,786, so graduates will find this program at CSU well worth it. Job possibilities include:
- HR Director
- Corporate Recruiter
- Employee Relations Manager
1. Penn State World Campus
Master of Professional Studies in Human Resources and Employment Relations
Average Graduate Student Tuition: $23,189/year in-state and $39,248/year out-of-state
In the number one spot is our ranking of the best online HR masters programs is Penn State World Campus. With the option to choose from eight concentrations, students can customize their degree to fit within their career goals, providing a unique educational experience. Concentration areas include:
- benefits and compensation
- labor and collective bargaining
- labor and employment law
- staffing, training, and development
- ethics and leadership
- international human resources and employment relations
- labor unions: organization and strategy
- HR analytics and artificial intelligence (AI)
Penn State offers a Master of Professional Studies in Human Resources and Employment Relations (HRER) online through its world campus. This program balances advanced theory with practical knowledge and prepares students to assist business executives in factoring human resources into their strategic plans. Upon completion, students will be able to:
- assess complex employee benefit plans
- stay up to date on new labor laws
- meet the challenges of employee rights
This program is offered in partnership with Penn State’s School of Labor and Employment Relations, a school that has been designing exceptional degree plans since 1942. The Master of Professional Studies in Human Resources and Employment Relations program is in alignment with the Society for Human Resource Management HR Curriculum Guidebook and Template and was granted Approved Provider Status by the HR Certification Institute.
Each faculty member employed to instruct in this program has years of real-world experience working in the field of human resources. Students will also gain access to Alumni Ambassadors, a program allowing current graduate students to connect with former graduates of the program to answer questions or help guide the students to completion.