Best Online Human Resources Degree Programs 2024

Table of Contents

Why Choose an Online Human Resources Degree Program?

Choosing an online Human Resources (HR) degree program can be a strategic step for those aiming to enter or advance in the field of HR management. Online HR degrees are designed to provide flexibility, accessibility, and a comprehensive curriculum that equips students with the necessary skills to succeed in today's competitive job market. Here are compelling reasons to consider an online HR degree:

  • Flexibility and Convenience: One of the primary advantages of an online HR degree is the flexibility it offers. You can balance work, family, and education by accessing coursework and lectures at times that fit your schedule. This is particularly beneficial for working professionals who wish to pursue further education without putting their careers on hold.
  • Diverse Course Offerings: Online programs often have a wide range of courses available, allowing students to tailor their education to their interests and career goals. From employment law to organizational behavior, you can select electives that align with the specific HR niche you're passionate about.
  • Networking Opportunities: Many online HR programs offer virtual networking events, discussion forums, and group projects that connect you with peers and professionals in the field. These interactions can lead to meaningful connections, mentorship opportunities, and potential job leads.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Studying online can reduce expenses related to commuting, housing, and traditional classroom materials. Additionally, some institutions offer tuition discounts for online students, making an HR degree more financially accessible.
  • Technology Integration: Online HR programs often incorporate the latest technology and software used in the field, giving students hands-on experience that will be directly applicable in their future roles.
  • Expert Faculty: Online programs frequently feature instructors who are current HR practitioners. This means you'll be learning from professionals with up-to-date knowledge of HR trends, challenges, and best practices.
  • Global Perspective: As businesses continue to operate on a global scale, having classmates from around the world can provide valuable insights into international HR practices and cross-cultural management.
  • Accelerated Options: Some online HR degree programs offer accelerated tracks that allow you to complete your degree faster than traditional programs. This can be especially attractive if you're looking to make a timely career change or advancement.
  • Access to Resources: Online students typically have access to digital libraries, career services, and academic support, ensuring they have the tools needed to succeed academically and professionally.

An online Human Resources degree program can offer a robust educational experience tailored to the needs of modern learners. By selecting this path, students can gain specialized knowledge while enjoying the convenience and dynamic learning environment that online education provides.

Types of Online Human Resources Degree Programs

Online human resources degree programs offer flexibility and accessibility for students who want to enter or advance in the field of HR. These programs are designed to cater to a range of educational needs, from those just starting out to seasoned professionals seeking further specialization. Understanding the different types of degrees available can help you align your educational pursuits with your career objectives.

Associate Degrees in Human Resources

  • Associate of Arts (AA) in Human Resources: This two-year program provides a foundation in the liberal arts along with introductory HR courses. It's ideal for those looking to gain basic knowledge or for professionals aiming to transition into an HR role.
  • Associate of Science (AS) in Human Resources: Focusing more on the scientific aspects, this degree includes coursework in business and HR management, preparing students for entry-level positions or further studies.

Bachelor’s Degrees in Human Resources

  • Bachelor of Science (BS) in Human Resource Management: This four-year degree program offers comprehensive training in HR functions, such as recruitment, training, and compensation, along with business management skills.
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Human Resources: With a focus on the social sciences, communication, and humanities, this degree emphasizes the interpersonal aspects of HR management.

Master’s Degrees in Human Resources

  • Master of Science (MS) in Human Resource Management: Tailored for HR professionals seeking advanced expertise, this program delves deeper into strategic HR practices, labor relations, and organizational behavior.
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Concentration in Human Resources: This degree combines broad business knowledge with specialized HR training, suitable for those aiming for leadership roles.
  • Master of Arts (MA) in Human Resource Management: Blending theory with practical application, this program often explores the ethical and cultural aspects of HR, targeting individuals interested in the more qualitative facets of the field.

Doctoral Degrees in Human Resources

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Human Resources: This research-oriented program is designed for those interested in academic careers or high-level consultancy roles. It focuses on developing new knowledge and theories in HR.
  • Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) with a specialization in Human Resources: Aimed at business leaders and executives, this program emphasizes applied research and strategic management skills within the context of HR.

Certificates and Diplomas in Human Resources

  • Undergraduate Certificate in Human Resources: This short-term program covers fundamental HR principles and practices, perfect for individuals seeking to quickly enter the field or gain specific skills.
  • Graduate Certificate in Human Resources Management: For those with a bachelor's degree looking to specialize or update their knowledge without committing to a full master's program, this offers an intensive focus on advanced HR topics.
  • Post-Master's Certificate in Human Resources: Professionals who already hold a master's degree can opt for this certificate to gain additional expertise or stay abreast of evolving HR trends and regulations.
Each online human resources degree program comes with its own set of prerequisites, duration, and coursework. It's important to research each option thoroughly to ensure it aligns with your career goals and fits within your personal schedule. Accreditation status should also be considered to ensure the quality and recognition of the program you choose.

Online Human Resources Degree Admission Requirements and Application Process

Navigating the application process for an online Human Resources (HR) degree program can be straightforward when you know what to expect. Educational institutions in the United States have specific requirements that candidates must meet to be considered for admission. Here's what prospective students need to know about the admission requirements and how to apply for an online HR degree program.

Understanding Admission Requirements

The admission requirements for an online HR degree program often mirror those of traditional on-campus programs, with additional considerations for the online learning format.
  • Academic Credentials: Applicants are generally required to provide evidence of their academic qualifications. For undergraduate programs, this usually means a high school diploma or equivalent (such as a GED). For graduate programs, a bachelor's degree is typically required, often with a minimum GPA requirement.
  • Standardized Test Scores: Some institutions may require standardized test scores, such as the SAT or ACT for undergraduate admissions, or GRE/GMAT scores for graduate-level programs. However, many schools are moving toward test-optional admissions policies.
  • Professional Experience: Especially relevant for master's degree applicants, some programs may require a certain number of years of professional work experience in HR or a related field.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Applicants might need to submit letters of recommendation from academic or professional references who can speak to their potential for success in an HR program.
  • Personal Statement or Essay: A written personal statement or essay is often required to understand an applicant's motivations for pursuing an HR degree and their career aspirations.
  • English Language Proficiency: For non-native English speakers, proof of English proficiency through tests like TOEFL or IELTS may be necessary.
  • Technical Requirements: Since the program is online, students may need to demonstrate access to a reliable computer and internet connection, along with any software specified by the institution.

The Application Process Step-by-Step

The application process for online HR degree programs generally involves several key steps:
  • Research and Select Programs: Start by identifying which online HR programs align with your career goals and meet your educational needs.
  • Gather Required Materials: Collect all necessary documents such as transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendation, and prepare your personal statement.
  • Complete Online Application: Fill out the application form on the institution's website. Be meticulous with details and ensure all information is accurate.
  • Submit Supplemental Documents: Upload or send in any additional required documents by the specified deadline. This may include transcripts, test scores, and essays.
  • Application Fee: Pay any applicable application fees, which vary by institution but are typically required to process your application.
  • Interviews: Some programs may request an interview as part of the admissions process, which could be conducted over video conferencing platforms due to the online nature of the program.
  • Await Admission Decision: After submitting all parts of your application, monitor your email and the application portal for an admission decision. Response times can vary by program.
  • Enrollment: If accepted, you'll receive instructions on how to enroll in classes and prepare for the start of your online HR studies.
Prospective students should carefully review each program's specific requirements and deadlines to ensure a complete and timely application. Admission criteria and processes can differ significantly between institutions, so it's crucial to tailor your application to reflect each program's unique expectations.

Online Human Resources Degree Program Curriculum and Specializations

When exploring online Human Resources (HR) degree programs, you'll find that the curriculum is designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the field. The coursework typically covers a wide range of topics that prepare students for the challenges of managing an organization's most valuable asset—its people.

Core HR Curriculum

The core curriculum in an online HR degree program lays the foundation for understanding the principles and practices of human resource management. Here are some of the fundamental subjects you can expect to encounter:
  • Introduction to Human Resources: This course provides an overview of the various functions within HR, such as recruitment, selection, training, compensation, and employee relations.
  • Organizational Behavior: Students learn about the behavior of individuals and groups within organizations and how this impacts workplace dynamics.
  • Employment Law: A critical aspect of HR is understanding the legal framework that governs employment, including laws related to discrimination, labor relations, and workplace safety.
  • Compensation and Benefits: This course focuses on designing and managing employee compensation packages, including salary, bonuses, health insurance, and retirement plans.
  • Talent Acquisition and Retention: Strategies for attracting and keeping top talent are explored, with an emphasis on aligning recruitment with organizational goals.
  • Training and Development: Instruction on how to create and implement effective training programs that support employee growth and organizational objectives is covered here.
  • HR Information Systems: With technology playing a critical role in modern HR, this course discusses how information systems are used in managing HR processes.

Specializations within HR Programs

Many online HR degree programs offer specializations or concentrations that allow students to tailor their education to specific interests or career goals. Below are some common specializations:
  • Strategic Human Resource Management: This specialization focuses on aligning HR strategies with business objectives to improve overall organizational performance.
  • International Human Resources: For students interested in global business, this track covers international employment law, cross-cultural management, and global staffing strategies.
  • Human Resource Analytics: Data-driven decision-making is vital in HR, and this specialization emphasizes the use of data analysis to inform HR policies and practices.
  • Diversity and Inclusion: This increasingly important area of HR addresses how to create inclusive work environments that value diversity at all levels.
  • Labor Relations: For those interested in the dynamics between employers and employees, this concentration deals with collective bargaining, contract negotiation, and dispute resolution.

Electives and Capstone Projects

In addition to core courses and specializations, online HR degree programs often include elective courses that allow students to delve into topics of personal interest. Examples of electives might include:
  • Psychology of Leadership: An exploration into different leadership styles and their psychological underpinnings.
  • Conflict Resolution: Techniques for mediating conflicts in the workplace.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility: How organizations can ethically contribute to society beyond their economic obligations.
A capstone project is also a common requirement in many HR degree programs. This comprehensive project allows students to apply what they've learned to a real-world HR challenge, often involving research, problem-solving, and strategic planning. By offering a mix of foundational knowledge, specialized tracks, electives, and practical application through capstone projects, online HR degree programs aim to equip students with the skills needed to excel in various roles within the field of human resources.

Online Human Resources Degree Accreditation and Quality of Online Programs

When exploring online Human Resources (HR) degree programs, accreditation stands as a pivotal factor in ensuring the quality and recognition of your education. Accreditation is a voluntary, independent review process that schools and programs undergo to prove that they meet established standards of excellence.

Understanding Accreditation

Prospective students should comprehend the types of accreditation: regional and programmatic. Regional accreditation is the most esteemed form of accreditation in the United States, and it's granted by accrediting bodies that are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Programmatic accreditation, on the other hand, pertains to specific programs, departments, or schools that are part of an institution.

  • Regional Accreditation: This type of accreditation is granted to the institution as a whole. It ensures that all aspects of the university, including its HR degree program, adhere to general standards of quality in higher education.
  • Programmatic Accreditation: For HR degrees, the main accrediting body is the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). A program with SHRM accreditation has met rigorous standards specific to HR education and shows a commitment to aligning with industry needs.

Evaluating Online Program Quality

Quality in online HR programs isn't solely defined by accreditation. Several additional factors contribute to a program's standing:

  • Faculty Expertise: Look for programs where instructors have real-world HR experience and advanced degrees in their field.
  • Curriculum Relevance: A strong online HR program will offer a curriculum that's up-to-date with current HR practices, technologies, and regulations.
  • Interactive Learning Platforms: The best online programs provide robust platforms for engagement with peers and faculty, fostering an interactive learning environment despite the distance.
  • Career Support Services: Services such as career counseling, resume reviews, and networking opportunities add value to an online HR degree by helping graduates transition into the workforce.
  • Student Satisfaction and Outcomes: Testimonials, graduation rates, and employment outcomes can give insights into the effectiveness of the program.

Importance of Accreditation for Your Career

Earning a degree from an accredited online HR program can have significant implications for your professional life:

  • Employer Recognition: Employers often prefer or require degrees from accredited institutions when hiring or promoting staff.
  • Transfer Credits: If you decide to continue your education, credits from an accredited program are more likely to be accepted by other institutions.
  • Certification Preparedness: Accredited programs often prepare students for professional HR certifications, which can enhance career prospects.
  • Federal Financial Aid Eligibility: Only students at accredited institutions can access federal financial aid programs.

In summary, the accreditation of an online Human Resources degree program serves as a hallmark of quality assurance. It not only validates the educational offerings but also provides a framework for continual improvement that benefits students, educators, and employers alike. When assessing online HR programs, remember that accreditation is just one indicator; a comprehensive evaluation of all aspects of the program will ensure that it meets your educational and professional objectives.

Online Human Resources Degree Program Tuition & Financial Aid

Navigating the financial landscape of higher education can be a complex process, especially when considering an Online Human Resources Degree Program. Understanding tuition costs and financial aid options is essential for prospective students who are evaluating the feasibility of pursuing their degree online.

Understanding Tuition for Online Programs

Tuition for Online Human Resources Degree Programs varies widely among institutions. Factors that influence the cost include:
  • Public vs. Private Institutions: Generally, public universities may offer lower tuition rates than private colleges, especially for in-state students.
  • In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition: Some online programs offer in-state tuition rates to all online students regardless of their location, while others charge out-of-state rates for non-residents.
  • Program Level: Tuition often varies between undergraduate and graduate programs, with graduate courses typically being more expensive per credit hour.
  • Credit Costs: Institutions usually charge tuition based on the number of credit hours a student enrolls in, and full-time students may receive a discounted rate.
  • Fees: In addition to tuition, online students may be responsible for technology, library, or activity fees that support the virtual learning environment.

Financial Aid Options for Online Students

Financial aid can significantly reduce the out-of-pocket cost of an Online Human Resources Degree. Here are some common sources of financial aid:
  • Federal Financial Aid: Students can apply for federal grants, loans, and work-study programs by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • Scholarships: Numerous scholarships are available based on merit, need, demographics, or area of study. These do not have to be repaid and can come from various sources, including universities, private companies, and non-profit organizations.
  • Employer Assistance Programs: Some employers offer tuition reimbursement or assistance as part of their benefits packages to employees pursuing further education.
  • Military and Veterans Benefits: Service members, veterans, and their families may be eligible for education benefits through programs like the GI Bill®.
  • Payment Plans: Many schools offer payment plans that allow students to spread out the cost of tuition over several months.

Navigating Financial Aid and Scholarships

It's crucial for prospective students to research and apply for financial aid early. Key steps include:
  • Completing the FAFSA: This provides access to federal aid and is often required by schools to consider students for institutional aid as well.
  • Searching for Scholarships: Use reputable scholarship databases and resources to find opportunities tailored to your background and interests in human resources.
  • Contacting Financial Aid Offices: Financial aid counselors at educational institutions can offer personalized advice and information about school-specific scholarships and grants.
  • Reviewing Employer Benefits: If currently employed, inquire about educational benefits or partnerships your company may have with educational institutions.

Evaluating Total Cost and ROI

When considering an Online Human Resources Degree Program, it is important to calculate not just the upfront cost but also the potential return on investment (ROI). Factors to consider include:
  • Potential Salary Increase: Research how a degree in human resources could impact your earning potential in your desired career path.
  • Career Advancement Opportunities: An advanced degree may qualify you for higher-level positions that may not be accessible otherwise.
  • Long-Term Career Goals: Align your educational investment with your long-term career aspirations in the field of human resources.
Prospective students should use these insights as a starting point to create a comprehensive plan for financing their online human resources education. By exploring all available options and making informed decisions, it's possible to manage tuition costs effectively while investing in a future career in human resources.

Best Careers for Degree in Human Resources in 2023 by Salary

Data sourced from the U.S. Department of Labor via the ONET Web API.

Career Opportunities with an Online Human Resources Degree

Earning an online Human Resources (HR) degree opens a plethora of career paths for graduates. The field of human resources is critical to virtually every industry, offering a diverse range of opportunities for those equipped with the right knowledge and skills. Here are some of the careers that individuals with an online HR degree can pursue:
  • Human Resources Specialist: As a human resources specialist, your role will involve recruiting, screening, interviewing, and placing workers. You may also handle employee relations, payroll, benefits, and training. Human resources specialists are the liaison between management and employees, ensuring that both parties are aligned with the company's policies and goals.
  • Human Resources Manager: Taking a step up, HR managers oversee the operations of the HR department. This includes strategic planning in staffing issues, mediating disputes, directing and coordinating the administrative functions of an organization, and ensuring compliance with employment laws. They may also be involved in policy development and employee relations at a higher level.
  • Training and Development Manager: These professionals are responsible for planning, coordinating, and directing skills- and knowledge-enhancement programs for an organization’s staff. Their goal is to improve individual and group performance by increasing and honing skills and knowledge.
  • Compensation and Benefits Manager: Specializing in compensation and benefits means you’ll be determining competitive wage rates and developing or choosing compensation plans for an organization. You will also ensure that the company's benefits offerings are both cost-effective and competitive enough to attract and retain talent.
  • Labor Relations Specialist: If you're interested in mediation and advocacy within the workplace, a labor relations specialist might be the right path for you. In this role, you'll interpret and administer employees' contracts regarding issues such as wages, grievances, healthcare, pensions, and union practices.
  • HR Consultant: As an HR consultant, you would be tasked with analyzing a company’s current HR programs and recommending solutions. A consultant may specialize in a variety of areas, including but not limited to employee incentives, retirement plans, or recruiting and hiring processes.
  • Talent Acquisition Specialist: Talent acquisition is another specialized area within HR focused on finding and acquiring skilled human labor for organizational needs. This role is critical in high-growth sectors where competition for top talent is fierce.
  • Diversity and Inclusion Manager: This role involves developing policies that encourage diversity in the workplace. Diversity and inclusion managers strive to create an inclusive work environment where diversity is valued and leveraged to achieve the company's business goals.
The versatility of an online HR degree allows graduates to work across various sectors such as technology, healthcare, education, finance, manufacturing, and government. Moreover, HR professionals can find opportunities in both private and public organizations of all sizes—from startups to multinational corporations. With the evolution of workplace dynamics and employee relations, HR roles have become more strategic and integral to organizational success. An online human resources degree can be your stepping stone into these critical roles where you can make a significant impact on the future of work and employee well-being.

FAQ's About Online Human Resources Degree Programs

What Can I Expect to Learn in an Online HR Degree Program?

An online Human Resources (HR) degree program provides students with a comprehensive understanding of employee management, labor relations, compensation and benefits, and organizational behavior. Courses typically cover:

  • Recruitment and selection processes
  • Training and development strategies
  • Employment law and compliance
  • Human resources information systems (HRIS)
  • Performance management techniques

The curriculum is designed to equip you with the skills needed to handle the challenges of modern HR roles effectively.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online HR Degree?

The duration of an online HR degree varies by program and the student’s enrollment status. Generally:

  • An associate's degree can take about 2 years to complete.
  • A bachelor's degree typically requires 4 years for full-time students.
  • A master's degree may take 1-2 years beyond the bachelor’s degree.

Accelerated programs and part-time options can alter these timelines accordingly.

Are Online HR Degrees Respected by Employers?

Yes, online HR degrees are respected by many employers, especially when they are from accredited institutions. Employers recognize the value of:

  • Rigorous academic standards
  • Relevant coursework that mirrors traditional on-campus programs
  • The flexibility and dedication required to complete a degree online

Is Accreditation Important for an Online HR Degree?

Accreditation is crucial for any degree program, including online HR degrees. Accredited programs have been vetted for quality and relevance by independent agencies. Look for accreditation from organizations like:

  • The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

Can I Work While Completing an Online HR Degree?

One of the main advantages of an online HR degree is the flexibility it offers, making it possible for many students to work while studying. Online programs often provide:

  • Asynchronous classes that allow students to log in at their convenience
  • Part-time enrollment options
  • Accelerated course options for quicker completion

What Kinds of Jobs Can I Get with an Online HR Degree?

An online HR degree can prepare you for a variety of roles within the field of human resources, such as:

  • HR Generalist
  • Recruiter or Talent Acquisition Specialist
  • Training and Development Manager
  • Compensation and Benefits Analyst
  • Employee Relations Manager
  • Labor Relations Specialist

Are There Any Prerequisites for Enrolling in an Online HR Degree Program?

Prerequisites can vary depending on the level of the HR degree program:

  • Associate's and bachelor's programs may require a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • Master's programs often require a bachelor's degree, sometimes with a minimum GPA.
  • Some programs may also ask for standardized test scores or relevant work experience.

How Do I Choose the Right Online HR Degree Program?

To choose the right online HR degree program, consider factors such as:

  • The program's accreditation status
  • The curriculum and whether it aligns with your career goals
  • The institution's reputation in the HR field
  • The flexibility of the schedule and course delivery format
  • The availability of financial aid and student support services

What is the Cost of an Online HR Degree Program?

The cost of an online HR degree program can vary widely based on several factors, including:

  • The type of institution (public vs. private)
  • In-state vs. out-of-state tuition rates
  • The level of the degree being pursued (associate's, bachelor's, or master's)

Will I Have Access to the Same Resources as On-Campus Students?

Many institutions offering online HR degree programs also provide online students with access to resources such as:

  • Career services and job placement assistance
  • Online libraries and research databases
  • Tutoring and academic advising services
  • Networking opportunities with alumni and industry professionals
By addressing these common queries, prospective students can make more informed decisions about pursuing an online Human Resources degree that fits their personal and professional aspirations.