Most working professionals are familiar with human resources because an HR department is a staple at any organization. Human resource departments hire and train new staff, and also administer payroll and benefits. Ensuring a company and its employees comply with labor laws and company policies is also part of the job.
So, what does it take to enter the field of human resources? A degree program is an excellent start for many different HR roles. Job options include becoming a compensation and benefits specialist, a labor relations specialist and of course, a human resource manager.
As with many degree programs, when pursuing a Master’s degree in Human Resources, your experience will help determine which program you choose. There are many concentrations that you can choose from depending on the school you choose to attend and whether the program is in-person or online.
Some concentrations that can be pursued are project management, compensation and benefits, training, and organizational development. Each of these concentrations will prepare you for a specific career in human resources. For example, a project management concentration prepares you to become an information technology manager, operations director, program manager, or senior project manager.
What are the Requirements to Obtain a Human Resource Master’s Degree?
Every university is different when it comes to admission requirements. Some of the basic and most common requirements include past degrees, minimum GPAs, work experience, and references.
To begin, you will be required to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution to be admitted to any master’s program. Additionally, some universities go further into your bachelor’s education by requiring a specific cumulative GPA. A typical GPA for admission is at least 2.75 on a 4.0 scale.
Along with your degree and GPA, you will need to submit your work history related to the program and any references from past professors or employers. Personal qualities and characteristics of prospective enrollees may be considered during the application process.
Finally, work experience may be considered when applying to a program. In addition, certain universities require a substantial amount of experience to be accepted. Cornell is one of the best universities to attend when pursuing a master’s in human resources. Still, they typically require students to have at least eight years of HR experience.
Best Colleges to Earn a Human Resource Master’s Degree
There are countless programs to choose from when deciding to earn a human resource master’s degree, including both full-time programs and online degrees. Another aspect to choose from is whether you want to attend an in-state curriculum and out of state institution. That is why we have developed a list of the top colleges and universities based on their human resource programs.
Georgetown University, located in Washington, DC., Georgetown offers an online master’s program in human resources management that helps its students apply strategic approaches to human capital decisions. As a student at Georgetown, you can earn your credits online, on campus, or even through a hybrid learning format. Most students graduate in two years or less.
Cornell is based out of Ithaca, New York. The university offers an Executive Master of Human Resource Management program to its online students. Their program prepares students for senior leadership positions where they will be able to develop human capital strategies on an international level. The program is designed specifically with working professionals in mind who have at least eight years of HR experience already, but Cornell also accepts applicants from diverse backgrounds.
University of Southern California
USC is located in Los Angeles, California, and known for offering one of the best master’s in human resources management programs in the nation. Its comprehensive program emphasizes human capital management while helping students develop the strategic skills needed to improve global organizations’ performance. One great feature about USC is it offers three start dates each year, allowing students to study around their schedules.
New York University
NYU, located in New York, New York, offers a program that allows students to delve into organizational behavior principles and learn how to use data-driven metrics. The program that NYU offers aligns with some of the best practices established by the Society for Human Resource Management. Nearly all of NYU students in the program obtain employment within six months of graduation.
George Washington University
GW is based in Washington, DC. However, it also offers an online Master of Human Resource Management that prepares its students to work as HR practitioners. In this program, students will examine concepts like employee development and how to change leadership tactics. At George Washington University, students typically graduate in as little as 18 months.
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook University is a public research institution located in Stony Brook, New York. This program is offered for distance learners. In this program, students develop business competencies needed to align with human resource functions and organizational goals for a company. This program allows their students to graduate in under one year.
Florida International University
Florida International University is located in Miami, Florida. You can take classes from anywhere with the online Master of Science in Human Resource Management that prepares you for leadership positions in international and diverse business settings. Students at FIU have the option to begin their classes in the fall or spring and can complete the program and graduate in under one year.
As previously mentioned, there are many universities to choose from when deciding to pursue your master’s degree. There are also many factors to consider when determining your program, including whether to take online or in-person classes. Many universities will assist in working around your schedule so that you are able to continue working full-time if needed.
What Jobs Does a Human Resource Master’s Degree Prepare Students to Pursue?
Human resource managers are not the only possible careers for those who wish to work in HR. Below are some of the potential careers that could arise from a degree in human resources.
Human Resources Manager
A common position after receiving your Master’s Degree in Human Resources is a human resources manager. This may be common, but it is a great position to investigate and pursue.
As a human resource manager, you will be working closely with the top executives at a company by developing strategic planning surrounding new talent acquisition. A few human resource manager tasks include coordinating recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding new employees.
Additionally, along with hiring responsibilities, an HR manager oversees current employees to ensure that they follow the company’s policies and guidelines. HR managers also manage employee benefit programs and policies regarding equal employment opportunities. A master’s degree inevitably sets those who pursue this position apart in the hiring process for a human resources manager.
Compensation and Benefits Manager
A compensation and benefits manager oversees the pay and incentive programs of an organization or company. In this position, you will be responsible for developing the benefits packages, including health insurance and retirement benefits. You will oversee conducting research on competitive wage rates and then be able to set the compensation structure for your company. Similar to the human resources manager, you will stand out as a candidate when applying to be a compensation and benefits manager with a master’s degree.
Training and Development Managers
As a training and development manager, you will be responsible for overseeing the company’s professional development activities. Some of your responsibilities will include assessing the employee’s training needs, teaching new training methods, coordinating new programs, and evaluating the program effectiveness amongst the employees.
In this position, you will ensure the programs are all up to date and align with the company’s goals. Many employers require a master’s degree when applying for a training and development manager position.
Labor Relations Specialist
If you decide to pursue a position as a labor relations specialist, you will be interpreting work contracts and resolving negotiation issues. In this position, you will be working alongside the human resource department by providing advice to upper management on how to resolve a situation.
While in this position, you will also be conducting training and maintaining the employee data, similar to what a human resource department will do. Many employers prefer candidates who have a Master’s Degree in Human Resources when hiring for this position.
How Much Does a Human Resource Master’s Degree Holder Make?
After obtaining a Master’s Degree in Human Resources, many positions will become available to you. Along with each potential position comes differentiating salaries. Furthermore, most of the positions listed above have an annual salary of $100,000.
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot
To be more exact, a human resources manager’s median annual salary is $113,300, with a project job growth rate of 7 percent. A compensation and benefits manager has a median yearly salary of $121,010, with a projected growth rate of three percent.
We also described a training and development manager; in this position, the median annual salary is $111,340 with a projected job growth rate of eight percent. The last position we went over is the labor relations specialist. This is the only position not in the $100,000 range but with a median annual salary of $67,790 and a growth rate of eight percent.
If you believe that a role in Human Resources might be the perfect fit for you, then learn the possible career trajectories with Career Karma. Download the Career Karma app today to take the next step toward a successful career in Human Resources.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.