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Human Resource Management Degrees: Online and Campus Programs

Human resource (HR) professionals handle a company's recruiting, hiring and firing, salary and benefits, performance management, coaching and employee relations. Read about online and on-campus undergraduate and graduate programs in human resource management. Find out what courses you'd take at each degree level, and learn how online programs work.

What Kind of Human Resource Management Degrees Can I Earn?

Numerous colleges and universities throughout the United States offer associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in human resources (HR). If you are just starting college, you might pursue an associate's or bachelor's degree. Associate's degrees typically take about two years to complete, while bachelor's degree programs normally require four years of study. Graduate program completion times vary, from about two years for a master's degree to 4-5 years for a doctoral degree.

Program LevelsAssociate's, bachelor's, master's, or doctorate
PrerequisitesMinimum high school GPA, or bachelor's degree and acceptable GRE or MAT scores
Common CoursesFinance, business ethics, management, business leadership, principles of organization theory
CurriculumOnline curriculum is similar to on-campus program curriculum
Online Information Full programs available at different levels; computer and Internet access, internship or in-person presentation may be required
Median Salary (2018)$113,300* (for human resources managers)
Job Outlook (2016-26)9%* (for all human resources managers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Are There Prerequisites?

If you are considering an associate's or bachelor's degree program, most schools typically require a minimum high school GPA for enrollment. Master's and doctoral degrees are graduate programs and require a bachelor's degree, at minimum, for enrollment. In addition, many graduate schools require a minimum undergraduate GPA and acceptable scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT).

What Courses Will I Take?

Often, human resource management programs are considered part of a school's department of business. Coursework varies depending on the level of program you are enrolled in, as well as on the school itself. General education requirements for undergraduate-level degree programs normally include a wide variety of courses, including English, math, communications and social sciences. You will learn about a company's recruiting, hiring and firing, salary and benefits, performance management, coaching and employee relations. Common undergraduate human resource management core classes may include:

  • Economics
  • Accounting
  • Business ethics
  • Management
  • Business law
  • Finance
  • Business communications

Graduate and doctoral programs don't normally have general education requirements. Examples of typical human resource management core classes for a graduate program include:

  • Business leadership
  • Principles of organization theory
  • Advanced data analysis
  • Marketing strategy and practice
  • Management of human resource development (HRD) programs

How Does Online Learning Work?

You will need a computer with Internet access to take online classes. In most cases, the curriculum of an online or distance learning degree program is identical to the curriculum of an on-campus program. Instead of going to a classroom, you will receive coursework, submit assignments and sometimes even take exams through a school's distance learning website. You can talk to both your classmates and the professor utilizing online message boards, chat rooms and e-mail. While there may be due dates for homework and other assignments, you typically won't have to attend lectures or meetings.

Many schools now offer online programs for all levels of human resource management degrees. Bear in mind that even online programs may have some type of in-person requirement, such as completing an internship or the presentation of a thesis project. This is particularly common for online graduate programs.