Best Online Human Resources (HR) Certification Programs

Explore the top online Human Resources (HR) certificate programs, including admission requirements, common coursework, and how to choose the right program. Also, learn about HR certifications and how to advance your HR career. Schools offering Human Resource Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Best Online Bachelor's Certificate Programs in Human Resources (HR)

To compile our list of best online HR certificate programs, we considered program flexibility, cost, and length. Below, you can learn about the top schools that offer online certificate programs in HR.

1. Davenport University

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Grand Rapids, MI $15,126

Davenport University offers an online Human Resource Management Graduate Certificate, which requires 12-18 credits. This program features coursework in compensation and benefits, employment law, and HR management. It also requires prerequisite Master of Business Administration coursework in accounting and finance before beginning the certificate program. Students can complete this online program in only 2 semesters. For the 2019-2020 academic year, the per-credit rate for online graduate courses was $841. An impressive 95% of students who graduate from Davenport are working in their field within six months.

2. West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
West Chester, PA $15,103

The 100% online Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management at West Chester University of Pennsylvania requires 12 total credits and features short 7-week classes. This online program has a curriculum that adheres to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) standards and includes classes on labor relations, HR benefits, and HR ethics. With both part- and full-time attendance available, students are able to earn their certificate in 6-12 months. In-state students pay $1,548 per each HR course and out-of-state students pay $1,578.

3. Nova Southeastern University

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Fort Lauderdale, FL $20,620

Nova Southeastern University has an online Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management that requires 15 credits. Students learn from business executives in Fortune 500 companies and take courses in talent management, HR development, and employee relations. This online certificate program prepares students to take HR accreditation exams as well. During the 2019-2020 academic year, the price per credit for this online program was $939.

4. University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Norman, OK $8,577

The University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus offers an online Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Development and Workforce Diversity. This program has a unique focus on social diversity in the workplace and features coursework in organizational behavior, HR development, and diversity in business organizations. Students must complete a total of 12 credits and must also be a current graduate student in a master's program or another certificate program at the university. For resident students, the extended online campus charges $274 per credit, and for non-resident students, the price per credit is $885.

5. Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Baton Rouge, LA $13,023

The online Graduate Certificate in Workforce Development at Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College focuses on HR talent development, workforce planning, and HR performance analysis. Students complete 18 total credits and can earn their certificate in only 12 months through 100% online classes. The cost per credit for this program is $481 and with fees, the total cost for the entire certificate program is $8,658.

Rank School Name Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state
6 University of South Carolina-Columbia Columbia, SC $14,050
7 Oklahoma State University-Main Campus Stillwater, OK $8,460
8 University of Virginia-Main Campus Charlottesville, VA $18,848
9 Indiana State University Terre Haute, IN $7,616
10 Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis Indianapolis, IN $9,662
11 Ferris State University Big Rapids, MI $7,320
12 Central Michigan University Mount Pleasant, MI $13,804
13 Champlain College Burlington, VT $14,310
14 St. Joseph's College-Long Island Patchogue, NY $18,802
15 Mary Baldwin University Staunton, VA $12,620
16 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH $18,810
17 Grand View University Des Moines, IA $11,440
18 DeSales University Center Valley, PA $20,160
19 St. Joseph's College-New York Brooklyn, NY $18,792
20 Eastern Michigan University Ypsilanti, MI $18,100
21 Salve Regina University Newport, RI $10,650
22 Stony Brook University Stony Brook, NY $13,007
23 Judson University Elgin, IL $27,500
24 Emmanuel College Boston, MA $14,319
25 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA $34,995's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Overview of Online HR Certificate Programs

Online human resources (HR) certificate programs are designed for current HR professionals and those new to the field who want to hone their skills and knowledge of HR concepts. Many of these online programs also prepare students to take HR certification exams, such as the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) exam and the SHRM Certification exam.

Generally, there are two types of certificate programs: undergraduate and graduate programs. Each type features a curriculum of HR-focused courses and has no general education requirements. Many programs feature asynchronous classes that you can complete on your own time and offer part- and full-time enrollment.

Credits and Length

Online HR certificate programs typically require about 12 to 18 total credits. That means students usually must complete 4 to 6 classes. Because these programs require a limited number of credits, most are designed to be completed in about 1 year.


Usually, undergraduate certificate programs in HR only require a high school diploma, an application, and a fee. However, to apply to a graduate-level certificate program, you need to have already earned a bachelor's degree and must also submit an application, transcripts, and a fee. Some graduate programs also require or prefer you have professional HR experience and have earned a 2.5-3.0 GPA in your undergraduate coursework.

Common Courses in Online HR Certificate Programs

Online HR certificate programs typically feature a curriculum of HR-focused courses. Although exact coursework requirements vary by university, you can explore some of the common topics that are covered in these kinds of programs below.

Labor and Employment Relations and Law

This is a course that focuses on the relationship between employers and employees in the context of labor law. Students learn about federal and state laws that govern employment, such as the National Labor Relations Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. They also learn how these laws affect hiring and firing practices as well as labor contracts and employee rights. There is an additional focus on union and non-union business environments.

Compensation and Benefits

In this course, students learn how to manage all aspects of Total Employee Rewards Programs and other kinds of compensation and benefits that are offered to workers. There is an emphasis on designing, implementing and assessing these programs. Some courses might also cover work-life balance, career developmental, or performance recognition programs as well.

Talent Management

A course on talent management is all about learning how to find the right employees and bring out the best in them. Students learn how to discover and recruit talent, create professional development programs and opportunities, and design performance evaluations. Courses of this type might also explore ethical and social issues related to employees.

Organizational Development

Organizational development is the study of how individuals and groups behave in a work environment. The purpose of this course is to inform students about how such concepts as conflict, group dynamics, power, and communication affect an organization as a whole as well as individual employees. Students then learn how to transform and improve organizations.

Managing Human Resources

This is an introductory course that gives students a broad understanding of the HR profession. Specific topics this course covers include:

  • HR information systems
  • Labor relations
  • Staffing and training strategies
  • Compensation strategies

These topics are designed to help students understand all of the duties and responsibilities of HR professionals.

How to Choose an Online HR Certificate Programs

When deciding which online HR certificate program is right for your career and educational goals, you should base your decision on the total program cost, the flexibility the program offers, and if the program is accredited.


You should consider the total cost of an online HR certificate program, including tuition and fees, when choosing a program.


The tuition cost of online HR certificate programs varies by university, with the price per credit ranging from $320 to $1,548. That means the total cost of your certificate program could range from $5,760 to $18,576.


Along with tuition, most universities also charge additional fees. These fees can cost anywhere from $15 to $200 and above. Universities can charge registration, technology, graduation, and online program fees. Check with your university or program to learn which fees may apply to you.

Financial Aid

It's important to know that certificate programs generally don't qualify for federal financial aid or loans. However, you may qualify for private loans that can help cover tuition, living expenses, and textbooks. You can also contact your university's financial aid office to find out if scholarships are available to you.


Choosing a school or program that is accredited by an outside agency assures you that you are receiving a good, high-quality education. Although accreditation standards vary by organization, typically a school or program must meet standards in terms of the curriculum offered, student outcomes, and experienced faculty.

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International)

AACSB International is an organization that accredits business schools and programs. To achieve AACSB International-accreditation a program must meet 15 standards that relate to student resources offered, academic curriculum, and professional engagement.

Regional Accreditation

Regional accreditation is done through the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), which approves various accrediting organizations. There are several of these organizations, such as the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), which accredit colleges and universities that are in a certain region. For example, SACSCOC accredits schools in Florida, Georgia, Virginia, and other southern states.

Career Options for HR Professionals

An HR certificate can help you move into a higher-level HR position, such as a human resource manager, or can help you specialize as a training and development manager or a compensation and benefits manager.

Human Resources Manager

Human resources managers are responsible for handling all aspects of an organization's employee policies and practices. They are tasked with making hiring and firing decisions, making payroll decisions, and making employee training decisions. As a manager, they also oversee staff, deal with disciplinary issues, and mediate any employee-employer conflicts.

Training and Development Manager

The job duties of training and development managers primarily center on the employee and employer relationship. They not only recruit and interview potential employees but they also create training materials and programs for employees.

Compensation and Benefits Manager

Compensation and benefits managers specialize in the development and management of various benefit plans and the overall pay structure of an organization. They are responsible for choosing and administrating insurance plans, retirement plans, and sick leave plans.

Job Title Median Annual Salary (2018) Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028)
Human Resources Manager $113,300 7%
Training and Development Manager $111,340 8%
Compensation and Benefits Manager $121,010 3%

Salary information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018

Career Advancement for HR Professionals

To advance in your HR career, you can consider getting HR certification or pursuing an advanced degree.

Get Certifications

There are a number of certifications available to HR professionals. These certifications are usually optional but show potential employers that you have expertise in the HR field. Online HR certificate programs can help you refine and build your HR skills so that you are ready to pass certification exams.

SHRM Certification

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) certification shows employers that you are an expert in the HR field and have the right skills and knowledge for HR manager positions. There are two SHRM certifications:

  • The SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) - This is for early- or mid-career professionals in the HR field.
  • The SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) - This is for senior-level professionals in the HR field.

To earn SHRM Certification, you must pass the SHRM Exam, which includes a section on specific HR concepts and knowledge and a section that includes situational judgment scenarios that test your decision-making skills.

Professional in Human Resources (PHR)

The PHR credential is from the HR Certification Institute. This credential is earned through passing an exam that covers employment law, business management, talent development, total rewards, and learning and development.

IPMA-HR Certified Professional

The International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR) offers the IPMA-HR Certified Professional credential, which is for early- or mid-level professionals in the public sector of HR management. To earn the IPMA-HR Certified Professional certification, you must take the Public Sector HR Essentials course and the IPMA-HR exam.

Associate Professional in Talent Development (APTD)

Administered by the Association for Talent Development (ATD), the APTD certification is especially for those in the employee training and development field and for those in the instructional design field. To earn this credential, you must pass an exam that centers on topics related to learning technologies, training delivery, and instructional design.

Pursue an Advanced Degree

You could also consider achieving a master's degree in a business-related field. Although most HR careers only require a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, such as a Master of Business Administration, is preferred for advanced-level HR manager positions.

HR Organizations

There are several organizations in the HR field that offer paid memberships with unique benefits and HR certification credentials.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

Along with offering the SHRM Certified Professional credentials, SHRM also offers a paid membership. Over 30,000 people are SHRM members, as SHRM is the leading organization in the field. When you are a member, you get access to an exclusive online community, HR news, a helpline for your HR questions, and 1000's of free templates and forms.

International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR)

IPMA-HR has been advocating for the HR profession since 1906, and they offer education, resources, and the IPMA-HR Certified Professional credential. As a paid member, you can benefit from discounts on IPMA-HR conferences, webinars, and networking opportunities.

The Association for Talent Development (ATD)

The ATD has over 35,000 members in over 120 countries around the world. As a paid member of ATD, you gain access to webcasts, case studies, white papers, e-books, and other resources that can help you develop your career.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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