Online Human Resources Degree

To help you attend virtual college, many schools may offer online human resource degrees. As an effective team may help a business prosper, quality HR skills are vital. If you are ready to launch or grow a career, it may be useful to find the perfect HR degree for your goals.

An online human resource degree program often studies the ways to find, hire, and keep qualified staff. Then applies these ideas to improve the way a business performs. You may find online HR degrees at all levels. Bachelors, masters and PhDs. At each level, you may learn how to shape company culture, put people’s talents and skills to optimal use.  

At the bachelor’s level, an online HR degree is introductory. You tend to study foundational HR skills and well rounded business practices. As a graduate, you may take away the skills to match people with the perfect positions. Masters or MBA in human resource programs usually go deeper into managerial duties. As a graduate, you may have the skills to tackle a leader role, oversee benefits and handle staff issues. PhD in human resource programs likely focus on original research in your area of interest. Once you graduate, you might advance as a researcher, teacher or executive leader.

Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources 

An online bachelor’s in human resources (HR) program is an entry level degree. It tends to take four years and may entail 120 credits.

Many programs likely ground you in human resource principles and practices. Topics may include  how to recruit and hire staff, compensation and benefit packages. Plus, all about HR laws and regulations, and ways to use an effective team.

Many schools award a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) in HR. Both typically cover basic HR concepts and practices, with slight differences in approach. In a BA, you are likely to have more classes reflect liberal arts, social studies and history. While a BS may weigh more on math and science so you might find it more technical.

Knowing that, the schools you look at might offer an HR major within a business admin program. Or, Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA or BSBA). These programs also frame some key areas to help you understand how businesses run. So, you may learn about leadership, finance and how to make decisions that rely on data.

To get into a BA, BS or BBA program, you may need a high school diploma or GED. Other standards vary and may include an acceptable GPA range, ACT or SAT scores and personal essay. Another variable is tuition as it could go up or down. According to DataUSA, it was an average cost of $7,196 in 2017 if you attend a public college. Costs are higher ($28,822) at private institutions.

Master’s Degree in Human Resources 

An online master’s in human resources is a graduate level degree. It tends to take from one to two years and is typically about 36 credits. Many schools award a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS). These are academic degrees which may prep you to continue to a PhD and may ask for a thesis. There are also professional degrees such as the MBA and MPS

Both of these focus on practical skills and putting theory into use. So, you may have some type of project at the end of your program.

While different, these programs often focus on the managerial side of HR. So, you are likely to study the decision process, analytics and strategy. In other words, areas that could drive success for a business. These concepts may help you step into a leader role. Or, steer your career in a niche field. Like training and development. To get into a master’s in HR or HRM, you typically need a bachelor’s degree. Other things that may help you qualify include an acceptable GPA, current resume, references and personal goals essay.

PhD in Human Resources 

An online PhD in human resources is the highest level degree. It may entail about 60 credits and three years of study. As a research degree, a PhD typically aims to build quality analytic and writing skills. So, many programs aim to prep you to pursue a career as a researcher, teacher, or executive leader.

Many schools set their courses for students who already have a background in HR. Apart from the research, you are likely to study a wide range of managerial tactics. Above all, for multinational companies where the HR needs are complex.

As a result, you may come to learn about global teams. Ideas like how to motivate them, build them and test their performance. Also, big picture themes about labor relations, regulatory and ethical concerns. You are likely to study these areas from a systems point of view. One that looks at a problem from all sides and creates solution focused tactics around it.

To qualify for admission into a PhD program, it may be helpful to have a master’s in HR or MBA. Many schools may also look for an acceptable GPA and GMAT scores. But these standards may vary.

Apart from your transcripts, you may need to spend some time on your application. Admissions teams may want to see a solid personal essay, references and a current CV.

How much might it cost to earn a master’s in human resources or PhD online? The average cost of a graduate degree from a public institution in the academic year 2015-2016 was $11,303. So, some online HR programs may be more affordable or more expensive than this amount.

What could I do with an Online Human Resources Degree?

An online human resource degree may open doors in both current and new fields. As companies expand into global markets, it generates new opportunities for HR professionals. Since HR careers continue to evolve, there may be jobs for all levels of education. In many business and management roles, one needs a bachelor’s degree for entry level roles. Apart from having a bachelor’s degree, most HR pros who work with big companies have a master’s or MBA. Workers who train new hires may also need education in the field in which they work. 

1. Human Resource Manager 

In the role of HR manager, you may plan and oversee the administrative side of staffing. Some of these areas may relate to bringing new talent on board. So, recruiting and interviewing and hiring. At the same time, you may handle personnel issues, disputes (e.g. harassment). Apart from tactical skills, many employers in larger companies prefer MBA or masters prepared workers.

2. Corporate Recruiter 

A Corporate Recruiter retained by a company may looks for talent to fill job positions. So, the first thing they tend to do is consult with a client to understand what type of candidate they seek. Then, they scan for qualified people to recruit, screen, interview and place. Apart from a bachelor’s degree, it may be useful to have a credential such as the SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP)

3. Benefits Analyst 

Benefits Analyst may research compensation and benefits policies and plans. And, ensures that a company complies with federal and state laws. In other functions, they might design and prepare reports that sum up their findings and analysis. In this role, you may tend to need a bachelor’s degree, and for some positions, extra credentials.

4. Training Manager 

As a Training Manager, you may be in charge of onboarding for new hires. In some roles, you might write the manual after conferring with management. Then, use methods like digital handbook, on the job training, workshops and conferences. Many people in this role have experience and may need a master’s degree.

5. Corporate Trainer 

Corporate Trainer tends to report to a Training Manager. In this support role, they might first send out surveys, interview employees and consult with managers or instructors. Then, design and create training manuals, e- learning modules, and course materials. Along with a bachelor’s degree, some employers may want you to have experience in a related field.

6. Position Classification Specialist 

As a Position Classification Specialist, you typically assess a job position posted by a company. In doing so, you could classify the role, describe it and find salary scales. Also, once you have that info, you might input it into a Human Resource Information System or HRIS. Apart from technical skills, many Classification Specialists have a bachelors degree. 

7. Compensation Managers 

A Compensation Manager typically plans, builds and oversees programs that pay employees. One of the key duties in this role is to manage a company’s pay structure. And this means keeping track of market conditions, gov’t rules and pay scales. Pay scales may also include bonuses, commission and other incentives. Beyond skills in finance and HR, many positions call for a bachelor’s degree, if not a masters.

8. Chief Human Resource Officer 

A Chief Human Resource Officer may lead global teams or head very large companies. As a leader, the CHRO might set the hiring policies and practices that managers put into play. Roles like this tend to take strong managerial skills as well as an ability to solve complex problems. Besides a tactical mindset, one may need a master’, MBA or doctorate degree.

Is a Degree in Human Resources worth it?

Expertise in HR may yield flexible skills, opportunity and above average earning potential. Jobs in human resource management are showing faster growth than average.

Per the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, if you have training and development skills, the future is bright. The number of people who work remotely is generating the need for more mobile learning and on boarding. Jobs in these areas expect to add 7% more openings through 2029. And this is faster than the norm which is 4% for all occupations. Salaries for recruiters, HR managers, corporate trainers and benefits analysts vary.

Salaries for recruiters, HR managers, corporate trainers and benefits analysts vary. But many jobs that call for these skills pay in the six figures. Human resource managers who work in IT sectors reported median annual wages of $131,340 in 2019.

Human Resource Degree Jobs & Salary

Occupation Annual Median Wage Jobs
Human Resource Manager $116,720 152,100
Corporate Recruiter $61,920 625,700
Benefits Analyst $64,560 88,700
Training Manager $67,960 44,440

Top States for Jobs an a Human Resource Managers

State Jobs Annual Mean Wage
CA 21,600 $145,710
NY 10,980 $158,830
IL 10,890 $121,720
TX 10,260 $126,470
FL 7,980 $107,520

Online Human Resources Degree Courses

Many schools typically offer SHRM approved courses. SHRM is the Society for Human Resource Management. They’ve published a guide book and templates for BA, BS, BBA and master’s programs. In this guide, they identify what it takes to be a successful HR professional. These skills may filter into course plans and are as follows. 

  • Relationship management – customer service, support and teamwork
  • Communication – feedback, diplomacy
  • Ethics – accountability
  • HR expertise – workforce planning, strategy, HR technology
  • Business acumen – metrics, sales, marketing
  • Critical thinking – research for decisions
  • Global and cultural effectiveness – adaptable mindset
  • Leadership – mission driven
  • Consultation – analytical approach, coaching 

You may study many of these areas when you pursue a human resources degree online. But each level of degree is likely to do this in a different way. Below are some of the classes you may find at the bachelors, masters and PhD levels. 

Bachelor’s Degree Courses

Bachelor level HR classes typically explore the basic skills one needs to handle a daily routine in an HR job. Concepts may address an overview of HR functions, decisions and strategy. Central to HR are compliance issues. So, you are likely to study state and federal laws that affect labor relations. Like the Equal Employment Opportunity rule, fair and unfair practices. Another main area deals with how to recruit, choose and place people in a job. There are classes that deal with this as well as pay, benefits and work force planning. Here are a few samples of other classes at the bachelor’s level:

Human Resource Management

In this field, students may gain insight into human resource management as a whole. The goal is to learn about things like labor relations and human behavior. It may include a look at current laws and rules that apply to the workspace. You may also learn about employment laws and rules. There are some courses that may include insight into global economies and total rewards management. Training is often a component.

Management and Organization Theory

In this course, you may learn the functions of management. This may include areas of planning, organizing, and leading. It may also include the application of various concepts and theories in this area as they apply to company goals. You may learn strategy development, setting goals, and evaluating performance. Ethics and social responsibility may also be a component of this program.

Employee Training and Development

In this class, you may learn about employee training, including how it applies to various organizations. They may learn how to create and administer these training programs. They may learn more about career development and how to build employees up. This course often focuses on the roles of managers in areas of development and spotting opportunities for growth.

Labor Relations

This course focuses on modern labor relation methods. There may be some historical aspect of this, such as research into label relation problems over time. You may learn about the role third parties make in this area as well as how to organize campaigns. They may also learn about collective bargaining. You may also learn how to resolve employee problems in this class.

Graduates Degree Courses

Master level HR classes tend to build on your existing knowledge and go deeper into manager skills. Topics may thus frame ways to problem solve and address staff issues. A mainstay of many MS programs is a class in finance. It is likely to explore concepts like the time value of money, opportunity cost, pay scales and break even analysis.  

You may also tend to study labor and employee relations in depth. From a systems point of view, you may look at contract trends, unions, negotiation and ways to resolve conflict. Another key area at this level is HR management. As such, you may learn about staffing to build effective teams, legal aspects, and employee relations. 

PhD level classes typically aim to fuse theory and practice so you could produce compelling new ideas. So, a large share of a study plan is about research methods, design and data collection. Apart from essential research and writing skills, many programs lead with classes in management. These classes may help you analyze the role of HR in supporting corporate strategy. And, may nurture expertise in global work force issues. 

You may also study work force planning from a systems point of view. For instance, you may learn how to make staffing decisions that steer a company towards its goals. Another key area at the PhD level may be global, federal and state regulatory and ethical factors. To understand this, you are likely to explore the strategic side of labor relations and succession planning. Here are a few samples of other popular classes at the graduate level:

Survey of Human Resource Management

This type of course often focuses on modern perspectives in the area of human resources. This may include learning about the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM). You may learn about the principles developed by this group to help support people and the work place. You may also learn about legal and ethics in human resource policies.

Sourcing and Management Talent

This type of course often looks at on areas of recruiting and talent mobility. Many students taking this type of master level course may learn how to plan for work place needs. They may also learn about performance management. Students may have goals of learning about many approaches that help to support employees moving up. This is in the context of a company’s needs.

Workplace Learning in the Digital Age

This is a newer class for some. It often has a focus on learning how learning models and learning styles can be caught. You may gain insight into designing and management the learning process to reach more people. You may also learn strategies and demonstrate how they work. The focus is usually on how these learning methods meet company goals.

Retaining and Engaging Employees

This type of class often looks at applying concepts of employee motivation. It may also include supporting employee engagement in the work place and creating an employee experience. You may learn how to analyze the ways in which culture and leader behavior impact outcomes. This may include strategic retention. You may also learn evidence based best practices.

Many online programs come with a choice of focal area within HR. As a rule, each groups together a few online courses to help grow expertise.

1. Project Management

Project managers keep complex projects on track from start to finish. So, this area often helps you learn how to plan, schedule, budget and more. Alongside, you may grow skills as a negotiator and decision maker. 

2. Organizational Behavior 

This area may help with professional development. It may enable a human resources manager to break down corporate culture and group dynamics. Then use these skills to make effective hiring decisions. And find ways to resolve conflicts in the workplace.

3. Finance and Accounting

A grasp of accounting, tax and finances may help managers set HR budgets. And, in a broader way, reach corporate goals about productivity. Employee benefits and hiring decisions may also become clearer.

4. Human Resource Management 

The human resource management focus tends to be about strategy. As such, your classes may look at ways to use data to drive decisions and tactical plans. While you study these areas, it may also grow problem solving skills.

How long does it take to earn a Human Resources Degree online?

The time it takes to earn a human resources degree online typically varies by program and if you study full or part time. A general rule of thumb is usually four years for a BA, BS or BBA in human resources. Once you graduate, it may take from one to two years to earn a master’s or MBA in human resources. And, after this, at least another three years to earn a PhD in human resources. That said, if you bring in transfer credits, it may save you time.

University Level of Degree # of Credits Required Starts Per Year Minimum Months to Complete
Western Governors University Bachelors 41 courses 2 36
Southern New Hampshire University Bachelors 120 6 24
Ashford University Bachelors 120 Every 5 weeks 47
American Intercontinental University MBA 48 5 12
Pennsylvania State World Campus Masters 33 Multiple 30
Strayer University Masters 36 4 24
Walden University PhD 64 – 120 QC Multiple 36
Capella University PhD 90QC Multiple 36
Sullivan University PhD 74 QC 4 24

Scholarships for Human Resources Majors

One way to make online college more affordable is to secure a scholarship. This kind of financial aid may lessen your need to rely on loans. Like all aid, it may be available to those who qualify based on the grantor’s criteria.

AfterCollege Business Student Scholarship

For U.S. undergraduate and graduate students who are majoring in a field of business. HR is one of these fields so you may qualify. There are four awards of $500 each planned.

Deadline: December 31

Frank Blau Jr. Management Scholarship

For students who are majoring in business administration and related areas. Such as human resources. Applicants must be a citizen of the United States, Australia, Canada, or the Cayman Islands. There is one award of $6,000 available. 

SHRM Scholarships

In 2020 the SHRM Foundation awarded more than $500,000 in scholarships. These tend to be for student members in good academic standing.

Deadlines vary and should be available in early 2021 for the next set of scholarships.

Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship

For U.S. and international female students going for an undergraduate or graduate degree in a business related field. Online students may apply. Applicants must show drive and ambition as well as meet academic benchmarks. District scholarships pay up to $2,000 and international scholarships go up to $8,000. 

Deadline: May 31, 2021

Business Professionals of America (BPA) Scholarships

For students pursuing careers in business management and related fields. Two awards of $7,500 each are planned. These will go to outstanding members of the BPA who exemplify core values of the org.

Deadline: April 1, 2021

15 Schools with Online Human Resources Degrees

We have ranked our top 15 schools based on the number of graduates from the program in 2019. Our process looks at 2019 data from the NCES. And, it may help you narrow your search down.

  1. University of Phoenix Arizona
  2. Colorado State University Global
  3. Western Governors University
  4. Rutgers University
  5. University of Maryland Global Campus
  6. Webster University 
  7. Capella University 
  8. Southern New Hampshire University   
  9. Pennsylvania State University 
  10. Ashford University  
  11. Cornell University 
  12. Florida International University
  13. Villanova University 
  14. Regent University


Let’s take a closer look at the online human resource degrees that these 15 schools have to offer. 


University of Phoenix Arizona

Bachelor of Science in Business – HRM Certificate


UOPX offers a 120 credit online BS in business program. You may go for this degree with a Human Resource Management Certificate. Doing so may teach you how to apply HR basics in the workplace. You may also learn how to attract, develop and keep talent once hired. The format allows you to take one 5 week course at a time and up to 10 courses per year.

Courses include:

  • Basics of HRM
  • Risk Management 
  • Compensation

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $9,552
Grad $16,752
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:

Average Net Price:

More Degree Programs:

  • MBA in HRM


Colorado State University Global

Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management


CSU Global’s program entails 120 credits. It aims to grow basic knowledge and skills in HRM. The courses delve into leadership for corporate clients. They also align with industry guides from the SHRM. At the same time, the core covers a range of business topics like policy and strategy. With an optional 15 credit hour focal area, you may tailor this program to reflect goals.

Courses Include:

  • Mgmt. Team Dynamics
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Employee Law

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $8,400
Grad $9,000
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:

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More Degree Programs:

  • MS in HRM
  • MS in Organizational Leadership

WGU’s online B.S. entails 41 courses and allows you to move at your own pace.  Recognized by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), the courses align with their HR Curriculum Guidebook and Templates. Your core courses also reflect the business admin core. As a result, you may gain applied business skills along the way.

Courses Include:

  • Work force planning   
  • Training and Development   
  • Compensation and Benefits

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $6,670
Grad $7,790
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:

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More Degree Programs:

  • MBA
  • MS in Management and Leadership

The Rutgers MHRM program is for current HR supervisors and managers looking to move into a senior role. As such it discusses ways to link HR with corporate goals. Other classes also study at the crossroads of business policy and HRM. These may give students a sense of how to use HR for a competitive edge.

Courses Include:

  • Managing Reward Systems
  • Work Flow
  • Analytics and HR Database

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $15,407 / $32,189
Grad $19,983 / $32,391
Special rates available for military students.

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More Degree Programs:

  • BS in HRM (campus)
  • BS in Labor Studies and Employee Relations (campus)
  • PhD in Industrial Relations (campus)


University of Maryland Global Campus

Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management


UMGC offers a 120 credit program. It aims to grow a basic knowledge of HR functions. How to plan resources, recruit, select and place staff. Plus ways that human behavior, laws and diversity intersect with company culture. As you learn these topics, others may school you in how to negotiate and manage conflicts.

Courses Include:

  • Staff Training 
  • Organization Theory
  • Total Rewards Approach 

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $12,336
Grad $12,132
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:

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More Degree Programs:

  • MS in HRM


Webster University 

Master of Arts in HRM


The goal of this 36 credit program is to prep grads to deal with the issues of managing today’s workforce. Content thus focuses on functions as well as the ins and outs of making tactical decisions. And, aim to balance both theory and practice of HR service delivery. 

Courses Include:

  • Basic Finance
  • Staffing
  • Labor Management    

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $28,700
Grad $13,500
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:

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More Degree Programs:

  • BA in HRM (campus)


Capella University

PhD in Business Management – Human Resource Management

Online / Residencies

Capella’s online PhD entails 90 quarter credits and three residencies. The program aims to equip you with the skills to build winning teams that do great work. At the same time, the study plan includes classes in ethics. Plus, you research and a focus on up and coming trends and practices.

Courses Include:

  • HR Theory and Practice
  • Attracting and Retaining Talent 
  • HR Practices for Developing Talent

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $14,540
Grad $15,233
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:

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More Degree Programs:

  • BS in Business – HRM
  • MS in HRM

SNHU’s program spans 120 credits and allows you to bring in up to 90 transfer credits. Apart from a business core, you take many HR classes. These discuss key issues regarding employee safety, staff relations and ways to manage a global work force. There is also a focus on the use of HR skills to improve a business. 

Courses Include:

  • Total Rewards
  • Principles of Management
  • HR Strategy

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $31,136
Grad $18,810
Special rates available for military students.

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More Degree Programs:

  • MBA 
  • MS in HRM


Pennsylvania State University

Bachelor of Science in Labor and Human Resources


Penn State offers a 123 credit program and if eligible you may bring in up to 90 transfer credits. It is for the student who wants to learn about HR as it relates to productivity. As a result, there are classes that may help you understand compensation and benefits. With others that relate to corporate culture and how it impacts behavior. That said, you may focus more deeply on HR or labor and employment relations. 

Courses Include:

  • Intro to Labor and HR
  • Employee Behavior 
  • Intro to I/O Psychology

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $18,450 / $35,514
Grad $22,994 / $38,728
Special rates available for military students.

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More Degree Programs:

  • BA in Labor and Human Resources
  • BS in Organizational Leadership
  • Master of Professional Studies in HR


Ashford’s program entails 120 credits and you can take one class at a time. It covers key HR skills as well as business practices. Including how management, labor and law weave together. Other classes may help you apply to sit for the SHRM CP credential in your final year of study.

Courses Include:

  • HR Technology Mgmt. 
  • Labor Law 
  • Job Analysis and Design    

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $12,400
Grad $12,810
Special rates available for military students.

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More Degree Programs:

  • MBA
  • MA in HRM


Cornell University

Executive Master of Human Resource Management

Online / Campus

Cornell’s EMHRM degree is a 15 month program. It aims to provide the knowledge and skills needed to move into senior HR roles. As a result, it may suit the person with 8+ years of HR experience. Courses also focus on profit driven strategy and cover the tools needed to stay competitive in the market.

Courses Include:

  • Strategic Talent Analytics
  • Power Relationships
  • Total Rewards

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $57,222
Grad $30,022
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:

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More Degree Programs:

  • Master of Industrial and Labor Relations
  • PhD

FIU’s program spans 120 credits of business classes and HR basics. Core coursework delves into finance, operations and business law. While HR topics are about recruitment, staffing and benefits. You also have room for electives in HR and management.

Courses Include:

  • Happiness at Work 
  • Managing Diversity 
  • Union Management  

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $6,565 / $18,963
Grad $11,106 / $23,587
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:

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More Degree Programs:

  • MS in HRM 


Villanova’s MSHRD is a 36 credit program. It explores core HR skills with a focus on strategic issues. From how to recruit high performing talent. To the finer points of using data and statistics to make informed business choices. As you study these areas, you may want to pursue an add on certificate. There are five options including leadership.

Courses Include:

  • Strategic and Global HR Leadership
  • HR Technology
  • Emotional Intelligence 

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $55,280
Grad $20,606
Special rates available for military students.

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More Degree Programs:

  • BA or BIS / MS HRD


Regent University

MBA in Human Resources


Regent offers a 42 credit program. Because it is an MBA, core topic relate to corporate themes. Accounting, finance, planning and marketing. You also study ways to manage people and lead. Adding to them are a handful of HR classes to grow specific skills. 

Courses Include:

  • Collective Bargaining
  • Training 
  • Strategic HRM    

Tuition and Fees:
Undergrad $18,620
Grad $16,952
Special rates available for military students.

Avg Grants & Scholarship Aid:

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More Degree Programs:

  • BS in HRM 

*Unemployment Earnings.  Sources for school stats and data include the NCES and IPEDS.