Best Master’s in Human Resources Degrees Online: Students Before Profits Award 2019

Welcome to our ranking of the top online master’s in human resources degrees.

The corporate world is a competitive place, and it’s always helpful to earn a master’s degree in your field. It used to be difficult to earn a respected master’s degree without relocating and interrupting your career. Thankfully, even major universities like Cornell, University of California, Penn State, and University of Georgia have started offering online master’s in human resources degrees. Many of these programs are offered fully online, or require only brief weekend or week-long stays on campus, meaning you can continue your career uninterrupted while you earn the credentials required to take your next steps. For our ranking of the top online master’s in human resources degrees we factored in two U.S. News rankings (online graduate business degrees ranking, and overall school ranking), tuition and fees, and programmatic accreditation. You can find more about our methodology and an FAQ at the end of the article.

#1. Cornell University

Cornell University-Top Online HR DegreesScore: 43

It’s pretty incredible to see the ivy league universities start offering online degrees. Cornell’s online executive master of human resource management is a selective 15-month program. It does require three one-week sessions of on-campus work. Students will take courses like the psychology of getting things done, navigating power relationships, leading for creativity and innovation, and getting results through talent management.

  • U.S. News Ranking: National #16
  • U.S. News Online Business Ranking: #15
  • Out-of-State Tuition and Fees: $29,500
  • Programmatic Accreditation: AACSB

#2. University of Southern California

USC-Top Online HR DegreesScore: 43

If you can afford the cost it’s hard to find a better online human resources management degree than the one offered by USC. The program facilitates student engagement with the full spectrum of human capital management concepts like talent acquisition, employee motivation, organizational culture, and change management. Students will take courses like learning and development, employee relations, and anticipating the future of HR.

  • U.S. News Ranking: National #22
  • U.S. News Online Business Ranking: #2
  • Out-of-State Tuition and Fees: $42,300
  • Programmatic Accreditation: AACSB

#3. Penn State University

Penn State--Top Online HR DegreesScore: 40

Penn State’s pricing for online programs is almost as cheap as the in-state tuition. This is a great deal because it’s also one of the best schools in the United States. The online master of human resources degree is offered 100% online. Several specialization tracks are available including benefits and compensation, labor and collective bargaining, employment and labor law, staffing, training, and development, ethics and leadership, international human resources and employment relations, and labor unions, organization and strategy.

  • U.S. News Ranking: National #56
  • U.S. News Online Business Ranking: #8
  • Out-of-State Tuition and Fees: $14,619
  • Programmatic Accreditation: AACSB

#4. University of Georgia

UGA-Top Online HR DegreesScore: 40

The University of Georgia currently offers a human resources concentration within their broader MBA program, and a Master of Education in Human Resources and Organizational Development degree. The M.Ed. program is offered fully online, can be completed in just two years, and is incredibly affordable considering it’s being offered by one of the best universities in the United States. The name of the program has changed recently, likely to prevent confusion between the multiple human resources programs. The new name for the program is the M.Ed. in learning, leadership, and organization development.

  • U.S. News Ranking: National #46
  • U.S. News Business Ranking: #17
  • Out-of-State Tuition and Fees: $10,328
  • Programmatic Accreditation: AACSB

#5. Boston University

Boston University-Top Online HR DegreesScore: 37

Students who already possess a Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation can graduate only taking 32 credits instead of the normal 48 credits. Students enrolled in the online MS in human resources management degree will take courses like international business, economics, and cultures, quantitative and qualitative decision-making, planning and operating new ventures, and market and economic research and analysis.

  • U.S. News Ranking: #38
  • U.S. News Online Business Ranking: #11
  • Out-of-State Tuition and Fees: $50,980
  • Programmatic Accreditation: AACSB

#6. Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Rutgers-Top Online HR DegreesScore: 35

This program is delivered 100% online by Rutgers University’s world-class faculty. No GRE or GMAT is required for admission into this program. The degree can be completed in just 18 months. Students earning this degree will take courses like linking HR to business strategy, managing the global workforce, managing rewards systems, workforce analytics and HR data-base decisions, and economics and demographics of labor markets.

  • U.S. News Ranking: National #56
  • U.S. News Business Ranking: #17
  • Out-of-State Tuition and Fees: $26,656
  • Programmatic Accreditation: AACSB

#7. George Washington University

GWU-Top Online HR DegreesScore: 27

George Washington University’s online master’s in human resource management can be completed part time in 30-40 months or full-time in 18-24 months. The 30-credit degree features courses like global human resource management, leading teams, performance management and development, people analytics, leadership and executive development, and organizations and human capital.

  • U.S. News Ranking: National #63
  • U.S. News Online Business Ranking: #45
  • Out-of-State Tuition and Fees: $29,790
  • Programmatic Accreditation: AACSB

#8. University of Scranton

University of Scranton-Top Online HR DegreesScore: 26

The University of Scranton is a Roman Catholic university of the Jesuit order and offers a 100% online human resources management degree. Students in this program will take courses like organizational behavior and leadership, control and budgeting systems, workplace learning and performance, employee and labor relations, ethics in human resources, and applied human resources.

  • U.S. News Ranking: Regional #6
  • U.S. News Online Business Ranking: #76
  • Out-of-State Tuition and Fees: $11,580
  • Programmatic Accreditation: AACSB

#9. Utah State University

University of Utah-Top Online HR DegreesScore: 22

The executive master of human resources degree is available 100% online to anybody living outside the state of Utah. Those living within the state of Utah can only enroll in the on-campus master of human resources degree. The 36-credit program can be completed in 12 to 24 months. Students will enroll in courses like talent acquisition and retention, training and organization development, employment law, and leadership and organizational excellence in a global context.

  • U.S. News Ranking: National #119
  • U.S. News Business Ranking: #44
  • Out-of-State Tuition and Fees: $23,740
  • Programmatic Accreditation: AACSB

#10. Clemson University

Clemson University-Top Online HR DegreesScore: 19

Clemson University’s online master’s in human resource development degree is offered 100% online. Students will take courses like human performance improvement, concepts of HRD/talent management, research concepts and skills, consulting for education and industry, instrumentation for human performance, organizational performance improvement, and knowledge management for improved performance.

  • U.S. News Ranking: National #66
  • U.S. News Business Ranking: #92
  • Out-of-State Tuition and Fees: $19,528
  • Programmatic Accreditation: AACSB

#11. Eastern Michigan University

EMU-Top Online HR DegreesScore: 18

Eastern Michigan University offers both online and hybrid formats for their human resources and organizational development degree. The program was awarded hr.com’s LEAD Award two years running (1st place 2017, 2nd place 2018). The 30-credit program takes students two years to complete on average. Students will take courses like negotiation and influence applications for business, theory and techniques of organizational development, and diagnostic techniques and research methods.

  • U.S. News Ranking: National #230-301
  • U.S. News Online Business Ranking: #53
  • Out-of-State Tuition and Fees: $30,432
  • Programmatic Accreditation: AACSB

#12. Colorado State University

CSU-Global-Top Online HR DegreesScore: 17

Colorado State University has partnered with the Society for Human Resource Management to provide students with the opportunity to become a member of the SHRM for just $40/yr, which is a savings of $150/yr. Student members are eligible for scholarship opportunities, conferences, research reports, and networking events around the country. Students can also get reimbursed up to $300 when they take the SHRM research exam if they take and pass it within 12 months of graduating.

  • U.S. News Ranking: National #140
  • U.S. News Online Business Ranking: #73
  • Out-of-State Tuition and Fees: $8,400
  • Programmatic Accreditation: ACBSP

#13. SUNY Stony Brook

SUNY Stony Brook-Top Online HR DegreesScore: 17

SUNY Stony Brook offers both an MS in human resources and an advanced graduate certificate 100% online. Students will take courses like foundations of human resources, employee relations and labor management, employment law and policy, job evaluation, compensation systems and benefits, performance management in organizations, and diversity and global issues in the workplace.

  • U.S. News Ranking: National Universities #80
  • U.S. News Business Ranking: #60
  • Out-of-State Tuition and Fees: $22,210
  • Programmatic Accreditation: N/A

#14. Brenau University

Brenau University--Top Online HR DegreesScore: 15

The MBA in human resources management at Brenau is a 45-credit program offered at all campuses and online. Students will take courses like applied economics for managers, business essentials for managers, accounting principles, managerial finance, cross-cultural business challenges, international organizational behavior, talent acquisition and management, and human resource strategy.

  • U.S. News Ranking: Regional #34
  • U.S. News Online Business Ranking: N/A
  • Out-of-State Tuition and Fees: $12,330
  • Programmatic Accreditation: ACBSP

#15. Saint Francis University

Saint Francis University-Top Online HR DegreesScore: 13

Alums of the St. Francis online HR master’s program have filled critical employee development positions at major corporations like IBM, Hershey Foods, Lockheed Martin, and others. Students will take courses like compensation, strategic human resource management, staffing: recruitment, selection, and retention, collective bargaining, alternative dispute resolution, and leadership on their way to earning the master’s in human resources online.

  • U.S. News Ranking: Regional #28
  • U.S. News Business Ranking: #114-150
  • Out-of-State Tuition and Fees: $25,000
  • Programmatic Accreditation: N/A

Methodology

US News General Ranking

We considered the overall ranking of each university because business degrees benefit disproportionately from the prestige of the university when compared to other degrees. Below is the rubric we used to award points for a school’s overall ranking. Regional rankings were valued at half that of national rankings.

Ranked National
1-10=20 Points
11-20=18 Points
21-30=16 Points
31-40=14 Points
41-50=12 Points
51-60=10 Points
61-70=8 Points
71-80=6 Points
81-90=4 Points
90+=2 Points

U.S. News Online Business Programs Ranking

While the overall prestige of a university is important, it’s also important to factor in the quality of the university’s online delivery. This is why we valued the Online Graduate Business Degree rankings by U.S. News equally to a national ranking. After all, prestige is good, but you want the quality of your program to match up to the reputation of your school. We awarded points as follows.

1-10=20 Points
11-20=18 Points
21-30=16 Points
31-40=14 Points
41-50=12 Points
51-60=10 Points
61-70=8 Points
71-80=6 Points
81-90=4 Points
90+=2 Points

Out-of-State Graduate Tuition

The more affordable a degree is, the more accessible it is and the more likely students will be to complete it, gaining its full value. We awarded points for lower tuition as follows.

Under $35,000= 1 Point
Under $30,000= 2 Points
Under $25,000=3 Points
Under $20,000=4 Points
Under $15,000=5 Points
Under $10,000=6 Points

Programmatic Accreditation

Accreditation is important. All of the schools ranked here are regionally accredited so it would be unnecessary to award points for that. Instead we have awarded points as follows for programmatic accreditations.

AACSB=5 Points
ACBSP=3 Points
IACBE=1 Point

FAQs

Who should (or shouldn’t) pursue an online master’s in human resources?

People who should consider a master’s in human resources online are those who already work in the field and want to develop an even more sophisticated understanding of the problems facing the industry and their solutions. Anybody who has a more general degree can use an online master’s in human resources to specialize in that area of business. Generally speaking, you want to spend some time working before earning your master’s rather than picking one up as soon as you graduate from college. You will be able to make much better, more informed decisions about where you want to take your career once you have some experience under your belt.

Earning your master’s too early, you run the risk of lacking experience to move into a higher position anyway. Employers have moved toward valuing experience far more heavily than advanced degrees in many cases. If you just graduated from your bachelor’s program, you shouldn’t go straight into a master’s program without good reason. No matter what degree you hold, you need a certain amount of experience to progress. You don’t want to go through six years of school just to sit in an entry-level job with your master’s degree. Better to wait.

How do I pay for my master’s in human resources online?

The best source of financial aid is certainly FAFSA. This is where the bulk of everybody’s financial aid should be coming from. Federal education grants are essentially free money, and federally subsidized student loans have incredibly low interest and tons of great programs for paying them back, including some options that even offer loan forgiveness. After that, private grants and scholarships should be where you look. Finally, if all else fails and it’s your only option, you can apply for private student loans. Private loans tend to be the worst deal and the most expensive form of funding. So make sure you exhaust other sources first.

If you work in human resources, you’re probably pretty familiar with your company’s benefits. But it’s worth mentioning that aside from federal and state student loans and grants, many employers offer professional development compensation to their employees. If your organization pays for your degree, there is a pretty good chance they see it as worthwhile to invest in your advancement within the company, which means the new degree could also serve to pave the way for career advancement within your current organization.

Is online learning right for you?

Online learning is beyond convenient for full-time workers. Most students who earn their master’s in human resources degree online have both work and family concerns that require a higher level of flexibility from their degree. Online delivery is quickly becoming the most commonly chosen option for people looking to earn that master’s. However, despite the convenience of a master’s in human resources online, you should still ask yourself some questions before deciding to move forward. Are you the kind of person who can learn by watching videos? Would you be comfortable taking tests online? Can you handle not having any face-to-face interaction with your professors and fellow students? Are you highly self-motivated and disciplined? While online education is a powerful option, it’s not ideal for all students. However, if you need the flexibility and are comfortable with the format and technology, online education offers unprecedented levels of flexibility.

Sources and Resources

National Center for Education Statistics: Tuition and graduate rates.

FAFSA

U.S. News

 

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NPCO Staff
April 2019

This concludes our ranking of the top online master’s in human resources.