Human resource professionals need a wide range of skills as well as a solid college education to succeed in their field. HR professionals typically interact with coworkers on a daily basis, so they need to have strong interpersonal, organizational and leadership skills to go along with their education. They also need to be decisive, since their decisions often directly impact individual employees or entire departments.
People who work in the field of human resources -- especially in management positions -- almost always have college degrees. Many employers only require HR managers to hold a bachelor's degree in human resources or a similar area of study, such as business management or finance. However, certain higher-level HR positions, especially those at big corporations where HR managers typically interact with larger numbers of employees, may require a master's degree.
Employers at large companies often also prefer to hire HR professionals who have earned credentials specific to their field. One of the most common certifications for human resource professionals is earned from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
The most common degree path for people interested in HR careers is to earn a bachelor's degree in human resources. The featured schools below offer online options for bachelor's degrees, and many offer online master's degree programs in human resources and human resource management as well.
Best Colleges for Human Resources Degree Programs
Finding the right college can be difficult. We put together this list of the top colleges for human resources using data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics to help students find a great human resources program. Scan through our top 10 colleges to find the best online degrees in human resources, or click the button below to learn more about the methodology used to create this list.
The University of Oklahoma has three campus locations in the state, including its flagship campus at Norman. It was founded in 1890 and had more than 21,800 students in the 2016-17 academic year.
University of Oklahoma's college of professional and continuing studies features several online degrees in human resources, including:
- Master of Arts in human and health services administration
- Master of Human Relations
- Master of Human Relations-clinical mental health counseling
The university heads our list of best online colleges for human resources degrees based on its high graduation rate and favorable tuition fees compared to other institutions in our rankings. It also scored well on the total number of HR degrees awarded.
This university located in Honolulu offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in human resources. Students interested in an undergraduate degree can complete a Bachelor of Arts in human resource development, which requires 120 credits to complete. The university's college of business offers two options for graduate students interested in gaining additional education to potentially advance their HR careers:
- Master of Arts in human resource management
- Master of Arts in organizational development and change
Hawaii Pacific University had the most business programs of any school in our top 10. The university also has an extremely favorable 13:1 ratio student-faculty ratio, which potentially allows for much greater interaction between students and their professors. Students should note, however, that cost of tuition at Hawaii Pacific University is on pace with the higher cost of living in Hawaii.
Located in Sarasota Springs, N.Y., Empire State College is part of the State University of New York system. SUNY Empire has more than 30 onsite locations throughout the state for students pursuing undergraduate, graduate or certificate programs.
The university offers a campus-based undergraduate degree in business, management and economics and an online master's degree in business management for students interested in the field of human resources. Grad students also can pursue an online certificate in human resource management.
Empire State College ranks prominently in our top 10 based on its favorable tuition rates -- it had the third-lowest cost of tuition among our featured institutions. It also has an open admissions policy, and with a comfortable 15:1 faculty to student ratio, students might expect to receive additional support and interaction with their professors.
Situated in the suburbs seven miles southeast of downtown Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky University is a private university with an annual enrollment of more than 14,000 students.
The university offers an online undergraduate degree in business administration and an online M.B.A. program with a focus in leadership. The programs feature a wide range of leadership classes that position students to work in human resource management positions.
In-state undergraduate tuition and fees at Northern Kentucky University totaled $9,120 for the academic year, which is the fifth-lowest cost of tuition among our featured colleges. Students at the university also enjoy the ability to take evening and weekend classes, academic and career counseling, and job placement services for graduates of its academic programs.
Grantham University is a 100-percent online university headquartered at Lenexa, Kent. The university has five online business programs that students interested human resources careers can pursue. Degree programs range from Associate of Arts in business administration and management to a graduate degree in business administration.
At $6,500 for in-state tuition and fees, Grantham University has the lowest cost of tuition in any of institution in our rankings that offers human resource degree programs. The university's favorable open admissions policy makes it easy for students to begin their academic careers, and although Grantham is an online college, students still enjoy a great deal of flexibility with career placement and academic and career counseling services.
The sixth institution in our rankings, Columbia College in Missouri was founded in 1851 as a Christian college for female students. The college retains a covenant with the Disciples of Christ Christian church, but it's a non-sectarian institution that's open to all students. Columbia College has 35 campus locations, as well as its online campus.
There are four online business degree programs ranging from the associate to master's level that can potentially lead to a career in human resources. At just under $7,000 for in-state tuition and fees, Columbia College has the third-lowest tuition rate of any school in our top 10. The college also has an open admissions policy, and students enjoy the flexibility of night and evening classes, career support, and academic advising.
This small, private liberal arts university located in Bethany, Okla. has retained a link to the Protestant Church of the Nazarene since its inception in 1899. SNU is the leader of the 10 institutions in our rankings for number of human resource degrees awarded.
There are several degree options at Southern Nazarene University for students interested in learning the business acumen that can help them succeed in human resource careers. Undergraduate degree paths include:
- Business management
- Organizational leadership
Southern Nazarene University also offers an online master's degree program in business administration. The university placed seventh in our ranking of best online degrees for human resources also due to its student-friendly open admissions policy and favorable 14:1 faculty-student ratio.
Wilmington University is a private university with six locations in Delaware and five in New Jersey, as well as its online campus, WilmU. Total enrollment tops 18,000 students annually.
Undergraduate students leaning toward HR careers can enroll in the university's online business management degree or human resource management degree paths. HR professionals can gain additional knowledge to potentially advance their careers through the university's human resource management or organizational leadership master's degree pathways.
Wilmington University tied for first with five other institutions in our top 10 for admissions rate, and it was second for the high number of distance learners enrolled in its online programs in 2015. More than three-quarters of students at Wilmington University take coursework in digital classrooms.
This private evangelical postsecondary institution serves the eight-state Rocky Mountain region from its flagship campus in Lakewood and additional learning centers in six Rocky Mountain cities.
Colorado Christian University offers 100-percent online degrees through its distance learning portal, CCU Online. Students interested in human resources careers can earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in human resource management, or working HR professionals can earn an online M.B.A. in business leadership to enhance their career options.
CCU is another institution in our rankings that scored favorably for its open admissions policy. It also has a 15:1 student-faculty ratio, so students can expect favorable interaction with their instructors. Approximately one of every 10 students at Colorado Christian University earned a degree in human resources or business in 2015.
Rounding out our top schools for human resources is Regent University, a private Christian research institution located in Virginia Beach, Va. The university offers 28 degree programs in business, including bachelor's and master's degrees in human resource management.
Regent University is the leader of all institutions in these rankings for distance education -- 86 percent of students at the university were enrolled in online classes. The college also offers great flexibility for on-campus students as well, with evening and weekend classes. Distance learners enjoy full academic and career support, as well as career placement services upon graduation.
Human Resources Degree Programs and Common Career Paths
Earning a bachelor's degree in human resources is the first step to a career in human resources. A common entry-level position for new college graduates is working as human resource specialists. As employees gain crucial job skills, they may earn a promotion to human resource management or to one of the other management careers listed below.
Career Outlook for Human Resources Majors
Employment of human resource specialists is expected to grow substantially over the next several years, the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics reports. Employment for human resource managers is expected to increase as well. Similar careers, such as training and development managers and specialists, are expected to grow at a similar pace.
PROJECTED JOB GROWTH(%)
|Training and Development Specialists||$65,120||291,380||9.4%|
|Training and Development Managers||$121,730||35,690||8.1%|
|Human Resources Managers||$126,700||143,580||7.1%|
|Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists||$67,910||83,550||5.9%|
|Human Resources Specialists||$66,790||593,790||5.3%|
|Compensation and Benefits Managers||$132,860||15,660||2.9%|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Human Resources
There are many ways human resource professionals can land funds to help pay for undergraduate and graduate studies. In 2017 the Society for Human Resource Management Foundation awarded nearly $500,000 in scholarships and awards for eligible SHRM members. Additionally, the International Public Management Association for Human Resources offers numerous scholarships and awards.
Renewable if recipient maintains a minimum 2.0 GPA and full-time enrollment as a human resource management major.
To be included in these rankings, all schools must meet the following initial criteria for the specific subject being ranked.
- Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor’s) in that subject.
- Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in the most recent year of IPEDS data available.
Based on those criteria, we ranked all 2-year and 4-year schools in IPEDS that reported data for all of the following points. Ratings are calculated on a 10-point scale, using the weights specified.
- In-state undergraduate tuition & fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Accessibility, based on admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Institutional spending, based on two equally weighted factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Instructional and academic support expenses per full-time enrolled student
- Instructional and academic support spending as a percentage of all expenses
- Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Flexibility, based on the following factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Percent of students enrolled fully or partly in distance education
- Whether the school offers programs that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
- Whether the school offers academic and career counseling
- Whether the school offers job placement services for students who complete their programs
- Whether the school offers any alternative tuition plans, such as a payment plan or guaranteed rate
- Size of program, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015