Top Human Resource Degree Programs

Learn more about the necessary skills to work in human resource management. Discover some of the top human resource degree programs in 2022.

Human resource management (HR) is a vital job for businesses. One of the reasons HR is considered a fast-growing field is the number of industries that need HR managers. HR managers have a number of responsibilities, but their overall goal is to represent employee needs with their employers. Whenever there is a dispute in the workplace, whether with management or other employees, HR is responsible for solving the conflict. HR also works directly with the company to improve working conditions and make sure all rules and regulations are followed. In many companies, HR is responsible for hiring and overseeing training for new employees.

Even after training, HR managers continue to help employees, answering any questions about benefits and retirement options. Before a manager fires an employee, they take the issue to HR to ensure there are valid reasons for termination. If HR determines the employee must be let go, they will set up the necessary severance pay or participate in unemployment claims.

Education Requirements

The educational requirements to work in HR largely depend on what field you are interested in. There are many different types of HR jobs available. For example, training and development specialists work directly with employees, training new hires in a specialized field. They are also responsible for developing new training material and running courses for existing employees. Because it is a higher ranked position, some employers will want at least a bachelor’s degree. Based on the company, you may also need experience in a particular industry. 

Compensation and benefits specialists focus largely on benefit packages, retirement plans and insurance policies for a company. They are also responsible for allocating funds for raises and promotions and running workplace wellness programs. Because there is a greater emphasis on funding, many employers want an employee with both an HR degree and financial experience. 

For a more traditional administrative job, there may be no requirements. Even if it is not listed, you are strongly encouraged to get at least an associate degree. If nothing else, taking an associate degree program gives you the necessary skills to succeed in the HR department. Many graduates get their first jobs working as an HR assistant before deciding on a specialty.

Having a degree is also a good way to boost your starting salary. HR workers with an associate or bachelor’s degree typically make around $40,000 to $50,000, while employees with a masters or doctorate earn closer to $60,000 or $70,000.

Important HR Skills

Getting your degree through an HR program ensures you have all the necessary skills to succeed in the workplace. This is especially important for HR employees, as they are often expected to handle many responsibilities with minimal guidance. Even if you start as an assistant, the majority of your tasks are performed alone.

Communication is a key skill taught during HR classes. Communication goes beyond learning how to listen to employee complaints. During the classes, you learn how to improve your active listening skills, which helps you listen for key details. As an HR employee, you need these skills to identify what issues other employees have. 

Communication also applies to filing reports. HR managers must keep detailed records of every incident. Their reports must be professionally written and highlight all the important details. HR managers are often required to draft formal documents which must use specific language. They must also be discreet with communication. HR managers receive sensitive information about other employees, such as the result of background checks or disciplinary actions. This information must not only be properly documented, but also kept private and only shared when legally necessary.

Another part of communication is conflict management. If you work in HR, you must create a safe environment where employees are comfortable reporting problems to you. In many cases, you are responsible for representing the employee when there are issues with management. You must be willing to confront your bosses and communicate grievances without getting angry or upset.

Eastern Michigan University

Eastern Michigan offers an effective and affordable HR program. There are options for both a full or part-time program. If you attend the program full time it takes two years to complete, while part-time is often three to four years. You must get 30 credits to complete the program. 18 of the credits are required courses, but the other 12 are electives of your choosing. This allows you to learn more about other HR specialties, such as taking a course on employment law or compensation management. Classes are also available either in-person or entirely online. It is also one of the more affordable programs, with classes and tuition costing around $20,000 each year, before any financial assistance.

Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW)

One of the challenging aspects of getting started in HR is developing experience. Unlike other career paths, working in HR is more direct and frequently requires you to interact with experienced employees shortly after getting hired. It can feel overwhelming to be fresh out of school and working with established professionals. GSW prepares students by running a project-based curriculum. Students engage in mock scenarios to prepare for working in the real world. There is less flexibility with the bachelor program, as only nine of your 60 credits are open for electives. The school is also known for their generous scholarship programs, especially for students attending locally. Tuition is around $18,000 per year.

Capella University

Capella stands out from other universities because of their self-paced FlexPath program. FlexPath allows you to divide your classes into sessions, letting you set your own deadline for when you want to graduate, with some students completing their bachelor’s degree in 15 months. The university also offers progress rewards as scholarships to new students, which can provide up to $15,000 in funding. More traditional courses are also available through the Guided Path program. Both course options only cost between $12,000 to $15,000.

University of Michigan-Dearborn

Dearborn is famous for their strong HR program, which places a greater focus on networking than other schools. The bachelor’s program is divided into seven categories, including policy and administration, recruitment, performance management and legal issues. The classes also place a strong emphasis on developing your leadership skills for higher-ranked HR positions. Many of the electives are focused on finances and business law, which are important skills for advancing your HR career. It is one of the pricier options, costing on average $25,000 to $30,000 each year, before financial aid.