Best Online Master’s In Human Resources Programs – Forbes Advisor


Consider Your Future Goals

As you research where to pursue your master’s, consider which degree type best supports your interests and aspirations. Most master’s-level HR programs fall into one of three categories: human resource management (HRM) programs, human resource development (HRD) programs and MBA programs.

  • HRM: HRM programs provide in-depth education on HR departments’ day-to-day functions and overarching goals. Covering the field’s underlying concepts, emerging trends and key competencies, this degree helps students prepare for HR leadership roles at public and private organizations.
  • HRD: Often including psychology, education and organizational leadership courses, HRD programs like those at Villanova and Drexel emphasize the field’s strategic side over its everyday operational aspects. This degree can benefit individuals seeking many HR positions. They may particularly interest students pursuing training and development careers, Ph.D. programs in human resources or research-oriented roles.
  • MBA: An MBA in human resources pairs general business courses with HR-specific topics. Unlike learners pursuing other HR master’s degrees, MBA candidates typically take classes in accounting, marketing, finance and management information systems. This option may appeal to learners seeking a more versatile business degree.

You might also consider which certifications you plan to earn. For example, if you’re seeking SHRM-CP® or SHRM-SCP® certification, look for programs that align with SHRM curriculum guidelines.

Understand Your Expenses and Financing Options

Online and on-campus programs typically cost about the same in tuition, but remote students often save on commuting- and relocation-related expenses. Moreover, some public universities extend in-state tuition rates to all online learners, regardless of where they live.

As of 2021, the National Center for Education Statistics reports that the average U.S. university charges $19,749 in graduate tuition and fees per year.

The programs on our list generally align with this statistic. Annual tuition costs for these programs range from about $9,000 to $36,000, with an average of just under $19,000. Master’s candidates can use financial aid to help defray their degree costs. Forms of aid available to graduate students include:

  • Graduate assistantships
  • Federal, state, institutional and private grants
  • Institutional and private scholarships and fellowships
  • Military tuition benefits
  • Employee tuition assistance
  • Federal and private student loans


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