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A principal component of a successful organization is the human resources division, which serves as the link between a company and its employees. A human resources manager is responsible for employee recruitment, screening, and job training.

Graduates learn advanced skills in conflict resolution, procedure development, payroll, and employee record keeping. They work in various industries as human resource managers and development specialists. The job outlook for positions in human resources is positive, with openings growing at a faster-than-average rate.

The average cost to complete a bachelor’s degree in human resources is $14,688 per year, and it’s $20,513 for a master’s degree. Graduates from a master’s program can earn an average of $130,000 per year.

How to Choose a Human Resources Degree Program

Choose your area of study

Consider your career goals and interests as you select your program. A career in human resources offers the opportunity to work with professionals in any field, including sports and entertainment, education, health care, and research sciences.

Human resources is a specialization of a business degree. Specific fields within human resources include human resources management (HRM) and human resources development (HRD).

HRM works inside an organization to look after recruitment, training, and the interpersonal relationships of employees and company leaders. HRD aims to utilize an employee’s skills inside an organization.

Research schools and programs

Focus on accredited schools and programs to maximize your chance of career success. Not all online and certificate-offering schools are recognized for their educational standards. When entering the job market after graduation, preference is given to applicants from accredited institutions.

Engage with the school, its culture, and its student body by following their social media channels, visiting the school in person, and attending an in-person or virtual information session. You could also participate in an art exhibit, sporting event, or symposium.

Review the program website for information about alumni organizations. You may be able to make contact with one or two graduates from your program to find out what they liked about it and how prepared they felt for the job market after graduation.

Prepare for tests and applications

Application requirements vary across programs, but most will include documentation such as:

  • Official transcripts from your high school and transfer school, if applicable
  • Test scores, including ACT, GRE, GMAT, SAT
  • A resume or personal statement
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Completed application and fee

If a school requires an original essay or personal statement, write a compelling piece detailing your career goals, why you’re a good candidate for the program, and why you’re interested in their program.

Contact the school’s admissions counselor to ensure you have the most current information before you submit your application. Request an appointment to visit them in person or via video chat if you have any questions during the application process.

Select your program

As you prepare to make your final selection, take a fresh look at your career goals. Make adjustments that reflect any new information or personal discoveries. Ask yourself which school’s program most closely aligns with your goals.

Take an assessment of your learning style to identify whether you work best in groups or alone, your optimal biometric learning time, and how asynchronous or synchronous learning methods might contribute to your overall success. Also, logistical factors such as whether you will attend full or part-time and online or in-person should be considered.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

If you need help paying for your degree, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your eligibility for federal student aid and need-based aid. Inquire with your employer to see if they offer scholarships or tuition reimbursement. Consult with your school’s program advisor to find out if there are any funding opportunities specific to your program, and visit the financial aid office for information on merit-based grants and scholarships from private organizations and community groups.

The Top 50 Best Human Resources Degree Programs

Best Human Resources Degree Programs 2024 badge

FIU College of Business

University of Minnesota

University of Washington

University of Idaho

Arizona State University

University of Texas at Dallas

Michigan State University

University of Alabama at Birmingham

University of Nebraska - Lincoln

University of Michigan - Dearborn

University of Iowa

California State University, San Bernardino

Murray State University

FSU College of Business

Gonzaga University

Boise State University

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

University of Richmond

Thomas Edison State University

Regent University

Lewis University

University of Northern Iowa

Texas A&M University

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College

Missouri State University

Johnson & Wales University

Illinois State University

National University

Temple University

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

McKendree University

Loyola University of Chicago

University of Central Oklahoma

Oakland University

Discover More Options

How we rank schools

Our list focuses on Bachelor of Science (BS) and Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) programs in human resources. For advanced occupations, there are also Master of Science (MS) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs available for this field. We reviewed programs that are offered both online and in person.

When looking for an HR degree program, you should choose one that has been recognized by a specialized accrediting agency, such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), or the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE). These organizations have a particularly high standard for business education.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

What Can You Expect From a Human Resources Program?

A human resources degree program prepares graduates for a career in managing the administrative aspects of an organization, including consulting on strategic planning, managing payroll, recruiting employees, and overseeing their training.

Students learn high-level communication and interpersonal skills, accounting and payroll management, and business document development, including procedure manuals and labor contracts. Some programs incorporate internship requirements as part of their studies, allowing students to gain relevant experience before entering the workplace.

Graduates emerge prepared to navigate challenging one-on-one and group conflict scenarios, including union negotiations, sexual harassment claims, and other human resource issues.

Potential courses you’ll take in a human resources program

  • Technical and Professional Writing: This course prepares students for the various documents a human resources professional will draft, including employment contracts, procedure manuals, and non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements. The focus is on audience awareness and clarity of communication.
  • Public Speaking: Public speaking trains students to craft and develop speeches to inform and persuade audiences. Practical applications include company announcements, employee training programs, and explanations of benefits and plans.
  • Principles of Economics: Students learn the basic principles of economics, including the theory of supply, the theory of demand, the interaction of supply and demand, and the economic problem and the price system. They also learn how to measure and determine national income, employment and price, monetary and fiscal policy analysis, and the effects of government deficits and debts.
  • Managing People in Organizations: This course explores the role of human behavior in organizations. Students learn how to motivate and lead, manage organizational change, navigate cross-cultural issues in managing people, and address ethical issues in organizations.

Human Resources Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to a human resources degree program?

Review the specific program requirements on the school’s website to apply for a human resources degree program. Contact the school admissions counselor to glean any additional details that aren’t obvious from the website. Most schools require transcripts, test scores, a resume, and a well-written essay demonstrating why you’d be a good candidate for their program.

How much does a human resources degree cost?

A human resources degree costs $14,688 per year, or about $490 per credit. You can expect additional fees for room and food if you choose to live on campus — and higher tuition costs if you’re an out-of-state student. Scholarships, grants, and student loans will reduce your final out-of-pocket costs.

How long does it take to earn a human resources degree?

You can earn a certificate in human resources in as little as five months. The time it takes to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree depends on whether you study full-time or part-time and how many credits your chosen program requires. Generally, a bachelor’s degree takes 120 credits and four years of studying full-time. A master’s degree is an additional 30 credits that can take a year of full-time study to complete.