Why This Matters


    Human resources (HR) jobs are projected to increase by 6% through 2029, higher than the average for all other occupations in the United States.


    Training and development managers with a master’s or certification can earn over $110,000 per year, compared with the average of $61,000 earned by entry-level human resources specialists with a bachelor’s degree.


    The average national salary in 2018 was approximately $53,888. Human resources managers earned an average of $90,594, 68% above the U.S. average.

Our Research

This list reflects our review of master’s degrees offered across the nation. HR positions require, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree, and management roles typically require a master’s degree. These programs are offered on-campus, online, or as a hybrid of the two. Degrees cost $781 to $972 per credit hour.

Regional accreditation is seen as more prestigious than national accreditation, and it signifies a program has been reviewed for high-quality educational standards within an industry. For instance, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accredits universities with degrees focused in the business sector, which is the industry that requires the greatest number of HR specialists and managers in the United States.

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.

  • 70 hours to write this article
  • 180 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 343 education programs we compared

The Top 36 Master’s in Human Resources Degree Programs

Best Master's in Human Resources Degree Programs
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What You Should Know About This Degree

Within the recruiting field, there are various degrees that focus on different aspects of the employment process. One degree is a bachelor’s or master’s in labor and employee relations. Though these degrees offer some instruction in human resources, degrees in labor relations primarily specialize in labor contracts and employee relations. Individuals with an MBA may be well-suited to certain HR management jobs, but because that degree is broad in comparison to the specialization of a master’s in human resources, some coursework might not fulfill the needs of the role. Individuals earning a degree specifically in human resources have an understanding of various employment areas, such as compensation and benefit plans, HR software, and federal and state employment laws.

Individuals should also strive to pursue certification that validates their expertise and credibility. One widely recognized certificate is the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). You can choose to sit for the certified professional exam (SHRM-CP), intended for early or mid-career professionals, or the senior certified professional exam (SHRM-SCP), for senior-level executives and managers. Individuals with SHRM and other nationally recognized HR certifications might have better job prospects because they’re seen as possessing core competencies and knowledge integral to growth in the industry.

What’s Next?

The following are questions to consider as you research master’s in human resources programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Master’s degrees require a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as business administration or human resources. Programs with courses such as conflict management or psychology might also be helpful. Some institutions require students to take the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) depending on previous HR experience or the GPA associated with their undergraduate degree.
  • How long does it take to complete this online degree? Master’s degrees can take anywhere from 18 to 24 months depending on the program’s required credit hours. The programs on this list range from 24 to 48 credits. Some programs accept previous credit from other institutions, and others might have an accelerated component.

Human resources managers must have highly developed interpersonal and leadership skills. When deciding on your degree, look for programs that offer courses that help develop these and other soft skills.

Securing financing for your graduate degree might seem intimidating; however, most schools offer federal financial aid to those who qualify. Additionally, some employers offer tuition reimbursement. Be sure to research state and federal grants that might be available as well.