Why This Matters

  • U.S. PROJECTS 62,800 JOB OPENINGS BY 2026

    Overall employment in human resources is growing as fast as average for all industries in the U.S. Having an advanced degree can give you an edge in the job search.

  • MANAGEMENT POSITIONS WILL INCREASE BY 10%

    The fastest-growing job within human resources is talent and development management. Employers often seek individuals with master’s degrees to fill these positions.

  • EARN $55,215 MORE WITH A MASTER’S DEGREE

    The average median salary for HR management positions is $117,155, compared to $61,940 for jobs like human resource specialist that only require a bachelor’s degree.

Our Research

As the oversight for employee management responsibilities in a company, individuals working in human resources must have strong interpersonal, leadership, organizational and decision-making skills.

The programs on our list are offered at regionally accredited institutions. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) offer programmatic accreditations for business-related programs as well.

Several professional certifications in HR exist, and employers increasingly seek certified employees. The Society for Human Resource Management offers an accelerated certification pathway for students enrolled in SHRM-aligned Master’s programs. We included aligned and non-aligned programs. Graduates of non-aligned programs can obtain certification, but doing so prior to graduation can provide a career advantage.

We evaluated each program’s reputation, course strength, flexibility, and cost. Using this information, we calculated the Intelligent Score of each degree on a scale from 0 to 100. Our top picks for the best affordable master’s degree in human resources are highly regarded in the industry.(For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 72 hours to write this article
  • 173 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 394 education programs we compared

The Top 45 Affordable Master’s in Human Resources

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What You Should Know About This Degree

The human resources department often acts as a go-between for a company’s bureaucracy and its employees. Interacting with various constituencies within an organization is a key function of HR employees, so communication, interpersonal and collaboration skills are essential to success in human resources.

While most human resources positions are office-based, those focused on recruitment may require extensive travel for job fairs, college campuses, and off-site interviews. Consider if this is something you are willing or able to do, as it may affect your prospects once you enter the job market. Additionally, since more companies are now outsourcing HR tasks to outside firms, you may end up working with multiple companies as an outside consultant, rather than being housed within a specific organization.

Professional certifications are technically voluntary, but employers are increasingly looking to hire employees with certifications as proof of their education and expertise. Earning and maintaining certifications can mean an additional commitment of time, money and energy throughout your career, so it’s important to be prepared for this aspect of your HR career.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching masters HR programs:

  • Does this program have work experience requirements? While most programs accept students from all educational backgrounds, some programs are seeking applicants who have a professional background in HR. If you are earning a master’s degree as a way to enter the HR field, make sure you are selecting a program that does not require prior HR work experience.
  • Does the program award credit for professional certifications? Conversely, if you already have HR work experience and certifications, some programs may waive required or elective courses for you. If this is the case, you may want to seek out programs where you can take advantage of this option.

Once you have narrowed down the list of programs that interest you, research their application, scholarship, and financial aid deadlines, processes and requirements. This information is typically available on the program’s website. You can also contact the program directly if you have any questions.

Financing your graduate education is another important consideration. In addition to applying for scholarships and financial aid, check with your employer to see if they offer any kind of tuition remission or reimbursement for advancing your education.

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