Online MBA Programs in Human Resources
The Society for Human Resources Management describes nine critical competencies in which successful HR leaders are proficient: leadership and navigation, business acumen, relational management, ethical practice, consultation, critical evaluation, communication, global and cultural effectiveness, and HR expertise. Equipped with these competencies, human resources professionals collaborate with senior management “as fellow business leaders and not just HR,” according to veteran human capital consultant Kari Strobel, Ph.D. With an MBA in human resources, current and emerging HR professionals can cultivate these skills to help companies stay competitive.
An online MBA program in human resources can help propel you into upper management or consultant positions in this evolving and expanding field. This page shows you what you can expect to learn in an MBA program, career options for graduates, and how this degree compares to similar ones.
What Is an MBA in Human Resources?
An MBA with a concentration in human resources helps students develop the leadership skills and organizational knowledge for effective human resource management or consulting. An accredited MBA program in Human Resources online imparts in-depth insight into business operations and teaches students how to initiate and coordinate corporate HR functions. This degree can boost your potential for driving decisions and strategies that directly impact a company’s bottom line and goals.
A human resources MBA program focuses on applications of HR best practices and prepares students to embrace the challenges of today’s diverse workforce. In pursuing this degree, you’ll also obtain a solid foundation in business administration subjects, including leadership, marketing, finance, accounting, and information technology.
An online human resources MBA trains you to communicate astutely with employees and management at any level. You’ll be able to make economically responsible and ethical decisions, understand and leverage the strategic role of the HR manager in recruitment and development, and harness technology to facilitate HR functions and promote company growth. Online MBA degree programs make this advanced education available to you in a flexible, convenient format that can fit into your already demanding schedule.
As you consider this academic venture, think about your long-term career goals and whether this degree program will help you meet them. While you typically need a bachelor’s degree for entry-level HR positions, an MBA in human resources can give you a strong advantage when seeking employment.
Online MBA in Human Resources Curriculum
The curriculum of an online MBA in HR is designed to expand and refine students’ competence in managing people, resources, information, and operations in an increasingly complex marketplace. The programs strive to create new generations of business leaders who can adeptly address company-wide needs and objectives.
An MBA in human resources curriculum usually covers these areas:
- Human relations
- Human resources management
- Organizational behavior
- Strategic management
- Strategic compensation
- Change leadership
Core MBA topics normally include:
- Marketing management
- Management information systems
- Financial management
- International business management
- Business ethics
Let’s zoom in on a few typical courses to get a clearer idea of the purpose of an MBA in HR:
- Strategic Management: In this class, students study human resources requirements and key regulatory procedures relating to organizational applications. They examine the HR manager’s role in recruiting, hiring, training, development, and other HR processes within an organization.
- Strategic Compensation: This course examines the interconnection of the compensation and benefits functions with the management function. The class covers job analysis, wage scales, surveys, benefits, incentives, pay delivery administration, and HRIS systems.
- Change Leadership: This class covers organizational development, transformation theory, and processes for initiating and directing change.
Some online MBA in HR programs offer concentrations in human resources issues for further specialization. They include project management, employment law, recruiting and staffing, management, benefits, training, and office administration.
What Unique Career Paths Can I Pursue with an Online MBA Specializing in Human Resources?
Human resources are integral to almost every industry, so professional jobs abound for MBA graduates. The role of a human resources professional varies depending on the employer’s organizational setup. Responsibilities and salaries vary by industry, company size, and geographic location. Some specialists, managers, and directors handle single HR issues such as recruiting, benefits, or training, while many leaders wear all these hats.
Human Resources Specialist
Human resources specialists typically focus on a specific role within HR, such as payroll, training, recruiting, or benefits. These professionals assist with the HR department’s daily operations and are often the first point of contact for the company’s employees. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics foresees greater demand for this position in the employment services industry, but virtually every sector will be looking to HR specialists to deal with increasingly complicated employment regulations and benefits options. Types of HR specialists include human resources generalists and recruitment specialists, sometimes called headhunters or personnel recruiters.
- Consulting with employers to pinpoint employment needs
- Recruiting, screening, and interviewing potential employees
- Hiring or referring candidates for employers
- Addressing employee concerns and questions about policies and procedures
- Coordinating, supporting, and updating employee compensation, benefits, and training programs
- Coordinating new employee orientation, benefits enrollment, company-wide meetings, and other HR events
- Compiling data for employee reviews, terminations, and government audits
- Ensuring distribution of HR-related communications throughout the company
- Keeping HR functions in compliance with local, state, and federal regulations
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual salary for HR specialists was $60,880 in 20181. California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois lead the nation in employing them. The BLS predicts that employment of these workers will grow at 7%, about the same as the average for all occupations.
Compensation and Benefits Managers
Some organizations hire compensation and benefits managers, while large firms often separate the oversight of compensation and benefits. These professionals analyze data to determine pay and benefits for each position within a company. They also keep abreast of trends that may affect pay and benefits and study how their company can enhance HR policies and practices.
- Designing the company’s pay and benefits structure
- Setting competitive wage rates and developing or modifying compensation packages
- Coordinating and managing work activities of support staff and specialists
- Selecting benefits vendors, investment managers, and insurance brokers
- Ensuring that pay and benefits plans comply with state and federal laws
- Creating a program budget and maintaining operations within that budget
- Overseeing the distribution of compensation and benefits communications to the company’s employees
The BLS reports that the 2018 median pay for compensation and benefits managers was $121,010. States that hire the most of these professionals include New York, Illinois, Texas, Massachusetts, and Florida. The Bureau foresees 5% growth in this profession2.
Training and Development Managers
Training and development managers are responsible for setting up and overseeing training programs, budgets, and staff. They ensure that training is efficient and effective. With the constant and increasing need for workplace education and training in most industries, prospects for this job are bright.
- Overseeing training and development of department staff
- Assessing employees’ training needs
- Aligning training with company goals
- Developing and overseeing training budgets
- Creating, executing, and updating training programs
- Procuring training materials
- Teaching training methods to supervisors and instructors
- Assessing the efficacy of training programs and instructors
The BLS states that the 2018 median annual pay for training and development managers was $111,340. States with the highest employment level in this profession are California, New York, Illinois, Texas, and Massachusetts. The Bureau predicts a faster-than-average growth of 10% in this occupation3.
Human Resources Consultant
Companies contract HR consultants to help enhance employee-business relationships, retention, and employee satisfaction. They establish recruiting practices, assess hiring processes, and implement systems that measure employee performance. These professionals often train managers to recruit, screen, and interview job candidates effectively. They also obtain certification focused on HR consulting, such as certified human resources consultant or certified resources analyst, human resource certification.
- Analyzing an organization’s HR practices and advising on policies regarding employment, employee relations, compensation, and benefits for competitiveness and legal compliance
- Designing and executing performance management, compensation, and benefits programs
- Consulting with managers on organizational policy and advising on needed changes
Payscale.com reports that the average HR consultant salary is $72,9584. The top states for employment are California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois. The BLS predicts that employment of HR specialists such as consultants will grow at 7%, about the same as the average for all occupations.
Human Resources Information System Manager
Human resources information systems are software programs that automate payroll and benefits information processing. An HRIS manager creates or implements and maintains these software platforms.
- Overseeing budgets
- Ensuring that record-keeping and reporting practices comply with professional standards and governmental regulations
- Maintaining the accuracy of employee data
- Planning and coordinating an organization’s HRIS activities
- Directing the setup, procurement, and implementation or update of HRIS and other HR computer systems
Payscale.com reports that the average HRIS manager salary is $87,3555. The states with the most HR managers such as HRIS managers are California, New York, Illinois, Texas, and Florida. The BLS doesn’t provide specific job outlook data for HRIS managers, but it predicts that demand for HR managers overall will grow at 9%6.
Human Resources Director
HR directors are strategic partners of an organization and its employees. They plan, direct, and oversee all HR initiatives, including recruitment, training, compensation, benefits, and employee relations. These professionals work in virtually every industry. Other titles include vice president of human resources and chief human resources officer.
- Managing staff operations, budget development of HR programs, and business planning
- Setting up and overseeing all human resources processes and programs
- Ensuring compliance of HR programs with legal requirements and professional standards
- Collaborating with top-level management concerning HR issues
Payscale.com reports that the average annual salary for HR directors is $87,4377. California, Florida, New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts lead in employing executives such as these. The BLS doesn’t provide job outlook data for HR directors, but it forecasts growth of top-level management positions at 8%8.
Should I Get an Online MBA in Human Resources?
Pursuing an MBA is a major task, and online programs are no less rigorous than traditional courses. The most important factor to consider is if and how an MBA in human resources online fits into your career goals. You also need to do a frank self-assessment: Do you have the self-motivation and the time to complete these studies on your own? There are other options for furthering your education and acquiring in-demand credentials for employment in human resources.
Online MBA in Human Resources vs. Online MBA in Organizational Development
The subject of organizational development is often part of a human resources MBA curriculum, but some schools offer an MBA with a concentration in organizational development. This curriculum is devised to equip students for strength-based leadership. Students study topics such as foundations of positive organizational change, applications of appreciative inquiry, inquiry-based change, and strength-based assessment and analysis. An online MBA in organizational development can prepare graduates for employment as corporate development strategy managers, corporate strategy consultants, people and organization development leads, or senior organization development consultants.
Online MBA in Human Resources vs. Master’s in Human Resources
One benefit of having an MBA in HR is gaining a well-rounded and in-demand business skill set combined with the specialization of an HR expert. However, a master’s in human resources may be a suitable option for you. A master’s program has some of the same classes as an MBA program, but it focuses more on human relations and organizational challenges instead of other business topics such as finance or accounting. A master’s degree in human resources can prepare you for HR management positions too, but an MBA gives you greater flexibility and a better understanding of business.
Frequently Asked Questions
Any MBA program requires a significant investment of time and mental resources. Thus, it’s crucial to be fully informed and positive that you’re heading in the right direction along your chosen career path. Some common questions about online MBA programs in human resources include:
How will an online MBA program fit into my busy schedule?
It’s easy to access accredited MBA programs in human resources online. You can download readings and lectures, submit assignments, converse with professors and fellow students virtually, and take exams from a computer or mobile device wherever you have internet access. However, only you can determine if your current job and personal situation allow you time to pursue this advanced degree.
Are online MBA in HR programs accredited?
Most online MBA programs have some type of accreditation. However, it’s best not to take this for granted. DiscoverBusiness.us only lists programs that are fully accredited by the AACSB, ACBSP, or IACBE and a CHEA-recognized entity.
How can I be sure that an online MBA in HR program will provide marketable skills and knowledge for today’s workplace?
Look for programs based on guidelines from the Society of Human Resource Management, the industry association. Their competency model reflects what employers are looking for.
How do online MBA programs compare to traditional programs?
An MBA is a prestigious degree that carries immense weight in the workplace. Online MBA programs are just as demanding as those in classrooms. The wide range of online options gives you access to schools around the world, not just what might be near you.
How long will it take to complete an MBA in Human Resources?
Some HR MBA programs may be completed with 15 to 18 months. You may find a program that you can complete within one year if you are so motivated. Your adviser can help you determine a feasible time frame for completion.
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