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Human Resources
Degree Levels

Choosing your ideal learning approach is only part of the battle because you’ll also need to determine the right degree level.

Associate’s Degree

Requiring around 60 semester credits, associate’s degrees in human resources are offered by two-year community colleges, junior colleges, and technical schools. An associate’s degree will provide beginning HR generalists with career-oriented training for a basic foundation in key human resources practices. Following a high school diploma, students could receive an Associate of Arts (A.A.), Associate of Science (A.S.), or Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) with a major in human resources. An associate’s degree will only qualify you for basic entry-level positions within HR, but you can transfer your credits to a university for advancement.

Bachelor’s Degree

bachelor’s in human resources is typically prerequisite for specialized entry to mid-level human resources careers. Baccalaureate programs for human resource management can be found at accredited colleges and universities. After developing a well-rounded general education core, HR majors will progress through introductory and intermediate material related to managing an organization’s human capital. A Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) may be offered, but many schools provide a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) for a broad-based HRM education. Most bachelor’s degrees in human resources will require around 120 semester credits, which may include a practical internship or senior capstone project.

Master’s Degree

Earning a master’s degree in human resources is most advantageous for graduate students with a bachelor’s degree who strive to fulfill upper-level management roles in HRM. Most masters in human resources programs will take one to three years of advanced studies beyond the baccalaureate level. The Master of Science in Human Resource Management (MSHRM) is popular, but you may also want to consider an MBA in Human Resource Management for in-depth leadership development. Graduate students usually can focus their degree in a certain specialization, such as organizational psychology, talent development, labor relations, compensation and benefits, or employment law. Master’s programs are best for opening doors to senior HRM positions in today’s competitive business world.

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Doctoral Degree

Although rather rare, there are several accredited colleges nationwide that allow students to receive a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in human resources or one of its specializations. Going the extra step to receive a doctorate isn’t usually necessary for practitioners, but it can be beneficial for those looking to enter a career in research or university academia. For three to five years beyond the master’s in human resources, doctoral students undergo rigorous training in exploring current personnel problems plaguing the workforce. Doctoral programs require that HR students complete independent dissertation research and pass a comprehensive exam.


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Human Resources Careers and Salaries

Graduates who earn their bachelor’s or master’s degree in human resource management will discover
that their learned skills can be applied to a wide variety of human resources careers

Compensation and benefits specialists are given the responsibility of assessing their company’s pay structure to ensure employees are being well-compensated. These HR specialists use their analytical skills to perform complex cost analyses to evaluate the organization’s bonuses, paid leave, workers’ compensation, retirement plans, insurance benefits, and more. After they research the pay practices, the compensation and benefits specialists will make suggestions to management to keep pay competitive. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), HR specialists in compensation and benefits can expect an average yearly salary of $64,380.

Training and development managers focus their HR skills in planning and coordinating programs that will enhance the talents of an organization’s personnel. Continual training is important in business to make certain employees have the know-how to help meet the organization’s strategic growth goals. Training and development specialists may direct in-person, video, self-guided, or online classes that develop meaningful skills within trainees. In exchange for a high average annual salary of $114,140 (according to the BLS), training and development managers make certain that training courses are effective and on budget.

Also called industrial relations specialists, labor relations specialists are responsible for interpreting contractual information for their organization. Labor relations specialists may be involved in filing work grievances, facilitating collective bargaining, drafting contracts, investigating validity of disciplinary procedures, collaborating with union leaders, and training management on contractual agreements. These HR specialists make certain that their company is complying with the latest local or federal regulations for employees. Labor relations specialists bring home an average yearly wage of $59,410, according to the BLS.

Recruiting or staffing managers have the duty of overseeing the company’s hiring processes within the HR department. Staffing managers have an upper-level leadership role in supervising a team of recruiters and creating a cohesive recruiting strategy for landing the most qualified job candidates possible. In some cases, recruiting managers will also take part in finding, interviewing, and hiring applicants for higher level positions of authority too. The BLS states that recruiting managers typically earn an average salary of $114,140 annually for meeting their organization’s staffing needs.