An associate degree is a two-year, post secondary degree that serves as an educational foundation for future HR professionals. Earning an associate degree can be the first milestone students achieve on their way to certification or an undergraduate degree in HR. Human resource professionals come from a variety of educational backgrounds that help develop their unique skill sets. Since HR professionals have skills in communication, business, finance, marketing, human services, and management, they are in demand in every industry. While earning an associate degree in human resources is perhaps the most direct route toward a bachelor’s in HR, there are plenty of other majors that can provide students with the skills and knowledge needed to fulfill specific HR roles. We recognize that there are different paths students take to get into HR and have researched 20 associate degrees that we believe give students a strong platform to launch their HR career. While the possibilities are endless, this list should get you started in your search for the perfect career in human resources. Below are our choices for the 20 best associate’s degrees for human resource managers and some outstanding programs offering these degrees.

#20 – Associate Degree in Public Relations

Behind every successful company is a team of public relations professionals dedicated to preserving their reputation and building trust with their customers. Future HR professionals with an associate degree in public relations have the foundational PR skills needed to create and distribute job postings, coordinate hiring events, and make sure the company attracts the right kind of talent. Courses typically found in PR associate degree programs include public relations, media research and writing, and media and crisis communication. Some programs may offer an internship or practicum experience to get a taste for working in a variety of PR settings. Most programs can be completed in two years of full-time study and are available online or on-campus. Earning an associate degree in public relations can be a good fit for Human Resource professionals working in a corporate environment, government office, healthcare facility, or university. Jobs in public relations are expected to grow 9% through 2026 according to the BLS.

The AS in Public Relations from Franklin University can advance your career options. Faculty are real-world practitioners who teach best practices in public relations. Students benefit from hands-on experience, working through real-life PR scenarios and projects. Courses cover areas like public relations, media research and writing, and media and crisis communications.

The Associate of Arts with a field of study in Advertising/Public Relations from South Texas College is a comprehensive program that gives students the knowledge and skills needed to promote a positive client image. Courses cover mass communication, ethics, advertising, PR, and editing and layout. Graduates are prepared for bachelor degree studies in areas like advertising, PR, business, health law, and media.

#19 – Associate Degree in Office Administration


Since most human resource management professionals work in an office environment, earning an associate in office administration is a great choice for future HR professionals. Students can expect to learn about various computer applications, communication skills, office procedures, and business ethics. These are valuable skills to have for any HR professional. Most programs take two years to complete and may be offered on-campus or online. Internship opportunities are offered by many programs, giving students the chance to experience a real office setting. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment figures for office and administrative support to hold steady through 2026.

Piedmont Community College features an office administration associate degree program that gives students the knowledge and skills to succeed in a computerized workplace. Students learn both technical and non-technical skills to improve communication and provide office support. Certification opportunities are available in Word, Excel, Access, and PowerPoint.

Southern Arkansas University Tech features an AAS in Office Management for students interested in working in an office setting. Students will learn to use Microsoft Office Suite software projects. The program is a great choice for students planning a career in office management.

#18 – Associate Degree in Computer Information Technology


There is no question that technology is changing the face of HR. More organizations are using artificial intelligence to aid with hiring decisions, analytics to drive performance management, and shifting their HR perspective from administrative to strategic. HR professionals need to be familiar with computer technology and be comfortable using it in their organization. While bachelor’s degree programs in HR provide students with training in specific HR applications, having a solid foundation in computer information technology can certainly make it easier for students to develop this competency. Associate degree programs in computer information technology are offered online or on-campus and many include extensive hands on training. Students will learn bout database management, computer programming, and software design. Some programs may offer course sequencing that leads to certification in specific applications.

The Associate Degree in Computer and Information Sciences: Computer Science Transfer program from Northern Essex Community College is the perfect launchpad for a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Students learn to work with state-of-the-art hardware and software and gain real-world experience through internships. Students are prepared for a variety of careers in technology.

Colorado Christian University features a Computer Information Technology Associate Degree program focused on areas like beginner computer programming, database development and administration, software and application design and internet development. Courses are typically offered in five week blocks and students can complete the program in less than two years.

#17 – Associate Degree in Healthcare Management


An associate degree in healthcare management can give the future HR professional experience and training in medical terminology, medical office administration, and health care technology. Students who plan to pursue a bachelor’s in HR will benefit from a strong foundation in healthcare technology, confidentiality and privacy laws, and general medical office administration skills. Associate degree programs are available online or on-campus and take two years to complete. Online programs provide working students with the flexibility to complete coursework when it is most convenient. Graduates are prepared for entry level administration jobs or may transfer to a bachelor’s in HR.

Minnesota West Community and Technical College has a Management and Supervision in Healthcare AS program for healthcare workers who want to enhance their management skills. Courses cover areas like employment, customer service, leadership, finance, and marketing. This 60 credit hour program is available in a flexible online format.

Manor College features a fully online healthcare administration associate degree program that recognizes the complexity of healthcare. Courses are taught by faculty committed to academic growth and success. Coursework is both challenging and engaging. Core courses cover areas like critical thinking, marketing, financial accounting, healthcare management, and business communications.

#16 – Associate Degree in Human Services


An associate degree in human services can be a great starting point for students planning to work in public service or non-profit HR management. Students gain valuable hands-on skills and knowledge in areas such as cultural diversity, crisis intervention, communication, instruction, and counseling. Elective coursework focused on human resources can give students additional expertise in areas like social service programs and workforce development. Most human services associate degree programs take two years to complete and are offered at both four year universities and community colleges. It may be helpful to choose a program that offers an a variety of electives so students can take a few courses focused specifically on the HR aspect of human services. An AA or AS in human services prepares students for continued education in human resource.

Madisonville Community College features an AAS in human services preparing students to work in education, community, social, and mental health services. Most students can complete the program in about two years. Courses are relevant and most can be applied immediately to the workplace.

The AAS in human services from Bismarck State College is a 60 credit hour program designed for students planning to pursue a career helping people. This flexible program allows students to choose courses that align with their future career goals. An internship with a human services provider gives students the opportunity to gain valuable field experience.

#15 – Associate Degree in HR Management


The most streamlined path to a career in human resources is to begin with an associate degree in human resources. Associate degree programs in HR cover areas like human relations, HR management, business ethics, compensation and benefits, and training and development. It’s important for future HR professionals to choose an associate degree program with a diverse curriculum. Some programs also include a practicum or internship to give students experience in the field. Most programs take two years to complete and can be offered online or on-campus. Eager to start working in the field after graduation? Graduates of associate degree programs in human resources are usually qualified for roles as HR clerks, assistant recruiters, or payroll assistants.

Colorado Christian University features an associate degree in human resource management that incorporates a biblical worldview. HR courses cover areas like organizational behavior, business law, leadership and management, and HR administration. Classes are completed in five week blocks and students can complete the program in less than two years.

The Associate of Science in HR from Montana State University Billings is a two year program offered entirely online. Students will build a foundation in HR management and gain an understanding of risk management, safety and security. Graduates can transfer directly into the College of Business for their bachelor’s degree or join the workforce developing compensation and benefits packages or conducting organizational training.

#14 – Associate Degree in Organizational Management


Organizational management associate degree programs focus on developing front-line or entry level managers. HR professionals with organizational management skills are in demand by non-profits, businesses, and government organizations. Organizational management courses cover areas like computer information systems, supervision, conflict resolution, and HR management. Top organizational management programs give students the chance to learn about different leadership and communication styles so students can begin to create their own style. As with most associate degrees, organizational management programs take about two years to complete and are available to full and part-time students. Online organizational management programs are available to help students juggling work, family, and their education. Organizational management skills are important for successful HR professionals because they work with employees to solve problems, conduct employee reviews, and conduct training and professional development activities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, management occupations are expected to grow by 8% through 2026, which is about as fast as average for all occupations.

Estrella Mountain Community College features an AAS in Organizational Management designed for supervisors or managers who want a customized program that doesn’t require advanced accounting or math skills. Students become part of the Business Institute, gaining access to networking opportunities, scholarships, and internships. Courses cover areas such as project management, human relations, and supervision.

The online associate degree in Organizational Management from Huntington University is a flexible program with five-week courses. Online students can continue working while earning their degree. Graduates are prepared to work in a variety of areas including government, community agencies, or health organizations.

#13 – Associate Degree in Workforce Development


An associate degree in Workforce Development is an innovative degree program covering areas like HR, business, industry, and government. These associate degree programs usually take two years to complete and many include an internship or practicum experience. Future HR management professionals can take courses on-campus or in a convenient online format. Workforce development professionals work with individuals who are unemployed or underemployed to prepare them for new roles or careers by providing training or career planning. This specialized training can help individuals remain competitive in the workplace. Future HR professionals with an associate degree in workforce development are prepared to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program.

The College of Education at Penn State University features an associate degree in workforce education and development. The program functions as a stand alone credential or a stepping stone to bachelor degree studies. Students can apply their credits earned in this program to the BS in Workforce Education and Development.

The Associate in Science in Labor and Employment Relations offered by Penn State World Campus is a 60 credit hour online program. Courses are taught by highly regarded faculty from the College of Liberal Arts. Students gain knowledge in areas like employment relations, human resources ethics, and industrial-organizational psychology. Most students can complete their degree in just two years.

#12 – Associate Degree in Marketing

Earning an associate degree in marketing can give future HR professionals valuable knowledge and experience in areas like advertising, marketing, and consumer behavior. Just how does an organization attract the right talent? Human resource professionals need marketing skills to create, communicate, and deliver clear expectations to find the right people for the job. Earning an associate degree in marketing usually takes two years, longer if attending part-time. Programs are available on-campus or online to accommodate working professionals. Students can expect to take courses in customer service, services marketing, statistics, and business communications. Some programs may include an internship for students to gain valuable hands on experience and training. The job outlook for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers is expected to increase by 10% through 2026. Earning an associate’s degree in marketing can give future HR professionals an edge when applying for work with hiring firms, consulting agencies, or training and development organizations.

Florida Tech features an AA in Marketing that incorporates marketing principles with management, liberal arts topics, and business. Courses are delivered in a 100% online format, great for working professionals. This 67 credit hour program includes coursework in marketing, advertising, economics, and management. Most students can complete the program in two years.

Rasmussen College has a marketing associate’s degree that can be completed in just 18 months. Students can take courses online or on-campus, whichever is more convenient. The market-relevant curriculum helps students gain job-ready skills. Courses cover marketing fundamentals, management skills, marketing technologies, and communication.

#11 – Associate Degree in Education


Earning an associate degree in education can be a great choice for future HR professionals with a passion for teaching! Education associate degree programs are offered in early childhood education, paraprofessional education, elementary education, and secondary education. HR professionals are often responsible for teaching new employees about benefits, corporate rules and regulations, organizational culture, and job expectations. Having a background in education can help future HR professionals with these essential responsibilities. Programs are available on-campus and online and can be completed in two years of full-time study. While earning an associate degree in education won’t make you eligible for licensure, there are a number of exciting jobs available as child care workers, preschool teachers, teaching assistants, or tutors.

Mesa Community College, a Maricopa Community College, features a K-12 teacher preparation program. Courses cover areas like public speaking, computer information systems, critical thinking, and statistics. Graduates are prepared to transfer to a four year university with a junior standing.

Ohio State University features an Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Development and Education through the College of Education and Human Ecology. Courses cover areas like family development, child development, and managing and supporting behavior in social contexts. Graduates are eligible for Associate Licensure in Pre-Kindergarten Education in Ohio.

#10 – Associate Degree in Psychology

Psychology remains one of the most popular college majors at both the associate and bachelor degree level. Future HR professionals with an associate degree in psychology have broad understanding of the factors that influence human behavior and performance. Associate degree programs offer courses that develop critical thinking skills, explain human behavior, and enhance students’ technical writing abilities. These skills are important for future HR professionals to understand what motivates their staff, help develop meaningful incentives, and improve employee performance. Most programs can be completed in two years and are offered online or in a traditional classroom setting. While it takes a doctorate degree to become a psychologist, the knowledge and skills acquired through a psychology associate degree program provides students with the ability to work in a variety of areas including HR and social service. The demand for psychologists is expected to grow by 14% through 2026, or faster than average.

Central Methodist University features an associate of arts in psychology offered online or on-campus. Students will study abnormal psychology, social processes, personality, and counseling. Internships and practicum experiences give students the chance to practice their skills in a professional setting. Most students can complete the program in two years of full-time studies.

Allen Community College features an AA in psychology that provides students with a solid foundation in social service and human services. This 64 credit hour program allows students to choose elective coursework in social and behavioral science, psychology, and humanities. Most students can complete their degree in about two years of full-time study.

#9 – Associate Degree in Communication

HR professionals need to have excellent communication skills. They are often the first point of contact for applicants and new employees. Earning an associate degree in communications gives future HR professionals a strong foundation in effective communication. A background in communication gives students the skills needed to effectively communicate to new hires, share benefits information, conduct performance reviews, and complete on the job training activities. Associate degree communication courses cover areas like social media content production, problem solving, and industry standards. Specialized communication coursework may be offered in organizational communication or public speaking, mass media and social media. Some programs feature an internship opportunity that gives students valuable hands on training. Most programs take two years to complete and are offered on-campus. Employers typically list communication skills as one of their top requirements for applicants. Communication and media occupations are expected to grow by 11% through 2026 faster than average for other professions, according to the BLS.

Central Penn College features an associate degree in communications that prepare students to work with a variety of media. The hands on curriculum includes an internship or capstone course and a research project. Students can expect to learn how to produce social media content, write effective press releases, solve problems, and gain an understanding of acceptable and unacceptable industry standards.

Communication studies at NCC is a 100% online program that takes about two years to complete. Courses cover small group communication, communication theory, interpersonal communication and psychology. Future HR professionals can tailor the program to meet their professional goals by taking electives in areas like business, public speaking, and mass media. Graduates will have strong oral and written communication skills.

#8 – Associate Degree in Humanities


An associate’s degree program in humanities is typically a transferable degree specializing in areas like history, social service, or literature. Humanitiesis an area of social science that investigates human constructs and social relations, making it a great choice for future human resource professionals. Earning an associate’s degree in humanities can give future HR professionals a strong foundation in communications, various world movement, and cultural awareness. Most humanities associate degree programs take two years to complete and many are offered online. Humanities associate degree graduates can be found in a variety of human service organizations as social service workers or administrative assistants.

Continuing and Career Education at Assumption College features an online humanities Associate of Arts program with concentrations available in English, history, literature, philosophy, theology, and general humanities. This 69 credit hour program is flexible enough for working professionals. Most students can complete their degree in two years of full-time study.

The Humanities Associate of Arts program offered by Michigan Tech is a two year program with emphasis on areas like communication, literature, technology, and social sciences. Graduates are prepared for the workplace or to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program. Michigan Tech provides a well rounded educational experience for future HR professionals.

#7 – Associate Degree in Finance


All HR professionals need a strong understanding of finance. Earning a bachelor’s degree in finance can give students a strong understanding of areas such as risk management, financial accounting, investments, and corporate finance. HR professionals can use these skills when discussing retirement plans with employees, understanding tax withholdings, and administering benefits like insurance. A degree in finance will prepare students for entry level positions in both non-profit and for-profit organizations. Finance degree programs are available online and on-campus and usually take four years to complete. To be successful, students should have strong leadership skills and an interest in math or accounting. Students should look for programs holding regional accreditation along with specialized accreditation from the AACSB, ACBSP, or IACBE. The job outlook for financial analysts is expected to grow by 11% through 2026, or faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The finance management AAS program at North Hennepin Community College is a two year program available either online or on-campus. Students take courses covering business and personal finance, credit and collections, and business and management. The program articulates to many Minnesota colleges including Concordia, MSU-Moorhead, and Bethel University.

Davenport University features an ABA in finance accredited by the IACBE. This 65 credit hour program includes courses in investment planning, corporate finance, money and banking, and business law. Graduates are prepared for entry-level positions in the field or to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program.

#6 – Associate Degree in Economics


Earning an associate degree in economics can be a good choice for aspiring HR professionals who want to responsibly allocate labor resources. Most programs focus on both macroeconomics and microeconomics. HR professionals need to understand how both branches work to understand unemployment, resource allocation, inflation, and overall economic performance of their organization. Economics graduates are needed in a variety of areas including education, non-profits, and government. They also assist with audits and create reports for the organization to help make intelligent choices. Economics associate degree programs offer courses in business, math, statistics, and communications. Programs are available online and on-campus and take two years to complete. Through 2026, the demand for professionals with skills and training in economics is expected to grow by 6%, as fast as average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Foothill College has an associate degree in economics designed for students who plan to transfer to a four year institution. Students will study both micro and macro economics in order to gain a broad understanding of the field. Core courses cover areas like financial accounting, finite mathematics, and the global economy. Graduates are prepared to transfer to California State Universities and given preferential transfer status for economics or related majors.

Tyler Junior College features an AA in economics that teaches students how to make intelligent business decisions. This online program includes courses in ethics, mass communication, humanities, and mathematics. Students can complete the program in about two years of full-time study. Graduates are prepared to transfer to any four-year university to continue their studies.

#5 – Associate Degree in Business Administration


An associate’s degree in business administration provides future HR professionals with a solid foundation in basic management and business practices. Business administration associate degree courses cover areas such as accounting, finance, leadership, HR and ethics. Most programs take two years to complete although there are a few offered in an accelerated 18 month format. Some programs offer a concentration in HR, a great choice for future HR professionals. Both online and on-campus programs are available. Students without business experience should strongly consider a program with an internship or practicum to gain valuable hands on experience in a professional business setting.

Southern New Hampshire University features a top associate degree in business administration delivered in a flexible online format. Students will gain skills in accounting, HR management, and marketing. Students can continue their education at SNHU by completing an online BS in Business Administration with five different areas of concentration.

The Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Administration from Purdue Global University recognizes the challenges of a fast-paced business environment. There are 11 business concentration areas for students to choose from to meet their professional goals. The program is accredited by the ACBSP, an indicator of a quality business program.

#4 – Associate Degree in Entrepreneurship


Owning your own business is certainly challenging, but having the right skills and training can make it so much easier! Entrepreneurship associate degree programs are specialized business programs that give students the strategies and knowledge needed develop new businesses and revitalize businesses that are struggling. HR professionals with an associate degree in entrepreneurship are able to manage the HR functions of their own business. Associate degree programs include courses in marketing principles, HR, business relations, communications, and small business management. Students can expect to learn how to write a business plan, develop a personal brand, and create a financial plan. Programs take two years to complete and students should look for a program with an internship or capstone course.

The small business entrepreneurship AAS program at Moraine Park Technical College is a two year program for students who want to learn more about small business start-up and operation. Students gain knowledge and skills in areas like customer service, business communications, marketing, and finance. Both on-campus and online options are available making this a great choice for working professionals.

Minnesota State Community and Technical College features an AAS in business entrepreneurship. Students will gain skills and develop professional behaviors needed for success in their business. Required courses cover areas like customer service, business ethics, business plan development, and opportunity analysis. Students also complete an entrepreneurial field study developing a mentor relationship with successful business owners.

#3 – Associate Degree in Legal Studies


An associate degree in legal studies can give future HR professionals exposure to a variety of law-related topics. Courses can cover areas like civil litigation, professional ethics, legal research, and the criminal justice system. Most programs take two year for full-time students to complete and many are available in a flexible online format. Students should strongly consider programs that include a practicum or elective coursework that can provide hands-on training or experience. Future HR professionals with a background in legal studies are able to understand employment law, adjust quickly to new legislature, and explain the legal ramifications that may exist for certain business decisions. The BLS projects that legal occupations will increase by 9% through 2026, adding 116,000 new jobs.

Paralegal/Legal Studies AS program from Tallahassee Community College is a 64 credit hour program that takes about five terms to complete. Courses cover areas such as law office procedures and management, an introduction to the legal process, legal research, and microcomputer applications for business. Students can choose to complete a technology and professional programs internship experience.

St. Louis Community College features a Legal Studies for the Paralegal AAS program designed in partnership with the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis. Students develop a basic legal vocabulary, understand concepts related to personal property and business organizations, and gain professional writing and communication skills. To be successful, students should be interested in the law and be able to work without supervision.

#2 – Associate Degree in Leadership


An associate degree in leadership provides a strong foundation for future HR professionals. Leadership associate degree programs prepare students to influence and inspire people, create relationship networks, and collaborate with others effectively. Courses can cover areas like creative thinking and problem solving, communication skills, attitudes and persuasion, and crisis management. These leadership skills are essential for future HR professionals planning. Associate degree programs in leadership programs are offered online or on-campus and usually take two years to complete. Students should choose a program with a variety of coursework related to communications and relationship building. The occupational outlook for HR leadership roles in development or training is favorable. The job outlook for leadership positions is expected to grow by 10%, faster than average, through 2026 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Purdue University Fort Wayne features an associate of science degree in organizational leadership for students with technical or work experience planning to move into a leadership role. Courses cover areas like applied leadership, HR issues, computer application, and applied leadership. Full-time students can complete their degree in two years of full-time study.

The associate degree program in leadership communication from Waldorf University is designed for both current and aspiring leaders. This flexible program allows students to choose courses that meet their professional goals. Courses cover areas like public relations, crisis management, speech communications, and leadership across generations.

#1 – Associate Degree in Sociology


Sociology is the study of society and human behavior, so it makes sense that earning an associate degree in sociology would be appropriate for a future HR professional. Sociology associate degree programs are constantly evolving to keep up with new technologies and ideas affecting society. Courses typically cover areas like sexuality, law, health, and education. These are important subjects for an HR professional as many HR laws, policies, and procedures are designed around these areas. Programs usually take two years to complete for full-time students and there are both online and on-campus programs available. Some programs also include research opportunities which are a great way for students to develop both qualitative and quantitative skills. The job outlook for sociologists is expected to change very little through 2026.

The AA in Sociology from New England College is a 100% online program that provides students with knowledge about society and social issues. Featured courses cover unique areas like sustainable enterprise, social inequality, and deviance. The program prepares students to work with diverse populations, a critical requirement for future HR professionals.

South Dakota State University features a versatile online associate’s degree in sociology. Students will learn about current social problems, develop communication skills, and gain knowledge in evidence-based practice. Graduates are prepared for entry level positions in human resources, human services, or criminal justice/law enforcement.

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