Top 10 PhD in HR Degree Programs

HRMBA Top Degree Programs

Human resources is a great career choice. It has positions at every degree level. Many jobs in human resources require only a bachelor’s or master’s degree. A doctorate in human resources is needed for roles in areas like:

  • higher education
  • research
  • organizational development
  • consulting

A doctorate in human resources is heavily focused on research. PhD program students may work with faculty. They create and publish their own unique research. Students in PhD human resources programs can take anywhere from four to five years to complete their degree.

Methodology

To identify the top 10 Ph.D human resources programs, we started with a search on College Navigator to find out which schools offered programs at this level. We compared measures like:

  • student to faculty ratios
  • graduate tuition rate
  • accreditations

We reviewed each school’s website and chose schools featuring:

  • highly educated faculty
  • mentoring
  • research opportunities
  • academic rigor

Where there are ties, we favored the school with the lower graduate tuition rate. From our list, we created a rating system as seen below to select our top 10 PhD in human resources programs.

Student to Faculty Ratio

  • 15:1 or less= 3 Points
  • Greater than 15:1= 1 Point

Average Graduate Tuition Rate

  • Less than $15,000 per year= 5 Points
  • Between $15,000 and $20,000 per year= 3 Point
  • More than $20,000 per year= 1 Points

Overall Graduation Rate

  • Greater than 80%= 3 Point
  • 80% or Less= 1 Points

Below are 10 schools that offer the best human resources PhD programs.

Summary of Top 10 PhD Human Resource Programs:

    1. Purdue University
    2. University of Wisconsin
    3. The Ohio State University
    4. Indiana University
    5. University of Illinois at Chicago
    6. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    7. University of Minnesota
    8. Rutgers University
    9. Michigan State University
    10. University of Pittsburgh

Ranking the Top 10 PhD Programs in Human Resources 2021

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#10 – University of Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

PhD in Organizational Behavior & Human Resource Management

For more information: University of Pittsburgh

Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $23,530/year in-state and $39,898/year out-of-state
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Overall Graduation Rate: 83%
Points: 7

The PhD in organizational behavior and human resources management is focused on contemporary topics affecting HR and organizations. Students will study:

  • quantitative and qualitative methods
  • data collection from a variety of sources
  • organizational performance

New students work one-on-one with faculty to develop their professional skills. Admission to the program is very competitive. In a typical year only two new students are admitted. Graduates have been placed at leading research universities including Penn State and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

#9 – Michigan State University – East Lansing, Michigan

PhD in Human Resources and Labor Relations

For more information: Michigan State University

Student to Faculty Ratio: 16:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $18,858/year in-state and $37,056/year out-of-state
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Overall Graduation Rate: 81%
Points: 7

MSU features a PhD in human resource management dedicated to the development of HR and labor relation scholars. Students will be part of a culture of faculty and peers. They work together to conduct meaningful research. The curriculum includes:

  • required and elective coursework
  • a comprehensive exam
  • an independent research paper
  • a dissertation

Admission is competitive. Only one to three new students are admitted each year. All PhD students receive full funding. This includes:

  • tuition
  • health insurance
  • research support

#8 – Rutgers University – New Brunswick, New Jersey

PhD in Industrial Relations & Human Resources


For more information: Rutgers University
Student to Faculty Ratio: 16:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $17,736/year in-state and $30,144/year out-of-state
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Overall Graduation Rate: 84%
Points: 7

The unique PhD in industrial relations and human resources offered by Rutgers is a program that qualifies graduates for roles in research or academia. Students will work closely with leading scholars to develop their skills. There are two primary areas of focus including:

  • human resources
  • labor, work, and society

Students have published their research in peer reviewed journals.

#7 – University of Minnesota – Minneapolis, Minnesota

PhD in OLPD Human Resource Development

For more information: University of Minnesota

Student to Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $17,580/year in-state and $27,204/year out-of-state
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Overall Graduation Rate: 83%
Points: 7

The Ph.D in hr development from the U of M prepares students for a great career. Students will study human resource theories and practices in large scale economic and social contexts. Optional minors are available. Financial aid options for PhD students include:

  • loans
  • assistantships
  • fellowships
  • grants

New students are admitted for the fall semester. Full-time students can complete their degree in three to five years.

#6 – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Champaign, Illinois

Human Resources PhD


Student to Faculty Ratio: 20:1
Average Graduation Tuition Rate: $15,016/year in-state and $27,187/year out-of-state
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Overall Graduation Rate: 85%
Points: 7

The affordable Ph.D in human resources offered by the U of I is a great choice for students who want an academic career in employee relations. New students are accepted into the program each fall. Specialization areas include:

  • human resources management
  • industrial relations systems and public policy
  • wages, labor market behavior, and income security

All doctorate in human resources students are awarded a substantial financial aid package that includes:

  • a tuition waiver
  • stipend
  • research support

Students may also receive financial support for travel to conferences.

#5 – University of Illinois at Chicago – Chicago, Illinois

PhD in Business Administration: Human Resource Management

For more information: University of Illinois at Chicago

Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $13,799/year in-state and $23,714/year out-of-state
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Overall Graduation Rate: 61%
Points: 7

UIC offers a PhD in human resource management focused on research. Students will explore a variety of topics related to organizational development and human resources. They will also gain professional research skills. The doctorate in human resources program is offered to full-time students. It takes four to five years to complete. Only one to three new students are admitted each year. This maintains high student-faculty interaction. Almost all students graduate having their research work published in peer-reviewed journals.

#4 – Indiana University – Bloomington, Indiana

Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management (OBHRM)

For more information: Indiana University

Student to Faculty Ratio: 16:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $9,786/year in-state and $31,932/year out-of-state
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Overall Graduation Rate: 79%
Points: 7

The organizational behavior and human resources management PhD from IU is a full-time program. The human resources program includes six seminars and courses in research methodology and statistics. Students also complete three courses in a minor field of their choice such as:

  • psychology
  • economics
  • sociology

Admission to the doctorate in human resources program is competitive. Less than a handful of new students are accepted each year. Doctoral students can receive many different types of financial support including:

  • fee remissions
  • research appointments
  • fellowships

#3 – The Ohio State University – Columbus, Ohio

PhD in Management and Human Resources

For more information: The Ohio State University

Student to Faculty Ratio: 19:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $11,560/year in-state and $36,276/year out-of-state
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Overall Graduation Rate: 86%
Points: 9

OSU  features an economical PhD in human resources that trains students to become top-class researchers. Students can expect to study HR from theoretical perspectives rooted in psychology, sociology, and management. The human resources program is designed as a full-time program due to its academic rigor and students can complete their degree in four years. OSU strives to offer its doctorate in human resource students full tuition support.

#2 – University of Wisconsin – Madison, Wisconsin

PhD in Management and Human Resources

For more information: University of Wisconsin

Student to Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $10,728/year in-state and $24,054/year out-of-state
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Overall Graduation Rate: 88%
Points: 9

The University of Wisconsin-Madison offers a low-cost PhD in human resources for students seeking a career in research and teaching. Students can choose from five key research areas including

  • organizational behavior
  • human resources
  • organizational theory
  • entrepreneurship
  • strategy

All HR PhD students receive a funding package that may include a monthly stipend, project assistant position, or scholarship funding. Recent human resources graduates have accepted research tenure-track positions at top universities like Ball State, Cornell, and Rutgers.

#1 – Purdue University – West Lafayette, Indiana

Organizational Behavior & Human Resources PhD

For more information: Purdue University

Student to Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $9,208/year in-state and $28,010/year out-of-state
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Overall Graduation Rate: 82%
Points: 11

Our top choice for a PhD in human resource management is offered by Purdue University. This rigorous program is designed to meet the needs of students planning an academic career at a research-oriented university. Students work closely with faculty on research in areas like:

  • stress and burnout
  • employer branding and recruitment
  • workplace fairness and justice

Students are immersed in a hands-on educational experience with one-on-one learning partnerships with some of the top HR professors in the country. Tuition costs are waived. New PhD students receive financial support as a paid employee of the university.

How long does it take to get a PhD in human resources?

The time it takes to complete hr phd programs varies from program to program. It can take between two and four years of full-time study to earn a PhD in Human Resource Management. A PhD program typically require a dissertation. A dissertation is a scholarly contribution to the field and takes a significant amount of time to properly conduct.

What can I do with a PhD in human resources?

HR professionals with their PhD in HR Management have a variety of career options available. Some work in HR leadership roles within large corporations. Others specialize in a specific area such as learning and development and conduct trainings or professional development seminars. Consulting is also a popular choice amongst HR professional with a PhD. This allows them to work independently and lend their expertise to a variety of different types of organizations.

How much can I make with a PhD in human resources?

According to payscale.com, the average salary for an employee with their doctorate in human resource management is $95,000 per year. An HR executive has the potential to make considerably more. This depends on their experience and the type of organization they work for.

Related Resources:

Tuition information in this ranking was updated in May 2021.