Should I Pursue a Masters in HR Management or an MBA?

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Choosing a path to a degree usually requires a choice of industry and a specialization within that industry. Advanced degrees, however, are somewhat different in that they often provide a much deeper understanding of an industry or topic. When deciding upon advanced training for future employment within human resources, two common degree paths include a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) or an MS in Human Resources Management (HRM).

According to, each degree offers advantages and those specifics will influence a student’s future education and employment path.

People versus Money

One of the primary differences between the subjects covered within HRM training and the classes of an MBA program is the focus upon finances versus people. At the very core of an MBA is the idea of business and how various decisions may impact the future success of a company. A student in an MBA program will take money-centric courses that cover subjects like accounting and finance.

Alternatively, the class selection in a HRM course of study will often cover the principals of human resources and the focus of running a business from the perspective of the people rather than the bottom line. Anyone in management, even those with HRM degrees, must consider the financial health of the company when designing a cost-effective hiring strategy, however, an individual who studied human resources will have a unique perspective on business and the importance of workers.

Reputation Gained from Different Degrees

Different types of degrees gain varying levels of respect within the business world and a person with an MBA is often considered a very learned individual with the skills necessary to handle any aspect of running a business. A degree in Human Resources Management, on the other hand, is specialized and doesn’t offer the same boost in reputation as an MBA.

When a student decides to seek out employment with a particularly competitive firm, an MBA might get his or her foot in the door sooner than an HRM degree. However, an individual intent upon working within the human resources industry may benefit from the specialized training an HRM degree may provide, even if that degree isn’t as highly regarded as an MBA.

Related Resource: Is an HR Degree Worth It?

Specialization versus General Education

When a student enrolls in an MBA program, there are some concentrations available (such as finance or economics), but even specialized MBA degrees will require an awfully broad knowledge base that covers every facet of running a business. Individuals who successfully complete an MBA program are often considered eligible to work in many areas of a company and aren’t restricted to applying for jobs within human resources. A focused degree in human resources may offer a terrific opportunity for getting a specific job, but it may also restrict a job seeker as far as job diversity is concerned.

An MBA degree offers many benefits to a person seeking employment within business; however, an HRM degree also provides some valuable benefits to individuals who are intent upon working within the human resources industry. Although both degrees are helpful for gaining employment within HR, deciding upon an MBA instead of an HRM degree usually boils down to whether a person may eventually look outside of the HR department for career advancement.

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