5 Popular Electives for a Human Resources PhD Program

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Useful Human Resources PhD Electives

  • Qualitative Reasoning
  • Behavior Performance
  • Talent Management
  • Change Management
  • I/O Psychology

Many of the electives available in a Human Resources PhD program offer transferable skills and knowledge that make graduates appealing to employers. This HR acumen is perfected through the popular dissertation or doctoral capstone project that allows the student to synthesize their research, organization and communication skills. Here are some elective courses that can best benefit a HR PhD candidate.

Related Resource: Top 10 PhD Programs in Human Resources

1. Qualitative Reasoning

Students in this elective develop core skills and knowledge for designing doctoral research and analyzing complex data. Class discussions will likely touch on the importance of quality assurance, theoretical design approaches, and the ethical implications of experimentation. Computer and software skills are taught to process, code, and interpret data. Some of the advanced lessons will introduce how to utilize data systems like ANOVA and MANOVA. After finishing this elective, students will how to apply statistical tests to answer research questions that solve workplace problems.

2. Behavior Performance

This elective will expand beyond general organizational behavior to explore the subsets of employee motivation, collaboration and evaluation. One of the purposes of this elective is to learn how to help managers improve how they coach staff, build teams, and discipline troublemakers. Another outcome is the ability to coach leaders in how their influence, decisions, and organizational structures impact individuals and teams. Mastering behavior performance means that graduates will understand the meaning of organizational commitment and citizenship best practices.

3. Talent Management

Managing employee and supervisory talent in the modern business world requires HR leaders who know how to optimize motivation, commitment, and productivity. HR managers and talent management leaders must incorporate new workforce strategies for better workforce selection, recruitment, and retention. This elective will explore topics like compensation and benefits, recognition and reward systems, and agile workforce engagement. Competitive employee poaching is a new reality in cutthroat industries, such as IT and Big Pharma, so companies need to maximize employee satisfaction and retention.

4. Change Management

Change management is extremely important to HR directors and leaders because they often oversee or initiate major projects that transform business practices, departments, and whole companies. This elective teaches students how to deal with managerial resistance, withdrawal behavior, and counterproductive employee behaviors. Students learn about the entire change process cycle from problem diagnosis and needs assessment to post-project evaluation. They also learn how to apply change models and techniques at the individual, departmental, and organizational levels. Knowing how to overcome strategic issues involved with implementing innovation is a skill that employers value.

5. I/O Psychology

Industrial-organizational psychology, which is the 14th division of the American Psychological Association (APA), focuses on improving workplace productivity and employee performance and well-being. The goal of I/O Psychology is executing positive social change. This elective introduces students to workplace theories and themes related to cognition, development, psychodynamics, and social learning. Students will examine the strengths of these ideas and how they apply to real-world situations.

Candidates for a Human Resource PhD will find that these five electives provide additional skills that they can use in their research or workplace. Addition of some of the classes into the PhD program will set graduates up for success.