HRMBA versus Masters in Human Resources

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HRMBA versus Masters in Human ResourcesWhen trying to determine which one would be the best fit, an MBA in HR versus Masters in Human Resources, you will need to consider your professional goals.  The MBA in HR and the Masters in HR degree programs will help you qualify for work in the same field, but these programs are not the same.

MBA with HR Concentration

Is an HRMBA the right choice?

The MBA with a concentration in Human Resources program curriculum is mainly focused on business. Students enrolled in this program take a certain number of business courses which give them a broad base of knowledge of how all the parts of a modern business operate and work together.

Most MBA in HR programs are open to students with an undergraduate degree in any major.  Since the focus of an MBA is business, students can build a business foundation while in graduate school.


The Human Resources Management component of a Master of Business Administration program is confined to the electives that the participant chooses to take. These courses don’t make up the majority of the credits that the student is required to complete to obtain the degree.  Students in an MBA in HR program can expect to take courses like:

  • Business Management
  • Finance
  • Accounting
  • Marketing
  • Operations Management Strategy

MBA in HR students will also take courses focused on HR.  Students pursuing their MBA in human resources don’t take as many courses in HR as those pursuing a master’s in HR.  They may take three or four courses dedicated to HR.  These might include:

  • Strategic Human Resource Management
  • Total Rewards
  • Talent Management
  • Labor and Employment Law
  • Talent Acquisition

Job Opportunities

A graduate of an HR MBA program is well qualified for a number of positions, since he or she has skills which can be applied to different parts of running a business. While the concentration may be in the Human Resources field, a graduate from this program can apply for other types of positions with a company.  Job opportunities might include:

  • Employee Relations Manager
  • Talent Acquisition Lead
  • HR Supervisor

While other opportunities are available, the MBA can be considered more of a generalist program and if you are interested in working in Human Resources.  If you want to keep your options open for other types of employment, you may want to consider the MBA in HR versus Masters in Human Resources Management.

How Much Can I Earn with an MBA HR Degree?

An MBA in Human Resource Management is a lucrative degree.  According to information provided by payscale, the average base salary for an individual with an MBA in HR is $71,000/year.  Salary is often dependent on experience and education.  Some of the highest paying jobs include:

  • Vice President of Human Resources: $99,000 to $190,000/year
  • Director of Human Resources: $66,000 to $137,000/year
  • Human Resources Director: $59,000 to $131,000/year

Financial Implications

Choosing the MBA vs MA in Human Resource Management will also mean a bigger financial commitment. Although both programs are two years in length, the tuition for an MBA in Human Resource Management is usually much more expensive. The cost to attend a top business school can be over $50,000 per year for tuition alone.

How Long Does it Take to Earn an MBA in HR?

Fortunately, many Master of Business Administration programs offer flexibility to accommodate the needs of working professionals. We discuss a few of the most popular options.

  • A traditional MBA program is a two-year program.  In a traditional MBA, students attend full time and complete classes on campus.
  • Experienced HR professionals may be eligible for an executive MBA program which is offered in a shorter format.  These part-time programs typically take 18 to 24 months to complete.  They may be offered online, in-person, or in a hybrid format.
  • Accelerated programs are available for students with the ability to focus on their studies full time and want to complete their degree quickly.  These programs take 11 to 16 months to complete.  Due to the compressed schedule, an internship might not be possible.   Programs are usually offered online or in-person.
  • Do you want to complete a dual degree?  An MBA and a master’s in human resource management are a popular dual degree program.  These full time programs can take three years to complete, but students leave earning both degrees.

What About an Online Program?

Due to the level of commitment required to complete your studies, you might not be able to work during this time.  An online HR MBA might be a good option for students who need to work while earning their degree on a part-time basis.  An MBA HR online program may offer reduced tuition rates along with the opportunity to study when its most convenient.

If you are able to get your head around the idea that pursuing an MBA in HR is an investment in yourself and your long-term career goals, it can make the sticker shock of going to school a bit easier to take. MBA graduates with an HR concentration will be qualified for senior management positions and can expect to earn a competitive HR MBA salary–even a six-figure income- which should be factored into your decision about whether to apply for admittance to an MBA in HR program.

Masters Degree in HR

One of the unique aspects of a Master’s in Human Resource Management is that most programs require students to have an undergraduate degree in business or a related area.  Since business is the foundation for HR, students typically build that foundation during their undergraduate years.

Top tier schools can be incredibly competitive so you will need to make sure your application is competitive.  Professional development, recommendations, and undergraduate performance will play a significant role in whether or not you get accepted to your first choice school.


The curriculum for a Masters degree in Human Resource Management is different than the MBA in HR. Whether you choose an MA HR program or an MS, you’ll take courses specifically relating to this field. If you choose this option, you can expect to take courses which will help to develop your knowledge of collective bargaining and recruiting techniques.  You’ll learn how to select the best candidates for available positions. Other courses which make up the Masters in Human Resource Management degree include:

  • management information systems
  • organizational decision making
  • leadership
  • team coaching

Are Concentrations Available for a Master’s in HR?

One of the advantages to choosing a Master’s in Human Resource Management is the ability to choose a concentration.  Many graduate schools offer concentrations in their HRM programs.  Popular concentration areas include:

  • Health Care Management
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Data Science
  • Information Systems

Choosing a concentration can provide you with specialized HR training in your specific field.

How Much Can I Earn with a Master’s in HR?

HR professionals with their HR MA or MS degree are typically paid well.  According to payscale, the average base salary for an individual with their master’s in human resource management is $72,000/year.  Some of the top paying positions include:

  • Director of Human Resources: $73,000 to $148,000/year
  • Human Resources Director: $66,000 to $143,000/year
  • Human Resources Business Partner: $60,000 to $104,000/year

Financial Implications

The cost of going to school for a Masters in HR is lower than taking on an MBA in HR, but you could still be looking at paying somewhere around $30,000 per year for tuition and fees. You will also need to factor in the cost of books and supplies, as well as living expenses when deciding whether to pursue this degree.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Master’s in Human Resource Management?

Most human resource master’s degree programs take two years to complete.  Students who want to commit 100% of their studies can take advantage of accelerated programs that take 18 months.

Programs may be offered online or on-campus, allowing students to take advantage of flexible learning opportunities.  Online programs support students who plan to work while earning their degree or those who are unable to come to campus.

Part-time students can take up to four years to complete their master’s degree in human resource management.  Part-time programs are a great choice for students who want to “pay as they go” or those juggling busy schedules.

Job Opportunities

This degree program may be the right one for you if you know that you want to focus your professional attention on the Human Resource Management field. Graduates of this program can find positions as a:

  • compensation manager
  • HR manager
  • employee benefits specialist
  • recruiter

Making Your Decision: MBA in Human Resources versus Masters in Human Resource Management

If you want to focus your professional attention on business and you can see the benefits of investing a considerable amount of money in your education, the MBA in Human Resource Management may be your best choice. In a situation where you are specifically drawn to working in the Human Resources field, the Masters in Human Resource Management can give you the knowledge you need to work in several types of positions.

When you are considering whether to choose a HR MA vs MBA in Human Resources Management, you will need to look at how well each one would help you reach your career goals.

Deciding between an HRMBA and a MA in HR comes down to your professional career.

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