2023 Best Online Associates Degrees in Human Resources

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Discover the benefits of an online associates degree in human resources. Kickstart your career in HR with programs that offer flexibility and essential skills.

To gain a better knowledge of the business world and prepare for entry-level jobs, you might consider an associates degree in human resources. This degree program will introduce you to important principles for hiring, training, and retaining top workforce talent.

Best Online Associates Degrees in Human Resources

Companies rely on trained HR professionals, so this degree could lead to a variety of employment opportunities related to payroll or benefits.

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A human resources associate’s degree online could also be the first step toward additional education and greater workplace responsibilities.

Online Associates Degrees in Human Resources

human resource anaylst working on a laptop in the office

An online associate degree could help you launch a career in business and human resources. A two-year degree will cover the basics of the field and equip you with essential knowledge for entry-level positions.

In an associate degree program, you may complete a business core. It could include classes in economics, marketing, accounting, and management. There will be HR-specific courses as well. These topics might include:

  • Compensation and benefits
  • Conflict resolution
  • Employment law
  • Labor unions
  • Organizational leadership
  • Recruitment
  • Training methods

Projects are common in HR associate degree programs. When you work on projects, you can put your classroom lessons into practice. Through simulations, case studies, and other assignments, you can prepare for situations you’ll face in the workforce after graduation.

Most of the time, getting an online associate degree in HR doesn’t require you to do an internship. Even still, seeking out an internship on your own could be a valuable experience. It would give you real-world learning opportunities and a chance to network with others in this field.

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There are fully online associate in human resource degrees available. With online study, you can access coursework from your computer—often at whatever time of day is best for your schedule. As long as the college is regionally accredited, you can count on receiving a quality education.

Whether you attend school on campus or online, you may be able to get involved in the college chapter of an HR organization. Industry associations provide valuable opportunities to grow your knowledge and network with other students and professionals. After completing an HR associate degree, you might decide to continue your education.

Associate degree credits from accredited schools often transfer into bachelor’s degree programs. You could earn your bachelors degree in human resources or a related business field. If more education isn’t what you want right after graduation, you could go straight into the HR workforce.

Entry-level roles for people with associate degrees could include HR assistant, payroll clerk, timekeeping clerk, or administrative assistant. In some organizations, you might qualify for higher-level roles, such as being an HR or compensation specialist.

Human Resources and Management Careers & Salaries

Human Resources and Management Careers & Salaries

Most organizations rely on human resources professionals to help them operate well and maintain a reliable staff. Getting a degree in this field could help you prepare for some of those much-needed roles.

Working as an assistant in the HR department is one of the most likely career paths for graduates with a human resources associate degree. Assistants often organize files, answer questions, coordinate meetings, and process paperwork. They work alongside HR specialists and managers and take care of tasks to support those professionals.

Associate-level HR training could also lead to a job in a company’s payroll department since payroll services are closely related to HR. Payroll clerks might track employees’ hours or prepare their biweekly bank deposits. Human resources is a business discipline, so this degree could also help you qualify for general business roles. Being an administrative assistant is a prime example.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some career paths related to human resources and HR management.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Compensation and Benefits Managers $127,530
Human Resources Managers $126,230
Administrative Services and Facilities Managers $99,290
Compliance Officers $71,650
Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists $64,120
Human Resources Specialists $62,290
Training and Development Specialists $61,570
Payroll and Timekeeping Clerks $47,610
Human Resources Assistants $45,630
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants $39,680

While a human resource management associate degree could be a first step toward a career in HR, many employers require a bachelor’s degree or higher for many of the jobs listed above.

Human resources jobs that are typically reserved for people who have at least a bachelor’s degree include HR specialist, benefits specialist, compliance officer, and training specialist. Even still, an associate degree and experience might help you move into these types of roles, especially in smaller organizations.

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There are many management roles in this field too. With experience, some professionals become human resources managers or compensation managers. Your business background might also help you prepare to work as a facilities or administrative services manager.

Human Resources Associate’s Curriculum & Courses

manager timekeeping his agents schedule

Earning a human resources associates degree online requires completing around 60 credit hours. There are usually general education classes in addition to the courses required for the human resources major.

The HR classes may include:

  • Changing Workforces: The lessons in this course might focus on how employment is changing as the world becomes more digital and more interconnected.
  • Compensation: This class deals with not only pay for employees but also the concept of total rewards, which addresses the full sum of benefits that attract and keep good employees.
  • Diversity and Multiculturalism: You’ll examine your own cultural biases, discuss workplace diversity initiatives, and consider the implications of increased global connectedness.
  • Employment Law: This course covers federal regulations related to workplaces, such as those addressing discrimination, sexual harassment, and employment contracts.
  • Foundations of Human Resources: An introductory class near the beginning of your program will get you ready for further study in this field.
  • Job Evaluation: You may learn the role that evaluations play in compensation decisions a well as how to evaluate employees’ job performance.
  • Human Resources Management: Your time in this class will equip you with organizational leadership skills for HR departments, and you may explore real-world case studies.
  • Labor Unions: You may study both the history of labor unions and the role they play in today’s employment landscape.
  • Staffing Principles: To build and develop strong teams, you’ll study recruitment techniques, hiring guidelines, onboarding principles, and retention ideas.
  • Training and Development: You’ll learn techniques for evaluating employees’ knowledge and providing workplace education.

Curricula vary among schools, so you may not take all of these classes, or you may have others not listed here.

How to Choose an Online Human Resources Associate Degree Program

human resource specialists doing a job interview

Picking the right college for human resources online degree programs doesn’t have to be a challenge if you know what you’re looking for. As you compare schools, you might look for answers to the following questions. They can help you think through your options and narrow down the selections.

  • Accreditation. Does the college hold regional accreditation?
  • Curriculum. Does the curriculum include a mix of general education and major-specific classes? Is there a business core in addition to an HR focus?
  • Networking. Is there a college chapter of a professional industry association that online students can join?
  • Online format. Are online classes held live, or can you log in at any time? Is the program offered 100% online?
  • Schedule. How long will the program take? Can you start at any time of the year?
  • Transfer options. Does the school have an HR bachelors program that your credits can transfer into? Is there an articulation agreement with another college where you could finish your undergrad studies?

If you need help answering your questions about a college, you can consult an admissions advisor.

Admissions Requirements

compliance officer doing administrative work

Each school has different admissions policies, but you may need to submit only a handful of items before enrolling in an online associate degree program. Those might include:

  • Academic transcripts from high school and any college classes
  • Application form with information about yourself and your college plans
  • Proof of identification, such as a state driver’s license
  • SAT or ACT scores (not always required for associate programs)

Some schools set a date by which all applications must be received, while others offer rolling admissions, which means they take applications throughout the year.

Associate in Human Resources Programs Accreditation

university campus offering Associates Degrees in Human Resources

Colleges with regional accreditation are credible options for students who want to earn an associate degree in human resources. Schools earn regional accreditation by meeting set standards for a good college education.

You can count on the quality of your degree if you go to an accredited school. Other accredited colleges feel the same way, so accredited courses and degrees are more likely to transfer. That’s especially important if you plan to get a bachelor’s degree.

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Employers may feel more confident about degrees from accredited schools too. Both campus-based and online colleges are eligible to receive regional accreditation.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Financial aid for students taking Masters in Information Security

College is an investment in your future, and you can apply for financial assistance to lessen your financial load. You can start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Both your state and federal aid eligibility may be based on this form. As a full-time undergraduate student, you might qualify for grants or loans.

There may be scholarships available to you too. You can talk to your school’s financial aid office to learn about what institutional aid you might qualify for. In addition, you can apply for outside scholarships, which can increase your chances of building a robust financial assistance package.

You can also check with your employer for workplace-based aid. Many companies offer full or partial rides for employees who want to earn a college degree, especially if it’s in a field of study related to their current responsibilities.

Is Human Resources a Good Career?

Facilitator managers working in a team

Yes, human resources is a good career for many professionals. Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data, beginning human resources assistants might make around $29,890. With experience, though, the salary for this position can increase to $60,680 or more.

Plus, there is a lot of growth potential for people in HR careers. The median salary for HR specialists is $62,290 per year, and some even earn over $108,160. The median salary for HR managers is $126,230 (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Experience or further education could help you qualify for these types of positions.

HR studies could also help you prepare for jobs in administration, compliance, payroll, labor relations, compensation, or employee development.

What Degree Do You Need for Human Resources?

There are a number of degrees that could help someone land an HR position, but one of the most common degree paths is a bachelor’s degree in human resources. Other possible options include studies in business, communications, or industrial-organizational psychology.

If you know, though, that you want to work in HR, it’s strategic to earn your degree in that specific field. Many companies stipulate a bachelor’s degree as the minimum educational requirement for their HR specialist positions. An HR associate degree could help you get started with entry-level roles, such as human resources assistant, and gain experience in the field.

What Can I Do with an Associates Degree in Human Resources?

compliance officers sitting at the office desk and working

After earning an associate degree in human resources, you could look for work as an HR assistant. In that role, you might work alongside other HR professionals to deal with paperwork, communication, organization, and other office tasks.

In some companies, associate holders could be hired as HR or benefits specialists instead of assistants. Such roles usually involve more responsibility. You may also qualify to work as a payroll or timekeeping clerk. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those roles usually pay between $30,240 and $71,500.

How Much Money Can I Make with an Associate’s in Human Resources?

Human resource assistant is one of the most common positions for someone with an associate degree in human resources.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most HR assistants earn between $29,890 and $60,680 annually. The median salary for this role is $45,630, but you may start toward the lower end and increase your salary gradually. Working as an administrative assistant could be another good fit for graduates. That job offers similar wages, with typical salaries ranging from $28,920 to $63,100 per year.

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With experience, you may increase your salary or move to roles with greater responsibility. The median salary for HR specialists is $62,290.

How Long Does It Take to Get an HR Associate Degree Online?

Many associate degree programs in HR take 2 years to complete with full-time study. Some universities offer accelerated human resources degree online or on-campus programs, though, enabling you to finish in just 14 to 18 months.

For the speediest studies, it’s strategic to enroll full-time, take classes back to back throughout the year, and choose a school where the courses last about 8 weeks each. Transfer credit can speed up your studies too. If you’ve completed previous college classes, you can look for an HR program that will give you credit for that work. Some schools will even grant credit for relevant professional experience.

What’s the Difference Between an Associate Degree in Human Services vs. Human Resources?

While both have similar names, human services and human resources are two very different fields. Here are some of the differences between these two degree options.

Human Services Human Resources
  • A social science field
  • Focuses on helping people in need
  • Applicable for prospective case managers, addiction counselors, and social workers
  • A business field
  • Focuses on improving organizations through excellent staffing
  • Applicable for prospective HR generalists, payroll clerks, and training specialists

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, social and human service assistants have a median salary of $37,610, while HR assistants have a median annual salary of $45,630.

Is an Associates in Human Resources Degree Worth It?

admin assistants listening to their leader's explanation at meeting

Yes, an associates in human resources degree is worth it for many professionals. HR positions are available in a wide variety of organizations. If there’s an industry that particularly interests you, you may be able to use your human resources degree there.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that jobs for HR specialists will increase by 10% over the next ten years. The predicted growth rate for training and development specialists is 11%. Even still, HR jobs can be competitive. Earning a college degree can give you an edge as you apply for entry-level roles in this field.

Universities Offering Online Associates in Human Resources Degree Program

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Anne Arundel Community College

Anne Arundel Community College campus

Anne Arundel Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Business Management. It is designed for students who are passionate about supporting both business operations and individuals. Graduates often become benefits specialists, consultants, assistants, HR managers, HR specialists, and HR representatives.

AACC is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Chippewa Valley Technical College

Chippewa Valley Technical College campus

Chippewa Valley Technical College offers an Associate in Human Resources. The curriculum covers how to assess and communicate benefit plans, implement employment laws, uphold employee relations, and develop workforce plans and training curriculum. This 60 credit, 2 year program offers fully online classes and two start dates each year for new students.

Chippewa Valley Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Colorado Christian University

Colorado Christian University campus

Colorado Christian University offers an Associate of Science in Human Resource Management. The program’s curriculum uniquely combines key human resources and business concepts with a biblical perspective. Classes are typically 5 weeks long and completed one at a time. The curriculum covers topics like organizational behavior, human resource administration, business law, and leadership.

Colorado Christian University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Concordia University – Wisconsin

Concordia University Wisconsin campus

Concordia University—Wisconsin offers an Associate of Arts in Human Resource Management. The program aims to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to manage people, benefits, and employment law in a variety of sectors. This 66 credit program includes general requirements in biblical, humanities, and science studies, as well as major-specific courses in staffing, benefits, and employee development.

Concordia University – Wisconsin is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Cuyahoga Community College

Cuyahoga Community College campus

Cuyahoga Community College offers an Associate in Business Management with a concentration in Human Resources Management. The program is designed to provide students with a comprehensive education that will help them develop communication, financial, operational, and critical thinking skills. It consists of 61 credit hours that can typically be completed in 2 years of full-time study.

Cuyahoga Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Davenport University

Davenport University campus

Students interested in leadership and essential support roles in their field may find an ideal next step in the Associate in Human Resource Management program at Davenport University. Classes can be taken entirely online. Students can typically complete the 61 required credits in 4 semesters. Graduates usually qualify for most entry-level positions in the field.

Davenport University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Fayetteville Technical Community College

Fayetteville Technical Community College campus

Fayetteville Technical Community College offers a 5 semester program for an Associate in Human Resource Management. Its core belief is that successful businesses require human resource professionals to develop employees, uphold company values, and ensure employment regulations compliance. The curriculum aims to help students develop the skills needed to step into these essential roles.

FTCC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Herkimer College

Herkimer College campus

Herkimer College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Human Resource Management. The program aims to help students step into high-demand roles in recruitment, employee training, labor relations, benefit coordination, and human resource leadership. Classes are offered entirely online to allow ultimate flexibility for even students with the busiest schedules.

Herkimer College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Lakeshore Technical College

Lakeshore Technical College campus

Lakeshore Technical College offers an Associate in Human Resource Administration program that is offered exclusively online, admits students twice yearly, and requires 60 credit hours. The curriculum covers concepts like workplace safety, employee recruitment and retention, payroll, organizational training, compensation and benefits, and labor law and relations.

Lakeshore Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Lehigh Carbon Community College

Lehigh Carbon Community College campus

Lehigh Carbon Community College offers an Associate of Applied Sciences in Human Resource Management.

The program’s curriculum is built upon the belief that an organization’s people are its most important assets and is centered on the support and management of people. In addition to general education courses, some of which students can test out of, students must complete courses in business law, labor relations, and benefits management.

Lehigh Carbon Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Lorain County Community College

Lorain County Community College campus

Lorain County Community College offers an Associate in Human Resources Management. It is designed for students interested in careers in recruitment, labor management, and employee development. The program also incorporates classes in entrepreneurship and business to provide students with a well-rounded education that will help prepare them for roles across a variety of industries.

Lorain County Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Madison Area Technical College

Madison Area Technical College campus

Madison Area Technical College offers an Associate in Human Resource Management. The curriculum is designed to be broadly applicable across sectors and industries to prepare students for a variety of entry-level roles. This 2 year program is also often an excellent step toward a bachelor’s degree. It is designed to transfer to several 4 year institutions both in Wisconsin and out of state.

Madison Area Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Minnesota State Community and Technical College

Minnesota State Community and Technical College campus

Madison Area Technical College offers an Associate in Human Resource Management. The curriculum is designed to be broadly applicable across sectors and industries to prepare students for a variety of entry-level roles. This 2 year program is also often an excellent step toward a bachelor’s degree. It is designed to transfer to several 4 year institutions both in Wisconsin and out of state.

Minnesota State Community and Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Northcentral Technical College

Northcentral Technical College campus

Northcentral Technical College offers an Associate in Human Resources that can be earned entirely online or in-person at one of six campuses. The program is intended for students pursuing careers as staffing coordinators, training specialists, payroll and benefits coordinators, or labor relations specialists. To graduate, students must complete 61 credit hours.

NTC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College campus

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College offers an Associate in Human Resources. The program aims to prepare students for entry-level positions as human resource specialists or further study in the field at 4 year institutions. The degree can be earned online or in-person through day or evening classes. Students may attend with part-time or full-time schedules.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University campus

Pennsylvania State University offers an Associate in Science in Labor and Human Resources. The program aims to teach students a blend of practical, theoretical, and interpersonal skills that are applicable in corporate, nonprofit, and government human resources roles alike. With only 60 required credits and online learning options, the program is designed to be accessible to busy and working students.

The Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Saint Paul College

Saint Paul College campus

At Saint Paul College, the Associate of Applied Science in Human Resources program is designed to meet the increasing demand for HR professionals in the workforce. Its curriculum covers topics like record keeping, compensation and benefits, onboarding, policy enforcement, and general employee relations. The program offers the option to attend online, in-person, or with a hybrid schedule.

Saint Paul College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Tarrant County College

Tarrant County College campus

Tarrant County College offers an Associate in Human Resources Management program within its Business and Industry pathway. It aims to help students develop a fundamental understanding of essential concepts in the field of human resources and applicable critical thinking, communication, and teamwork skills. To graduate, students must complete 60 credits.

TCCD is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Waldorf University

Waldorf University campus

The Associate of Arts in Human Resource Management at Waldorf University is offered exclusively online and is designed for current and aspiring HR professionals. The curriculum consists of 45 general education requirements and 15 major-specific credits. It is framed around the core competencies provided by the Society for Human Resource Management.

Waldorf University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Wake Technical Community College

Wake Technical Community College campus

Wake Technical Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resource Management. The curriculum teaches communication, teamwork, technological literacy, problem-solving, and decisive leadership. Students can adjust the program to meet their needs with online, in-person, day, and evening course offerings.

Wake Technical Community College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Getting Your Human Resource Associate Degree Online

human resource specialist discussing project with colleagues

As you prepare to enter the business world, getting an associate degree in human resources could be a strategic move.

With this degree, you can receive training and know-how that can help set you apart from the competition for entry-level jobs. You might also be able to secure more advanced positions. Plus, you can graduate well-positioned to quickly complete a bachelors degree in human resources, if you so choose.

Getting your associates degree in HR online could be a beneficial option. With online study, you can count on flexibility, convenience, and innovative instruction. You can take a look at online HR programs from accredited universities to find the one that’s right for you.

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WRITTEN BY
Joy is pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Foreign Policy at Liberty University and holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management from Amberton University, as well as a Bachelor's in Business Administration from Columbia College. With over 20 years of experience navigating online degrees and courses, Joy's focus is helping non-traditional students find accelerated degree options and credit for prior learning opportunities.