Is a Masters Degree in Human Resources Worth It?

By Joy Cromwelle
Edited by Briana Sukert
Updated on June 1, 2024
Edited by Briana Sukert
Ready to start your journey?
Is a masters degree in Human Resources worth it? Find out the pros and cons of earning your graduate degree in HR.

Is a masters degree in human resources worth it? Find out the pros and cons of earning your graduate degree in HR.

Is a Masters Degree in Human Resources Worth It

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Most companies need someone to handle their HR department, and if you gain the expertise to do this, you could potentially earn over $100,000 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics) for your services.

What Is the Best Masters Degree for Human Resources?

Best Masters Degree for Human Resources

There are two degree paths you can take for a future career in human resources. You may pursue a masters in human resources or an MBA with a concentration in human resources.

Masters in Human Resources

A masters in human resources can help you build a company’s human resources department from the ground up. You can learn about recruitment, policies, and how to handle various issues that might arise in your future place of employment.

MBA with a Concentration in Human Resources

An MBA with a concentration in human resources focuses more on the business side of a company. You may only take a few classes concerning human resources that can give you a basic overview of policies.

You will likely receive a much more concentrated focus on human resources if you follow the masters in human resources path.

Why Get a Masters in Human Resources?

Why Get a Masters in Human Resources

There are many potential benefits to getting a masters in human resources, including becoming more experienced, knowledgeable, and profitable.

Growth of Experience and Expertise: Earning a masters degree in human resources online or on campus can assist you in understanding how to manage difficult issues in your place of employment. This degree can help you become an expert in your field and qualify for higher level jobs.

Growth of Knowledge: This degree can also help you become more knowledgeable in your field. This could help you have more influence on company decisions, making you an asset to the business you work for and improving your job stability.

Growth of Profitability: Your income could also increase with this degree. A human resources manager, for example, makes an average of $121,220 a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Becoming more of an expert in your field and commanding a higher salary may also bring more job satisfaction.

Masters in Human Resources versus MBA

There are many similarities and differences between the masters in human resources and the MBA–Human Resources.

Masters in Human Resources MBA – Human Resources
A curriculum with a focus on human resources A curriculum with a focus on business
Courses on bargaining, recruiting, interviewing, management information, organizational decision making, and leadership Courses on broad business operations
A cost of $17,000 to $55,000 for the two-year program A program cost of $53,000 to $125,000 in top schools
Careers solely in human resources, such as recruiters or HR managers Careers in any business field, including human resources
2 year commitment 2 year commitment
Six-figure salaries in human resources management upon graduation Six-figure salaries in senior management upon graduation

There are distinct differences between both programs, despite the six-figure salaries and 2 year completion times offered by both.

What Can You Do with a Masters Degree in Human Resources?

human resource managers asking questions to an applicant during job interview

A masters degree in human resources can open up the possibility for more advanced positions. You may obtain an entry-level job in human resources with just a bachelors degree, but a masters degree is often required to get an advanced level position.

Ultimately, what you can do with a human resources degree is virtually endless. Human resources employees are needed in nearly every industry.

Management in a Business

You might play an integral part in the management of a business as a human resources employee. You may get a career as a senior HR manager or a vice president of human resources, for example.

Another option for an advanced management position could be in managing benefits for a company or in managing information systems.

Employment Related Services

Many cities have employment services organizations. These organizations offer assistance to individuals with disabilities, veterans, and individuals who are unemployed.

Human resource specialists can help these employment services organizations in meeting the needs of the diverse people that come through their doors.

Consulting Services

Consulting services are provided on a temporary basis. If you become bored easily, you might want to consider working in consultation-based services. Businesses often hire consultants might on an as-needed basis, offering you the ability to work for many different industries and individuals.

Administrative Services

Administrative positions often need HR-related skills. You could provide these skills as a human resources administrator or human resources assistant.

Local Government

A local government, no matter the location, needs human resources employees. Additional skills are often needed, though. You are often required to uphold confidentiality and understand electronic software in many positions with local governments.

You could provide great assistance to a company, organization, or business by pursuing a career in human resources.

How Much Can You Make with a Masters in Human Resources?

How Much Can You Make with a Masters in Human Resources

Here’s a sampling of various careers and what you may make with an HR degree, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Careers Annual Median Salary
Computer and Information Systems Manager $151,150
Compensation and Benefits Manager $125,130
Human Resources Manager $121,220
Training and Development Manager $115,640
Top Executive $107,680
Medical and Health Services Manager $104,280
Management Analyst $87,660
Labor Relations Specialist $73,240
Human Resources Specialist $63,490
Training and Development Specialist $62,700
Human Resources Assistant $43,250

Many positions are available in the field of human resources. You may find a position in almost any industry and in almost any location.

Achieving one of the higher level careers, such as how to become a human resources manager, often depends on your location, education, and experience in the field.

Further Education – How to Move Up in HR

human resource students listening during a classroom lecture

If you want to continue your education after receiving a masters in human resources, you can go for your doctorate. A doctorate degree can open up the most advanced positions in the field. You could obtain a career in education, consulting, or research with a doctorate.

In a doctorate in human resources program, courses are taught on behavior, management, and human capital. You will also probably take research courses, such as reasoning and analysis, research methods, and research design.

You can complete a doctorate in human resources in 3 to 5 years if you are a full-time student. There are both online and residential programs available.

It is strategic to make sure that the program you choose is regionally accredited to ensure you are getting the best education possible. Your chances of being accepted into a doctoral program may greatly increase if you have your human resources licensure and professional experience before applying.

HR Certification Options

logos of association groups dedicated to assisting your professional development in human resources

There are many association groups that are dedicated to assisting your professional development in human resources.

The Association for Talent Development is a great organization if you want to become part of a group of human resources professionals. It gives credentialing courses on Certified Professional in Learning and Performance and Associate Professional in Talent Development.

The Certified Employee Benefit Specialist program offers certifications based on challenges that you may face in human resources. It is designed to teach students about retirement plans, health care plans, and other employee benefits that can be offered. It can help prepare you for work and not just for the exam.

The HR Certification Institute has been offering professional development for your HR career for over 40 years. They offer over eight certifications, including a Professional in Human Resources certification and a Senior Professional in Human Resources. The courses are provided online with an exam at the end.

The International Society for Performance Improvement is another membership organization. It offers networking along with certifications, and it is accredited in the courses it provides to you. You may get certifications such as Certified Performance Technologist, Certified Facilitator of Training, and Certified Developer of Training.

The Institute of Management Consultants is run by other professionals who volunteer their time to assist you. IMC offers its own certification called the Certified Management Consultant. This certification is recognized by employers worldwide for the professional experience, ethical standards, and competence associated with having it.

The Society for Human Resource Management is a leader in understanding and providing information on all things that influence the workforce. They work to promote human resources and offer certifications. The certifications are the SHRM-CP certification or the SHRM-SCP certification, which you can apply for on their website.

WorldatWork is a nonprofit dedicated to human resource employees who work in a rewarding workplace. They offer seven certifications, including the Certified Compensation Professional and the Global Remuneration Professional.

You may have many certifications at your fingertips when you begin your career in human resources. These certifications are offered through various organizations, associations, and nonprofits to best fit your needs. Each has its own benefits and originality.

Accreditation for an HR Master’s Degree

logos of six regional accreditation boards

It is strategic to choose a school that is regionally accredited. This means that the coursework and academic programming are of the highest quality.

Other methods of accreditation can make a university or college choice stand out even more. These accreditations are specific to the school’s programs in human resources. The more accreditations a school has, the better the education may be.

You may want to look for the Distance Education Accrediting Commission accreditation if you are planning to take classes online. This accreditation uses peer review to give courses a quality rating. Schools are also offered feedback so they can improve even more.

Accreditation from the Society for Human Resource Management or the Accreditation Council for Collegiate Business Schools and Programs guarantees the quality of your specific program within a university.

Financial Aid for a Human Resources Master’s Degree Online

screenshot of FAFSA website

Financial aid is a necessity for many at any level of college. You may look for the following funding opportunities.

Federal Aid

Filling out the Free Application for Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA) is the first step to getting financial aid for any level of collegiate learning. You may obtain federal loans and grants, depending on your income.

School-Specific Aid

There are many colleges and universities that offer financial aid to qualifying students. You can call them or visit their websites to best understand what they can do for you. You may even obtain an academic scholarship for your grades or a scholarship for the specific field you are looking to go into.

Private Organizations

Finally, private businesses and organizations may want to sponsor graduate students. Your own company may even offer a tuition assistance program.

Is a Masters Degree in Human Resources Worth It?

human resource manager looking at a document with a colleague

Yes, a masters degree in human resources is worth it for many students. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, management jobs are set to grow at 5% over the next 10 years, faster than the average for all occupations. Common careers in this field include training and development specialist, labor relations specialist, management analyst, human resources manager, and compensation and benefits manager.

If you are ready to further your education in HR, start your search to find an accredited college that provides the courses you need to obtain your masters in human resources.

You can contact each university you are interested in to ensure they have the program you need and can offer financial aid if necessary.

Ready to start your journey?