Best Online Master's in Human Resources


Updated October 27, 2023 · 3 Min Read

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Should you pursue an online master's in human resources? Learn what to expect from the degree and discover top colleges offering human resources graduate programs. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Human resources is essential for any business. Human resources (HR) managers understand the needs of an organization down to the last detail and continuously adapt processes and policies to fit those needs. From overseeing employee payroll and benefits to recruiting and onboarding new employees, HR managers wear many hats each day.

Some companies, especially large organizations, may require their HR managers to have a master's degree in human resources. This degree explores organizational behavior, workplace diversity, law, ethics, and workforce development. Often, HR master's degree programs also offer specializations, allowing learners to choose courses in an area of interest, such as finance or healthcare administration.

Pursuing an online master's in human resources can be convenient for working professionals, enabling them to complete their studies on a schedule that works for them. This guide explores why someone might choose this degree path and lists some of the top colleges that offer an online master's in human resources.

Why You Should Choose an Online Master’s in Human Resources

An online master's in human resources equips HR professionals with more advanced skills to handle the tasks they complete every day, like recruiting, onboarding, and managing employee relations. For example, these programs explore human capital management, data-driven decision-making, and advanced HR technology, giving HR specialists additional strategies and resources to improve organizations.

Although HR specialists can typically find jobs with a bachelor's degree, a master's degree in HR may boost their marketability as they move up the corporate ladder into management roles. It can also increase salary potential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), HR specialists earned a median salary of $64,240 in 2022, while HR managers earned $130,000.

Additionally, a master's degree could make it easier for professionals without enough HR experience to qualify for industry-specific credentials. For example, the professional in human resources certification from the Human Resources Standards Institute requires those without a degree to possess.

Featured Online Human Resources Master's Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Top Colleges With an Online Master’s in Human Resources

We have compiled a list of nonprofit and for-profit four-year institutions that offer this degree program. Use the table below to compare the average net price and student population size.

Online HR Master's Degrees
School Location Average Net Price Student Population Size
Claremont Lincoln University Claremont, California $18,150 220
Colorado State University Global Aurora, Colorado $18,000 9,565
Excelsior University Albany, New York $21,450 15,833
Johnson & Wales University Online Providence, Rhode Island $25,260 2,505
Northcentral University San Diego, California $21,879 11,578
Ottawa University Online Ottawa, Kansas $23,364 224
Pennsylvania State University World Campus University Park, Pennsylvania $33,561 13,979

Is a Master’s Degree in Human Resources Worth It?

Based on tuition data from multiple schools, a master's degree in human resources averages $980 per credit. Therefore, these programs cost about $35,280, assuming a typical load of 36 credits.

Although a master's degree can be costly, the financial commitment of an HR master's degree might be worth the investment. At the master's degree level, human resources specialists can transition into management roles for much higher salaries. To illustrate, BLS data shows that human resources managers earned a median salary of $130,000 in 2022, nearly $64,000 more than HR specialists the same year.

Learners who continue their education with a master's degree in human resources may also access more networking opportunities, allowing them to brainstorm ideas and connect with other industry professionals. Some of the best programs offer virtual or in-person networking events or free memberships for professional HR organizations to help students expand their careers.

Common Questions About Online Master’s in Human Resources

Do people take online master's degrees seriously?

Online master's degree programs offer the same curricula as in-person degrees, allowing online learners access to the same knowledge and skill development opportunities as on-campus students. Additionally, a diploma indicates the school name and earned degree title without noting that you completed the program online.

Is it better to have an HR degree or certificate?

An HR certificate may help you qualify for HR jobs, especially if you lack experience in the field. However, a degree is ultimately the best option for earning certifications or advancing into managerial roles.

Is there a lot of math in HR?

HR careers don't typically require advanced math skills, but having proficiency in basic accounting and financial management is important. For example, daily HR processes frequently use formulas, budgeting, data organization, and statistics.

What master's degree is best for human resources?

A master's degree in human resources or human resources management provides the skills necessary for HR specialists and HR managers to succeed. If you're interested in a specialty area of HR, consider a program with concentrations to choose from, like healthcare administration or organizational behavior.

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