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Best online master's in human resources 2021

A human resources master's degree prepares graduates for leadership roles in HR. Learn more about the top-ranked master's programs in human resources.

Businesses in diverse industries rely on human resources to hire talented employees, administer benefits packages, and resolve employment disputes. A human resources master's degree prepares graduates for management roles in HR. 

A master's degree helps professionals specialize their skills, advance their HR careers, or switch to a career in human resources. Specialties within HR include recruitment, compensation management, and talent development.

An online learning format appeals to working professionals and busy adults. Below, we rank the top online master's programs in human resources so you can make an informed choice. 

The best online master's in human resources degrees

Our list ranks the best online master's in human resources programs. ZDNet's ranking methodology draws on reputable data sources to recommend programs. Prospective students can use our rankings to find the right fit for their unique needs and professional goals. 

Unless otherwise indicated, data is drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data SystemCollege Scorecard, and each program's website.

1. Stony Brook University

Stony Brook, New York

About the program: The 30-credit master's in human resources program at Stony Brook incorporates coursework, projects, and an optional internship. Students customize the program by choosing four human resources electives.

Acceptance rate: 44%

Graduation rate: 74%

Annual net price: $15,160

Years to degree: One year full-time; 20 months part-time

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: Three

Course delivery methods: Online

Accreditation: Stony Brook University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

2. Florida International University

Miami, Florida

About the program: The master's in human resources degree at FIU requires 38 credits. Students complete coursework in a cohort format that offers two classes per eight-week block.

Acceptance rate: 58%

Graduation rate: 64%

Annual net price: $7,296

Years to degree: One

Minimum GPA: 3.0 preferred

Enrollment periods per year: Two

Course delivery methods: Online

Accreditation: Florida International University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). 

3. Clemson University

Clemson, South Carolina

About the program: The master's in human resources program offers concentrations such as athletic leadership and comprehensive human resources development. The 30-credit program takes five semesters.

Acceptance rate: 51%

Graduation rate: 81%

Annual net price: $20,008

Years to degree: 1.5

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: Three

Course delivery methods: Online

Accreditation: Clemson University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). 

4. Cornell University

Ithaca, New York

About the program: Designed for working HR professionals, the online human resources master's degree at Cornell requires at least eight years of HR experience.

Acceptance rate: 11%

Graduation rate: 95%

Annual net price: $40,126

Years to degree: 15 months

Minimum GPA: N/A

Enrollment periods per year: Three

Course delivery methods: Online

Accreditation: Cornell University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

5. Rutgers University-New Brunswick

New Brunswick, New Jersey

About the program: The online human resources master's program emphasizes global employment strategies, HR decision-making, and strategic HR management. Learners choose four electives to customize the degree.

Acceptance rate: 61%

Graduation rate: 82%

Annual net price: $21,654

Years to degree: Two

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: Three

Course delivery methods: Online

Accreditation: Rutgers University-New Brunswick is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

6. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, California

About the program: Graduate students in the human resources master's program choose between a two-year track or an accelerated one-year track. The program emphasizes change management, employee relations, and talent acquisition.

Acceptance rate: 11%

Graduation rate: 92%

Annual net price: $29,528

Years to degree: One to two

Minimum GPA: N/A

Enrollment periods per year: Three

Course delivery methods: Online

Accreditation: University of Southern California is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission (WSCUC).

7. Utah State University

Logan, Utah

About the program: USU's 36-credit master's in human resources degree uses real-world business projects and includes an optional internship and international trip. 

Acceptance rate: 91%

Graduation rate: 55%

Annual net price: $13,634

Years to degree: One to two

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: Three

Course delivery methods: Online; synchronous

Accreditation: Utah State University is regionally accredited by Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

8. University of Connecticut

Storrs, Connecticut

About the program: The 33-credit part-time master's in human resources program delivers one course per accelerated seven-week term. Applicants must have two years of professional experience.

Acceptance rate: 49%

Graduation rate: 82%

Annual net price: $22,012

Years to degree: 20 months

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: One

Course delivery methods: Online

Accreditation: University of Connecticut is regionally accredited by New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE). 

9. Western Carolina University

Cullowhee, North Carolina

About the program: Graduate students in the human resources master's program complete 21 credits of core courses and choose 15 credits of electives to customize their course of study.

Acceptance rate: 69%

Graduation rate: 62%

Annual net price: $13,722

Years to degree: Two

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: Three

Course delivery methods: Online

Accreditation: Western Carolina University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). 

10. West Chester University of Pennsylvania

West Chester, Pennsylvania

About the program: Students complete 10 courses in the master's in human resources management program on a seven-week term schedule. The program offers full-time and part-time enrollment options.

Acceptance rate: 75%

Graduation rate: 72%

Annual net price: $22,495

Years to degree: One to two years

Minimum GPA: N/A

Enrollment periods per year: Three

Course delivery methods: Online; asynchronous

Accreditation: West Chester University of Pennsylvania is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). 

11. George Washington University

Washington, D.C.

About the program: The online master's in human resource management program trains graduate students in team leadership, performance management, and strategic HR management. 

Acceptance rate: 41%

Graduation rate: 82%

Annual net price: $33,719

Years to degree: 1.5-4

Minimum GPA: N/A

Enrollment periods per year: Three

Course delivery methods: Online; hybrid

Accreditation: George Washington University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). 

12. Tarleton State University

Stephenville, Texas

About the program: The master's in human resources program, designed for working professionals, requires 30 credits of coursework. Students can earn the degree online in one year.

Acceptance rate: 56%

Graduation rate: 56%

Annual net price: $18,979

Years to degree: One

Minimum GPA: 2.5

Enrollment periods per year: Three

Course delivery methods: Online

Accreditation: Tarleton State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). 

13. Dallas Baptist University

Dallas, Texas

About the program: The online master's in management with an HR management concentration includes core management courses and specialized HR classes. DBU incorporates a Christ-centered approach in its programs.

Acceptance rate: 90%

Graduation rate: 58%

Annual net price: $26,387

Years to degree: Two

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: Not publicly available

Course delivery methods: Online

Accreditation: Dallas Baptist University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

14. Temple University

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

About the program: Temple uses five-week terms in its master's in human resources online program. Graduate students complete 10 courses in talent acquisition, employee relations, and talent management. 

Acceptance rate: 60%

Graduation rate: 72%

Annual net price: $23,521

Years to degree: One two

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: Two

Course delivery methods: Online; synchronous

Accreditation: Temple University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). 

15. Indiana State University

Terre Haute, Indiana

About the program: The master's in human resources program lets graduate students choose a specialization based on their career goals. Learners also complete an integrative capstone. 

Acceptance rate: 90%

Graduation rate: 42%

Annual net price: $13,896

Years to degree: 1.5 

Minimum GPA: 2.7

Enrollment periods per year: Two

Course delivery methods: Online

Accreditation: Indiana State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

16. St. Francis University

Loretto, Pennsylvania

About the program: The 30-credit master's in human resources program covers key topics like labor law, performance management, and compensation. Students also choose six credits of electives. 

Acceptance rate: 75%

Graduation rate: 61%

Annual net price: $28,643

Years to degree: One to two

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: Two

Course delivery methods: Online

Accreditation: St. Francis University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). 

17. University of Scranton

Scranton, Pennsylvania

About the program: Graduate students complete 33 credits on an eight-week term to earn their master's in human resources online. The program includes an applied capstone. 

Acceptance rate: 76%

Graduation rate: 77%

Annual net price: $34,374

Years to degree: Two

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: Six

Course delivery methods: Online; asynchronous

Accreditation: University of Scranton is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). 

18. Thomas Edison State University

Trenton, New Jersey

About the program: Graduate students can earn their 36-credit master's in human resources degree in as little as one year, thanks to TESU's accelerated eight-week terms.

Acceptance rate: Not publicly available

Graduation rate: 46%

Annual net price: Not publicly available

Years to degree: One

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: Six

Course delivery methods: Online

Accreditation: Thomas Edison State University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). 

19. Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

Winona, Minnesota

About the program: The 36-credit master's in human resources program prepares graduates for in-demand industry certifications with its SHRM-aligned curriculum.

Acceptance rate: 92%

Graduation rate: 67%

Annual net price: $19,514

Years to degree: Two

Minimum GPA: 2.75

Enrollment periods per year: Three

Course delivery methods: Online

Accreditation: Saint Mary's University of Minnesota is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

20. Concordia University, St. Paul

St. Paul, Minnesota

About the program: Graduate students explore human resource leadership, employee relations, and compensation management in the 36-credit master's in human resources management program.

Acceptance rate: 98%

Graduation rate: 61%

Annual net price: $16,245

Years to degree: Two

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: Thre

Course delivery methods: Online; asynchronous

Accreditation: Concordia University, St. Paul is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

21. Florida Institute of Technology

Melbourne, Florida

About the program: Graduate students earning their human resources master's degree online complete 33 credits, including a human resources management capstone project.

Acceptance rate: 66%

Graduation rate: 61%

Annual net price: $31,097

Years to degree: Two

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: Three

Course delivery methods: Online

Accreditation: Florida Institute of Technology is regionally accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). 

22. Saint Joseph's University

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

About the program: The fully online master's in human resources program requires 30 credits in talent management, HR technology, and strategic human capital. The program offers full-time and part-time enrollment options.

Acceptance rate: 75%

Graduation rate: 78%

Annual net price: $33,375

Years to degree: 1-2.5

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: Three

Course delivery methods: Online; synchronous

Accreditation: Saint Joseph's University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). 

23. Nova Southeastern University

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

About the program: The 31-credit human resources master's program incorporates courses in human resource analytics, talent management, and employee relations. Graduate students complete a management-focused internship.

Acceptance rate: 80%

Graduation rate: 48%

Annual net price: $23,905

Years to degree: One to two

Minimum GPA: N/A

Enrollment periods per year: Five

Course delivery methods: Online; asynchronous

Accreditation:

Nova Southeastern University is regionally accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). 

24. Southern New Hampshire University

Manchester, New Hampshire

About the program: The 36-credit master's in human resources degree trains strategic thinkers who make data-driven HR decisions. The program prepares graduates for HR certification. 

Acceptance rate: 88%

Graduation rate: 47%

Annual net price: $41,095

Years to degree: Two

Minimum GPA: 2.75

Enrollment periods per year: Five

Course delivery methods: Online; asynchronous

Accreditation: Southern New Hampshire University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE).

25. Regis University

Denver, Colorado

About the program: In the 30-credit master's in human resource management program, graduate students take courses on an eight-week term. The curriculum covers topics like business intelligence, employment law, and talent management.

Acceptance rate: 71%

Graduation rate: 57%

Annual net price: $25,483

Years to degree: One to two

Minimum GPA: N/A

Enrollment periods per year: Six

Course delivery methods: Online

Accreditation: Regis University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

What to expect in an online master's in human resources degree program

An online master's in human resources prepares graduate students for management responsibilities in HR. Graduate-level courses blend practical and theoretical approaches.

Students learn how to manage an organization's human resources needs, research compensation and benefits packages, and develop training programs. The degree also strengthens problem-solving, leadership, and communication skills.

Many programs let graduate students customize their course of study by choosing electives. Online learners often gain hands-on experience through an internship or real-world projects. Many programs conclude with a capstone project. 

Human resources courses

Strategic human resource management

Advanced HR courses explore the role of human resources in organizational success. Learners examine employee relations, compensation and benefits administration, training, and dispute resolution. They also learn strategic decision-making in an HR setting.

Talent development

Recruiting and training talent gives businesses a competitive advantage. Talent development courses cover workforce planning strategies, strategic development, and employee retention. Students also learn how to forecast an organization's needs.

Change leadership

Human resources leaders help shepherd organizations through periods of change. The class covers organizational development theories, encouraging productive changes, and transformation strategies. Learners also examine the role of leadership in organizational change.

Workplace negotiation

Human resources professionals lead negotiations with labor organizations and prospective hires. This course covers the best practices for negotiating in workplace settings. Topics include bargaining methods, legal context, and negotiating styles. 

Human resources degree levels

Each human resource degree provides focused coursework leading to different career paths. 

For example, a bachelor's in human resources meets the requirements for most HR careers. Many employers prefer candidates with a human resources master's degree for supervisory roles. 

Certificate in human resources

Length: One year

Cost: $3,000-$10,000

Post-grad careers: Human resources specialist, training development specialist, office manager

A human resources certificate offers specialized training for careers in HR. Many colleges offer undergraduate and graduate-level certificate programs. An undergraduate certificate introduces human resources and includes core classes in the field. Students can sometimes transfer credits toward a two-year or four-year degree. 

A graduate certificate targets learners with at least a bachelor's degree. Many graduate certificate programs incorporate leadership and management classes. As with an undergraduate certificate, coursework prepares professionals for the workforce or a graduate degree. 

Associate in human resources

Length: Two years

Cost: $5,000-$25,000

Post-grad careers: Administrative assistant, payroll coordinator, customer service representative

An associate degree in human resources introduces learners to managing human capital and administering HR programs. During an associate program, coursework emphasizes key skills like collaboration and communication.

Foundational courses in business administration, human resources, and management prepare graduates for entry-level business careers or a higher degree. A transfer pathway can help students save money.

Bachelor's in human resources

Length: Four years 

Cost: $40,000-$65,000

Post-grad careers: Human resources specialist, compensation and benefits specialist, talent development specialist

A bachelor's degree in human resources builds core competencies in administering benefits programs, evaluating training needs, and managing the recruitment process. The major also emphasizes people skills such as communication, organization, and problem-solving. 

During a human resources degree, undergrads take classes in business and management. They also complete general education and elective requirements. Human resource majors strengthen HR skills through projects, hands-on assignments, and internships. 

Master's in human resources

Length: One to two years

Cost: $15,000-$50,000

Post-grad careers: Human resources manager, compensation and benefits manager, talent and development manager

A master's degree in human resources provides graduate-level training in employee relations, talent management, and HR leadership. During a master's program, graduate students complete 30-36 credits of coursework. Many programs incorporate a capstone project or internship to gain hands-on experience. 

Graduates work as human resources managers. They also take on upper-level roles in compensation and benefits or talent development. Many master's programs prepare graduates for in-demand HR certifications.

Doctorate in human resources

Length: Three to five years

Cost: $25,000-$65,000

Post-grad careers: Director of human resources, human resources professor, human resources consultant

A doctorate is the highest degree in human resources. Through advanced coursework, projects, and a doctoral dissertation, doctoral students strengthen their HR skills and knowledge.

At the doctoral level, graduate students choose between a practitioner-focused doctorate in business administration with a human resources focus or a research-focused Ph.D. in human resources. The DBA trains graduates for leadership roles in the public and private sectors. The Ph.D., in contrast, leads to research and academic career paths. 

In conclusion

A master's in human resources helps current HR specialists move into leadership roles. The degree also appeals to those seeking a career transition into human resources. 

If you're considering enrolling, reach out to programs to learn more about their enrollment options, total cost, and timeline to earn a master's degree.