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Best online certificate in human resources 2021: Top picks

Online human resources certificates provide essential business law, accounting, and employee training skills to prepare you for HR managerial positions.

A human resources certificate prepares individuals to work in an HR department — a crucial part of any successful company. 

HR representatives work closely with all employees, ensuring appropriate compensation and support. For example, an HR specialist may hire new employees, train them, and complete regular performance updates to ensure they excel in the position.

Human resources specialists continue to grow in popularity. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 10% increase in jobs between 2020 and 2030, adding over 70,000 jobs across the nation. 

HR professionals enjoy a diverse career that combines law, finances, leadership, accounting, and training. Specific roles include HR assistant, compensation analyst, HR recruiter, HR manager, and VP human resources. Explore the top online human resources certificate degree programs below to jumpstart an HR career.

The best online human resources certificates

After analyzing federally-reported datasets using our ranking algorithm, we have compiled a list of top online human resources certificate programs. To learn more about how we rank these programs, see ZDNet's ranking methodology

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

1. Georgia Northwestern Technical College

Rome, Georgia

About the program: The human resource management specialist certificate at GNTC requires 18 credits in classes like performance management, organizational behavior, and business regulation.

  • Acceptance rate: 100% 
  • Graduation rate: 34%
  • Net annual price: $2,148
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous; hybrid

Accreditation: Georgia Northwestern Technical College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

2. Southeastern Technical College

Vidalia, Georgia

About the program: The human resource management specialist technical certificate of credit prepares students to become HR leaders. The 18 credits cover five core occupational courses and one guided elective. 

  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Graduation rate: 41%
  • Net annual price: $2,556
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: 2.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous

Accreditation: Southeastern Technical College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

3. University of Virginia

Charlottesville, Virginia

About the program: UVA offers a graduate leadership in human resources management certificate, preparing individuals for top HR management positions. The courses include organizational change and strategic compensation.

  • Acceptance rate: 24%
  • Graduation rate: 94%
  • Net annual price: $20,397
  • SAT range: 1340-1520
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous or synchronous

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

4. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Indianapolis, Indiana

About the program: The 18-credit IUPUI undergraduate certificate in human resource management covers practical information about HR while preparing students for the PHR and SHRM-CP exams.

  • Acceptance rate: 81%
  • Graduation rate: 50%
  • Net annual price: $11,285
  • SAT range: 1000-1200
  • Minimum GPA: 2.8
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous

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

5. West Georgia Technical College

LaGrange, Georgia

About the program: Students must complete at least 18 credits to earn WGTC's human resource management specialist certificate. Courses include management and occupational electives.

  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Graduation rate: 27%
  • Net annual price: $1,665
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous

Accreditation: West Georgia Technical College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

6. Ferris State University

Big Rapids, Michigan

About the program: The human resource management certificate at FSU includes 12 credits: Core courses in employment law and HR management, plus two electives.

  • Acceptance rate: 87%
  • Graduation rate: 57%
  • Net annual price: $12,889
  • SAT range: 930-1170
  • Minimum GPA: 2.35
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous; in-person

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

7. Pima Community College

Tucson, Arizona

About the program: Pima's human resources certificate lasts two semesters and covers 19 credits. Coursework prepares individuals for recruitment, training, and creating compensation plans. 

  • Acceptance rate: 100% 
  • Graduation rate: 14%
  • Net annual price: $3,583
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous

Accreditation: Pima Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

8. Northwest Technical College

Bemidji, Minnesota

About the program: The human resources certificate at NTC includes 18 credits preparing students to handle ethical, legal, and management issues in the workplace.

  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Graduation rate: 44%
  • Net annual price: $11,783
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous; hybrid

Accreditation: Northwest Technical College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

9. Western Iowa Tech Community College

Sioux City, Iowa

About the program: WITCC's human resources diploma prepares students to handle work relations, business law, and diversity in the workplace. Completers can apply the 24 credits to an associate degree.

  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Graduation rate: 43%
  • Net annual price: $7,201
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous

Accreditation: Western Iowa Tech Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

10. Saint Paul College

St. Paul, Minnesota

About the program: SPC's 24-credit human resources certificate lasts two semesters. Students develop recruitment, labor relations, and management skills.

  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Graduation rate: 26%
  • Net annual price: $11,613
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous; hybrid; in-person

Accreditation: Saint Paul College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

11. Champlain College

Burlington, Vermont

About the program: Champlain's undergraduate human resource management certificate program includes 16 credit hours and culminates in a project-based capstone course. 

  • Acceptance rate: 85%
  • Graduation rate: 61%
  • Net annual price: $33,561
  • SAT range: 1110-1320
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three; rolling transfers
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous

Accreditation: Champlain College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

12. Joliet Junior College

Joliet, Illinois

About the program: JJC offers two human resources management certificate programs: a 30-credit certificate of achievement an 18-credit certificate of completion

  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Graduation rate: 20%
  • Net annual price: $4,693
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous; hybrid

Accreditation: Joliet Junior College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

13. Wake Technical Community College

Raleigh, North Carolina

About the program: Wake Tech offers an aPHR certification preparatory course or a PHR and SPHR prep class. Each prepares students for the aforementioned human resource certification exams.

  • Acceptance rate: 100% 
  • Graduation rate: 24%
  • Net annual price: $6,876
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online and synchronous

Accreditation: Wake Technical Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

14. Inver Hills Community College

Grove Heights, Minnesota

About the program: IHCC's human resource management certificate covers core business courses and prepares students for the aPHR exam.

  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Graduation rate: 25%
  • Net annual price: $11,486
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous

Accreditation: Inver Hills Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

15. DeSales University

Center Valley, Pennsylvania

About the program: DeSales offers a human resource management certificate comprising two HR classes, three management courses, and one elective.

  • Acceptance rate: 79%
  • Graduation rate: 61%
  • Net annual price: $28,309
  • SAT range: 1030-1260
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous or synchronous

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

16. Dickinson State University

Dickinson, North Dakota

About the program: The human resource management certificate at DSU includes a minimum of 16 credits and a final internship that counts as 1-12 credits.

  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Graduation rate: 35%
  • Net annual price: $10,855
  • SAT range: 990-1150
  • Minimum GPA: 2.5
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous; in-person

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

17. Southern New Hampshire University

Manchester, New Hampshire

About the program: SNHU's certification in human resource management lasts six months and includes 18 credits aligned with Society for Human Resource Management standards. 

  • Acceptance rate: 88%
  • Graduation rate: 47%
  • Net annual price: $41,095
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous 

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

18. Grand View University

Des Moines, Iowa

About the program: The human resource management certificate at GV prioritizes practical knowledge while developing management, training, and organizational behavior skills. 

  • Acceptance rate: 96%
  • Graduation rate: 57%
  • Net annual price: $19,826
  • SAT range: 920-1120
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous; in-person

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

19. Great Basin College

Elko, Nevada

About the program: GBC offers a two-semester certificate of achievement in human resources. The 30.5 credits include four general education classes, four core courses, and two electives.

  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Graduation rate: 12%
  • Net annual price: $7,437
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous

Accreditation: Great Basin College is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

20. Holyoke Community College

Holyoke, Massachusetts

About the program: HCC's human resource management certificate includes 10 courses totaling 24 credits. The classes offer a comprehensive look at HR management, covering psychology, law, and business.

  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Graduation rate: 25%
  • Net annual price: $7,718
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous

Accreditation: Holyoke Community College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

21. Edison State Community College

Piqua, Ohio

About the program: The human resource management certificate from Edison State covers 11 diverse courses in computer concepts, communications, environmental safety, labor relations, and employee development. 

  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Graduation rate: 40%
  • Net annual price: $8,740
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online or hybrid; asynchronous or synchronous 

Accreditation: Edison State Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

22. Lehigh Carbon Community College

Schnecksville, Pennsylvania

About the program: LCCC offers a human resource management certificate focused on business courses. The 30 credits cover business law, accounting, compensation management, and recruiting. 

  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Graduation rate: 17%
  • Net annual price: $7,117
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous; hybrid

Accreditation: Lehigh Carbon Community College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

23. Thomas Edison State University

Trenton, New Jersey

About the program: TESU's undergraduate certificate in human resources management includes 18 credits covering organizational theory, industrial psychology, and change management.

  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Graduation rate: 46%
  • Net annual price: Not publicly available
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous

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

24. Montana State University Billings

Billings, Montana

About the program: MSU Billings offers a two-semester online human resource management certificate of applied science via City College. The 32 credit hours include accounting, payroll, and employment strategy classes. 

  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Graduation rate: 33%
  • Net annual price: $13,844
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not required for non-degree-seekers
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling 
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous

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

25. Colorado Christian University

Lakewood, Colorado

About the program: CCU's online human resource management certificate program takes a faith-based approach. The required 12 credit hours include organizational behavior and human resource administration classes.

  • Acceptance rate: 62%
  • Graduation rate: 38%
  • Net annual price: $25,268
  • SAT range: Not required
  • Minimum GPA: 2.8
  • Enrollment periods per year: Rolling
  • Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous

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

What to expect in an online human resources certificate program

Human resources certificate programs generally cover various courses, including labor relations, accounting, compensation strategies, business law, occupational health, and employee training. These programs include practical assignments, often incorporating a capstone project or internship. Students may also choose electives to tailor the program to their specific HR goals. 

Students typically take 12-30 credits and graduate in a year or less.

Some programs prepare students for human resources certification exams like the PHR, aPHR, SPHR, and SHRM-CP. Some universities also transfer credits earned in the certificate program to an associate or bachelor's program should students wish to pursue a degree.

As online courses, the above programs require significant self-motivation and organizational skills to meet deadlines and comply with distance learning expectations. Most programs incorporate flexible schedules so students can study while working.

Human resources courses

Each human resource certificate program includes unique courses, ranging from business classes to computing skills. Yet, most programs include similar core classes, such as the following courses.

Human resources management

As a core course in most HR certificate programs, this class covers planning and development processes. Students learn to partner with employees and managers and handle diversity, conflicts, and various workplace dynamics.

Compensation and benefits

This course prepares students to develop and manage employee financial packages. Most classes cover benefit packages, total employee rewards programs, and compensation strategies.

Legal Environment

Most HR certificate courses include at least one class about business law or the legal environment, covering topics like bankruptcy, intellectual property, dispute resolution, ethics, and consumer protection.

Employee Training and Development

This core HR course prepares students to design and implement an employee training plan. Coursework includes creating career plans, training philosophy, and analyzing company needs. 

In conclusion

If you're interested in HR positions like a human resources manager, generalist, or recruiter, you can develop the necessary skills for entry-level roles with an online certificate. Most programs require 12-30 credits, ensuring students can graduate from the program in about a year — much faster than earning a degree.

By choosing any of the online human resources certificate programs above, you can prepare for a new management position while continuing at your current job. 

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