Top 10 Online Master in Human Resource Management Degrees

Human resource professionals are responsible for managing a company’s most important assets: its people. HR managers are deeply involved in the process of hiring great talent, making sure people are a good fit, and helping the stars keep moving up.

But that’s not all an HR leader does. They’re often the people that companies trust to make sure people are treated fairly, in accordance with employment laws and regulations. In fact, HR managers are often responsible for making sure companies are protected from legal and ethical employment complaints.

That’s one reason why companies tend to seek HR professionals with both people skills and academic training. In fact, Colorado State University says that only about 5% of human resource managers lack a bachelor’s degree.

But human resource personnel aren’t just there to protect organizations: they can play an important role in developing employees, while making them feel safe and valued. An HR manager needs to be both business savvy and people savvy.

You don’t have to move across the country to learn this potent blend of people skills and business acumen. There are countless online HR degree programs that can land you the credentials and expertise you need to start your career. To help you sort through them all, we’ve used data from The National Center for Education Statistics and ratings from school-ranking entities like,,,,,, and—so this list of the top 10 online human resource management programs is the best of the best.

We’ll show you each school’s:

  • Tuition cost
  • Program length
  • Graduation rates
  • Awards and accolades
  • Accreditation
  • Anything else we think will help you decide

Let’s find a school you’ll love! For starters, here are some highlights:

Most affordable

At this point, you’ve already spent thousands of dollars on a bachelor’s degree. Whether you’ve paid that off or not, it’s perfectly acceptable to hunt for the least expensive path to a master’s.

A lot of the schools on this list are pretty affordable—you could easily get a master’s in HRM for less than $20,000. But one school on this list can get you a master’s for half of that—or less. Fort Hays State University is #10 on our list, and if you live in Kansas, your education costs about $3,000 per year. For everyone else, it’s about $10,000 per year. FHSU claims most students complete their graduate studies for $10,000 or less.

Best graduation rate

If you’re planning on pursuing your master’s in HRM degree part time, you probably don’t need to worry too much about graduation rate—it only measures the percent of students who complete the program in the “standard” time. Many students looking at online programs are planning school around their life, not the other way around, which means it’s just going to take more time to finish a degree.

But if you’re gung-ho about getting your degree, graduation rates can help you see how likely you are to finish in a timely manner. You’ll want to check out #6 on our list, Villanova University. They have a great program with a graduation rate of 90%. Plus, there are plenty of other schools on this list with graduation rates well over the national average of 59%.

Most concentration options

There are a lot of directions you can go with a master in human resource management. And while a broad expertise can make you a versatile asset to an employer, specializations, emphases, or concentrations can help you choose a degree that fits your ideal role in an organization.

A lot of these schools offer concentration options, but Colorado State University (#1 on our list) offers 13 in their online HRM program—almost twice as many as any other school on this list.

Now, on to the top ten!

1. Colorado State University

Image source: Colorado State University
Tuition cost: about $18,000 total

Program length: 36 credits

Graduation rate: Not reported

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on 1
  • Rank on 2
  • Rank on 3
  • Rank on 4
  • Rank on 9

Colorado State University offers an online master’s degree in human resource management through their Global Campus.

This program covers a broad range of human resource and business-related topics to prepare students for management positions.

Here’s what CSU says about the program:

“This program is designed to prepare you for a wide variety of leadership roles within the field of human resources. In the program, you will learn how to lead dynamic and diverse teams, understand legal and ethical decision making, manage performance to achieve results, and strategically plan and execute human resource initiatives.”

Core classes take up 24 of your 36 credits, and the remaining 12 come from a specialization. You can choose from 13 specialization options:

  • Accounting
  • Applied business management
  • Business intelligence
  • Criminal justice leadership
  • Finance
  • Fraud management
  • Healthcare administration
  • Information technology
  • International management
  • Organizational leadership and change management
  • Organizational learning and performance
  • Project management
  • Strategic innovation and change management

CSU has partnered with the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) to offer students a heavily discounted SHRM membership. This is the largest network of human resource managers in the world, and by joining it, you’ll have access to conferences, tools, publications, and networking opportunities with more than 275,000 HRM contacts throughout the world. You’ll also save on SHRM certification exams and materials.

Note: If your GPA from your undergraduate degree is less than a 3.0, you can still get into this program, but you’ll need to take an additional three-credit class.

2. Penn State University

Image source: Pennsylvania State University
Tuition cost: about $28,000 total

Program length: 33

Graduation rate: 86%

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on 1
  • Rank on 1
  • Rank on 1
  • Rank on 8

Penn State offers an online master’s in human resources and employment relations (HRER) through their World Campus.

Here’s how they describe the program:

“The HRER master’s curriculum begins by building a strong fundamental knowledge of HR and labor. Courses then help you understand the roles that employers, employees, unions, and government play in the employment relationship.”

You’ll learn how to:

  • Analyze the personal, legal, and organizational issues of employment relations
  • Understand the ethical dimensions of human resources
  • Administer labor and human resource systems

You’ll choose from one of seven concentrations:

  • Benefits and compensation
  • Labor and collective bargaining
  • Employment and labor law
  • Staffing, training, and development
  • Ethics and leadership
  • International human resources and employment relations
  • Labor unions: organization and strategy

Here’s what graduates and professors have to say about the program:

The program has been granted “approved provider” status by the HR Certification Institute and aligns with the SHRM curriculum guidebook.

According to The Wall Street Journal, recruiters say Penn State does the best job preparing graduates to succeed in the workplace.

Fun fact: If you still have questions about Penn State’s online master in HREP program, you can fill out a form to talk to a graduate.

3. New York University

Image source: New York University
Tuition cost: about $18,000 per year

Program length: 42 credits

Graduation rate: 85%

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on 1
  • Rank on 3
  • Rank on 6

New York University offers an online master of science in human resource management  and development through their School of Professional Studies.

Here’s how NYU describes their program:

“The MS in Human Resource Management and Development equips you to become a strategic business professional with specialized expertise in effectively leading and managing talent in today’s global organizations. Taught by leading practitioner-scholars in the HR industry with extensive professional experience in their respective fields, the program explores the principles of management and organizational behavior, introduces you to data-driven metrics and managerial decision making, and delves into business strategy and ethics to provide you with a significant competitive advantage to succeed in the fast-changing world of business.”

In addition to core classes, you can choose from four concentration options:

  • Human resource management
  • Organizational effectiveness
  • Learning, development, and executive coaching
  • Global talent management

The program is designed to be completed in two years of full-time study, or up to five years part time. In addition to core courses and a concentration, you get to choose one elective course in any of the concentrations, an internship, or a special topic which is only offered occasionally. You’ll also choose a capstone course before graduating, which requires either a thesis or a special project.

4. Central Michigan University

Image source: Central Michigan University
Tuition cost: about $22,000 total

Program length: 36 credits

Graduation rate: 57%


  • Higher Learning Commission
  • Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on 2
  • Rank on 5
  • Rank on 9
  • Rank on 9

Central Michigan University offers an online master of business administration with an emphasis in human resource management.

Here’s what they say about the concentration:

“Increase your personal brand value by developing the skills and knowledge to effectively leverage human capital toward efficient achievement of organizational goals. This emphasis will help you become the leader you desire to be through best practices, strategic planning, fiscal management, and team building.”

Professor Kevin Love has this to say of the program:

This program requires a minimum GMAT score of 450. They also recommend you come into the program with a background in economics, statistics, accounting, and finance.

Central Michigan University states on their website that there’s a $50 application fee, a $50 graduation fee, and that’s it. No additional fees. That’s pretty hard to come by.

Fun fact: CMU has a handy list of skills online learners develop that make them more marketable. (It’s like they’re already helping you fill out a cover letter.)

5. Florida Institute of Technology

Image source: Florida Institute of Technology
Tuition cost: about $22,000 per year

Program length: 33 credits

Graduation rate: 58%

Accreditation: Southern Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Colleges

Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on 3
  • Rank on 4
  • Rank on 7

Florida Technical Institute offers an online master of science degree in human resources management through their Virtual Site. The program emphasizes your role in a multicultural workplace.

Here’s what they say about it:

“The role of a human resource manager has changed dramatically in the past decade. New technology, alternative work styles and schedules, multicultural work environments, changing economic and political conditions as well as new security concerns are evolving the responsibilities and expertise needed by human resource managers. A master’s in human resources management from Florida Tech prepares individuals to understand these issues and to accurately and efficiently recruit, interview, hire, train and maintain employees.”

Your coursework will include:

  • Lecture and discussion
  • Individual and group work
  • Case study analysis
  • Role playing
  • Organizational consulting

Your final capstone experience involves working with a team to make human resource recommendations to an actual organization.

To get a feel for what Florida Technical Institute is like, watch this video:

Fun fact: Florida Technical Institute encourages its HRM students to publish research papers and articles in HRM magazines and journals—including their own.

6. Villanova University

Image source: Villanova University
Tuition cost: about $31,000 total

Program length: 30 credits

Graduation rate: 90%

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on 2
  • Rank on 2

Villanova University offers an online master of science in human resource development. This program is designed for students who already have experience in the HR field.

Courses in this program can earn you recertification credit through the HR Certification Institute, and up to 30 professional development credits towards SHRM certifications and recertifications.

VU says you’ll learn how to:

  • Increase quality, productivity and employee satisfaction
  • Construct an effective training program
  • Create benefit packages and measure their success
  • Use data to make informed business decisions
  • Develop financial management and budgetary skills

Perhaps Virginia Clark—a graduate from more than two decades ago—puts it best:

“Villanova’s graduate program in Human Resource Development was, without question, one of the most important and pivotal career decisions I’ve made. Everyone knows that competition for great HR jobs in great companies is tough. By providing me with a practical, business-rounded education, Villanova positioned me to consistently succeed in my career. … After over 20 years in the field of HR, I still reflect back on the lessons learned from Villanova’s graduate program in Human Resource Development.”

7. Stony Brook University

Image source: State University of New York
Tuition cost:

  • In state: about $11,000 per year
  • Out-of-state: about $22,000 per year

Program length: 30 credits

Graduation rate: 72%

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on 4
  • Rank on 4
  • Rank on 7

Stony Brook University offers an online master of science in human resource management program through their School of Professional Development.

Here’s what they say about the program:

“The ability to effectively manage human resources is critical to the success of any organization. HR professionals must possess the broad-based knowledge and specific competencies necessary to align human resource functions with organizational goals.”

In additional to your foundational business and HR courses, you can choose from a wide selection of courses in these topics:

  • Organizational development
  • Benefits and compensation
  • Employment law

There’s an optional internship for one additional credit that requires 45 hours of work. You cannot fulfill the internship requirements at a place you currently work.

Fun fact: Stony Brook gives out digital badges to display on social media and personal websites as you complete courses.

8. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Image source: University of Illinois
Tuition cost:

  • In state: about $15,000 per year
  • Out-of-state: about $29,000 per year

Program length: 48 credits

Graduation rate: 85%

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on 2
  • Rank on 6

University of Illinois offers an online master of human resources and industrial relations (MHRIR) degree through their School of Labor and Employment Relations. The program “incorporates your professional experience in the classroom.”

University of Illinois says, “Whether you have prior experience in human resources and industrial relations or you are transitioning from another field, you will find immediate connections from your courses to your work.”

You’ll take courses in:

  • Human resource management and organizational behavior
  • Union management and labor relations policy
  • Labor markets and employment
  • International human resource management

The MHRIR program provides professional advancement opportunities specifically for online students. This unique offering includes:

  • Networking with students and alumni on LinkedIn
  • Conferences and other events
  • One-on-one consultations with faculty
  • Group workshops
  • Building relationships with your cohort

To learn more, you can watch a recorded information session (fair warning: it’s long).

You can also get to know some of the faculty with these short professor bio videos.

Fun fact: University of Illinois offers alumni a selection of continuing education classes, and has special achievement awards for alumni.

9. Trident University International

Image source: LinkedIn
Tuition cost: about $18,000 total

Program length: 36

Graduation rate: 26%

Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on 3
  • Rank on 6

Trident University International offers an online master of science in human resource management. The program is designed based on SHRM standards and is intended to take 30 months.

TUI’s program provides HRM expertise and the skills needed for good business practice. It’ll also teach you to “become adept at integrating and aligning human resource policy and practice to an organization’s strategic goals.”

You’ll take courses in topics like:

  • Legal implications in human resource
  • Staffing, performance management, and training
  • Employment and labor relations

Here’s what one graduate had to say about her experience with the program:

Note: You probably noticed Trident has a frighteningly low graduation rate—less than half the national average! However, that only represents the percentage of students who complete the program in 30 months. So another way to look at it is that 74% of students take longer than 30 months to finish (and some, unfortunately, never do). And that shouldn’t be too surprising for an online program. The university’s overall graduation rate is barely higher—just 33%—but TUI is entirely online, so again, it’s not as discouraging as it looks.

10. Fort Hays State University

Image source: Fort Hays State University
Tuition cost:

  • In state: about $3,000 per year
  • Out-of-state: about $10,000 per year

Program length: 30 credits

Graduation rate: 37%

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Awards and accolades:

  • Rank on 1
  • Rank on 10

Fort Hays State University offers an online master of professional studies (MPS) degree with a concentration in human resource management through the Virtual College.

While you might have hesitations about a degree that only offers a concentration in the subject you want to master, you should know: your HRM concentration takes up more credits than the MPS core curriculum.

Here’s what FHSU says about the program:

“The Master of Professional Studies degree is a multi-disciplinary master’s degree designed to meet emerging workforce development needs. It is designed to develop advanced professional skill sets in various subject areas not currently represented at FHSU by Master of Science (MS) credentials. A salient feature of the degree program is the flexibility for the student to combine a major subject area with one or more cognate areas designed to enhance professional workforce skills desired by employers in industry, government, healthcare, and information technology careers.”

To graduate, you will need to complete either a final project or an internship.

Note: If you have at least two years of HRM experience, you can get into the program with a GPA as low as 2.5.

Fun fact: Fort Hays State University says most students can complete their graduate studies for under $10,000.

A quick note on pursuing graduate studies

In order for a school to recognize your undergraduate degree, the school you previously attended and the one you wish to attend usually have to be accredited by the same organizations.

Most of the schools on this list are accredited by two different regional accrediting bodies—four from the Higher Learning Commission and four from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

If your undergraduate degree is from a school that was accredited by a different organization, don’t let that deter you. It just means you will need to contact the school and see what credits they will accept. You might need to “repeat” a couple of classes you’ve already taken, or you may need to move on to another school. But you won’t know until you check.

The best school is really up to you

We can’t tell you exactly which school is the best choice for you—and you shouldn’t let anyone else do that, either. You have to weigh the factors that are most important to you and let that guide your decision. Choosing a school is a huge investment—both in terms of what it immediately costs you and how it affects your life. So take your time.

We hope this list has helped make the decision a little easier for you. Good luck in your future studies!

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