The Best Online Human Resource Management MBA Programs 2023

All you need to know about HR Online MBA Programs
what is human resources

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This guide will explore the exciting field of Human Resource Management. It includes a definition of HR, the history of the field, and how to choose a high-quality Human Resource Management Online MBA. This article concludes with some action plans one can take to begin her journey into a thriving HR program.



The MBA degree has a long and seasoned history that dates back to the early 1900s when the Graduate School at Harvard University first introduced its program. Today it has grown to be an extensive program and the most popular business education credential on the planet.

The MBA has developed over the years to encompass numerous specializations, majors, concentrations, and certificates covering specialized topics in business and the core business and management courses. Concentrations focus on specific business areas or job sectors, which allow graduate students to gain the invaluable experience they need for their future careers. Business students can currently pursue an online MBA program with a specialized curriculum in IT, Economics, Marketing, HR, Business Analytics, and Supply Chain Management, with more options added each academic year. 

What is Human Resource Management?

Human Resource Management is the business sector that centers on an organization’s most valuable commodity – its employees. HR managers help set the tone of an entity’s culture and work to develop their organization one that employees have the chance to thrive in. Because of their influence over a company’s employee culture, a successful HR manager helps design and execute strategies while making decisions that directly influence an organization’s long-term goals.

Human Resources covers all employee-related aspects for an organization, from recruiting to hiring to benefits and training. While all industries rely on capable human resource management, there are various options of what fields professionals can choose to work in. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, human resources managers will see a six percent increase in job growth between 2019-2029. This rate is faster than the national average. In addition, the median annual pay for an HR manager was $121,220 in 2020. According to the U.S. News and World Report, working as an HR specialist in 2021 means you have the 14th best business position in the nation.

There are many Human Resource Management positions to consider going into if you are interested in the field. 

Payroll Manager

As the title states, payroll managers manage an organization’s payroll department, ensuring that all transactions are processed correctly and promptly. They also investigate and solve any payroll dilemmas that may arise.

HR meeting

Recruiting Manager

Recruiting or staffing managers are responsible for recruiting and hiring new employees for an organization. They are usually in charge of designing recruiting strategies that attract the optimal candidates for their hiring needs. HR experts who are exceptionally good at networking and creating attention-grabbing job postings could find themselves with even more responsibility by leading a team as a Director of Recruitment.

Training and Development Manager

Training and development managers will often be MBA holders. These business professionals are tasked with analyzing the training needs of an organization and then creating and executing professional development and training programs for employees based on their research.

Employee Relations

Labor or employee relations managers oversee employment policies regarding union and nonunion employees by writing and administering labor contracts. These contracts will cover everything from wages to management practices. They also include labor complaints between management and employees.

What is Valuable to Know About the Human Resource Management Online MBA?

While there are focused master’s degree programs that cover human resource management, there are some convincing reasons to pursue an online MBA in the field. First off, there is a tangible level of prestige that only an MBA can offer. Second, the degree affords more flexibility for future career plans outside the human resources field as MBA coursework encompasses more information than a mere Master’s in Human Resources. Third, while a master’s degree deals with the practical aspects of the job, MBA programs also include leadership development training. Finally, the breadth gives business professionals the skills they need to understand better the big picture, which is valuable since HR managers benefit from having a working knowledge of all areas of an organization.

Most Online MBA programs share similar elements. They include courses that cover management, communication, and organizational leadership, which are essential skills for HR managers, especially those in leadership development. In addition, managerial-level accounting, finance, and statistical analysis courses ensure that human resource managers retain a comprehensive view of the business side of the company they work for, which is essential when they are involved in strategic problem-solving. Graduate students can focus on emphases like labor relations, employment law, compensation and benefits, talent development, and organizational psychology within the programs. Despite the recent growth in the business field, there remains robust competition for positions, and an online MBA helps open doors for higher-level and sought-after human resources positions.

human resource management

What is the History of Human Resource Management and the MBA? 

The term “human resources” or “human resource management” has been a standard part of business vocabulary for the last ten or fifteen years. Before that, the field of business was generally termed “personnel administration.” Thus, the name change has more to do with the development of the field than mere cosmetics. 

Some Historical Context for Human Resource Management

Industrial Welfare

Industrial welfare was the first type of human resource management. The 1833 Factories Act included a clause that increased the number of male factory inspectors. Within 45 years, legislation was passed that regulated work hours for children and women by limiting numbers to a 60-hour week. Trade unions started to be formed during this time. The first trade union conference was held in 1868. This brought on the start of collective bargaining. By 1913 the number of industrial welfare workers had increased to the point that a conference organized by Seebohm Rowntree was planned. As a result, the Welfare Workers Association was formed and rebranded as the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

The Beginning of Personnel Management

The National Cash Register Co. developed the first personnel management department in the early 1900s. After several employee lockouts and strikes, NCR head John H. Patterson organized a personnel department that handled grievances and discharges, supervised safety issues, and trained supervisors on new procedures, laws, and practices.

Personnel administration developed as a clearly defined field of business in the United States in the 1920s. It was primarily concerned with the technical aspects of hiring, training, evaluating, and compensating employees. It was also very much considered a “staff” function in most organizations. The field did not typically emphasize the relationship between disparate employment practices and the overall organizational performance or systematic relationships among methods in its infancy. The burgeoning field lacked a unifying paradigm.


Recruiting and Selection

During this time, personnel development increased because of government initiatives that encouraged the best use of resources. By 1916 it became the norm for explosive factories to staff welfare workers, and it was promoted in munitions factories. The U.S. military made many advances in this field. The armed forces focused on testing IQ and abilities along with other research factors regarding people at work. In 1921 the National Institute of Psychologists published study results regarding interviewing techniques, training methods, and selection tests.

Acquisition of Personnel Activities

During World War Two, the focus shifted to recruitment, selection, and training. Other vital subjects included discipline, improving morale and motivation, health and safety, wage policies, and joint consultation. The result was that a personnel department needed to be established with a well-trained and competent staff.

Industrial Relations

Communication between management and the workforce developed during the war. Personnel departments soon became responsible for the organization and administration of policies and procedures. Health, safety, and the need for specialists in these areas became the focus. In addition, the need for trained specialists to work within industrial relations became apparent. Hence, personnel managers became spokesmen for the organization when formal discussions took place with trade unions and shop stewards. 

Human resource management developed from the substantial increase in competitive pressures American business organizations began dealing with in the late 1970s because of globalization, rapid technological change, and deregulation. These pressures produced an enhanced concern on the part of companies to engage in strategic planning-a system that anticipates future changes in environmental conditions and aligns the various components of the organization to promote organizational stability and effectiveness.

Growth and Legislation

By the 1970s, industrial relations became an essential part of business leadership. During this time, the tense professional climate reinforced the need for a specialist role in industrial relations and negotiation. The personnel manager now had the authority to negotiate deals concerning compensation and other collective issues. As the world entered the 1980’s, employment legislation was well-formed, and personnel issues were being handled by specialist advisors who ensured that management did not violate laws and that cases did not end up in industrial tribunals.

What do Human Resource Managers Do?

HR challenges

Human resource management, or personnel management, consists of all the activities performed by an enterprise to ensure the effective use of employees toward the attainment of organizational, group, and individual goals. An organization’s human resource management function is concerned with the people side of management. It consists of regular practices that help an organization deal effectively with its people during the several phases of the employment cycle, including pre-hire, hiring, and post-hire. 

Pre-Hire Phase

The pre-hire phase includes planning practices. The organization decides what types of job openings will exist in the upcoming calendar and determines the necessary qualifications for performing these duties. HR managers must be able to write up clear and compelling job descriptions and notices to attract the right kind of employee.

Hire Phase

During the hiring phase, a company selects its employees. Selection practices may include recruiting applicants, assessing specific qualifications, and selecting those determined to be the most qualified. HR managers must have the wisdom and experience to conduct job interviews and find the right fit.

Post-Hire Phase

In the post-hire phase, the company develops HRM practices that effectively manage people once they have taken on their new positions within the organization. These practices work to maximize all employees’ performance and satisfaction levels by providing them with the needed knowledge and skills to perform their tasks. These practices also result in conditions that facilitate, energize, and direct employees’ efforts toward meeting the organization’s primary goals.


Diversity and Flexibility 

A significant trend emerged in the 1990s when employers began seeking increased flexible arrangements in employees’ work hours due to an increase in the number of part-time and temporary contracts. The development of distance working also helped to form this practice. Along with the workforce itself, patterns of work became more diverse, resulting in traditional recruitment practices becoming obsolete.

By the turn of the century, rapid growth in internet use meant an irreversible shift to a 24/7 way of life. New jobs in e-commerce were created while jobs within traditional areas like downtown shops were lost. This trend also meant an increased potential for employees to work from home offices. As a result, organizations began to think strategically about issues these developments produced. Even today, HR managers face new challenges as the world figures out how to operate post-Covid 19.

How Do I Choose the Right Human Resource Management Online MBA?

A human resource online MBA is the best of both worlds for professionals looking for an advanced degree with a breadth of business education that emphasizes organizational and people skills. Of course, having finance, marketing, strategy, and operations skills is essential as all of those are extremely important and will never go away. But there is also a time-tested reality among business leadership that putting employees first yields attractive results for any organization.

Human resources has become a coveted skill set in prospective employees with a greater need for workplace inclusion, flexibility, diversity, and equity. Unfortunately, some people don’t discover HR as a career path until they have already graduated from business school. Making the right choices for your career path when you return to business school for an MBA is more important than ever. Some business school students choose to specialize in HR because doing so better aligns with today’s modern job search options. An MBA with an emphasis in an HR-adjacent business field can help graduate students develop general management skills like their business school counterparts.

What to Expect Within Graduate-level HR Courses

job search

Within many of the nation’s best online MBA degrees in human resources, distance learners are responsible for core MBA classes, including business strategy, accounting, finance, and leadership. Some of these courses will touch on HR-centric topics. There are also courses about leading change, ethics, diversity in organizations, and negotiations. Human resources-focused courses help graduate students learn how to attract, motivate, and retain people, as that’s one of the primary goals of any organization that wishes to stay competitive in today’s uncertain market.

Careers To Consider After Completing an Online MBA in Human Resources

Most professionals who attain an Online MBA with a focus in HR tend to head in two career directions: HR consulting and HR management. Anything related to people and HR is becoming more strategic and more of a coveted skill. The HR management career path may include managing certain levels of business or specializing in talent, benefits, or retention. Some MBA students who specialize in HR choose to pursue consulting jobs as they tend to offer more flexible schedules and, sometimes, higher salaries. Whichever path business school students choose, it’s essential to understand that employers will look beyond a résumé and grades to evaluate fit for a role in today’s HR world. Employers interview with an eye for a new hire’s ability to adapt and pivot. Attractive new hires are those who come across as flexible and open to anything.

The Best Online Human Resource Management MBA Programs

The following Human Resource Management MBA programs are fully online and hold exceptional AACSB business accreditation. Schools are listed in alphabetical order.

Alabama A&M University

Alabama AM University logo

Students looking for in-depth preparation for careers in their chosen fields can choose from a variety of concentrations within the Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, including Logistics and Supply Chain Management (LSM) and Human Resources Management (HRM).

Bloomsburg University

Bloomsburg University

The MBA at Bloomsburg provides a solid foundation in accounting, marketing, and leadership, as well as all the traditional business areas. Students can also focus on Leadership and Human Resources to customize their degree.

California State University, Stanislaus

California State University Stanislaus

Individuals interested in a career in human resources, professionals looking to earn their SHRM certification, and executives who want to understand better and manage their companies’ most precious assets will all benefit from this online MBA in Human Resource Management.

Clayton State University

Clayton State University logo

Clayton State University offers a top online MBA in human resource management. Their curriculum will teach you the skills you need to become a successful HR leader by encouraging you to take a long-term view of issues, including training and development, career advancement, performance management and improvement, coaching and mentoring, succession planning, and spotting rising stars.

Drake University

Drake University

With a focus on data analytics in relevant online courses like Strategic Management Processes, Drake’s MBA program offers a 39-credit Human Resources Specialization that may be completed entirely on the student’s own time.

Louisiana State University Shreveport

Louisiana State University Shreveport logo

LSU Shreveport’s Master of Business Administration in Human Resource Management track is designed to equip students with the skills they’ll need to foster, cultivate, mediate, and sustain such connections. Students in the program are also given the tools they need to become successful consultants and business managers.

Marquette University

Marquette University

MU’s fully online human resource management MBA program is one of the top programs in the country. It highlights leadership, strategy, and literacy, all in a convenient online structure.

Mercer University

Mercer University logo

When you get your MBA focusing on Managing People and Change, you will be prepared to navigate organizational change and find solutions to workplace challenges. This top online human resource management MBA is a great choice.

Montclair State University

Montclair State University logo

Employees may be a company’s best asset, but it takes good management to get the most out of them. An MBA in Human Resources Management can be a powerful tool for HR leaders who want to find the best ways to hire, keep, and promote the best people and motivate and train their employees. Students in Montclair State’s online HR master’s program gain a strong background in business administration and learn how to use successful strategies for managing human capital.

Oklahoma State University

Oklahoma State University logo.svg

The human resource management MBA concentration was developed with the SHRM competencies in mind. These skills are intended to serve as the cornerstone of effective personnel management across the whole HR spectrum.

Penn State

Penn State logo

The curriculum consists of 39 credits of required coursework and nine credits of electives (Talent and Diversity Leadership). Asynchronous learning means there is no set time each week when you must be online for a class. It’s a great degree for tomorrow’s HR leaders.

Pittsburg State University

Pittsburg State University logo

Increase your employability, learn cutting-edge HR techniques, and enhance your leadership skills while studying at your own pace with this fully online MBA in Human Resources program.

Saint Joseph’s University

Saint Josephs University logo

Saint Joseph’s human resource management certificate provides career-advancing skills and knowledge. The curriculum focuses on activities firms can take to empower employees. Human resource management certificate students acquire experience in organizational development, cross-functional team leadership, and business success techniques. It is a great addition to their top online MBA program.

Southeastern Oklahoma State University

Southeastern Oklahoma State University logo from website

SOSU’s online human resource management MBA prepares students to lead corporate HR departments confidently. This focus is ideal for those seeking HR managers, HR experts, or pay and benefits management jobs.

SUNY Polytechnic Institute

SUNY Polytechnic Institute logo

SUNY Polytechnic Institute is known for having one of the best Online MBA in Human Resources Programs. They offer a great combination of technology management core courses, business management core courses, and specialized human resource management courses.

Union University

Union University

The study of Human Resource Management will deepen your understanding of HR principles and equip you with the perspective you need to become a successful corporate leader. In this online human resource management MBA, students will gain knowledge of topics included in the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) test.

University of Houston-Clear Lake

University of Houston Clear Lake

The University of Houston–Clear Lake offers an MBA in Human Resource Management program to help students advance their career and establish themsleves as a thought leader in the HR profession. Gain the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in an HR career. Students can earn the degree either on campus or entirely online without sacrificing their current job.

University of Houston-Victoria

University of Houston Victoria logo from website

Human Resources Management explores staffing, training, development, planning, processes, and business acumen. The Strategic MBA+ in HR Management is SHRM-aligned. SHRM-accredited degrees stand out.

University of Illinois at Chicago

University of Illinois at Chicago

The University of Illinois Chicago’s online MBA in Human Resource Management program gives you the knowledge and tools to promote employee-employer communication and expectations. Explore best practices in compensation and benefits packages, team member engagement, recruitment, and employment legislation to become an influential voice in team member management and growth.

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

University of Louisiana at Lafayette logo from website

Full-time enrollment in the HRM-focused MBA program can be completed in 15 months. Accelerated eight-week courses let you get your degree with fewer classes. Part-time enrollment enables you to personalize your schedule. The 33-credit program includes 21 core credits and 12 concentration credits.

University of Nebraska at Kearney

University of Nebraska at Kearney logo from website

Human Resource Management educates students on recruiting, selection, retention, development, and remuneration. This emphasis requires graduate courses in communication, psychology, and business. Human Resource Management courses are built upon the foundational 24-credit-hour MBA core program.

University of Nebraska, Lincoln

University of Nebraska Lincoln

Lead the charge in attracting and retaining your company’s workers. Nebraska’s top online MBA in HRM can improve your abilities and knowledge. Human resource knowledge is valuable in a managerial capacity or as an entrepreneur establishing a workforce. This 48-credit online program covers business foundations plus talent acquisition, compensation, and employment law.

University of North Alabama

University of North Alabama logo

Experience an unsurpassed, AACSB-accredited MBA with a concentration in LyonsHR Human Resource Management. As a North Alabama MBA student, you’ll be part of the state’s most extensive MBA program, with years of student success and national acclaim.

University of North Carolina Wilmington

University of North Carolina Wilmington logo

Prepare yourself with the knowledge and abilities necessary to foster a productive work environment. The University of North Carolina at Wilmington offers an online MBA with a Human Resources concentration so students can learn how to develop corporate objectives on their terms and timeline.

University of North Texas

University of North Texas logo

A top online human resource management MBA from UNT will give you the information and capacity to sell yourself to various organizations. Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management support growth from two angles. First, persons with established career pathways will develop broader, more comprehensive viewpoints for top managerial roles. Second, this degree will help you specialize as a talent acquisition manager, training and development specialist, equal employment opportunity compliance officer, or compensation and benefits manager.

University of Northern Colorado

University of Northern Colorado

The Monfort College of Business offers a 100% online MBA with a Human Resources Management concentration. This online MBA equips you to be a creative HR leader and problem-solver. The curriculum will prepare you to lead an HR department or focus on training and development, team member pay, or corporate recruiting.

University of Scranton

University of Scranton

The Jesuit-rooted Human Resources Management curriculum prepares students to pursue fairness and equity in the workplace. The curriculum teaches students about team member performance, development, and job satisfaction. Students will be actively engaged in applying theory and how such applications can influence organizational effectiveness.

University of Southern Indiana

University of Southern Indiana logo

Explore their online MBA in HR. The program prepares professionals for the next stage in their careers. Learn how to manage a company’s most precious asset: its employees. USI’s online MBA in Human Resources provides methods, policies, and practices for strategic HR management.

University of Tennessee at Martin

University of Tennessee Martin

An MBA from UT Martin can open the door to interesting professional options in human resource management, whether you’re just starting out or currently in the sector. The 33-hour MBA in HR program includes three 9-credit-hour human resources courses and our MBA core curriculum. This option prepares you for upper-level HR careers in finance, manufacturing, retail, hospitality, and education.

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

MBA students learn in a multicultural corporate setting to develop their business and administrative careers. This online human resource management MBA program helps those who want to take the next step in their global HR career.

University of Toledo

University of Toledo

The University of Toledo offers an AACSB-accredited online human resource management MBA. This HR MBA couples affordability, business excellence, and flexibility. Students can even finish their degree and be on their way to an exciting HR career in less than a year.

University of West Florida

University of West Florida logo

The 36-credit MBA in Human Resource Management program helps students explore the relationship between HRM and company strategy. Students learn to conduct compelling interviews and assess pay bases, including incentives and pay-for-performance schemes. Students learn to plan and develop effective training programs and discuss ethical problems in remuneration and benefits.

University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

The UW Oshkosh HR program is one of few nationwide to cover all of the Society for Human Resource Management’s approved expertise. The HR Major includes real-world tasks and projects for applied learning. Courses emphasize HR concepts, problem-solving, teamwork, and communication through individual and small-group projects.

University of Wisconsin-Parkside

University of Wisconsin Parkside logo

Human resource management is an invaluable skill for any business, big or small. HR MBA students at UW Parkside find out how to construct strategic initiatives that improve people’s quality of life by providing them with better health, a more pleasant workplace, and more opportunities to showcase their talents.

University of Wisconsin-​Whitewater

University of Wisconsin Whitewater

Human Resource Management majors at UW Whitewater are well-suited to guide a company and its workforce to success on a worldwide scale. If an MBA student is interested in specializing in Human Resource Management, they will need to take three courses (nine credits) that cover a wide range of topics in the field today. Five classes make up the online Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management for those who wish to go more deeply into this field (14 to 15 credits).

Wayne State University

Wayne State University

Wayne State University offers a top AACSB-accredited, online human resource management MBA. Learning about the supply and demand of labor markets, the global economy, the future of labor costs, the functioning of incentives, and other related topics are just the beginning of what students with a focus the human resource will learn.

Wichita State University

Wichita State University logo

Students pursuing a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in human resource management at Wichita State will learn how to manage an organization’s human resources in various contexts. Students will learn about public policy, workplace challenges, and the selection processes used to fill positions in the workforce.

William Paterson University

William Paterson University logo

If you want to advance your career in human resources management, corporate recruiting, team member pay, or training and development, then the online Master of Business Administration degree with a focus on HRM at William Paterson is for you. It is flexible and AACSB accredited.

How Do I Apply for an Online MBA in Human Resource Management? 

Here are the three moves a business school student interested in pursuing an online MBA in HR needs to make to ensure a smooth process into a program:

1. Begin the Application Process Early

No candidate is doing themselves a favor by scrambling to put together a half-hearted strategy when applying to respected business schools that have the best and brightest minds from all over the world clambering for a seat. Instead, start your research process early. Allow yourself the time needed for delays and setbacks. Since you will be spending the next two years or more of your life at one of the schools you’re trying to get into, be sure to make an informed decision by giving yourself time to research and form a plan.

2. Get Your GMAT Out of the Way

students studying

The GMAT may prove to be one of the cornerstones of your Online MBA prep. Many business schools will not consider a candidate if she doesn’t fit their initial screening criteria, so make sure to prepare and give yourself enough time to take the test unrushed. You may also need to consider retaking the exam if you are not pleased with your score. 

3. Interview Former and Current MBA Students

One of the best ways to understand a program’s strengths and weaknesses is to meet students who have graduated from or are currently attending the schools you are primarily interested in. By doing this, you may also gain access to professionals you will end up networking with in the future.

Action Plans

Business school has so much to offer. Unfortunately, it will also prove to be a significant drain on your time, energy, and resources during the one to three years or more you may commit to it. So, before taking the plunge into your online MBA with an emphasis in human resources, here are three things you can do to prepare yourself to be successful as a distance learner:

1. Find Out What to Expect

To help navigate the rough waters of business school, you should first have as much information from the beginning of the process as possible so you can plan your time management accordingly. Research what classes you should take each term and develop a roadmap or flowchart for the duration of your program so you can be sure of how much time it will take to complete your MBA. Being prepared means knowing what subject you will be studying at any given point on your journey.


2. Create Attainable Goals

Get to the point of being able to define want you specifically want out of your MBA degree. Maybe it’s a promotion at your current organization or the confidence you need to start your own brand. By setting some objectives initially, you can plan your course of action for your program’s length. In addition, having the end goal in mind will help graduate students in HR choose suitable courses, not to mention encourages them to keep persevering through the end of the degree.

3. Learn the Art of Prioritizing

When you choose to pursue an online MBA in human resources and plan to continue to work full or part-time, learning to prioritize is essential. With so many urgent tasks vying for your attention, you will need to identify the most important and address them quickly. Being skilled in prioritizing effectively helps you succeed in an MBA program while balancing outside commitments. You will never be able to do everything to perfection, so never kid yourself into thinking you can. Professionals who are serious about prioritizing can drop something in midstream to deal with another task with more significant potential to drive results. Being willing to do things halfway to get more done with the higher chances of yielding strong results is not automatic for high performers, but it is essential for successful leaders in business.

This brief guide on the online MBA in human resources has spoken into the degree, how it originated, and how one can successfully find a program. While the degree is demanding, it has proven itself year after year as working professionals have improved business through it. So, if you are serious about business leadership and HR, consider an online MBA.

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