2021 Guide to the Best MBA in Human Resources Online Programs

Build standout business and people management skills by enrolling in an MBA in human resources online program. Find a list of the best programs, salary potential after graduation, and more in this guide.

A business’s most important assets are its people. An online MBA in human resources combines sharp business skills with leading insights on how to successfully manage people. Whether you are a recent or soon-to-be college graduate or a current professional, that combination of expertise is powerful for advancing your career and preparing you for work both inside and outside human resources.

MBA human resources online programs come with flexibility that allows you to continue working while also balancing other life responsibilities. Keep reading to get details on some of the best MBA in human resources online programs, learn about the curriculum, and see a sampling of the careers and salaries available after graduation.

B-School Spotlights: Best MBA in Human Resources Online Programs in 2021

The best human resources online MBA programs are affordable, flexible, and accessible. They provide a solid business education complemented by a concentration of courses in human resources. These programs prepare students for HR leadership roles in almost any organization while also leaving them open to work in other areas of business. Find three of the top-rated schools highlighted below; that’s just a preview of the comprehensive rankings arriving later in 2021.

Montclair State University

An online MBA with a Concentration in Human Resources Management from New Jersey’s Montclair State University teaches students to master the diverse competencies required by HR professionals. This MBA in HR online requires 39 credits and takes 24 to 27 months to complete. Students without successful prior academic coursework in accounting, statistics, and/or finance may need to complete foundational courses in these areas before registering for MBA courses.

This MBA in HR is 100% online and asynchronous. Most MBA applicants at Montclair have two to three years’ experience, but strong academic credentials, personal statements, and recommendations may be suitable substitutes. GMAT/GRE scores are sometimes waived, such as for those earning a 3.0 GPA or higher in an undergraduate or other master’s degree program.

Admissions to Montclair State’s online MBA in HR program are on a rolling basis. The program involves eight-week semesters, during which students complete three credits. Montclair’s Feliciano School of Business holds accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Southeastern Oklahoma State University (SOSU)

SOSU’s completely online MBA with a Concentration in Human Resources is designed for those seeking careers as HR managers, HR specialists, or compensation and benefits managers. This MBA in HR online program prepares future HR specialists to lead corporate HR functions with confidence.

Tools and techniques taught in this online MBA HR program give graduates a competitive advantage through strategic decision-making and supervisory management skills. Coursework includes finance fundamentals, accounting, economics, behavior management, research, and data analysis. The program emphasizes connectivity and real-world applications.

The total cost for SOSU’s MBA in HR online program is $11,880, and its 36 credit hours can be completed in as few as 12 months. Admissions requirements include an online application, bachelor’s degree, and minimum 2.5 GPA. A GMAT is not required. Choose from multiple start dates throughout the year. The John Massey School of Business at SOSU is accredited by AACSB.

Colorado Technical University

The online MBA in Human Resource Management from Colorado Technical University is designed for students with solid business backgrounds who want to concentrate specifically on HR and pursue leadership roles. Exploring HR as it relates to a range of industries, the program teaches students how to navigate business fundamentals and HR principles including employment law, staffing, job design, compensation, and benefits. Concentration courses in operational HR management and managing development and change build on core business principles and culminate with a Management Capstone.

This MBA in HR online program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs and aligns with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) guidelines. You can complete this MBA in HR online in as little as a year, with classes beginning every eight weeks and running five-and-a-half weeks. The program requires 48 credits, with 32 devoted to business administration and 16 to HR management.

What to Expect from an Online MBA in Human Resources Program

Most MBA in HR online programs allow students to self-pace, and many offer accelerated schedules. Programs are often asynchronous, meaning you can complete your classes whenever you choose , and usually don’t have any in-person requirements. Quality programs include faculty who are industry experts with years of HR and business experience teaching challenging coursework that builds management skills.

In addition to providing an advanced business and HR education, many MBA in HR online programs also prepare students to pursue HR certifications like the Professional in Human Resources examination offered by the Human Resources Certification Institute or the examination offered by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). Liberty University’s MBA in HR program is one such example. Although certification is not always required by employers, some prefer it because it shows knowledge and professional competence across all areas of HR.

MBA in human resources online programs provide an HR concentration alongside a comprehensive business education. So, in addition to studying core business topics like economics, accounting, marketing, and business policy and strategy, which make up the larger portion of the coursework, students also learn concepts for advanced work in HR. HR-specific course topics vary among schools; the courses highlighted below give a general sense of the HR-focused courses commonly offered in MBA in HR online programs.

Common MBA in HR Online Courses

  • Compensation and Benefits

    Courses on compensation and benefits focus on reward systems from various perspectives. These courses also cover writing job descriptions, performing job evaluations, and other essentials related to wages and salaries. This course may also consider profit sharing, bonus plans, and more.

  • Recruiting, Retention and Succession

    Courses covering recruiting, retention, and succession look at the selection, performance, and career development of employees. They also emphasize the strategic implications of HR management. Formats include extensive discussion and experiential learning along with considering the legal, ethical, and economic factors involved.

  • Training and Development

    A course on training and development covers adult education, principles and theories of human performance improvement, and instructional design. It looks at how HR departments can enhance employee performance and manage change. Other topics include succession planning, onboarding, orientation, performance appraisals, and coaching.

  • Human Resource Management

    A human resource management course provides an overview of various personnel management systems and how they work together to support an organization’s strategy. This course may also include regulations and modern methods of selection, appraising, training, and solving personnel problems.

  • Leadership/Supervisory Skills

    A course on leadership/supervisory skills studies theories of communication, motivation, performance appraisal, training, and employee development and considers a modern, practical application of these approaches. Additional topics include leadership development motivation, influence, power, decision–making, and leadership effectiveness.

What You Can Do with an MBA in Human Resources

An MBA in human resources prepares graduates for many HR-specific careers while also providing a solid business base that keeps possibilities beyond HR open as well. While many companies still employ their own HR specialists, some outsource HR responsibilities. Either way, prospects for those in human resources are expected to grow. Individuals with certification and/or an MBA or other master’s degree, especially those concentrating in human resources management, have the best prospects as well as more potential for higher wages than those with a bachelor’s degree alone or an advanced degree without an HR focus.

Consider these five potential careers, which might be a match for you after completing an MBA in human resources online.

Human Resources Manager

A human resources manager plans, coordinates, and directs the administrative functions of an organization. They oversee acquiring new staff and consult with top executives on strategic planning. An MBA gives HR specialists a competitive edge through business knowledge and HR expertise, especially when vying for senior-level positions.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$68,300 $116,720 $205,720

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Human Resources Specialist

Human resources specialists recruit, screen, interview, and place employees. They often handle tasks associated with employee relations, compensation, benefits, and training. An MBA opens advancement opportunities for HR specialists, including those available within and beyond an HR department.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$37,180 $61,920 $105,930

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Compensation and Benefits Manager

Compensation and benefits managers, as the title implies, oversee compensation and benefits plans within organizations. This includes setting up a pay and benefits structure, monitoring competitive wages, and ensuring compliance with federal and state regulations. An MBA is preferred for this position since it teaches the business and finance skills necessary for success.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$69,870 $122,270 $208,000

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Training and Development Manager

Training and development managers plan, coordinate, and direct internal training programs for organizations. They assess employee training needs and align training with organizational goals. An MBA is preferred by many employers for this position since it involves engaging with individuals at all levels within organizations.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$64,720 $113,350 $196,070

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Labor Relations Specialist

Labor relations specialists interpret and administer labor contracts related to wages, healthcare, pensions, and management practices. They facilitate and lead interactions between management and labor, and they investigate labor grievances. An MBA in HR allows a labor relations specialist to develop the decision-making, interpersonal, and communication skills essential for excelling in today’s competitive business environment.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$19,230 $69,020 $124,380

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Costs and Financial Aid for Online MBA Degrees in Human Resources

Earning an MBA in human resources online is a significant financial commitment, so you’ll want to have a plan for paying for it before enrolling. Financial aid includes federal grants, military aid, and federal, state, and private lending programs.

Most schools provide detailed financial aid information. For example, Liberty University’s Scholarship Opportunities page provides information about scholarships for online college students, including those for master’s students. It even provides links to external scholarships for online college students. Another example, the University of Southern Indiana, provides information on student loans, Federal Work-Study, and graduate assistantships.

See this financial aid page for more information and guidance on your options. Also, see below for examples of how much your online MBA in human resources might cost.

How Much Your Online MBA in Human Resources Might Cost

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Est. Total Tuition Cost

University of Southern Indiana

30

$430

$12,900

Liberty University

45

$565 (full-time)

$615 (part-time)

$25,425 (full-time)

$27,675 (part-time)

Johnson & Wales University

36-42

$786

$28,296 – $33,012

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Human Resources MBA Programs

What are the typical admissions requirements for an online MBA in Human Resources?

Quality online MBA in human resources programs require a bachelor’s degree, usually with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Most programs require an admissions application, official college transcripts, and proof of English language proficiency. The following requirements vary among schools.

  • Undergraduate business prerequisites. Many programs have specific requirements, while others consider waiving this requirement in lieu of minimum GMAT scores. Check specific program requirements before enrolling.
  • Minimum GMAT or GRE score. Some programs consider waiving this requirement based on undergraduate business prerequisites and minimum GPAs. Some programs do not have this requirement.

Professional recommendations/references, a statement of purpose, and a professional resume are other common requirements for admission into many MBA in HR online programs.

Are there quality online Human Resources MBA programs that don’t require the GMAT?

GMAT requirements vary among schools. Some programs, like Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s program, do not require the GMAT. Others, like Montclair State University’s program, list the GMAT or GRE as a requirement but waive it in some circumstances. Still others, like Colorado Technical University’s program, use GMAT scores of 500 or above to potentially waive foundational requirements for students coming from nonbusiness bachelor’s programs. Be sure to check any GMAT requirements for programs you’re considering.

How long will it take to finish my MBA in Human Resources online?

MBA in human resources online programs vary from as little as a year to up to 27 months, with total credits ranging from 30 to 48. Factors impacting program length include individual pacing, accelerated offerings, and part-time versus full-time study. Additionally, programs like the MBA in HR at Liberty University allow for transfer credits of up to 50% of the degree total, which could accelerate your timeline considerably.

Can I earn my MBA in Human Resources 100% online or do I need to go to campus?

Most MBA in HR online programs, including all of those featured here, are 100% online. Some schools, like Johnson & Wales University, offer self-paced MBAs with an accelerated schedule. Others, like the MBA in HR from Montclair University, boast an asynchronous program that allows for a highly personalized approach to when you access your courses. To meet the needs of today’s busy professionals, many online MBA programs focusing on HR require little, if any, online collaboration.

What’s the difference between an MBA in Human Resources and a Master’s in Human Resources?

An MBA in HR provides substantial business skills enhanced with an HR concentration. A master’s degree in HR focuses much more on HR and is suited to those who already have a solid business foundation. Both degrees qualify you for work in HR. However, a master’s degree in HR prepares you specifically for HR management careers while an MBA with an HR concentration provides you with a comprehensive business education alongside an HR concentration suitable for a wider range of business careers. An HR master’s degree is ideal for those certain they want to work in human resources. If you are not sure and want to be marketable outside of HR, an MBA is probably the better choice.

Does a master’s in human resources sound like the better degree for you? Read our guide to the best online master’s degrees in human resources.