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2024’s Best Graduate Certificate in Human Resources Online Programs

If you love working with people and organizations, earning an online graduate certificate in human resources is a great step toward a fulfilling career. This guide offers an inside scoop on today’s best schools, program costs, and job prospects.

Author: Miranda Lipton

Editor: Staff Editor


Search hundreds of schools for the master’s YOU want……

A professional woman with glasses, wearing a gray blazer, smiles at a man in a plaid shirt in a bright office setting.

As a human resources (HR) professional, you are positioned to help build positive work environments, create better working conditions, and solve complex problems. While a career in HR may seem straightforward, there are many different avenues that human resources graduates can pursue, such as benefits management, employee relations, or recruitment. By earning an online graduate certificate in human resources, you can position yourself for a specialized career with greater income potential.

You may wonder whether it’s worth putting your life on hold to pursue an online graduate certificate in human resources. Fortunately, the flexibility of online programs allows you to work, manage family responsibilities, and juggle other obligations while earning a quality education (often at a lower cost than in a campus-based program).

Like most people considering going back to school after getting a bachelor’s degree, you’ve probably got questions about which schools offer the best programs, how much they will cost, and what you’ll learn. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you make a wise and confident decision. You’ll find answers to your questions, a look at what you can expect, and the tools you need to get started earning your online graduate certificate in human resources.

Best Online Graduate Certificates in Human Resources in 2024

Our 2024 rankings for graduate certificate online programs in human resources provide a roadmap for professionals seeking focused and efficient education. Whether you’re aiming to enhance your expertise in talent management, organizational development, or HR analytics, our list guides you to the online programs that cater to your specific goals.

About the ranking
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Private not-for-profit

Davenport University offers a 15-credit certificate program in Human Resource Management for graduate-level students that can be completed in as little as one year. It includes courses in Managing Human Resources, Employment Law and Labor Relations, Finance Compensation and Benefits, and Organizational Development and Training in alignment with MBA-level standards. Those who complete this certificate may study through a certificate-only track or in conjunction with the MBA program at Davenport. Classes are available online or at one of Davenport’s campuses in Michigan.

Program Highlights:

Human Resource Management Graduate Certificate

  • Credits: 15
  • Length: One year
  • Mode: Online, hybrid
  • Accreditation: IACBE

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC
Jackson, Mississippi
Private not-for-profit

Belhaven University is a private Christian school offering a 15-credit graduate-level certificate in Human Resources. In this program, you complete five core courses of three credits each in human resource management, employee relations, compensation and benefits, and issues and innovations in human resources as well as an introduction to graduate studies. Applicants need a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 2.5 or higher, though conditional acceptance may awarded even if you do not meet these standards.

Program Highlights:

Graduate Certificate in Human Resources

  • Credits: 15
  • Length: Seven weeks
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: IACBE

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC
Wichita, Kansas

Wichita State University offers a 12-credit online certificate in Human Resource Skills for graduate-level students. In this program, you complete three mandatory foundational core courses as well as an elective in organizational behavior, talent development, employment law, managing in diverse organizations, management information systems, strategic management, business law and ethics, or operations management. Prospective students should apply through the Graduate School at Wichita State.

Program Highlights:

Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management Skills

  • Credits: 12
  • Length: Varies
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: AACSB International

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC
Villanova, Pennsylvania
Private not-for-profit

Villanova University offers an array of graduate certificate programs in business that can be completed online or in person with credits directly transferrable to relevant graduate degree programs at Villanova. Certificates are available in HR Leadership and HR Business Partnership, among other business topics. Whichever certificate program you are interested in, you need an accreditated undergraduate degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher to apply. You can apply for a waiver of the program’s required writing course by submitting an academic writing sample that meets an acceptable standard.

Program Highlights:

Graduate Certificates in Human Resource Development

  • Credits: 15
  • Length: Varies
  • Mode: Online, in-person
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation MSCHE

Programs Spotlights: Online Graduate Certificates in HR

The University of Oklahoma, University of Virginia, and Purdue University Global offer three excellent online graduate certificates in human resources worth exploring in more detail. These programs are designed for students with bachelor’s or master’s degrees in HR, business, or a related field who want to take their education a step further.

Below, you’ll find each school is unique in the types of programs they offer, but they are alike when it comes to the crucial factors like affordability, flexibility, and accreditation that equip graduates with the vital knowledge and skills for a successful career in HR.

University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus

Logo of the University of Oklahoma, featuring a crimson and cream emblem with a stylized “OU” design, set against a dark green background.

The University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus offers two graduate certificates: Helping Skills in Human Relations and Human Resource Development and Workforce Diversity. These programs provide students with skills to improve relationships, be effective and ethical leaders, and lead in a diverse workplace. The curriculums cover theoretical, counseling, and ethical topics within human relations.

After completing the program, students will have the skills needed to become successful HR professionals in their chosen fields. Admission to the program requires a bachelor’s or graduate degree from an accredited institution and a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. Each program consists of 12 credit hours.

Financial aid is available for those who qualify. The University of Oklahoma-Norman campus is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Students also benefit from access to career services and guidance, including resume and cover letter assistance, job search advice, and interview preparation.

University of Virginia

The University of Virginia offers a human resources graduate certificate program for early- and mid-level professionals looking to advance their careers and gain the skills to achieve top management positions. This program offers a curriculum that focuses on staffing and career management, strategic compensation, organizational performance management, and organizational change and development.

The program is designed to be taken part-time, with courses offered in the evening and online. It consists of four courses (12 credits) and is typically completed over the course of one year. Students can expect to gain a wide range of knowledge and skills, including an understanding of HR management strategies, strategies for recruiting and retaining top talent, strategies for effective employee relations and labor law compliance, and knowledge of how to design and facilitate development opportunities in the workplace.

The total cost of tuition for the program is $9,165, and it is not eligible for federal financial aid. Upon completion of the program, students will be able to pursue roles such as HR manager, training and development manager, and employee relations manager, among others.

Purdue University Global

Logo of Purdue University Global, featuring a stylized globe in gold and black colors with the text "PURDUE GLOBAL" beside it on a dark green background.

Purdue University Global’s human resources graduate certificate program is a wise choice for students looking to develop their knowledge and expertise in human resources. The program focuses on all key aspects of HR, including employment and labor law, employee training and professional development, how to leverage reward systems within an organization, and the fundamentals of hiring and assessing talent.

The program takes an average of seven months to complete and requires 16 credits. Each course is offered in a six-week session and takes about 20 hours per week. The cost per credit is $485, and there are discounted costs for transfer credits, employees of Purdue Global’s partnership organizations, military personnel and veterans, international students, and Indiana state residents. Purdue University Global offers a variety of student services, such as academic advising, career counseling, and library access.

Top Reasons to Get an HR Graduate Certificate Online

Earning an HR graduate certificate online can open a world of opportunities for professionals looking to develop their human resource knowledge and advance their careers by gaining more specialized knowledge. Some of the biggest benefits of earning a graduate HR certificate online are convenience, affordability, career advancement, salary boosts, and a competitive edge in the workplace.

Learn on Your Own Time

Online programs offer the flexibility to study on your own schedule and from anywhere in the world. This is especially beneficial for those who are working full time, as it eliminates the need to take time off work or rearrange your schedule to attend classes. And the cost of some online programs can be lower than traditional on-campus programs.

Advance Your Career

A graduate certificate in human resources can advance your career by providing specialized knowledge and skills in key HR areas, such as talent acquisition, employee development, and labor relations. The knowledge you gain throughout a graduate certificate program may not only be useful in your current role but also as your career develops and presents opportunities to pivot into new roles.

Boost Your Salary

Having a graduate certificate in HR will distinguish you from other HR professionals who don’t have graduate credentials in this specialized field. You’ll be more competitive in the job market, stand out from other applicants and employees, and use your specialized graduate education to gain salary increases.

What You’ll Learn in Human Resources Graduate Certificate Online Programs

HR graduate certificate programs cover topics like employment law, employee relations, human resource management, and organizational development. Students learn skills such as interviewing, problem-solving, and conflict resolution. Other topics may include employee recruitment and selection, compensation and benefits, and training and development. The academic plan may include seminars, case studies, and other experiential learning activities. These activities help prepare students for successful careers in human resources.

Popular Courses

Staffing & Career Management

Students will learn the critical factors in creating a well-managed and suitable staff by studying current staffing models and the many variables that impact the process, including economic conditions, laws and regulations, and internal and external recruiting.

Counseling Skills

Offering support and counseling is often an integral part of a role as a human resource professional. Between employee-client, employee-employee, and employee-staff conflicts, having the skills to mediate and resolve conflict will allow you to build a stronger team. These courses will teach theories and practices behind these skills.

Human Resource Development

A combination of practical, analytical, and research-based approaches is used to provide students with a wealth of knowledge on effectively building a team. These courses will teach the history of human resource development (HRD), discuss the core concepts of career development, model effective HRD skills, and explain its theoretical foundations.

Organizational Performance Management

This course explores the impact of human performance on organizational performance, blending the elements of individual success, including work-life balance, rewards and recognition in the workplace, and peer support, with the outcomes of an overall team. This will help students better understand the correlation and build stronger, high-performing teams more adequately.

Employment Law

Understanding and being equipped to handle issues surrounding employment is imperative as a leader in the workplace. This course will help human resources professionals develop the tools needed to create a safe, fair, responsible workplace led by a professional who can identify and manage the workplace environment.

What is the Difference Between an HR Graduate Certificate and a PHR or SHRM Certification?

A human resources graduate certificate program is an educational program that provides specialized training and knowledge in the field of HR. It is typically offered as a post-baccalaureate program and can provide a pathway to more advanced HR-related degrees such as a master’s of human resources.

Professional certifications such as the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and the Society of Human Resources Management Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) are distributed by different institutions. They are advanced credentials that demonstrate a mastery of core HR competencies. To earn these certifications, candidates must meet specific criteria, such as having a certain amount of professional experience, completing an approved certification program, and passing a rigorous exam. Professional certifications can also be renewed periodically, ensuring that the certificate holder is up to date on the latest HR trends and best practices.

In many cases, an HR graduate certificate program can provide valuable educational training, experience, and ethical knowledge that can be used to prepare for and gain professional certifications. An accredited HR graduate certificate program can also provide a pathway to other professional certifications and degrees, such as a master’s in human resources.

What Can You Do with a Graduate Certificate in Human Resources?

A graduate certificate in human resources equips you with specialized knowledge in HR practices, allowing you to contribute to talent management, employee engagement, policy development, and compliance. It enhances your marketability, making you an attractive candidate for HR positions in small and large organizations, and it positions you for career advancement and higher earning potential in human resources. You can qualify for various HR roles across industries.

Job opportunities may include HR specialist, recruitment coordinator, training and development specialist, compensation analyst, HR generalist, or employee relations coordinator. Since certificates are a lower commitment than a full degree, they allow students to study a specific aspect of the industry to adapt to a different HR role that they may not have experience in or bring added value to their current position. A graduate certificate is also likely to increase your employment opportunities and is a valuable asset for those considering switching companies.

Accreditation for Human Resources Graduate Certificate Programs

Accreditation is a significant factor in finding the right school to earn your human resources graduate certification. The school that offers your program should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (DAPIP) to ensure that other educational organizations accept your credits and to ensure credibility for future employers. Prospective students can also use the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) website to check that their program of interest is accredited.

Costs and Financial Aid for Online Graduate Certificate – Human Resources

Before enrolling in a human resources certificate program, you should understand the financial commitment and have a plan to pay for it. While federal financial aid is only available to students pursuing a degree, you may still want to fill out the FAFSA online through the U.S. Department of Education to determine your eligibility for federal financial aid.

Financial aid may also be available through private and school scholarships, fellowships, work-study, and employer tuition assistance. Researching these opportunities can help students reduce the cost of their education. Students should visit their school’s financial aid office and explore scholarship websites, such as Fastweb and Chegg, to find these opportunities.

Additionally, employers may offer tuition assistance for employees pursuing a certificate in human resources. Determining if financial aid is available before enrolling in the program can help you reduce your financial burden.

What Your Human Resources Graduate Certificate Online Program Could Cost

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





$1,000-$1,150 for in-state vs. out-of-state



$514-$659 for in-state vs. out-of-state


Frequently Asked Questions About Graduate Certificates in Human Resources Online

What is the Difference Between a Graduate Certificate and a Master’s Degree in Human Resources?

A graduate certificate program typically provides specialized training in a particular field of study. It is usually shorter than a master’s degree, requires fewer classes and credits, and is designed to give students a focused area of expertise. Generally, credits from a graduate certificate program can be used toward future master’s or doctorate degrees. This is especially true if the graduate certificate program is in the same field as the degree the student is pursuing. For example, human resources credits from a graduate certificate program can be used towards a master’s or doctorate in human resources.

What Are the Admissions Requirements for an HR Graduate Certificate Program?

The admissions requirements for each HR graduate certificate program will vary, but the two most prominent requirements are as follows:

  • A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or a post-secondary degree comparable to a bachelor’s degree
  • A 3.0 or higher GPA

How Long Will It Take to Finish My Human Resources Graduate Certificate Online?

The length of time to complete an online graduate certificate program in human resources can vary depending on the specific program. Generally, most programs consist of 12-15 credit hours of coursework and can be completed in one to two semesters (for part-time students) or six to 12 months (for full-time students).

Online programs often allow for more flexible scheduling than on-campus programs, so part-time students may take longer to complete their degrees. With part-time enrollment, the total timeline may be extended to two to three years.

Can I Earn My Graduate Certificate in Human Resources 100% Online, or Do I Need to Take Classes on Campus?

There are a variety of program options that students can elect, which offer the opportunity to complete a full graduate certificate in human resources online without ever having to step foot in a classroom. For example, Colorado State University Global has a 100% online HR graduate certificate that caters to professionals, with asynchronous courses that can be completed from anywhere and on your schedule.