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human resources management doctoral programs, online phd, online doctorate, HR Management, HRMAs the face of the corporate world continues to change, the importance of human resource management is becoming more clear. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that this field is growing at a rate of 9%. However, as individual companies grow, the demand for qualified applicants in this area is going to continue to grow as well. This is a competitive field with openings across all industries. Typically, a bachelor’s degree is enough to break into the industry but those with higher education, especially more tailored to your field of interest, are going to see more opportunities and higher salaries.

What is HRM?

Human Resource Management is a broad area. People employed as HR managers are responsible for planning and coordinating the administrative functions of a business. They are employed across all fields because this department exists in every organization. There are a lot of diverse responsibilities in this job; it goes so much deeper than recruiting and handling issues within a corporation.

As a member of an HRM department, you might find yourself training employees, building teams appropriately, providing direction and encouragement, and more. Human resources managers are responsible for creating the company culture and fostering business development, and that is done in a variety of ways.

Not only would you be taking care of employees, but you would also be the one to create engaging activities and outreach initiatives, make sure that a business had a mission, values, and a vision. The HR department has to make sure that employees want to work for their organization. Hiring, compensation, benefits, and more technical on the ground aspects would fall into the hands of the HR department as well, but overall, human resource management is the function within a business that provides structure and leadership for the company.

How to Become a Human Resources Manager

Because there is a lot that comes along with working as a human resources manager, there is a lot that goes into securing that job for yourself. The bare minimum education is a bachelor’s degree, but some companies do require a master’s degree. If you are interested in teaching, research, or high-level careers in the industry, you will definitely need a doctorate.

With a PhD in Human Resources Management, you could find yourself teaching at the university level, doing research related to human resources, or working as a consultant to different businesses. This level of education in the field will also be a big help for those of you who wish to own your own company one day.

Does This Sound Like the Path for You?

If you’re here, you’re probably very ready to take your next step. However, you’re probably far enough into your career that you understand what an investment this level of education is in yourself and your future. By choosing to study online, you can make that investment with much fewer sacrifices, and it also broadens your horizons.

We searched every corner of American academics to find the best online doctorates in HR management. Few schools offer this program, so it is essential to do your research and see which one is best for you. Online HR degrees also provide an added benefit, especially since the options are scarce in this emerging facet of the field, you won’t have to relocate. All of the featured schools were ranked according to the following:


In order to create this ranking, we researched to find all of the schools that offer distance-based online doctorate programs in human resources management, either in a fully-online or hybrid format. We made sure to only include schools that are based in the United States and hold proper accreditation.

The list of schools was scored out of a possible 300 points based on the following factors:

  • Freshman Retention Rate (⅓ of final score),
  • Graduation Rate (⅓ of final score), and
  • Affordability (⅓ of final score)

Once each score was calculated, the schools were placed in order based on those scores. We collected all of the data used to score and talk about each institution from the schools’ websites whenever it was available. If we weren’t able to find what we needed on the individual school site, we also used the databases of the National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. News & World Report,, and CollegeData.

Cost information is represented by the residential cost of attendance as determined by CollegeData. Due to the fluid nature of tuition rates and the unique nature of everyone’s financial situation, please keep in mind that you will likely not pay the amount described, it’s simply to help give you a complete picture of the school and the program offered.

OnlineCollegePlan prides itself on transparency and providing students with the most accurate and helpful information and resources. In light of that, we want to point out that no school is ever given preferential treatment for any reason. However, some schools that may have placed in this ranking have been omitted either due to insufficient data or per their own request.

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  1. MERIT: 252
    View Profile Average Cost: $31,216

    The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is featured for a different type of HR degree, a Doctor of Education in Human Resource Development. The program gives students the skills that they need to plan, direct, and coordinate human resource development in such a way that they can effectively advance their organizations. The program consists of 64 credit hours. The university was recognized by U.S. News & World Report for having some of the best online graduate programs in education in 2018; it ranked in tenth place.

    The courses are eight-weeks in length during the fall and spring semesters, and then further condensed down to just six weeks in the summer. The program is 100% faculty taught and 100% online. The classes are conveniently condensed and scheduled to fit into the lifestyle of a working professional, but you should keep in mind that they are synchronous. There are some asynchronous components to the program, but you will be required to attend your classes virtually.

    There are no specializations offered at the doctorate level; instead, students are responsible for working with an advisor to discuss how they can tailor their courses according to the goals that they have professionally.

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  2. MERIT: 229
    View Profile Average Cost: $24,916

    The University of Arkansas offers an online Doctor of Education in Human Resource and Workforce Development Education. There are start dates in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. The university has been providing this program for almost a decade and prides itself on its small class sizes and student-centric approach. This human resources doctorate degree program consists of 96 credit hours.

    The program is advertised as 100% online; however, some students may take one or two courses that have required face-to-face meetings on campus. The program is designed to prepare you to work in education, management, or consulting. You will be able to pursue careers in the public or private sectors and will gain a deep understanding of workforce development theory. The tuition is a competitive $420.19 per-credit, and the program has few fees associated with it.

    This program does require students to take the Graduate Record Examination or GRE for admission. The university has created a curriculum that is highly focused on leadership. You will also have plenty of opportunities to gain technical, research, and professional experience throughout your course of study.

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  3. MERIT: 214
    View Profile Average Cost: $25,794

    Old Dominion University has been ranked for its Doctor of Philosophy in Education in Occupational and Technical Studies: Human Resource Training. While that is a bit of a mouthful, the degree program focuses on human resources, technical education, and technology education. It is an excellent path for those who want to work in corporate training, human resources, workforce development, and more.

    The program consists of 60 credit hours or more based on your professional goals. You will also be required to complete a dissertation. The classes are presented in an asynchronous format, but the program requires you to attend two summer institutes that are each two weeks long. Some courses you’ll encounter in this program include Trends and Issues in Occupational Education; Instructional Supervision, Staff Development, and Assessment and; Administration and Management of Education and Training Programs.

    You will also be able to take several electives that you select in consultation with your academic advisor, allowing you to focus on the key skills you need to excel as a leader in your chosen career. This program is online open to those of you who already hold a master’s degree in a relevant field. If you don’t have a graduate-level degree, there are five prerequisites you have to complete prior to your acceptance.

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  4. MERIT: 196
    View Profile Average Cost: $41,112

    Christian Counseling Liberty University has an online Doctor of Business Administration in Human Resources. One thing that stands out about this program is that you can complete it with no visits to campus- that is, unless you’d like to go. There are optional on-campus intensives that you can attend if it fits into your schedule. This program features multiple start dates throughout the year and you can also transfer as many as 15 credits into the program.

    This DBA in Human Resources features a curriculum that will equip you with the tools you need to propel yourself to the highest levels of business. The 60-credit program is entirely asynchronous so you can take your classes at your own pace. You can choose to login to live meetings if you’d like. The average completion time for the program is just three years, which is impressively fast for a doctoral program.

    Liberty University has extremely competitive tuition and is proud that it has actually frozen tuition rates for the past several years. Online students also have the benefit of a myriad of online resources to help support them as they pursue their degree. You would have access to academic and career advisement, an IT help desk, webinars, and more.

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  5. MERIT: 191
    View Profile Average Cost: $6,349

    bellevue online ph.d. in human capital management Bellevue University offers a PhD in Human Capital Management. This degree is made up of 58 total credits that are divided into four different modules. The modules are Strategic Human Capital Management and Productivity; Linking Human Capital to Organizational Outcomes; Human Capital Leadership and Introduction to Measurement and; Measuring, Analyzing, and Assessing Human Capital Effectiveness. The program culminates in a dissertation.

    The entire program, at all course levels, has a tuition rate of $750 per credit hour. There are no fees associated with the program but individual courses may have added fees. Bellevue assures that all of the course material is based on the latest knowledge and practice in the field. Faculty has real-world experience that they bring to the classroom, which adds depth to what you get to learn; class sizes are kept small to foster strong relationships with your instructors.

    Classes are presented asynchronously and there are no advertised on-campus requirements for the completion of the online HR degree. All of your course materials are available immediately and 24/7. A unique feature of the online programs at Bellevue is that online classes count towards the residency requirement. You will also have access to great resources such as tutoring, writing help, study skills help, an online library, and more.

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What is the main function of HR?

There are a lot of things that fall under the umbrella of an HR department, but there are a few core functions that do an excellent job of summing everything up in a neat package that makes it easier to understand.

  • Compensation and Benefits: The HR department of any business is going to be responsible for negotiating health benefits for employees, coordinating retirement savings, creating compensations structures, and may even be responsible for payroll.
  • Employee Relations: A human resources department at a business is responsible for managing employee relations. The simplest way to look at this is that it strengthens and maintains a positive relationship between the employer and the employees. This could include measuring satisfaction and engagement, resolving conflicts in the workplace, and creating programs that keep employees engaged.
  • Job Safety: HR is responsible for working closely with companies to ensure that OSHA is being followed, the workplace safety training is adequate and taking place frequently, and maintaining the logs of injuries and fatalities that are legally required.
  • Labor Law Compliance: Laws are different in every state and sometimes vary based on where a company is in the state, and HR is tasked with knowing those laws and making sure that they are followed. This includes monitoring for unfair practices, unsafe work conditions, scheduling, and more.
  • New Recruitment: HR generally handles the talent scouting, interview, and hiring process for the company.
  • Training and Development: This is one of the largest parts of the HR department’s duties, and that is making sure that every employee is properly trained, that there are proper training materials for employees, and conducting leadership training as people move up. Development covers professional development programs within the workplace, ensuring that there are promotional opportunities, and creating tuition assistance/reimbursement programs.

What are the duties of an HRM?

A human resources manager or a human resources director is the top of the career ladder in the field of HR. There are a lot of overlapping responsibilities with the employees that fall underneath them in smaller organizations, as well as some individual responsibilities reserved for this type of leadership position. However, in larger companies, there are very clearly defined duties reserved for the individual in this position.

In this position, you would be responsible for recruiting, hiring, and training new employees. You may delegate part of this to any employees you’re in charge of, but you are the last stop in this process. You would also be responsible for basic organizational development tasks. You would be responsible for creating the company culture, maintaining a vision, and perhaps even coming up with the company motto.

You would be responsible for coaching employees and managing their performance. You would create company policies to maintain an appropriate environment, allocating salaries and benefits according to the set budget, and handling compensation claims. You would also train organizational staff on an ongoing basis, creating a team environment and fostering the professional development of employees through appropriate programs and events.

What is an HRM salary?

As with any career path, your salary is going to vary significantly based on your experience, education, and the area that you live in. Human Resources Managers as a career has a projected growth rate of 9%, which is slightly faster than other jobs. As companies continue to crop up and expand, this job will grow as well because it is essential to the function of any business. This is great news, but it also adds to the competitive atmosphere of the field.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average salary for an HRM is $106,910. However, your mileage may vary. The top 10% of people in this role earn an annual salary of about $194,000. While your projected salary shouldn’t be the sole reason for choosing to further your education, you may see that those with higher levels of education do see higher pay in this career.

The average salary of someone with a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management was reported by PayScale as $64,603. This average was compiled using the salary information of over 500 employees. At the Master’s level, the average salary is reported as $72,528. However, PayScale collected that from the profiles of 12 employees due to the low number of responses. reports that only about 1% of Human Resources Managers possess a PhD or equivalent, such as a DBA, JD, or MD. But, the average salary range for HRMs that hold this high level of education starts at $98,600 and only goes up from there. This means that earning a doctorate in HRM may help you to see a higher pay rate.

What majors are good for Human Resources?

Human resources is a major option at most schools, but it is a very broad field, so there are plenty of degree options for those of you who want to work in the field. Choosing a different major may also help you to diversify your skills to make you more competitive in the job market; on the other side of that, you could also use your major and electives to tailor your education to the specific role or industry that you wish to work in as an HRM.

There are no set degrees that are required by law for this profession like there are for teachers, lawyers, and doctors. But, the companies that are looking for high-quality employees are going to be more attracted to those of you who have a high-quality and relevant education to back you up. HR degrees can be earned at all levels, and there are several majors that can give you the skills you need.

Some common major choices include human resources, of course, business administration, management, economics, finance, and marketing. You can specialize in compensation and benefits, training and development, employment, recruiting, information systems, employee assistance, and more, if you so choose. Even if you’re not interested in specializing, you can add focus to your program of study by pursuing your undergraduate degree in human resources management and exploring other programs at the graduate level. You could earn a master’s in leadership, management, organizational development, business finance, and many others.

Which is the best HR certification?

Certifications are a great tool that makes you more competitive in the job market because it shows potential employers that you have taken the extra steps to get certified in different skills you’ll need in your job. There are several different HR certifications out there, and each one is going to come with its own benefits. There are two credentials offered by the Society for Human Resource Management and seven offered by the Human Resources Certification Institute. Other options include the following programs:

  • Certified Professional in Learning and Performance
  • Associate Professional in Talent Development
  • Certified Employee Benefits Specialist
  • Certified Compensation Professional
  • Certified Payroll Professional
  • Human Resources Information Professional

The American Staffing Association has four certifications focused on staffing and sourcing, and there are industry-specific certificates that you can pursue based on your desired field such as those offered by the American Society for Healthcare Human Resource Administration or the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

It is up to you to pick which ones you believe will help you based on your career goals. You can even reach out to an organization that you may want to work for and ask them about what certifications they may require or encourage their professionals to have. According to, the Professional in Human Resources is one of the best based on how many open positions (almost 5,000) required that certificate in a given day. On the low end of their top five list was the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance with just 270 jobs.

Didn’t find what you were looking for?

online bachelor's degrees

If you didn’t find the perfect school in this article, don’t fret. We have plenty of other resources for students like you. If you’re just getting started on your path to a career in human resources, these undergraduate programs might be a great first step:

If you’re looking to study at the graduate level but a doctorate program isn’t for you, we’ve also ranked the 20 Best Online Master’s in Human Resources Programs.

If you’re eager to study online but you’re not interested in a career in human resources, you can still earn a degree and study affordably without having to relocate for school. You may also be interested in our ranking of the Top 100 Best Online Colleges.