Graduate Certificate Programs in Human Resources and Human Resource Management
Professionals and college graduates who hold a bachelor’s degree can receive professional training in human resource management (HRM) and development through graduate certificate programs. Graduate certificate programs in human resources are offered by accredited colleges and universities, often through schools or departments of business or professional studies, as a less time intensive and more economical alternative to master’s programs in HRM. Students in these programs study the principles and practices of HRM in preparation for careers in the field, and can typically graduate in roughly one year, as opposed to the 18 to 24 months that is common for a master’s program.
Additionally, some or all of the graduate credits earned in an HRM certificate program may be eligible to transfer toward a master’s degree in business or management if a student opts to pursue a master’ degree in the future. Graduate certificate programs can also be used to boost a student’s application to a master’s degree program as they demonstrate a student’s ability to complete graduate level coursework.
Human Resource Management (HRM) Explained
Human resources refers to the personnel and administrative functions related to hiring, training, and managing the employees of a company or organization. Human resource departments are tasked with a range of responsibilities regarding the people who work at and for businesses, government agencies, and non-profit groups. These responsibilities commonly include overseeing employee benefit and compensation plans; directing recruitment, selection, and hiring operations; implementing and coordinating employee training and development programs; ensuring that an employer is in compliance with relevant labor laws and workplace regulations; mediating disputes between employers and employees; and assessing and managing the allocation and effectiveness of personnel.
Working in the field of HRM thus requires an understanding of state and federal employment law, well developed professional communication skills, and familiarity with the design of training programs, employee compensation models, best practices for hiring and retaining staff, and performance assessment metrics. HRM professionals also commonly seek diversity and inclusion training and cultivate leadership skills as they advance in the field and may need to develop field-specific knowledge for work in areas like scientific research and engineering, the computer and hi-tech industry, service and hospitality businesses, the manufacturing and industrial sectors, and governmental and non-profit administration.
Identifying and Classifying HRM Graduate Certificate Programs
Graduate certificate programs in HRM are academic programs offered by accredited colleges and universities that culminate in the conferral of a certificate rather than a degree. They are comprised of a relatively small cluster of graduate-level courses that cover topics pertaining to the professional practice of employee and personnel management, including but not limited to employment and labor law, employee recruitment and personnel training, compensation and benefit packages, and organizational performance assessment and improvement. These courses commonly overlap with master’s program curricula. Indeed, some HRM graduate certificates are offered both as stand-alone programs and as add-on specializations for students pursuing master’s degrees in management and/or business administration. Finally, graduate certificate programs are designed for college graduates and thus require students to hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree prior to enrollment.
Note: In addition to enrolling qualified students who hold a bachelor’s degree, HRM graduate certificate programs accept professionals who hold a master’s and/or doctoral degree, and some programs require students to have one or more years of professional management experience. There are also post-master’s HRM graduate certificate programs that require applicants to hold a master’s or doctoral degree.
HRM Graduate Certificate Coursework
Most graduate certificate programs with a human resources/HRM curriculum consist of four, five, or six graduate courses that cover topics considered essential in the professional practice of human resource management and development. These courses generally align with the Body of Competency & Knowledge (BoCK) outlined by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a non-profit association of human resource professionals. SHRM outlines eight core competencies that are organized into three clusters: leadership, interpersonal, and business skills. Among the skill areas for HRM professionals detailed by SHRM are talent management, employee retention, workforce management, employee and labor relations, risk management, social responsibility, and employment law and regulations.
While specific course requirements, and the names and content of required courses, vary by school and by program, a typical HRM graduate certificate program includes the following types of courses:
- Human Behavior in Organizations
- Strategic Analysis in HRM
- Reward and Compensation Systems
- Personnel Recruitment and Selection
- Talent Management and Development
- Strategic Compensation
- Employment Law
In addition, some graduate certificate programs in human resources may give students the option of selecting one or two electives in specialized areas of human resource management, such as diversity and multi-cultural issues in HRM, human resources for non-profit organizations, and change leadership in human resources.
Online Graduate Certificate Programs in HRM
Many schools now offer graduate certificate programs in human resources that are fully or partially online in order to extend the reach of a program to students who do not live or work near a school’s campus and to provide additional convenience and flexibility to mid-career professionals who intend to continue working while earning a graduate certificate. Online programs utilize learning management systems (LMSs), which is a generic term for interactive digital platforms that support the streaming of live and/or pre-recorded lectures, allow instructors to hold virtual class sessions, and provide students with access to a variety of assets, including course materials, library resources, online discussion forums, and instructional modules.
Online instruction that takes place in real time and which therefore requires students to be logged on to a program’s LMS for scheduled class meetings and lectures is referred to as synchronous instruction. Online instruction that does not have a real-time component, including pre-recorded lectures and learning modules that students can access at their convenience via a program’s LMS, is referred to as asynchronous instruction. While synchronous instruction is more rigid and less flexible than asynchronous instruction, it provides an online learning experience that is similar to attending campus-based classes and may be preferred by some students. Asynchronous instruction affords more scheduling flexibility as students are not required to be online at specific times each week; however, it also requires students to exercise a greater degree of self-discipline and self-motivation in order to complete assignments on time.
There are currently a number of schools that offer HRM graduate certificate programs that are fully online and that can thus be completed without having to attend any in-person classes on the school’s campus. There are also online programs that require students to attend a limited number of campus visits. These visits, which may be referred to as residencies, intensives, or immersion sessions, are generally short in duration and scheduled to accommodate students who have full-time jobs. Programs that utilize online instruction but which require students to attend more than three campus visits per year are classified as blended/hybrid programs by GraduateCertificates.com. While blended and hybrid programs offer more convenience and flexibility than traditional, campus-based programs, they may not be practical for students who do not live or work near the school offering the program.
Examples of Online HRM Graduate Certificate Programs
Each of the schools listed below offers a graduate certificate program in human resources that can be completed online. These programs provide a representative overview of the types of HRM graduate certificate programs that are currently offered online.
Purdue University Global, which is an online division of Indiana’s Purdue University System, offers an online Graduate Certificate in Human Resources program. The program consists of four courses that cover topics in employment and labor law, talent development and recruitment, hiring and assessing talent, and strategic rewards systems. Students complete the program with 16 graduate credits that can be applied toward several of the master’s programs offered by Purdue Global. The Purdue Global Graduate Certificate in Human Resources can be completed entirely online and does not require any campus visits. For more information on the program, visit Purdue Global at www.purdueglobal.edu.
Michigan State University (MSU) offers an online Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management & Development through its Broad College of Business and MSU Online. The program consists of five courses that confer nine graduate credits that students can apply toward a Master of Science in Management (MSM) program that is also offered by the Broad College of Business. Students in the graduate certificate program learn how to integrate human resource functions like personnel training and development, talent management, and labor relations into an organization’s overall business strategy. The program does not require any campus visits, but it does require applicants to have three years of professional management experience in addition to a bachelor’s degree. For more information on the program, visit MSU Online at online.msu.edu.
The University of Virginia (UVA) offers an online Graduate Certificate in Leadership in Human Resource Management program through its School of Continuing and Professional Studies. The 15-credit program consists of five courses that cover topics in organizational management and development, staffing and career management, legal and ethical human resource issues, and compensation and pay models. The UVA program is 100% online and does not require any campus visits. Students who have a bachelor’s degree in any field or discipline are eligible for the program. For more information on the program, visit UVA’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies at www.scps.virginia.edu.
More Graduate Certificates in Human Resources
Additional Graduate Certificates in Business
- Graduate Certificate in Construction Management
- Graduate Certificate in Digital Marketing
- Graduate Certificate in Engineering Management
- Graduate Certificate in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
- Graduate Certificate in Marketing
- Graduate Certificate in Project Management
- Graduate Certificate in Six Sigma
- Graduate Certificate in Social Media Marketing
- Graduate Certificate in Supply Chain Management
- Graduate Certificate in Sustainability
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