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Human Resources Management—Degree Programs and Potential Career Paths

A degree may open the door to a variety of opportunities and diverse career paths. The degree programs offered at CTU will not necessarily lead to the featured careers. This collection of articles is intended to help inform and guide you through the process of determining which level of degree and types of certifications align with your desired career path.

If you’re thinking about going back to school to help you prepare to pursue a human resources career path, you’ve probably noticed that you have some options. For example, you could opt to pursue a human resources degree (HR degree) program, but you could instead choose to pursue a business administration program that offers a concentration in human resources management.

Human resources management courses are designed so you can work to develop skills and fundamental knowledge that could help you prepare to pursue a human resources career path. Choosing an undergraduate- or graduate-level business administration degree program with a concentration in human resources management is one way to work toward developing both general business skills that are applicable in a range of organizations and industries and human resources-specific skills.

What Is a Human Resources Degree?

Human resources (HR) refers to personnel, i.e., the people who are employed by an organization.1 As such, the curriculum of a human resources degree program or concentration will include courses that focus on employee-related matters, for example, employee relations, employee training, compensation and benefits, labor relations and HR strategies, to name just a few.

Depending on the institution and the type of program (bachelor’s in human resources management vs. master’s in human resource management, for example), there could be additional general education or other requirements. HR degree program curricula will have a heavy load of HR courses, whereas a business administration program with a concentration in human resource management will have more general education and/or business courses overall plus a “cluster” of concentration-specific courses.

CTU Human Resource Management Degree Concentration

For those interested in pursuing an online human resources degree concentration, Colorado Technical University offers two options:

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration—Human Resource Management

The BSBA in Human Resource Management degree program is designed for students who wish to develop their foundational business skills and knowledge as well as study and build their understanding of the primary components of HR. Courses in this undergraduate online human resource management degree concentration include:

  • Building Effective Teams
  • Staffing the Organization
  • Managing Employee Performance
  • HRM Legal Environment
  • Training and Employee Development
  • Compensation and Benefits
  • Managing Labor-Management Relations

Master of Business Administration—Human Resource Management

The MBA in Human Resource Management degree program is designed for students who have a solid foundational knowledge in core business disciplines and who wish to build upon this existing knowledge to help them prepare to pursue roles in leadership. Students in this concentration will study strategic HR principles that can help them to manage change in their organization and to develop innovative solutions to human resources challenges. This concentration was developed in alignment with the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM). Concentration-specific courses include:

  • Operational Human Resource Management
  • Current Legal Issues in Human Resource Management
  • Managing Organizational Development and Change
  • MBA Capstone

Human Resources Potential Career Paths

Human Resources Specialist

HR specialists are typically trained in tasks for all disciplines of a human resources department. They help recruit and place workers, guide employees through HR procedures and provide information about an organization’s policies. They may be involved in benefits administration and payroll, although certain roles are more focused on strategic planning and hiring than on carrying out administrative duties. Human resource specialist duties typically include:2

  • Consulting with employers to identify hiring needs
  • Interviewing job applicants
  • Verifying job applicants’ references and backgrounds
  • Hiring or referring qualified applicants
  • Managing or assisting with new employee orientations
  • Maintaining employment records and process paperwork

How to Become a Human Resources Specialist: Human resources specialists typically have a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business, communications or a related field. Employers may have a preference for candidates with experience in personnel recruitment, staff training and development, employee relations and compensation and benefits.2

A college internship in an HR department could help aspiring HR specialists increase their understanding of the occupation, provide networking opportunities and may help them compete as they pursue opportunities.2

Human Resources Specialist Projected Job Outlook: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment in this occupation will grow 8 percent from 2021 to 2031.* Instead of directly employing HR specialists, companies are expected to continue to outsource HR activities to third-parties who specialize in providing human resource services.2

Human Resources Specialist

What a Human Resources Manager Does: Human resources managers plan, coordinate and direct the administrative functions of an organization’s human resources department. To help organizations attract, hire and retain talent, HR managers perform a range of functions, including employee-relations oversight, regulatory compliance, and administration of payroll, training and benefits. Some other duties typically carried out by HR managers include:3

  • Planning and coordination of an organization’s workforce to make the best use of employees’ talents
  • Advising other managers on HR issues, such as equal employment opportunity and sexual harassment
  • Coordinating and supervising the work of human resources specialists and support staff
  • Overseeing the various phases of the recruitment process
  • Handling staffing issues, such as mediating disputes and directing disciplinary procedures

How to Become a Human Resources Manager: Human resources managers typically have a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business, communications or psychology. However, some employers may require a master’s degree in human resources, labor relations or business administration for certain roles.3

But a bachelor’s degree alone may not be sufficient for seeking an HR manager role. HR managers typically also have relevant work experience, as they are usually expected to be familiar with human resources programs, human resources software and employment laws.3

Human Resources Manager Projected Job Outlook: The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of HR managers will grow 7 percent from 2021 to 2031.* This growth is expected to be driven by and dependent up on the performance and growth of individual companies (as companies grow, they tend to need additional HR managers), but HR managers will also be needed to make sure that organizations are in compliance with various changing and complex employment laws.3

Human Resources Certifications

While it can sometimes be preferred or required, HR certification is usually voluntary for most human resources specialists and managers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that human resources generalists (a type of HR specialist) in particular may benefit from seeking certification because it is an effective way to demonstrate knowledge and professional competence across all human resources areas.2 Some professional associations offering HR certification options include:

Pursuing a business administration degree with a concentration in human resources is a great way to develop versatile business and human resources skills and knowledge. Ready to learn more? Check out our BSBA—Human Resource Management and MBA—Human Resource Management degree programs, explore our full array of business degree programs or apply now.


1 Merriam-Webster Dictionary, s.v. “human resources,” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/human%20resources (visited 12/2/2022).
2 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Human Resources Specialists,” https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/human-resources-specialists.htm (visited 12/2/2022). * This data represents national figures and is not based on school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary.
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Human Resources Managers,” https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/human-resources-managers.htm (visited 9/24/2022). * This data represents national figures and is not based on school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary.

Colorado Technical University cannot guarantee employment, salary, or career advancement.
The list of career paths related to this program is based on a subset from the Bureau of Labor Statistics CIP to SOC Crosswalk. Some career paths listed above may require further education or job experience.
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