Advance Your Career with a Master’s Degree in Human Resources

Industry Advice Management

There are many exciting job opportunities for individuals hoping to pursue a career in human resources. However, while some may be able to obtain an entry- or even specialist-level role with a bachelor’s degree alone, those looking to advance in their careers may find themselves limited without a master’s degree.

The Human Resources Management Degree at Northeastern

At Northeastern, the Master of Science in Human Resources Management program was created specifically to supply the educational background and practical tools that future HR professionals need to thrive in the industry today.

Over the course of the program—which is a more intensive version of Northeastern’s human resources management graduate certificate—students gain the knowledge and skills required in HR roles, including strategic workforce planning, employee engagement strategies, and employee contract development, among many others.

They also have the opportunity to pick a specialty within the field from six unique concentrations. These concentrations were developed through an in-depth analysis of current industry trends and predictions for the future, and, as such, cover a variety of timely and important topics including organizational communication, global talent, and digital HR.

“Human resources has been a big concentration in our communication and leadership master’s programs [for years], so we’re definitely not starting from scratch here,” says Carl Zangerl, faculty director for the graduate communication and human resources management programs within Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies. “This is a program that [has been designed to] resonate with a lot of professionals, both in the U.S. and abroad.”

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A Program for Students with Any Background

Northeastern’s Master’s in Human Resources Management is formatted to benefit students with backgrounds that are diverse in more ways than just their national or international status, however.

There are three main types of students Zangerl sees seeking an advanced study of human resources, and each will come into the classroom with very different levels of HR knowledge. These three types of students include:

  1.     Individuals who are brand new to the field.
  2.     Those who have some experience working in HR, but need more.
  3.     Experienced industry professionals looking to be promoted into a high-level role or focus on a specific concentration of HR work.

Luckily, Zangerl explains, the program at Northeastern can benefit each one of these students, as it has been structured to set any individual on a path toward a successful career in HR. “For people who are new to the field, there are core required courses that get them up to speed, [and] for people who have experience in the field, they can accelerate through those courses,” he says.

One way Northeastern allows students with some experience to fast-track a portion of their studies is through a unique transfer credit program. The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and HR Certification Institute (HRCI) both offer a certification process for those in the field, and students that have been previously certified and are now pursuing their master’s degree can actually count that certification as up to six quarter-hours in the program. This allows them to “transfer credit in for the introductory courses and move right onto the advanced ones,” Zangerl says, a practice which is not only a time-saver for students but a money-saver, as well.

For those students looking to advance in their existing careers in HR, simply choosing to enroll in a program and expand the breadth of their knowledge can make a big impact. Zangerl explains that “a lot of human resource management positions now require or strongly encourage a master’s degree,” and as only 22 percent of applicants in the field currently hold one (according to EMSI Analyst), this leaves a lot of opportunity for advancement for those who do choose to invest in furthering their education.

Experiential Learning

Like many of the graduate programs offered at Northeastern, the curriculum for the human resources management degree includes an exciting experiential learning component which gives students real-world exposure to human resources work outside of the classroom.

Full-time students have the opportunity to participate in co-ops, internships, and even non-credit experiential work with one of the business or nonprofit organizations in Northeastern’s expansive network. These experiences not only allow students to apply what they’ve learned in their courses to their work while maintaining a safety net of professors and classmates for guidance, but can also be a great way for those looking to break into the field to jump-start their career. These students “can say ‘I have a master’s, but I’ve also done project work for companies or nonprofits,’” Zangerl says, explaining that this will be a benefit for those without much prior hands-on experience when it comes time to apply to jobs.

Take the Next Step

No matter where students are in their journey toward a career in the exciting human resource industry, they can benefit from participating in a diverse and impactful master’s program like Northeastern’s.

“[Human resource management] is a fascinating field with lots of changes going on in it,” Zangerl says. “I think we designed a program that really reflects the skills and competencies HR professionals are going to need to have really productive careers for themselves both now and in the foreseeable future.”

masters degree in human resource management