Masters in Human Resources Vs. MBA

A master's in human resources often suggests that HR is your true passion.
A master's in human resources often suggests that HR is your true passion. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Human resources (HR) is a critical functional department present in most organizations. Employees in this area work to provide support systems related to effective management and motivation of the company's employees. HR responsibilities commonly include hiring and firing, tracking applicants, skill development and training programs, benefits administration and legal HR regulations compliance. A master's of human resources (HRM) or a master's of business administration (MBA) in human resources both offer viable career options in this field.

HRM Basics

A master's of human resources is generally considered a more specialized degree than an MBA with emphasis in HR. An HRM includes a curriculum that is almost entirely centered on HR topics. A program would likely include courses in leadership and strategic management concepts, organizational psychology, and organizational design with topics that include recruiting, training, HR law, compensation and benefits, according to the MBA Schools website article "HR MBA vs. Traditional Masters Degree."

MBA in Human Resources Basics

An MBA is typically regarded as a general advanced business management degree. Students in MBA programs either elect to get the general MBA, or they can specialize, as with the MBA in HR. Students in an MBA program specializing in HR would likely take classes that include organizational behavior and design, corporate management and business strategy concepts, ethical leadership, and comprehensive human resources theories, according to the MBA Schools site. However, these courses would go along with a broader program of business management courses that have transferability across various vocation areas.

Career Options

Depending on your experiences and qualifications, professionals entering the field of HR or looking to grow into higher level positions often find similar success in doing so with an MBA or HRM. Typically people getting an advanced degree are looking for upper level positions in their field of employment.

Making a Choice

HR involves a wide array of specialty fields as noted. This means that employees in this field can work their way up to management positions within the department, or for particular specialization, such as benefits. A discussion among academics and professionals in HR on the Society for Human Resource Management website indicates a commonly held view that an MBA typically signifies that you have a management first, HR second perspective. An HRM suggests that human resources is your passion and you want to grow into a leadership role within that profession. Though every person's educational and career path is unique, take into consideration which type of degree makes sense for you.

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