What is the Best Post-Grad Degree for HR? MBA or MS in HR Management?

post-grad HR degrees
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Liz Strikwerda

Content strategist and corporate blogger (2000+ posts). Her work has been featured on G2's Learning Hub, Human Resources Today, Better Buys and over 500 business websites. She plays bluegrass mandolin and enjoys sailing her catamaran and hiking in the red rock wilderness of southern Utah. Connect with me on LinkedIn

Exploring Human Resources degrees? Which post-grad degree is best? You are probably weighing whether to get an MBA or MS in HR Management. (We will assume you have your undergraduate degree.)

Both post-grad Human Resources degrees can help you advance to higher level Human Resources positions.

The Employment Outlook For Human Resources Managers

According to the U.S. Bureau Labor Statistics (BLS), careers in human resources management will continue to increase annually by 9 percent until 2026.  The average salary for human resource managers was $113,300 in May 2018.

Are the Human Resources degrees essentially interchangeable? How do you choose between them?

First, let’s discuss what each post-grad HR degree entails.

Master’s of Business Administration (MBA)

An MBA degree prepares you for a career in any industry. All programs have classes on finance, marketing, information science, economics, accounting, and business management. In addition to these general courses, you can choose specialty electives. These include business strategy, entrepreneurship, operations management, and technology management.

Of course, MBA students planning to work in HR take the Human Resources specialization classes. These include business communication, employee relations, recruitment, compensation and benefits, and organizational behavior.

Master’s of Science in Human Resources Management

The general business coursework for the MS is similar to an MBA program. However, there is an increased focus on the human relations implications of the various business functions.

Many people believe the MS in Human Resources Management is more valuable. They argue that it contains everything you’d get with an MBA plus an increased level of specialization.

Areas of focus include conflict management, training and development, employment law, labor relations, change management, HR analytics, leadership, and organizational strategy.

How Do I Choose Which Degree To Earn?

The following factors can help you decide between Human Resources degrees.

Career Path

Are you planning to work solely in Human Resources positions? If so, the MS in Human Resources Management would serve you well. Not sure you want to work exclusively in Human Resources? In that case, the MBA would be better for keeping your options open.

Specialization

Have you chosen your Human Resources area of focus? Have you found an MBA program with that emphasis? If you have chosen an emerging HR niche, you may not find it in an MBA program. In that case, an MS in HR Management is your only option.

Both Post-Grad Human Resources Degrees Are Valuable

While this choice is important, remember that either degree will prepare you for a lucrative and rewarding career.

Average Salaries For High Paying Jobs In HR Management

  • Training and Development Manager: $87,700
  • HR Manager (Generalist): $96,130
  • Compensation and Benefits Manager: $94,291
  • Healthcare and social assistance: $91,250
  • Government: $95,950
  • Manufacturing: $103,200
  • Professional, scientific, and technical services: $120,980
  • Management of companies and enterprises: $121,390

Highest Paying Industries for HR Management

  • Finance: Central Banks, Commodities and Securities, Investment Banks
  • Cable Telecommunications
  • Computer Equipment Manufacturing

By Liz Strikwerda

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Simplify HR management today.

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