Masters in Human Resource Management: Courses Structure, Specializations & Career | Top Universities

Whether you previously studied human resources (HR) as part of an undergraduate business degree, or you’re a professional seeking to access a range of HR careers, a Masters in Human Resource Management could be the perfect next step in developing your critical understanding of people and the businesses they work for. Click on the tabs below to find out about human resource management courses, specializations and HR careers.

Masters in Human Resource Management courses are most commonly offered as a Master of Science (MSc) or a specialized Master of Business Administration (MBA), but are also sometimes available as Master of Arts (MA) degrees. Some universities offer human resource management courses as part of a more general master’s degree, combining HR with business studies, which may be useful if you haven’t previously studied business and want to gain a foundational understanding of relevant issues. 

The length of master’s programs will vary between countries, but a Masters in Human Resource Management will usually take one or two years to complete, if you study full-time. 

Masters in human resource management course structure

 

You will focus on critically assessing the role of human resources in modern organizations, from hiring procedures to strategies for motivating employees, and systems for developing and retaining talent. In addition to lectures, seminars and classes, you may also have the opportunity to learn through practical experience. For example, you may be offered an internship or work placement in the HR department of an organization, allowing you to gain valuable first-hand experience of HR careers.

Entry requirements

To study a Masters in Human Resource Management you will typically need to have a good undergraduate degree. Some universities state that they would like your degree to be in a subject related to management, while others are open to graduates of any academic background, particularly if you can demonstrate a strong level of interest in HR. Many universities will also accept students who do not have an undergraduate degree, but have extensive professional experience in the field. 

Common specializations offered in Masters in Human Resource Management courses include:

Employment law 

Specializations

Essential for all organizations, this specialization focuses on the laws affecting human resource management, and practices for ensuring compliance with all relevant regulations. Some universities will offer this specialization with an international outlook, while others will focus in detail on the labor laws of a particular country – usually the country in which the university is based.

Talent management 

One key part of HR careers is helping organizations to effectively attract, retain and nurture talents and skills. In this specialization, you’ll explore various approaches to resourcing and managing talent, and the impact this can have on organizational success. You’ll consider issues such as identifying and developing talent, managing turnover, downsizing and rebuilding human capital, and health and safety at work.

Diversity management

This specialization is sometimes found as a compulsory module in Masters in Human Development courses, but is also often offered as an optional specialization. You will gain a critical understanding, usually with a global focus, of the ways in which equal opportunities regulations aim to ensure every employee (or potential employee) is treated equally regardless of age, gender, sexuality or other personal factors.

Comparative industrial relations

In this specialization, you’ll approach human resources in an international context, developing an understanding of the growing importance of global industrial relations for those in HR careers. You’ll learn about a variety of practices in HR and business operations, and gain an understanding of how these are influenced by social and economic factors.

Other popular HR specializations include training and development, reward management, occupational psychology, strategy, HR issues in outsourcing, employee engagement, and leadership and management development. 

Your Masters in Human Resource Management should equip you with the skills and knowledge to enter a range of specialized HR careers, as well as preparing you more broadly for managerial positions in all kinds of organizations. Popular careers in human resources and recruitment include:

Human resources manager 

Human resource management careers

Perhaps the most obvious career option with a Masters in Human Resource Management, a human resources manager works to ensure that HR tasks in an organization, such as recruitment and staff training, are handled effectively and following best practices. HR managers will need a good awareness of the company’s objectives in order to hire the right employees, and will also deal with staff welfare, effectively providing a link between employees and management.

Equality and diversity officer

If you have a keen interest in equality and diversity and how it relates to human resources, you may wish to pursue a career in this field. You will implement your organization’s equality and diversity policies, working to avoid negativity or discrimination in the workplace. Employers will highly value any relevant work experience which demonstrates your commitment to this area. It may therefore be helpful to join an equality and diversity committee or related society while at university.

Training and development officer/manager 

Training and development officers/managers oversee the learning and professional development of a company’s staff members, seeking to ensure all employees are equipped with the knowledge and practical skills needed to perform required tasks. This will of course vary considerably depending on the industry in which you work. As is the case for all HR careers, work experience in any leadership-related role would be beneficial for entry to this role.

Recruitment consultant

If your Masters in Human Resource Management has given you a particular interest in the recruitment techniques of organizations, then this career might suit you. Recruitment consultants work with client companies to attract and match potential employees in temporary or permanent roles. Like most HR careers, this role requires excellent communication and interpersonal skills, and an ability to cope with pressure and challenging briefs.

Management consultant 

Human resource management careers

Management consultants use their business skills to provide expert advice in order to help organizations improve their performance by resolving problems, creating value and maximizing growth. As a graduate of a Masters in Human Resource Management, you could offer specialized consultancy on HR-related issues. You’re also likely to need strong numerical and analytical skills for this role, which could involve advising businesses in a wide range of sectors.

Key Skills

Common skills gained from Masters in Human Resource Management include:

  • General understanding of business operations
  • Organizational and project management skills
  • The ability to understand complex regulations
  • General IT skills
  • The ability to compile and interpret data
  • Leadership and team-working skills
  • Decision-making and problem-solving
  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • In-depth knowledge of relevant fields, such as employment law