Human resource management has always been an important part of any business operation. The position has evolved in recent years, adding business strategy into the mix of duties that still includes recruiting, hiring and retaining high-quality employees.

It’s a smart career for those looking to work in a field that is growing. The number of HR managers will increase 7% between 2016 and 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That number is even higher in New England states such as Connecticut (8.9%) and Massachusetts (8.6%).

Salaries in the field reached a mean annual wage of $126,700 in May 2018. That number is even higher in the Boston metro area, which is among the top employers of human resource managers and offers a mean annual salary of $147,330.

There are two main pathways to prepare for leadership in human resources — earning an MBA in Human Resource Management or a Master of Science in Human Resource Management. Both prepare graduates for leadership positions but in different ways.

MS in Human Resource Management

The online MS in Human Resource Management degree from New England College is designed for both experienced HR employees who want to take the next step in their career as well as professionals in other careers looking to transition into human resources management.

Students in the program learn the latest about recruiting and retaining employees in the current labor market. They leave the program with an understanding of the best tools and techniques to attract the best employees and create a company culture that leads to their staying.

The degree program, which typically takes about 18 months, also offers graduates expertise in areas such as:

  • Resolving employee disputes
  • Administering services to employees
  • Overseeing HR support staff
  • Developing and managing the processes for recruiting, interviewing, selecting and hiring employees
  • Advising management on equal employment opportunity, sexual harassment, and other HR issues
  • Working through disciplinary procedures

The MBA in Human Resources Management

Those who pursue an MBA in Human Resource Management at New England College learn about key areas of HR management such as compensation and benefits, information systems in human resource management, talent acquisition, and talent management.

However, an MBA program also takes a high-level view of how HR management fits into the overall organization, including the development and execution of business strategy.

The MBA curriculum includes courses in:

  • Economics for Leaders
  • Finance for Leaders
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Organizational Leadership and Change
  • Strategic Marketing
  • Strategic Planning and Policy

Some Differences Between the Two

The strategic component of the MBA program attracts many students. As noted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM),  strategic human resource management is a “future-oriented process of developing and implementing HR programs that address and solve business problems and directly contribute to major long-term business objectives.”

Such strategic leadership calls for integrating recruiting and retaining the right employees to meet business objectives, as well as “providing ethical and cultural leadership,” according to SHRM.

In the MS in HR Management program, students also study strategic planning as well as organizational leadership. It also offers more in-depth courses on developing and managing processes within a human resource department.

For example, students take courses in areas such as employment and labor relations, conflict analysis and resolution, global human resources, organizational effectiveness/design, talent development and research methods in HR management.

The bottom line is that either degree program can help ambitious professionals attain their goal of a position in human resource management. The key is to study the details of both programs and decide which best fits your interests and skills.