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25 Best Master's in Human Resources Programs 2020

By the GradReports team | Updated 4/1/2020

This list highlights the best 25 colleges with a Master's in Human Resources, in order of highest median starting salary for graduates of this program. The top ranked school is Cornell University, with a median salary of $95,100. The school with the lowest median debt for this degree is Emmanuel College - MA, with a debt of $26,150. The schools on the list boast median starting salaries in the $64,700-$95,100 range for students who graduated with a Master's Degree in Human Resources.

Tuition, median salaries, and median debt were reported by the U.S. Department of Education in November 2019. View our methodology for more details about these rankings or read more about the top-ranked schools.

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Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Rank School Location Annual Tuition Median Debt Median Salary
#1 #1 Ithaca (NY) Ithaca (NY) $29,584 $36,000 $95,100
#2 #2 Champaign (IL) Champaign (IL) $31,279 $41,607 $87,700
#3 #3 East Lansing (MI) East Lansing (MI) $35,628 $36,442 $86,300
#4 #4 Columbia (SC) Columbia (SC) $29,596 $37,047 $84,200
#5 #5 New York (NY) New York (NY) $31,462 $46,675 $79,900
#6 #6 Houston (TX) Houston (TX) $18,465 $40,641 $79,600
#7 #7 Hamden (CT) Hamden (CT) $19,350 $41,000 $79,400
#8 #8 San Francisco (CA) San Francisco (CA) $18,985 $31,324 $78,900
#9 #9 Washington D.C. Washington D.C. $50,012 $54,000 $78,000
#10 #10 New York (NY) New York (NY) $20,280 $30,018 $77,800
#11 #11 Villanova (PA) Villanova (PA) $19,005 $34,166 $77,800
#12 #12 New York (NY) New York (NY) $45,426 $76,561 $76,600
#13 #13 Morgantown (WV) Morgantown (WV) $25,776 $39,875 $76,000
#14 #14 Washington D.C. Washington D.C. $30,834 $46,125 $74,500
#15 #15 Philadelphia (PA) Philadelphia (PA) $34,995 $54,418 $72,900
#16 #16 Houston (TX) Houston (TX) $12,200 $44,416 $71,200
#17 #17 Logan (UT) Logan (UT) $21,309 $32,011 $70,600
#18 #18 Boston (MA) Boston (MA) $14,319 $26,150 $70,200
#19 #19 Washington D.C. Washington D.C. $46,800 $41,000 $67,100
#20 #20 Greenwood Village (CO) Greenwood Village (CO) $9,000 $43,697 $66,900
#21 (tie) #21 (tie) State College (PA) State College (PA) $38,012 $41,000 $66,500
#21 (tie) #21 (tie) La Verne (CA) La Verne (CA) $14,238 $41,000 $66,500
#23 #23 Denver (CO) Denver (CO) $49,695 $40,230 $65,600
#24 #24 Virginia Beach (VA) Virginia Beach (VA) $16,179 $39,524 $64,700
#25 #25 Columbus (OH) Columbus (OH) $34,929 $33,599 $63,600

2020 Best Colleges Highlights

#1
Ithaca (NY)
Median Salary $95,100
Median Debt $36,000
Annual Tuition $29,584

Cornell University's Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) program features a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Human Resources. This is a hybrid program; classes are held online but students must attend three one-week sessions on the Ithaca, New York campus. Admission is highly competitive, and cohort consists of 50 students with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Forty-eight credits are required for completion, and students can graduate in 15 months. The program is designed for working professionals with at least eight years of professional experience.

The ILR stresses the application of social sciences to the global workplace in order to build and manage positive workplace relationships. Students can choose from two concentrations: Human Resource Management or Labor Relations, Economics and Organizational Behavior. Students will integrate their past professional experience with current theory and best practices and learn about optimal solutions based on their unique situations.  Among the courses included are Understanding Financial Statements, Getting Results Through Talent Management, and Reading and Managing Emotions.

ILR also offers a related program, an on-campus Master of Industrial and Labor Relations.

Cornell is located in Ithaca, in upstate New York's Finger Lakes region. Founded in 1865, the school is a member of the prestigious Ivy League.

Visit Cornell University's website.

Median Salary $87,700
Median Debt $41,607
Annual Tuition $31,279

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign features a Master's Degree in Human Resources and Industrial Relations (MHRIR). The degree is available both on campus and online in a full-time or part-time structure. Both the online and campus versions of the program consist of 48 credits. On-campus students can complete the program in three semesters, whereas online students can typically require two years for completion. The on-campus degree includes 40 course credits and an eight-credit these. Some of the courses included in the online program are synchronous whereas others are asynchronous, but all follow a semester schedule with two eight-week terms per semester.

The MHRIR program is designed for generalists interested in Human Resource roles in business, labor unions and government. Students will learn current theory and effective practice for efficient administration, hiring, quantitative analysis of data, negotiation and problem resolution. 

Courses included in the program include Workplace Dispute Resolution, Managing Diversity Globally, Collective Bargaining, and Human Resources Staffing and Planning. The placement rate for recent graduates is an impressive 95%.

Visit University of Illinois Urbana - Champaign's website

#3
East Lansing (MI)
Median Salary $86,300
Median Debt $36,442
Annual Tuition $35,628

Michigan State University offers a Master's in Human Resources and Labor Relations (MHRLR). This program is one of the highest-ranked of its kind in the world. It's offered through the similarly named College of Human Resources and Labor Relations. The program requires 36 credits and is offered only on campus. The MHRLR usually is completed in two years, but may be finished in one and a half years if the student takes four classes per term. 

The program approaches the topics of effective administration and problem resolution from a global perspective. There are study abroad options in Korea, China and South Africa, and courses include Foundation of Employee Benefits, International Human Resources, and Negotiation and Conflict Resolution. Additionally, students will learn about strategy, law, data analysis and many other aspects of HR and labor relations. There are no concentrations as such, but students may choose their courses in order to focus on subjects of particular interest, such as workplace law, international human resources, or labor relations.

Michigan State is located in East Lansing in the middle of the state. Admissions are highly competitive, but domestic applications with five or more years of relevant experience are not required to submit GMAT or GRE scores.

Visit Michigan State University's website.

Median Salary $84,200
Median Debt $37,047
Annual Tuition $29,596

The University of South Carolina-Columbia features a Master's in Human Resources. This 45-credit degree is only offered on campus and full-time students can graduate in 16 months. For selected students, there is an advanced track called Professional Master of Human Resources that awards an Executive Master of Human Resources (EMHR). Both degrees are offered through the Darla Moore School of Business.

The overall focus of the program is career advancement and job placement. Emphasis is placed on understanding the global economy and working in diverse settings with equally diverse personnel. Students will learn about data-driven decision making, collaborative skills, international business, recruitment, benefits administration and influence tactics. There is an internship or practicum requirement.

Among the courses offered in the curriculum are Human Resources and the Global Firm, Labor Relations, and Human Resource Metrics and Research.

The school is located in Columbia, the state capital, in the central part of the state.

Visit University of South Carolina's website.

#5
New York (NY)
Median Salary $79,900
Median Debt $46,675
Annual Tuition $31,462

Through its Lubin School of Business, Pace University-New York offers a Master of Science in Human Resource Management (MSHRM). The program is available on the New York City campus. It is a 30-credit program, and most students are able to graduate in two years or fewer of full-time study. The campus is in lower Manhattan, offering exceptional contacts with the city's business and financial communities. A minimum of three years of relevant work experience is required for admission. Recent MSHRM graduates have achieved an excellent rate of placement and compensation.

Students will learn about labor relations, employment law, recruitment skills, organizational behaviors, retention strategies, and staff flow management. The overall program focus is on combining theory and current best practices in human resource management to advance students' careers. The program also stresses communication skills, collaboration, and flexibility in the global economy.

Courses in the program include Business Writing, Negotiations and Bargaining, and Appraisal, Compensation and Assessment.

Visit Pace University's website.