Top 10 PhD Programs in Human Resources

Human resources is one of the most critical roles in any company. The people responsible for keeping employees happy, productive, and in the know are sometimes the only thing standing between management and mutiny. In recent years, business schools and other higher education institutions have begun taking human resources seriously as a field of study and education, developing degree programs dedicated to the theory and practice of human resources. For those reaching for the higher rungs of the ladder in human resources, or who are interested in researching, teaching, and consulting in the field, a doctorate in human resources is the way to go.

Finding an Online Human Resources Doctorate

Finding a PhD in human resource management through distance education has become much easier than it ever was before, thanks to universities developing human resources doctorates in all sorts of different forms. Some programs offer a PhD in Human Resources, while others offer an online Doctor of Business Administration with a Human Resources focus; there are also online Doctor of Education (EdD) programs specializing in human resource training, while online Leadership Doctorate programs may also offer human resources expertise.

Whatever the letters on the diploma, the top PhD programs in Human Resources have the same things in common: a focus on training human resources managers and professionals to offer the best staff support, the highest level of integrity and ethical responsibility, and complete confidence and capability using modern technology. All of these are the essential elements that make for leaders in the human resources field, and that is what a Human Resources doctorate is all about.

Ranking the Top PhD Programs in Human Resources

Online PhD Programs has developed our ranking of the best PhD programs in human resources by combing the higher education landscape for fully online, hybrid, or low-residency human resources programs. With our pool of qualified institutions – all regionally accredited and known for quality – we ranked programs by three criteria:

  • Cost (from IPEDs data)
  • Reputation (from Niche scores)
  • ROI (from College Scorecard)

Any professional working in human resources who wants to go to the highest level can trust the top PhD in Human Resources programs to provide the foundation of expertise and experience to conquer that next mountain in their career.

1. University of Arkansas

Located in Fayetteville, the University of Arkansas is the premier doctoral institution in Arkansas. Since 1871, the U of A specializes in offering high-quality education to its student population. Despite its prestigious status, the University of Arkansas charges tuition on a pay per credit basis for all its online-based programs. This university enjoys good ratings from institutions such as Forbes, Times Higher Education, the Washington Monthly, and U.S News & World Report for its dedication in providing quality academic instruction, commitment to research, and program affordability. Besides offering doctoral programs in human resource management, U of A has over 200 online programs in different disciplines, including one of the top PhD programs in human resources.

Launched in 2001, the University of Arkansas’ online Doctor of Education in Human Resource and Workforce Development Education doctoral program is a 96 credit program delivering instruction asynchronously (with a onetime campus residency). For admission, students need to have at least a GRE score of 153 in verbal skills, 150 in quantitative skills, and a 4.0 rating in writing. Also, potential candidates need to have prior work experience to enroll in this program. With a student to faculty ratio of 18:1, students are assured of strong support. By providing this PhD in human resource management through distance education, students require less than four years to complete the online program. Besides that, students can attend summer classes upon request.

Format: Online
Cost: $$$$$

2. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Operating from the outskirts of Urbana and Champaign, the University of Illinois Champaign is Illinois’ flagship campus that provides a 100% online PhD in human resource management through distance education, a unique selling point for busy professionals. To deliver the curriculum’s coursework, the university combines a synchronous model with asynchronous learning for forum posts. This makes its program unique as it exposes students to principles of teamwork, leadership, system design, and work analysis. By enrolling in this university, candidates access world-class education resources in human resource management and development.

Offered as a 64 credit program, UI’s online PhD in Human Resources program focuses on topics like consultancy, human capital development, e-learning, and program evaluation. Prospective students require to present an up to date CV, three letters of reference, and a GPA score of 3.0 for admission into the program. ts Doctor of Education in Education Policy: Organizational Leadership program is unique in integrating subjects such as sexual orientation, diversity, and race and gender equality. Primarily, this program favors working professionals and allows candidates to complete the entire PhD in human resource management through distance education within 3.5 years.

Format: Online
Cost: $$$$$

3. Colorado State University Online

Established in 1870, the Colorado State University is a land grant learning institution located in Fort Collins. It enjoys popularity for its demanding programs and curricula. CSU is the flagship university in the state’s university system with eight constituent colleges and 55 faculties delivering over 150 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs. In 2017, CSU was ranked one of the top 20 institutions for online learning by U.S. News & World Report. Distinctively, it’s the only fully online, regionally accredited, independent public university in the US. Given that, it is a popular option for busy graduates who desire a self-paced doctorate education.

Colorado State University’s online Ph.D. in Education and Human Resource Studies equips students with advanced skills in leadership, communication, and effective teaching techniques. CSU doctoral program has three specializations including Education, Equity and Transformation, Organizational Learning, Performance and Change, and Higher Education Leadership. Via these specializations, postgraduate candidates become competent, effective, and responsible business and community leaders. Pursuing a CSU doctoral program online improves a graduate’s earning potential. Remarkably, CSU relies on the same faculty that delivers its on-campus curriculum to provide its PhD in human resource management through distance education coursework.

Format: Online
Cost: $$$$$

4. University of Connecticut

Founded in 1881, the University of Connecticut is a public higher learning institution located in Storrs, CT. UConn is well-known for its excellent and internationally acclaimed academic programs, as well as one of the most respected public universities in New England. Improvements in the quality of its programs have occasioned an influx of student enrollment in recent years. UConn depends on a culture of innovation to accomplish its academic mission. Its commitment to quality education ensures that UConn is a favorite destination for a vast number of international students. Given that, UConn’s human resource management doctoral program combines a distinctive blend of on-campus and online instruction. In this way, UConn maximizes a graduate’s learning experience.

UConn’s Advanced Business Management Certificate in Human Resource Management targets graduates and other professionals looking to advance their skills and knowledge in human resources management. This program has four core subjects with one course being mandatory. Students study for a year to complete this program. UConn’s graduate program targets students who need to balance family, career, and personal commitments. In pursuing this program, candidates gain high-level quantitative skills and practical knowledge leading to enhanced performance. Besides, this program serves as a stepping stone towards a Master’s degree. Successfully completing this course demonstrates a candidate’s skills in advanced human resource management concepts.

Format: Online
Cost: $$$$$

5. Bellevue University

Founded in the 1960s, Bellevue University is a non-profit university located in Bellevue, Nebraska. Since its inception, Bellevue University’s mission has been to provide students with quality and affordable education. Interestingly, more than 80% of its campus fraternity comprises of students above 25 years of age. Each year, Bellevue University caters for approximately 10,000 students in its 15 campuses offering over 70-degree programs. Recently, the US News and World Report included Bellevue University in its list of institutions providing top PhD programs in human resources. The Higher National Learning Commission accredits Bellevue University in conjunction with the U.S Department of Education.

Bellevue’s online PhD in Human Capital Management program offers specializations such as Recruitment, Foundations for Professional Success, and Benefits Administration. Coursework for this degree relies on the Professional Human Resource (PHR) body of knowledge. Also, the curriculum focuses on topics such as Equal Opportunity compliance, human capital development, labor relations, compensation, and benefits management. To graduate, candidates must attain 40 credits in business and administration studies and forty electives. Bellevue University’s human resource doctoral program is unique because of its focus on hands-on learning that relates theory to real-world scenarios. Besides, students at Bellevue University benefit from its Kirkpatrick Signature Series program, which engages candidates in active citizenship activities.

Format: Online
Cost: $$$$$

6. Old Dominion University

Old Dominion University is a public university founded in 1930 as a division of the College of William and Mary. Today, however, ODU is a full-fledged university located in Norfolk, Virginia. ODU is committed to scientific research in fields such as simulation, modeling, accelerator science, and situational analysis. In particular, ODU stands out from its peers because of its entrepreneurship-oriented doctoral research student population. Also, it has a highly rigorous campus resident community which contributes some $2.6 billion in revenue to Virginia’s economy. ODU’s online program in human resource produces high-level HR management professionals, as graduates leave ODU with an entrepreneurial mindset.

ODU’s PhD in Education: Occupational and Technical Studies – Human Resource Training specialization is available as an online graduate program. This program equips industry and business professionals with practical leadership skills in the assessment, design, and delivery of productive workforces in a globalized economy. ODU doctorate program comprises of core units in occupational and technical studies, research, electives, a dissertation, and human resources training. Graduates taking this program rely on the university’s online portal to access instructional material and other resources. Even though ODU offers this as an online program, students must attend a 2-week Summer Institute at its main campus in Norfolk. With this program, ODU hopes to achieve its goal of providing world-class PhD in human resource management through distance education.

Format: Online
Cost: $$$$$

7. Liberty University

Liberty University is a private Christian institution located in Lynchburg, VA. It’s the nation’s second largest private university, with an overall student population of more than 100,000. It’s widely recognized for its student code, The Liberty Way, which emphasizes evangelical Christian values. LU’s mission is to develop morally upright professionals through the inculcation of Christian morals and values. At LU, students engage with a curriculum grounded upon rigorous training and structured learning. Similarly, LU’s online programs incorporate thorough training, minus on-site campus residency. All of LU’s online programs sharpen an HR professional’s grasp of core HR concepts in preparation for leadership roles.

Liberty University’s Doctor of Business Administration: Human Resources targets students who desire to attain leadership positions. Its unique DBA program delivers learning using experiential learning, hands-on case studies, organizational coaching, and secondary research. LU’s DBA students cover its 60 credit curriculum 100% online unless one needs to attend an onsite interview. Most importantly, each of the program’s specializations lets students create a degree track that suits their unique needs. This university’s DBA program conveniently facilitates better interaction between students and lecturers through its WebEx portal. As a result, students build long-lasting relationships with both their peers and faculty members. In this way, LU achieves its mission of delivering top PhD programs in human resources.

Format: Online
Cost: $$$$$

8. Capella University

Founded in 1993, Capella University is a young institution designed for the convenience of working adults and other non-traditional students. As a primarily online university, CU’s mission is to provide top class profession-oriented education for students who want to see results. From its homebase in Minneapolis, MN, Capella has earned regional accreditation, and has made a name for itself based on its pioneering competency-based learning strategy, which has been widely incorporated by other online educators. Capella uses asynchronous classes, practical learning, and value-added expertise that students can apply right away to their current professions.

Capella University offers two of the top phd programs in human resources available online. These include Capella’s DBA in Business Management and Ph.D. in Business Management. Its Ph.D. in human resource track equips graduates with relevant skills in teaching, consultancy, and organizational leadership. Also, it features a curriculum based on ethics, leadership, research, and strategic management skills. Then again, its DBA in human resources management expands a candidate’s capabilities in the control of organizational performance. In this track, students focus on acquiring, managing, and retaining a workforce that is global in outlook. Besides, both tracks provide graduates with the opportunity to interact with diverse cultural and demographic factors.

Format: Online
Cost: $$$$$

9. University of Texas at Tyler

The University of Texas at Tyler is a young university that became a member of the Texas State University system in the year of its founding, 1979. Its mission is to provide expertise in the management of organizations through the training of individuals a corporate human capital. Its online home resource management program prepares students to solve the pressing issues that business organizations confront in the 21st century. Although its human resource program is a 100% online, it allows students to congregate five times a week. In this way, graduates benefit from interactions with professionals in the same career. As a result, enrolling in its online program allows some level of flexibility that you can’t find elsewhere.

The University of Texas at Tyler’s hybrid PhD in Human Resource Development is a 24-month long program that blends theory and practical application of human resource concepts. Skills obtained in this program distinguish UT’s graduates as highly flexible professionals. For the program, doctoral candidates must complete a training regimen comprising of 60 credits in human resources management, statistics, a dissertation, and a research core. However, for admission, one needs to have a Master’s degree in a relevant area, a 3.0 GPA, and a 500 GMAT score. Additionally, students enrolled at the University of Texas’s online program concentrate on research and organizational project development skills in one of the nation’s top PhD programs in human resources.

Format: Online
Cost: $$$$$

10. Northcentral University

Northcentral University was founded in 1996 as one of the first fully online colleges ever. For more than two decades, Northcentral has been building a reputation for diversity, accessibility, and convenience, helping working adults, career-changing professionals, and other nontraditional students earn their degrees. While Northcentral is a for-profit institution, it has also earned regional accreditation and provides fully online programs all the way up to the doctoral level. Northcentral developed one of the first fully online Schools of Business and Technology to earn ACBSP accreditation.

Northcentral’s online PhD in Human Resources Management degree program provides students with a full view of contemporary human capital development, from diversity to technological innovation to labor relations. Students learn the most current human resource management theory, and practice using up-to-date technology, focusing on the work of building trusting relationships within a company or organization. All coursework is fully online, and all faculty have terminal degrees in their field, providing full support and mentorship for online students.

Format: Online
Cost: $$$$$