Expectations of an Online Human Resources PhD Program

For those wanting to move forward in the business field, earning a PhD in Human Resources is a step in the right direction. The Doctoral program in Human Resources provides a student with a strong background on how to analyze key concepts and theories, and understand the research behind effective organizational behavior. The Doctorate in Human Resources also teaches the graduate how employment relationships affect organizations, workers, and society as a whole. Some other areas in human resources that are emphasized through the HR PhD are compensation and benefits, onboarding, and leadership skills. There are programs that offer human resources courses online, and others that are in a hybrid format. The program helps students engage in multidisciplinary analyses of Human Resource management and labor relations issues.

Some initial courses in the curriculum are Organizational Theory, Psychological and Sociological Foundations of Research in Management, and Social Capital: Theory and Applications. As a graduate of the program, a student may learn to develop a critical analysis of issues in the personnel department of a company. An applicant will also learn about the old strategies that HR professionals formerly utilized, and how it changed the future of Human Resources as we know it today. A PhD in Human Resources usually takes four to five years to complete for full-time students. A dissertation is required for completion of the program.

Prerequisite Education

For a graduate student to enroll in a doctoral degree in Human Resources, there several steps to take first. Earning a GPA of 3.0 or higher in prior coursework is required for many PhD programs in Human Resources. Professional job experience is essential, and the completion of at least one of the following Master’s degrees as well:

  • Master’s in Human Resources
  • Master’s in Organizational Behavior
  • Master’s in Business Administration

The professional experience in Human Resources or a related field often must be at least 2-5 years, to earn admission in an HR PhD program. Many programs require letters of recommendation along with a resume or CV, a writing sample, and often and in-person or video interview.

Continued Education

After a student has earned their PhD in Human Resources, three certifications are available to a recent graduate. They are entirely optional; however, they may increase an applicant’s job options and performance in the Human Resources field. The associations affiliated with the certifications are:

PhD Job outlook

As a graduate of a PhD in Human Resources program, the job opportunities come with many possibilities. Job seekers can find employment in consulting work, academic instruction in a college or university, or writing positions within a company or firm. HR managers plan, direct, and coordinate all functions of a company’s organization. According to the BLS, the job growth is about nine percent up for consultants and HR Managers and continues to rise through 2026. For HR Directors or Chief Human Resources Officer positions, the PhD in Human Resources alone may not be enough. Many corporations require at least one or two decades of human resource work experience along with the PhD degree.