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Professionals with online associates in human resources degrees view human resources management in two ways. First, human resources management is the independent function within an organization charged with the management of all issues related to its people. These include the rank-and-file employees, supervisors, and managers, among others.
Additional Info to Consider: The 10 Best Online Associates in Business Administration Degrees
Federal data points to a 9% employment growth rate for human resources managers. Earning a place in the profession can start with an online Human Resources associate degree. But don’t stop there either – pursue a Bachelor’s in Human Resources degree, gain relevant work experience, and even earn professional certifications. With human resources management in constant flux, it pays to gain an up-to-date skill set!
Schools That Made the List! Use these Quick Jumps or start scrolling!
- Pennsylvania State University World Campus
- Penn Foster College
- Montana State University Billings
- Rasmussen University
- Waldorf University
- Herkimer County Community College
- Concordia University Wisconsin
- Bryant & Stratton College
- Ashworth College
- San Joaquin Valley College
Indeed, an associate in human resources degree is a window into the challenging and rewarding world of human resources management! Earning it means gaining the foundational knowledge and skills for success in the competitive field.
To assist you in a making sound decisions for your undergrad study, the 10 Best Online Associates in Human Resources were listed with these features in mind:
- Delivered as a 100% or partially web-based program to accommodate adult learners,
- Features rigorous coursework that highlights the many facets of HR, introducing students to the basics of the discipline to prepare them for a bachelor’s program or career opportunities in the field,
- Develops students’ soft skills in leadership, management, collaboration, problem-solving, and ethical practice, which are essential for success in the workplace,
- Offers the Transfer Pathway initiative for students to seamlessly transition to a bachelor’s degree upon completing the associate’s degree program,
- Hosted on a robust Learning Management System or a virtual platform that makes access to coursework resources convenient for students,
- Faculty consisting of professional HR practitioners or researchers known for their significant contributions,
- Offers financial aid options and related services to assist qualified students,
- Earned proper accreditation in compliance with the highest academic standards,
- Maintains active membership in organizations that promote HR degree programs and assist HR professionals in their careers.
Visit our Methodology page to know more about our degree ranking process.
10 Best Online Associate in Human Resources Degree Programs
Penn State World Campus
The online Associate in Science (AS) in Labor and Human Resources program at Penn State enables students to develop practical skills in human resources management. Students learn about employment and business law, sociology, and other aspects of human resources administration.
Students complete 60 credits to earn the human resources associate degree. Courses cover topics like:
- Exploring Work and Employment
- Employment Relationship: Law and Policy
- Labor and Employment Relations Fundamentals
- Human Resources Fundamentals
- Research Methods in Labor Studies & Employment Relations
Students must earn a grade of C (minimum) in the major courses. The curriculum also includes general education and elective courses.
This is a human resources management program with a strong liberal arts emphasis. Graduates can then apply their learning in diverse industries.
Some students in the human resource administration program may be eligible for financial aid. Penn State’s per-term tuition depends on the number of credits taken, from $620 to $664 per credit. An applicant’s high school diploma or its equivalent is also required.
Penn State World Campus is an online school accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
Penn Foster College
The online Human Resources Management Associate Degree program at Penn Foster is a training ground for aspiring human resources professionals. Students benefit from flexible online classes that prepare them for entry-level positions.
This is a four-semester human resources degree program with more than 30 exams and a submitted project. Students complete 68 credits of online classes in:
- Human Resources Management
- Training Concepts
- Compensation Management
- Organizational Behavior
- Labor Relations
The human resource administration program has a 7-month average time per semester. But students may also get on the 4-month fast track.
Students learn technical skills including employee training strategies in the human resources associate degree program. Soft skills developed include communication and critical thinking skills.
Penn Foster College, a private, for-profit online college, is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).
Montana State University Billings
The online Associate of Science (AS) in Human Resources program at MSU Billings prepares students for the challenges of human resources management ahead. Students must work with academic advisors to ensure their success while in the program.
Students are also well-advised to meet with academic advisors on transferring college credit. Academic advisors also provide assistance in choosing courses.
This is a unique human resource management program in that it offers two major options.
- The General Applied Human Resources track builds foundational knowledge in human resources management. Emphasis is on employee relations, risk management, and human resource analysis.
- The Articulated track allows students to earn a human resources associate degree and transfer to a bachelor’s degree program. Emphasis is on compensation and benefits administration, equal opportunity employment, and organizational development.
Both human resources programs emphasize the Equal Employment Opportunity Act in their curriculum.
Admission into the human resource administration program requires a high school diploma, at least.
Montana State University Billings, the third-largest university in Montana, is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
The online Associate in Human Resources and Organizational Leadership program is the start of a great career! Business ethics, training and development, and management are at its core.
Note that this is a ladderized program. This means the associate degree in human resources is the first two years of a bachelor’s degree. Rasmussen University offers an online bachelor’s degree counterpart in this field.
Graduates may qualify for certification exams. These include the Project Management Professional and Certified Associate in Project Management exams.
The Human Resources Management program consists of 14 courses and 91 credits. Students complete the program in 18 months. The basics of human resource administration are learned through courses in:
- Introduction to Human Resource Management
- Introduction to Organizational Leadership
- Employment Law
Prospective students must at least have a high school diploma.
Rasmussen University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and offers undergraduate and graduate degrees.
The online-only Associate of Arts (AA) in Human Resource Management program emphasizes SHRM’s key competencies. Aside from a foundational course, students select four other courses that reflect key competencies. Both working and aspiring professionals are welcome.
The credits earned in the human resource associate degree are transferable to a bachelor’s degree. Waldorf University’s BS in Business Administration program accepts its graduates as juniors.
Full-time students in the human resource administration program can earn an associate degree in two years. The 60-credit curriculum features major courses in:
- Human Resources Management
- Employment and Labor Law
- Recruitment and Staffing
- Compensation and Benefits
- Human Resources Management Strategy and Emerging Issues
Waldorf University, a Forest City, Iowa-based private for-profit university, is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Herkimer County Community College
The Associate of Applied Science or (AAS) – Human Resource Management program has a 63-credit curriculum and can be completed 100% online. Online students are awarded the same diploma as their on-campus counterparts.
The human resources management program prepares students for diverse entry-level positions. Graduates are well-versed in the basics of employee benefits, job analysis, and the employment process. Students can also look forward to further studies.
Aside from the benefits of online classes, students also have access to a personal concierge and tutor.
Herkimer County Community College is a component public community college of the State University of New York (SUNY) system.
Concordia University Wisconsin
The online Associate of Arts (AA) in Human Resource Management program develops both hard and soft skills among aspiring professionals. Interpersonal communication skills complement business management know-how in human resources management settings.
There’s also an emphasis on the leadership skills of servant-leaders in the human resource associate degree program. Students gain valuable insights from credentialed instructors.
The human resources management courses cover topics on:
- Organizational Management Principles
- Human Resource Management
- Employment and Labor Relations
- Compensation and Benefits
- Diversity, Inclusion, and Human Relations
Admission into the human resource administration program requires at least a high school diploma. College credits are accepted for transfer.
Concordia University Wisconsin, a component university of the private Concordia University System, is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Bryant & Stratton College
The online Associate Degree in Human Resources Specialist program prepares students in the basics of human resource administration. Students are trained in generalist roles and encouraged to develop specialist skills.
There’s a strong focus on the employment laws at the local, state, and federal levels, too. Along with business management skills, knowledge of these laws lead to more job opportunities. The credits earned in on-campus and online classes are the same.
The key courses in the human resources associate degree program are:
- Introduction to Human Resources
- Introduction to Compensation & Benefits
- Organizational Behavior & Leadership
- Recruitment, Selection & Staffing
- Employment Law & Labor Relations
Students earn the human resources management degree upon completion of an internship or capstone course.
Bryant & Stratton College, a multicampus, private for-profit college, is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
The online Associate of Science (AS) in Human Resource Management program attracts the best students due to its well-rounded curriculum. Students gain foundational knowledge and skills in liberal arts and human resources management.
This is a four-semester program with 24 credits dedicated to major subjects in human resource administration. Students also learn the fundamentals of business administration alongside employee recruitment.
Students earn the human resources associate degree upon completion of major courses including:
- Human Relations
- Human Resource Management
- Employment Law
- Training and Development
- Compensation and Benefits
Graduates with the human resources management degree demonstrate proficiency in several other key competencies, too. These include risk management and business ownership.
Admission into the human resource administration program requires a high school diploma or equivalent. Admitted students get academic support and access to the student portal, and an online community.
Ashworth College, a Georgia-based private for-profit online college, is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).
San Joaquin Valley College
The online Associate of Science (AS) in Human Resources Administration program has among the shortest completion times. It is a 14-month program. Students also earn a certificate of completion in HR Management in 7 months.
Major courses in the human resource administration program include:
- Payroll Management and Compensation
- Ethics in Human Resources
Graduates awarded an associate degree in human resources administration qualify for diverse HR jobs. These include human resource assistants and administrative specialists.
San Joaquin Valley College, a multicampus private for-profit college, is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
Take a look at this: The 20 Best Universities for In-Person (Traditional Delivery) Business Degrees
Overview of Online Associate in Human Resources Programs
The abovementioned online degree programs were chosen for their outstanding academic instruction, student support services, and graduate outcomes.
Aspiring students who want to be admitted to the best human resource associate degree programs must show a high school diploma or equivalent. Most programs have no other prerequisite while some may require standardized test scores or placement exams.
The typical human resources management program can be completed in two years of full-time studies. This is equivalent to 4-5 semesters depending on whether the summer term is included. Students may also avail of part-time matriculation but will earn an associate degree in human resources management in 3 years or so.
But actual time-to-completion will be influenced by other factors, too. These include the number of transferred college-level credits, the availability of courses, and the internship requirements.
Credits, Curriculum, and Courses
The typical associate degree in human resources management program has a 60-credit hours curriculum. The series of courses prepares students for diverse human resource administration jobs. Students develop foundational knowledge and skills that can be further developed in the workplace.
Human Resource Management
This is an introduction to the principles and practices of human resources management, from its history to its direction. Students learn the technical aspects while also developing their soft skills.
The course introduces students to the art and science of organizational management as it applies to human resource management. Topics cover the four management functions of planning, organizing, leading, and controlling.
Employment and Labor Relations
This course covers the management issues related to individual and group performance in the organization. Students study the relationships between employees and managers, among other stakeholders.
Training and Employee Development
The course focuses on effective and efficient strategies for employee development including training, motivation, and morale. Students explore job and task analysis in relation to employee development, too.
Compensation and Benefits
This course is an exploration of the development, implementation, and evaluation of the compensation and benefits packages in organizations. Compensation systems are analyzed in terms of the legal and organizational perspectives.
Online Learning Technology
Online degree programs use digital technologies including computers, the Internet, and apps in the delivery of human resources associate programs. Students must be proficient in these digital technologies as soon as possible for the sake of their academic success.
Learning Management System
Every associate in human resources program has its learning management system (LMS), a platform on which learning activities are conducted. Both students and instructors access the LMS although for different purposes.
Students use the LMS to access the learning materials and other content uploaded by their instructors. The learning materials include live and recorded lectures, reading assignments and recommended references, and quizzes and exams.
Instructors access the LMS to check on the student’s academic progress and performance. The LMS is also the platform for interactions between students and instructors.
Assessments and Evaluations
Every human resources program has its unique assessment methods, criteria, and procedures. But the most common are assignments, quizzes, and examinations, just as with on-campus programs.
Internship and Practicum Requirements
If you want hands-on experience even as a student, look for a human resources associate degree program with an internship component. The hands-on experiences prepare students for the myriad of administrative tasks that come with human resources management.
Workplace-Ready Skills and Traits
The best online associate in human resources management degree programs enables students to develop their technical skills in:
- Human resources software systems
- Talent management systems
- Compensation and benefits administration
- Employment laws
- Employee relations
Students must also develop their soft skills including:
- Communication skills
- Decision-making skills
- Leadership skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Organizational skills
Tuition and Financial Aid
Many community colleges offer outstanding associates in human resources management programs. These are great choices, too, because of the availability of financial aid combined with more affordable tuition.
But don’t dismiss four-year universities, too, since these also offer financial aid to offset the cost of tuition. Plus, you can transfer the associate degree credits to a bachelor’s degree.
Human Resources Management as a Profession
When we talk of human resources management professionals, we usually refer to managers. But there are also other types including human resource specialists and assistants.
Human resources management includes these activities related to employees:
- Recruitment, hiring, and training
- Compensation and benefits
- Safety, health & wellness in the workplace and other related places
- Motivation and morale
- Policy administration
- Organizational development
Second, human resource management is the comprehensive and strategic approach to the management of both people and their culture, and the environment they work in. When it’s done well, employees are able to contribute to effective and efficient operations as well as to the company’s overall direction.
As such, human resource management professionals provide the organization and its people with vital services including:
- Knowledge and skills in achieving optimum performance
- Training to develop their tools and techniques in productivity
- Coaching and mentoring services
- Legal and management advice
- Administrative services (e.g., record-keeping)
- Talent management oversight
Many human resource management professionals are also involved in activities outside of the organization, usually as part of community outreach programs.
Main Duties of Human Resources Managers
Their work as human resources professionals involves a wide range of duties including:
- Formulate, implement and evaluate an organization’s human resources management plan
- Oversee the recruitment, hiring, and training processes
- Serve as a link between an organization’s owners and/or management and its employees
- Plan, oversee and monitor employee compensation and benefit programs
- Provide consultation services to managers regarding human resources issues, from sexual harassment to illegal termination
- Coordinate with specialists and supervise support staff
- Handle staffing issues like directing disciplinary processes and dispute mediation
Ultimately, human resources management professionals are instrumental in an organization’s ability to attract, retain and motivate the best employees! Without them, an organization will likely lose its most crucial resource – people.
Types of Human Resources Managers
While a typical associate degree in human resources management program doesn’t offer specializations, it will open your eyes to the possibilities! There are several specializations that you can look into as you establish your career.
Employee relations managers, or labor relations managers, are responsible for the management of employment policies in workplaces. Their skill sets are valuable in the negotiation, formulation, and administration of labor contracts. These labor contracts cover employment aspects like compensation, benefits, and management practices including union recognition and grievance.
Payroll managers ensure that every aspect of the payroll process and procedures is done correctly and promptly. Their inputs are instrumental in the financial accounting process, too.
Recruitment managers are responsible for the recruitment and selection of new employees. Their team may consist of headhunters that strive to meet overall recruitment goals.
Education and Certification
Human resources professionals, particularly managers, typically must possess a bachelor’s degree in human resources management and work experience. Certain positions may also require a master’s in Human Resources Management or Business Administration.
A human resources associate degree is sufficient to enter the profession, usually in entry-level positions. Outstanding work performance combined with the associate in human resources degree can lead to supervisory positions.
Another way of climbing the corporate ladder of human resources management is to work as a labor relations specialist or a human resource specialist. You can increase the depth and breadth of knowledge about human resources programs like compensation and benefits administration.
Voluntary certification is recommended, too, since it demonstrates professional credibility, expertise, and integrity. Look into certifications issued by:
- The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
- HR Certification Institute (HRCI)
- International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Keep in mind, too, that while a human resources degree will open doors of opportunities, your professional attitude and personality traits can make or break your career.
Careers and Salaries of Graduates of Associate in Human Resources Programs
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook says the median annual salary for human resources managers is $126,230 (May 2021). With more than 14,800 openings every year (2020-2030), there should be plenty of job opportunities for associate degree holders.
Note that these are entry-level positions that, with a bachelor’s degree and work experience, can lead to human resource management positions.
Human Resources Clerk ($35,204/year)
Also known as a human resources assistant, a human resource clerk performs administrative duties related to human resources management. These include assisting in the recruitment, selection, and training of new employees, keeping records, and performing other tasks.
Operations Associate ($51,320/year)
An operations associate also performs numerous administrative duties related to the day-to-day operations of an organization.
Human Resources Generalist ($79,929/year)
A human resources generalist is valuable in an organization due to the fluidity of their expertise and flexibility of skills.
Payroll Clerk ($41,081/year)
A payroll assistant aids in the accurate and prompt preparation of payrolls, from collecting time sheets to paying invoices.
Compliance Assistant ($41,922/year)
A compliance assistant helps in ensuring an organization is in compliance with employment and other relevant laws.
Frequently Asked Questions
What degree is best to work as a Human Resources Management professional?
Both an associate’s and a bachelor’s degree in human resources management or administration are excellent degrees. If you want to test the waters, an associate degree is a great start.
Is it worth getting a Human Resources degree?
Yes, it is because even an entry-level associate degree in human resources will open doors of opportunities that a high school diploma cannot!
Can you get a Human Resources job even without an Associate degree?
Yes, but it likely won’t be as well-paying as a job secured with an associate degree.
Is an online Associate degree worth it?
Yes, it is because an online associate degree not only is more affordable but it has a shorter time to completion. This is on top of the benefits of online degree programs – convenient and flexible scheduling, for example.
Which is better: a Certificate or an Associate degree?
Certificate programs offer a shorter time to completion and provide students with new specialized knowledge. Associate degree programs provide a well-rounded education with transferable credits for further education. Each one has its merits.
Key Points to Ponder
The field of human resources management is instrumental in the success of organizations! Its professionals must then secure sufficient and relevant training to deliver optimum performance – and it can start with an online associate degree.
Before you go, take a look at this: The 20 Best Online BS in Human Resources