- Amount Awarded: $5,000
- Deadline: July
- Eligibility & Requirements: Full-time graduate students at an accredited New England institution qualify; applicants must submit a resume, an essay, and transcripts.
Human resources professionals can benefit from the career advancement opportunities that a doctorate brings. By earning an online doctorate in human resources, graduates qualify for positions as HR managers, compensation and benefit managers, and business school professors. Business schools accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business report an increase in enrollment numbers for doctoral programs, including Ph.D. programs in human resources. More and more HR professionals pursue doctoral degrees to advance their careers.
This article introduces the job growth and salary increase potential for candidates with a doctorate in human resources, what it takes to earn a Ph.D. in HR, and how to fund a doctoral program, including scholarship opportunities.
Graduate students enroll in online Ph.D. programs in human resources for a variety of reasons. Master's students may choose to pursue a doctorate to advance their career prospects or to focus within a specialization. Some career paths, including academic positions, may require a doctorate. HR professionals may also earn a doctorate to qualify for high-level positions or increase their salary. Some students also choose a Ph.D. program over a professional certification.
Human resources professionals may pursue a doctorate to gain specialized knowledge within their field. For example, earning a doctorate focused on training and development may allow graduates to pursue high-level positions within organizations that train employees. The degree also appeals to professionals who want to branch out or increase their competitiveness in another industry. Many programs offer specializations in recruiting, for example, which can help candidates stand out on the job market.
As the terminal degree in the field, an online doctorate in human resources prepares graduates for positions at the highest levels of multiple industries. These roles may include director, program manager, and head of HR. With a doctorate, professionals can take on positions with higher responsibilities and higher pay. A doctorate also prepares graduates for career opportunities in academia and research, as many positions in these fields require a terminal degree.
During the best online degree programs in HR, doctoral students use the latest communication technology. Many programs prepare students with training in online learning technology, which can help graduates working for large companies that rely on technology to connect with employees at remote locations. Human resource professionals benefit from communication technology experience, which supports their professional development.
Students considering online DHR programs should carefully review each program's prerequisites, including test scores, work experience, and a master's degree, to ensure that they meet the admission qualifications.
Earning an online Ph.D. in human resources prepares graduates for the top positions in their field, including academic jobs. These opportunities offer above-average salaries. For example, professionals who work as human resource managers earn salaries ranging from $65,040 at the 10th percentile to $197,720 at the 90th percentile, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Earning a doctorate provides hard skills that can lead to career advancement in both traditional and nontraditional human resources career paths.
Median Pay: $110,120
Job Growth: 9%
Human resource managers act as the top executives in an organization's human resources department. They oversee human resource administrators, ensure compliance with laws and regulations, and serve as a link between the organization's management and employees.
Ideal for: Professionals with strong decision-making skills, leadership abilities, and interpersonal skills.
Median Pay: $119,120
Job Growth: 5%
Compensation and benefits managers design and plan an organization's pay and benefits structure. They research competitive wage rates, select benefits vendors, and oversee the distribution of pay and benefits information to employees. Compensation and benefits managers also ensure that the company's plans comply with regulations and laws.
Ideal for: Individuals with strong analytical abilities, decision-making skills, and good leadership qualities.
Median Pay: $100,270
Job Growth: 15%
Human resources professors often work in business departments at two-year or four-year institutions of higher learning. They teach classes in human resources, HR management, training, and recruitment. Many business professors also conduct research and publish their findings in scholarly journals.
Ideal for: Individuals who possess organizational and decision-making skills with a background in training or education.
Median Pay: $82,450
Job Growth: 14%
Management consultants who specialize in human resources advise managers on how to strengthen their recruitment and retention of employees. They may propose strategies to increase hiring, improve employee satisfaction, or improve employee training outcomes. Many consultants are self-employed.
Ideal for: Analytical thinkers with strong interpersonal skills.
Median Pay: $123,460
Job Growth: 9%
General and operations managers develop policies, oversee employees, and manage operations at their organization. They design strategic plans for the company depending on their area, and they assign work, review goals, and monitor budgets.
Ideal for: Professionals with strong leadership, interpersonal, and management skills.
Median Pay: $92,360
Job Growth: 10%
Higher education administrators help colleges and universities run smoothly. Their titles include dean, provost, and chief academic officer. Administrators may manage faculty research, the hiring and tenure process, or student services. Many administrators gain experience teaching at the college level before pursuing administration.
Ideal for: Individuals with strong interpersonal, organizational, and problem-solving skills.
Median Pay: $98,350
Job Growth: 20%
Healthcare executives oversee operations at a medical or health service organization. They work at medical practices, hospitals, and other facilities, managing departments, divisions, or entire organizations. Healthcare executives may also oversee nurses, physicians, and staff members at the organization.
Ideal for: Professionals with strong interpersonal and leadership skills and management experience.
Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Projections Central, 2017-2018
Before applying to online Ph.D. in human resources programs, prospective students should research how to pay for their degree. The total cost of a doctorate in human resources varies depending on the institution, the number of required credits, and the study timeline. Pursuing an accelerated degree, for example, can save money. Most students finance their degree with a mix of savings, loans, and scholarships. The following section includes scholarships and grants for doctoral students in human resources.
Doctoral students can complete their human resources degree in 3-7 years, depending on whether they choose a part-time, full-time, or accelerated path.
On a part-time path, doctoral students can take up to seven years to earn their degree.
School Name: University of Arkansas
Total Credits Required: 96 credits
Summary: University of Arkansas doctoral students choose a flexible number of courses each term, but must complete the degree within seven years.
On a full-time path, doctoral students typically complete their degree in four years, including dissertation research.
School Name: University of Illinois
Total Credits Required: 64 credits
Summary: Doctoral students at the University of Illinois complete a minimum 64-credit program, with the option to complete additional electives, dissertation research, or independent study.
On an accelerated path, graduate students can complete their degree in as little as 2-3 years, depending on their transfer credits.
School Name: Liberty University
Total Credits Required: 60 credits
Summary: Doctoral students at Liberty University can transfer up to 15 credits, decreasing their degree completion time.
Students earning a doctorate in human resources can apply for scholarships, grants, and dissertation awards to pay for their degree.
Online DHR programs typically require four years of full-time study to earn the degree. During the program, doctoral students complete coursework requirements, including electives and independent studies. These courses may incorporate a virtual classroom experience with fellow students, depending on the program. Graduate students must also pass comprehensive examinations to demonstrate their advanced knowledge in their specialization area. After advancing to candidacy status, doctoral candidates research and write their dissertation. Once students complete the program's milestones, they can apply for graduation.
Online doctoral programs in human resources typically require transcripts, resumes, letters of recommendation, essays, and test scores to evaluate applicants. After gaining admission, doctoral students attend a virtual or in-person orientation to begin their training.
HR doctoral programs typically set a required curriculum for graduate students, which may include electives. Students usually complete the coursework in their first two or three years.
After finishing their coursework, doctoral students must take and pass a comprehensive examination, also known as a qualifying exam.
Doctoral candidates must propose a dissertation topic to their faculty adviser and dissertation committee. Once the adviser and the committee give their approval, students research and write an original dissertation. The process typically takes 1-2 years.
Doctoral candidates must defend their finished dissertation before a committee, including their faculty adviser. This may involve a presentation, faculty questions, and an audience.
Once doctoral students meet the credit requirements and successfully defend their dissertation, they can apply to graduate with their degree.
Each online doctoral program in human resources designs its own curriculum. Many offer some version of the courses listed below.
Many doctoral programs incorporate classes in HR leadership, which cover strategic planning, ethical human resources management, and aligning planning with an organization's values. The course prepares students for leadership roles in HR.
Strategic courses on HR train graduate students how to align an organization's values with its human resources strategy. This prepares graduates for management-level positions in human resources in a variety of sectors.
Analytics courses prepare graduate students to collect, analyze, and interpret data in an HR setting. Doctoral students learn how to design HR metric tests, collect high-quality data, and perform strategic analyses of analytics.
Many Ph.D. programs in human resources incorporate a research methods course, which introduces doctoral students to scholarly literature in their field and prepares students to design and conduct their own original research.
After passing comprehensive exams, doctoral students typically enroll in multiple terms of dissertation coursework, in which they prepare their research and write a dissertation under the guidance of a faculty adviser.
After completing a doctorate in human resources online, graduates can enter the workforce with the terminal degree in their field. Pursuing specializations at the doctoral level can help candidates stand out and widen the possible job opportunities with a DHR. To further enhance their qualifications, many HR professionals choose to earn additional credentials to increase their competitiveness on the job market and demonstrate their knowledge. The following certifications enable human resources professionals to demonstrate their competencies.
Doctoral students in human resources can benefit from joining professional organizations, many of which offer student membership discounts. These organizations grant awards and scholarships, publish research in the field, and host conferences and events with networking opportunities. Professionals also benefit from continuing education programs, trainings, webinars, and other educational materials offered by these organizations. Many also offer career services, including job boards, published HR salary research, and career advancement advice.