Masters Degrees in HR Management – MBA vs MM vs MS vs MA

You can get started working in human resources with just a bachelor’s degree, but for positions with top companies – especially in management roles – you need a master’s degree. Human resources is such a broad field that you can choose from multiple difference types of master’s degrees, with the most popular being Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Management (MM), Master of Science (MS), and Master of Arts (MA). Which degree option is best for you? Let’s take a look at how these programs compare.

Master of Business Administration in Human Resources Management

Among human resources professionals, the Master of Business Administration, or MBA, is one of the most common types of graduate degrees. MBA programs are set up to teach you the in and outs of business, so you’ll take tons of general classes covering topics such as finance and accounting, public relations, marketing, and ethics. You’ll then have elective slots in your schedule to fill with courses that fit your specialization – in this case, human resources. While your degree won’t be 100% focused on human resources, you will get a broader sense of business concepts, which is great if you want to explore other career options in the future. MBA programs are on the same level, as far as program difficulty goes, as other types of master’s degree programs, but many people consider an MBA to be extremely prestigious, so having this type of degree can also help you land a top job in the field of human resources, especially if you attend a top MBA program.

Master of Management in Human Resources

Like an MBA program, a Master of Management (or, MM) gives you a more comprehensive business education with certain classes focusing on the topic of human resources. This type of education is great for students who already have human resources experience, but want to move into upper-level management roles. You’ll get a broad understanding of the topic, which will prepare you to transition to other roles as well, so if you have aspirations of someday being a company CEO or president, this is a great degree option to choose.

One of the major downsides to a MM in human resources management is that most of these degree programs require you to have at least five years of experience in the human resources field. Some require even more experience and the top MM programs might actually require you to have some management experience before you even apply. Because MM programs are for continuing education students almost exclusively, most colleges offer part-time programs that you can take online or during nights/weekends so you can continue working as you earn your degree. MM programs make great second master’s degree programs, so you should consider earning an MM in human resources even if you already have another type of master’s degree in the field. Some college also offer them as part of a duel degree program.

Master of Science in Human Resources Management

The field of human resources isn’t just for practitioners. Although both the MBA and the MM are set up to teach you more practical skills involving this field, you can also earn your Masters of Science (MS) in human resources management, which allows you to consider the world of academia as well. MS in human resources management cover many of the same basic human resources topics as MBA and MM programs, but because you don’t spend time with more general business or management skills, you have more time to spend on human resources management research. Many MS in human resources management programs require students to complete a thesis as the culmination of their master’s degree education.

Because there’s little time spend on more general topics, and MS in human resources is great for students who already have a business degree or management degree. Some MS programs require you to have work experience in your field, but many do not – it depends on your individual program. After you graduate with an MS in human resources management, you can go on to work in the field, but many students instead choose to pursue a doctorate degree. Earning your Phd allows you to work in research or in education, teaching human resources at the collegiate level. A doctorate degree won’t elaborate much on the practical skills you have as a human resources manager, but it will teach you more about theory and allow you to pursue interests you have in human resources research.

As compared to an MBA or MM program, students who want to practice in the field after graduate get the benefit of a program that focuses solely on human resources, but this can be a downfall as well, as it is harder to transition into another business-related career unless you go back to school for even more education.

Master of Arts in Human Resources Management

These is little difference between a Master of Arts (MA) and MS in human resources management. In an MA program, you are more likely to have to present a thesis paper during your final semester, and there may be less of an emphasis on practical/behavioral research and more of an emphasis on history, but most employers view these degrees to be equal. the truth is, most colleges allow you to tailor your education so closely to fit your needs that it doesn’t matter which program you enter – an MA can give you the same opportunities as an MS.

Summary – Choosing a Program

Are you ready to start looking for master’s degree programs in human resources management? Here’s a quick summary that could help you determine which type of degree in this field will best fit your needs:

  • MBA in human resources management programs are best for students who want to work as human resources managers, but who also want to keep their job options open for other business-related positions in the future.
  • MM in human resources programs are best for students who have work experience already and want to transition into a top management position.
  • MS/MA in human resource management programs are best for students who want an education focused solely on human resources, either to practice or to go into research/education.

Top Human Resources Masters Degrees

Kaplan University

In the MS in HR Management program at Kaplan University students can specialize in Human Resources, or get their MBA in Human Resources. Courses focus on analysis of theories and practices of human and organizational development, as well as external and internal factors that affect employee behavior.

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Grand Canyon University

The MBA with an emphasis in Strategic Human Resource Management at Grand Canyon University prepares students for careers as senior human resources specialists or as general managers with highly developed HR acumen. Courses cover the critical competencies outlined by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

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Capella University

Capella University's MBA, MS, and PhD programs in Human Resource Management cater to mid-level HR professionals and managers by teaching practical application along with theory. The curriculum ranges from specific HR coursework, like Talent Management, to classes designed to give a broad understanding of business strategies.

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Walden University

Walden's MBA and MS in Leadership programs offer a specialization in Human Resource Management. These programs can be completed in less than two years. In these online master's programs, students explore how different leadership style impact employees and how to effectively communicate with senior management.

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