As the business world continues to grow and change, the need for executive-level human resource management professionals is on the rise. These HR professionals are responsible for many inner workings of how modern business runs, including payroll, time and labor, management of teams, benefits, as well as the technology related to those fields. Therefore, practitioners in the HR management sector are seeking even greater level degrees to advance to the highest levels of work within their expertise or to create a basis for their own HR research strategies. Thus, many schools and universities now offer an online doctoral degree in human resource management that merges theory and practice so graduates can understand the workplace on a deeper level and obtain jobs in HR management at the highest level, all while continuing to work. Below, we’ve listed the most affordable online doctorate degrees in HR management. Because of the small number of qualifying programs, we have ranked them solely on their tuition costs, with the #1 slot going to the cheapest online HR Management doctoral program.

#9 Temple University

Philadelphia, PA

Online Ph.D. in Business Administration-Human Resource Management Concentration


Temple University draws from its long-held institutional roots, dating back to 1888, to create a community-driven, globally passionate body of alumni ready to make a difference in the world. Among its 8 campus extensions and 39,000 student pool are hundreds of degree options, including an online Ph.D. in Business Administration with a concentration in human resource management and organizational behavior. Through the Fox School of Business, students will not only explore a wide range of relevant issues but will also concentrate their studies on innovative and emerging research topics in the HR field. Upon completion of the program, graduates will be prepared to take on high-level research positions at premium universities, among other potential career positions. While in the program, students will work alongside faculty mentors and have the unique opportunity to participate in research projects, which leads to a well-rounded, targeted research portfolio. Students can expect to take courses such as influence and negotiation, leading and managing teams and individuals, managing and developing human capital in the enterprise, and doctoral seminar in meta-analysis and research synthesis methods.

Out-of-State Graduate Tuition: $23,346
Graduate Enrollment: 10,256

#8 University of Arkansas

Fayetteville, AR

Online Doctor of Education in Human Resource and Workforce Development Education


The University of Arkansas not only prides itself on providing a quality education but also on its commitment to all students, both traditional and non-traditional. Online students receive the same exact degree as on-campus students and will also get their name carved in the Senior Walk, a 3-mile long road that pays tribute to Arkansas’ 175,000 graduates. Among the university’s many online degrees is an online Ed.D. in Human Resource and Workforce Development Education. The program will explore advanced topics in the human resources field, including training, management development, customer service, and total quality management. Note that the GRE must be taken prior to admission. The University of Arkansas’ Global Campus utilizes a self-paced online model, where students are able to set the timetable for their education. This also means that there are no semester parameters, with students taking classes when they can. With 20 start dates per year and a 12-week course length, the University of Arkansas’ self-paced structure provides maximum flexibility for today’s non-traditional graduate student. Students enrolled in online degree programs may be eligible to pay in-state tuition.
Out-of-State Graduate Tuition: $21,032
Graduate Enrollment: 4,392

#7 Northcentral University

La Jolla, CA

Doctor of Philosophy in Human Resource Management Online

Northcentral University
Because Northcentral University is strictly an online graduate university, they have the opportunity to hone in on specific groups of studies and provide a quality, innovative education that prepares passionate professionals to excel in their respective careers. Accredited by the Senior College and University Commission, Northcentral University offers an online, research-based Doctor of Philosophy in Human Resource Management that is designed to produce experts in the HR field. In this 60-credit program, students can expect to take 20 courses over the course of 50 months. Graduates will be prepared to work in the public, private, and non-profit areas of human resources, building careers as postsecondary instructors, HR consultants and directors, or training and development managers. Of all the programs on this list, Northcentral University’s is perhaps the most flexible, as it offers start dates every Monday and a one-to-one learning model that provides support for all online students. Note that there are no GRE or GMAT test requirements for admission.
Out-of-State Graduate Tuition: $16,983
Graduate Enrollment: 10,465

#6 Capella University

Minneapolis, MN

Online Ph.D. in Business Management with a concentration in Human Resource Management


Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Capella University offers a unique 10-week, synchronous quarter system called GuidedPath, where students can take anywhere from 1-3 classes per quarter with a $5,000 quarter tuition maximum. Unlike many online programs, CU provides a purposeful structure to fit the needs of students who thrive in that atmosphere. Among its many online degree programs is Capella’s blended Doctor of Philosophy in Business Management with a specialty in human resource management. Students can expect to take 16 courses, complete 3 residencies, and write a dissertation. CU offers a support system for online students that guide them each step of the way, as a gesture to make the doctoral degree and dissertation process less intimidating. Sample course offerings include foundations of human resources theory and practice, creating adaptive innovating workplaces, attracting and retaining talent, and research paradigms for human resource management. Graduates will be prepared to take high-level HR positions in education, corporations, consulting firms, non-profit organizations, or the government.
Out-of-State Graduate Tuition: $14,767
Graduate Enrollment: 27,356

#5 Sullivan University

Louisville, KY

Online Ph.D. in Management with a concentration in Human Resources Leadership

Sullivan University started when a father and a son saw a need to provide a higher education for students seeking careers in business. Since that time in the early 1960s, Sullivan has continued to acquire and expand to provide a comprehensive, quality, and an affordable education for its students. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Sullivan University offers a practical curriculum based online Ph.D. in Management with a concentration in human resources leadership. The program is designed to teach students to conduct and develop research as well as to advance in careers in collegiate education, HR consulting, management, or policymaking. The 60-credit doctoral program is broken up into 20 credits of management core, 24 credits of research core, and 16 hours in the human resources leadership concentration area. HR specialized courses include high-performance human resource leadership, workforce analytics and technology, specialized topics and readings, and proposal development. Students will also be required to take a comprehensive examination, write a research-based dissertation, and complete two residencies within the first two years of enrollment. It is important to note that there are no GRE/GMAT requirements for entry into the program.
Out-of-State Graduate Tuition: $14,160
Graduate Enrollment: 891

#4 The University of Texas at Tyler

Tyler, TX

Ph.D. in Human Resource Development Online


The University of Texas at Tyler, located on a 259-acre campus in Tyler, Texas, houses seven colleges, three regional campuses, and over 10,000 students. Through the College of Business and Technology, the University of Texas at Tyler offers a 60-credit hybrid Ph.D. in Human Resource Development. To be admitted into the program, students must hold a master’s degree in an HR related field, successfully completed the GMAT, and provide three letters of recommendation, among other requirements. While most classes are completed online, it is important to know that students are required to attend classes on campus five times per semester, so this program might be best suited for students living in the Tyler, Texas area. However, most on-campus meetings occur on the weekends to accommodate working executives in the industry. Sample courses in the program are advanced theoretical foundations of human resource development, advanced quantitative research in human resource development, and strategic human resources management. A specialization in organizational development and change is available. UTT is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Out-of-State Graduate Tuition: $14,328
Graduate Enrollment: 2,873

#3 Bellevue University

Bellevue, NE

Online Ph.D. in Human Capital Management


Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Bellevue University is an affordable, non-profit university located near Omaha, Nebraska. With over 50,000 students and alumni worldwide, BU is considered among the best military-friendly universities in the nation. Through the College of Business, Management, and Leadership, Bellevue University offers an online Ph.D. in Human Capital Management. While the term “Human Capital Management” might be less familiar than human resources, rest assured that this degree still has many elements of HRM. In fact, HCM is generally a broader term that encompasses more facets of managing people in a business setting. This specific degree might be a better fit for the graduate student seeking more specific coursework in human capital related fields. Students can expect the curriculum to be divided into four learning modules: strategic human capital management and productivity, linking human capital to organizational outcomes, human capital leadership and introduction to measurement, and measuring, analyzing, and assessing human capital effectiveness. All coursework will culminate into comprehensive exams and an 18-credit dissertation. Graduates will be prepared for higher-level HR careers like human resource managers, industrial-organizational psychologists, and compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists.
Out-of-State Graduate Tuition: $10,530
Graduate Enrollment: 3,167

#2 Colorado State University

Fort Collins, CO

Ph.D. in Education and Human Resource Studies


Accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, Colorado State University, located in Denver, CO, provides a convenient, flexible, and quality online education to today’s non-traditional student. Through the School of Education, CSU offers a 60-credit online Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Education and Human Resource Studies with a focus in organizational learning, performance, and change specialization. This program can be completed in 4 years, with two classes taken each semester, including the summer semester. While some coursework will be completed online, students are required to attend Saturday classes twice a month per semester. Therefore, this program makes the most sense for applicants near the Denver, Colorado area. Some students might find that this type of learning model works best, as students will travel through the programs with a cohort of peers, which might be a great fit for the student who desires physical support. The first four semesters, the coursework focuses on classes like systems leadership, evaluation and assessment, and scenario planning. The following semesters focus on building research skills and culminate into the final year of research seminar and the dissertation.

Out-of-State Graduate Tuition: $25,791
Graduate Enrollment: 7,516

#1 Liberty University

Lynchburg, VA

Online DBA with a specialization in Human Resources


Located in beautiful Lynchburg, VA, Liberty University is a non-profit Christian institution that desires to impact the world through its dedication to a comprehensive, quality education. As the most affordable graduate tuition on this list, Liberty University offers a fully online DBA degree with a concentration in Human Resources. In this 60-credit program, classes will follow an 8-week format, and students can earn their degree in 3.5 years. Because this program results in a business degree, students will receive advanced coursework in business principles, but will also focus on the HR perspective within that framework. Therefore, this degree might be best suited for the student seeking a career in the business field of HR rather than the academic field. Coursework in the program includes contemporary issues in human resource management, workforce planning & employment, human resource development, and compensation management. Graduates will be prepared to enter the workforce in careers such as compensation and benefits managers, development specialists, human resources directors, and recruitment specialists. With an online education being ranked consistently in the top 5, Liberty University provides an affordable, quality education you can trust.
Out-of-State Graduate Tuition: $7,980
Graduate Enrollment: 33,217

What is a Doctorate Degree in Human Resource Management?

A doctorate in human resources management provides intense and advanced study in human resources to help professionals better understand the intricacies and dynamics of the workplace. The goal of many programs is to develop knowledge to improve upon the excellence and integrity of the inner workings of a business and its employee personnel. Upon graduation, HR professionals will be eligible to teach, train, consult, lead, or conduct research in the HR management field.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long does it take to get a doctorate degree in HR Management?
Doctorate degrees are much different than master’s degrees, and usually have longer programs, ranging anywhere from 3.5-5 years. The benefit of dedicating that kind of time to a discipline is that you become an expert in your field, holding the highest degree possible. Most programs have mandatory time limits for finishing the degree, with some as generous as 7-8 years. If you plan to take your time getting your doctorate degree, make sure to check your given program to confirm that it fits within your timeframe. It is important to note that in order to get a Ph.D. in HR management, you must also hold both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in a related field.

2. Are online doctoral programs good?
While some students may be concerned that an online degree may not hold the same weight as a traditional degree, as culture changes, employers are thinking less about the nature of the degree and more about the total package of the applicant. In fact, most online doctoral HR management programs are geared toward working HR professionals, so employers understand that students are juggling work and school at the same time, which could most likely say a lot about your ability to manage schedules and work under pressure. And because online education requires a high amount of self-discipline, completing the degree can be a sign of a hard worker that would be an asset to any business’ staff.

3. Are there any HR Management programs that do not require a GRE/GMAT for admission?
Yes, there are some online HR Management programs that do not require a standardized test like the GRE or GMAT for admission. Programs on this ranking list that do not require testing include Sullivan University and Northcentral University. If that is an important detail to you, consider one of those mentioned schools, or double check the application process of the program you are interested in to verify if a standardized test is required. It may be important to remember that most master’s degree programs require the GRE, so if you’ve already taken the test for admission to that program, you might be eligible to use that score towards admission to a doctoral program.

4. Are there any doctorate degrees in HR Management that do not require a dissertation?
This seems to be a complicated and controversial topic, but the short answer is yes, there are some doctoral programs that do not require a dissertation. While most of the programs on this list require a dissertation in the last few semesters of the curriculum, you could potentially find a related program that does not require one. Some related fields include an Ed.D. (Doctor of Education) and programs in organizational leadership and leadership and management. The thought process here would be that these programs are designed specifically for professionals in the given field, and therefore, the dissertation is replaced with research or capstone projects instead of a dissertation. However, you will want to consider what your goals are. Is it important to your career aspirations to have a well thought out and targeted dissertation? Does that give you merit or specific credit in your desired field? Do you feel like your degree will be taken seriously if you don’t have a completed dissertation? There isn’t a right or wrong answer here; in most situations, people understand that the nature of education is changing. The decision is up to you!

5. Are all online doctorate programs in HR management accredited?
No, not all online doctoral programs are accredited. However, every program on this online HR management doctorate rankings list is accredited. While it may not be a requirement to attend an accredited school for your future job plans, it is definitely something to consider when finding the right program. Accredited institutions have standards to adhere to and the accreditation mark certainly vouches for the validity of the program. Programs on this list are accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (CSACS), and Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

6. Are there online HR management programs with no prerequisites?
No, all online and traditional doctoral programs require both a bachelors degree and a master’s degree. In most cases, schools require the degrees to be in a related HR field. Double check the details of your program to make sure you current degrees will be the right fit for admission.

7. How much do online doctorate HR programs cost?
On this list, the schools we surveyed range anywhere from $8,000 to $25,000 in tuition per year. However, there are schools that go all the way up to $40,000. If money is a major factor in your decision, try a school like Capella University that has a $5,000 quarter tuition maximum. Some schools, like the University of Arkansas, also offer in-state tuition to online students.

8. How can I pay for my online doctorate degree?
Making room in your budget for school costs can be daunting. But luckily, there are many scholarships and financial aid options available. Most schools have information on their website to help guide you in that process. For military service members, many schools have tuition discounts or special scholarships available, so make to sure to look for those in your search. Another option is to talk to the institution where you currently work. Some have tuition reimbursement programs, where they will pay for your education, and you can pay them back through working contracts. Other schools, like Capella University, have tuition caps per semester or quarter, a strategy that could help cut down the cost of education if you are able to take multiple classes at a time.

9. Are there any doctorate HR Management programs that are accelerated?
Doctoral degrees are vastly different than bachelor’s degrees, and even master’s degrees for that matter. Most doctoral degrees take anywhere from 3.5-6 years to complete, depending on the program. To become an expert in your field and to hold the highest degree possible, it will be necessary to devote that kind of time to your work. And because getting an online doctorate degree in HR Management such a large time commitment, make sure you are ready to take on that kind of load before spending any money on the program.

10. Does the location of the school matter for my online degree?
If you are taking a 100% online doctorate HR management program, the location of the school will not matter, as all coursework will be submitted online and any field experiences can be completed in your regional location. However, some degree programs offer blended options or have mandatory orientation or seminar requirements, so make sure to check the details of your program before fully committing. Other students might prefer to live geographically close to their chosen school for support in advising or practicum placements. That decision will be completely up to you and what you prefer. Note that many schools do have online advising and student support, as well as video/Skype capabilities with faculty and mentors. But if face-to-face support is important to you, choosing a school nearby might be the best choice for you.

Concentration Types

The degrees mentioned in this rankings list include:
Doctor of Business Administration (DBA): This higher level degree focuses on the advanced study of business administration and will help you learn to solve business-related problems. This DBA degree most likely has a concentration in a related human resources field and would be ideal for professionals who desire to advance a business or entrepreneur career within HR.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.): This degree is geared more towards the students who desire to become an expert in the field as a professor or researcher.
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.): This degree might be best for professionals seeking to train, teach, or consult.

FAQ Career Questions

1. What can I do with an online Ph.D. in Human Resource Management degree?
With an online doctorate degree in human resource management, students can typically take one of two paths: academia or business. The academic path lends itself to careers as professors, teaching assistants, and expert research specialists in the area of HR. It might be wise to determine what your career goals are before enrolling in a program so that you can make to choose the specific degree and school that will best fit your post-graduate goals.

2. How much can I earn with an online doctorate human resource management degree?
While there are many jobs within this field, a common profession would be an HR manager. And according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s s solid choice financially with the annual mean wage at $126,700. Though graduate school is expensive, making a very good living could help you pay back any student debt you have in no time.

3. What can I do with online human resource management doctoral degree?
First, you’ll want to decide if you are choosing the academia, research, or business route because that will determine what direction you will go. You can become a professor, teaching assistant, HR manager, HR consultant, HR entrepreneur, or a training and development officer, among others.

4. Can I work while I get my online human resource management doctoral degree?
In almost all cases, yes, absolutely. Most of the online programs on our list are designed with working professionals in mind and present material in an asynchronous format, which allows students to complete the curriculum on their own time frame. In some cases, where on-campus visits are required as a part of the hybrid program, classes are offered on Saturdays or weeknights to accommodate working schedules. To be safe, make sure to check the details of your program before committing fully. You’ll want to understand the details of the program before spending any money, making sure the class format and structure works for your lifestyle.

5. Are there professional associations for human resource professionals?
Yes! Professional associations for human resource professionals include: National Human Resources Association, International Association of Administrative Professionals, International Public Management Association for Human Resources, Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and Society for Human Resource Management.

This concludes our ranking of the Most Affordable Online Doctoral Degrees in Human Resources Management. Thanks for checking it out!

This ranking was updated in June 2020. The 2020 updates may affect the ranking order, but the list has not been re-ordered.

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