What can you do with an MSHRM degree?

February 9, 2017

From cruise ships to hospitals and from the fast-paced corner office to the more casual vibe of a burgeoning start up – there are endless possibilities for your Master of Science in Human Resource Management.

“I have known HR professionals who depended on deep disciplinary knowledge in about every industry one might imagine,” said Gerry Ledford, a faculty member and senior research scientist at USC’s Center for Effective Organizations.

It’s an exciting time for MSHRMs. The future of human resource management is outpacing the nation’s average career outlook, with nearly 11,000 new jobs expected by 2024. The median pay is $104,440 per year, but depending on expertise and time in the field, that figure can rise to nearly $200,000 or more.

“The field of HR has steadily increased in prominence in recent decades, in part, because the people challenges facing contemporary organizations have become so complex and dynamic, and also because there is much greater appreciation by organizational leaders that human resources is central to meeting today’s business challenges,” Ledford said. “The days are gone when it was enough to be a ‘people person’ who lacked deep knowledge and skills.”

And that deep knowledge can play a very significant role in a company’s success.

Ledford, also the president of the research and consulting firm Ledford Consulting Network, once advised a defense contractor that benefitted immensely from an advanced human resources system. That system, he said, juggled the work designs, pay systems and training programs needed for work in very dangerous manufacturing operations.

“Partly because of the effectiveness of the HR function, the safety record was incredibly good,” he said, “no fatalities and almost no lost-time accidents in the years I worked with them.”

Bovard College adjunct professor Christine Porath has seen MSHRM graduates take jobs in technology, education and non-profit organizations. And they are often on the front lines wherever they go.

“They may have a seat at the table, assisting c-suite executives with people and strategy,” she said.

An MS in Human Resource Management differentiates job candidates, she said, by making them more competitive in a more specific way than a bachelor’s degree or even an MBA.

“It’s more focused on an HR-specific role,” she said of the MSHRM. “You’ll get more time and energy focused on what you care about most.”

And with human resources taking on greater responsibility for everything from diversity and inclusion strategy to data and analytics, corporations, organizations and government are needing HR managers who can hit the ground running with innovative solutions.

“The credentials that prospective HR managers bring to the organization receive careful scrutiny when they consider candidates for new positions, promotions and other advancement opportunities,” Ledford said. “This is especially true for younger candidates who do not have many years of experience proving their value. They need another way to show their value.”

An MSHRM can also open doors into other fields, such as executive recruiting and entrepreneurship. Consider these MSHRMs that have risen to the top:

  • Nancy Furbee runs her own consulting company, Furbee & Associates, offering leadership and executive coaching to for-profit companies and non-profit organizations.

For candidates looking to top their field in human resources, the MSHRM gives them a leg up that many don’t have.

“Many types of credentials can help, but I believe that a master’s in this field is one of the most important for someone planning a career in human resources,” Ledford said. “It provides evidence of far more rigor and up-to-date knowledge than professional certifications.”

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