The inaugural graduates of USC Bovard College’s Master of Science in Human Resource Management program are ready to make their mark, armed with the strategic and comprehensive tools and knowledge they need to advance their careers in the field.
While the students earned their degrees online, they formed such a profound bond that 49 out of 55 eligible candidates traveled from across the country to take part in the 2018 commencement on the University Park Campus on May 11, 2018.
Banner bearer Aubrey Jordan and flag bearer Tod Ayers, nominated by faculty for their commencement roles based on outstanding academic achievement, exemplify the diverse backgrounds of students drawn to the program.
Jordan was a high school English teacher living in Texas who desired a career change. “My current location didn’t allow me to be an on-campus student,” Jordan says, and “as a career changer, it was important to me that I could get a quality education in the shortest amount of time possible.” So when Jordan discovered the online program at USC, she applied. While she was initially concerned that a lack of business and human resources experience would prove an obstacle, instructors quickly helped her realize how a teaching background would benefit her new career. After starting the program, Jordan quickly landed an HR internship and now works full time as a senior human resources associate.
Ayers is a military veteran who served 12 years in the US Army Reserves, including active duty combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. He had years of HR experience at the state government level, before applying to the program. Like more than 40 percent of USC Bovard College students, Ayers was the first in his family to attend college. While he previously earned an MBA, he applied to the program to expand his expertise in human resources. “The program gave me the knowledge and confidence I needed to lead an HR department using industry standards and best practices,” he says. Ayers adds that the flexibility of the online format made it possible “to study at the graduate level while raising a family and working full time.”
Both students earned their degrees in one academic year while working. The MS program, which is designed to support aspiring professionals during key academic and career changes, consists of 12 courses taught in eight-week sessions, and can also be taken over two years. To further meet the needs and schedules of working professionals, the program offers three start dates each year.
Students benefit from a rigorous curriculum developed in partnership with top human resource professionals and taught by accomplished leaders in the field. “The course content was relevant and cutting-edge,” Ayers says. He adds that he “took something away from every class” which he could then apply to his job as deputy assistant director of HR for the state of Washington’s Department of Licensing.
Ayers and Jordan emphasize the value of connecting with their classmates. “I don’t think studying online would have been nearly as enjoyable if I hadn’t gone through the entire program with the same group of people,” Jordan says. Ayers adds that he appreciated learning with and from his peers in the program. Both expect to maintain friendships with their peers as alumni members of the Trojan Family.
As the inaugural class goes on to expand their human resource careers in technology, entertainment, healthcare, government and other sectors across the public and private realm, they leave equipped with cutting-edge strategies to propel companies forward. Jordan says, “I’m excited to help an organization move to the next level and view employees not as a cost but as an investment in sustainability and future growth — to move beyond the ‘personnel’ focus and really think about the way employees and employers interact to create competitive advantage.”
The Human Resources program is offered through USC Bovard College, an academic unit within the University of Southern California. The college also offers an online MS in Project Management.
USC Bovard College is named for Emma Bovard, one of USC’s first students and an early advocate for equal educational opportunities. To learn more about the Master of Science in Human Resource Management program, visit www.bovardcollege.usc.edu/hr/.