An online human resources certificate program is a course of study that can help you advance your human resources career from the comfort of home. While the programs can be expensive and time-consuming, taking one may be worth it if you want a promotion or to stand out in the industry.
The best online human resources certificate programs feature a robust, up-to-date curriculum; offer a good value for the cost; and provide the knowledge, skills, and tools required to succeed in the human resources profession. We closely examined 11 online human resources certificate programs before naming our top picks. Keep reading to see which program may work best for you.
The Best Online Human Resources Certificate Programs for 2021
- Best Overall: Villanova University Certificate in HR Management
- Best Value: Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR), Full Academy License
- Best Data Analytics Program: Wharton HR Management and Analytics Certificate
- Best Legal Training: Employment Law Cornell Certificate Program
- Best for Short Time Commitments: American Management Association Fundamentals of Human Resources Management Certificate
- Best for Applied Learning: Southern New Hampshire University Human Resource Management Certificate
Best Overall : Villanova University Certificate in HR Management
Why We Chose It: Villanova University’s Certificate in HR Management helps learners prepare to earn credentials from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), one of the HR industry’s most prominent professional organizations.
Program created in conjunction with SHRM
Access to SHRM certification exam preparation materials
18 months to go through the program’s content
Program is pricey
We like the Villanova University Certificate in HR Management because it was built in conjunction with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The program was intentionally crafted to help you earn one of the human resource industry’s most respected certifications: the SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) or the SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP).
The self-study program includes three courses—two required and one elective. The required courses are Human Resources Management and Mastering Organizational Effectiveness. Elective topics include project management, finance and accounting, the agile method, team effectiveness, and strategic organizational leadership. Courses last from eight to 12 weeks.
Since the program is geared toward those seeking SHRM certification, it includes access to SHRM certification learning materials like flashcards, practice questions, and practice exams. You’ll have access to the entire course of study for 18 months.
As of February 2021, Villanova University’s Certificate in HR Management costs $5,883. Since the program is fully online, the price is the same for both in- and out-of-state students. The price may increase slightly based on the elective you take.
The school offers a customizable, five-installment payment plan where you can set due dates and amounts that fit into your budget. Interest-free payments may be available. Plus, Villanova has relationships with many employers, so you may be eligible for tuition assistance depending on where you work.
Please note: While the program’s goal is to help you pass the SHRM certification exam, you’ll have to meet other qualifications to earn the credential.
Best Value : Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR), Full Academy License
Why We Chose It: The Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR) Full Academy License provides students with the most content and support at an affordable price.
Access to a large library of human resources certificate programs and courses
Less expensive than other options
60-day satisfaction guarantee
Currently lacks an employment law certificate program
We like the AIHR Full Academy License because it grants you access to a vast, continuously expanding library of self-study human resources-related certificates and individual courses for one low price.
Currently, you can take one of seven certificate programs:
- Digital HR Certification Program
- People Analytics Certification Program
- HR Metrics & Dashboarding Certification Program
- HR Business Partner 2.0 Certificate Program
- Talent Acquisition Certificate Program
- Learning & Development Certificate Program
- Diversity & Inclusion Certificate Program
There are also 24+ standalone classes. New classes are added monthly, and you’ll have access to them for as long as you’re a member. You’ll also be assigned a personal coach to guide your learning journey.
AIHR is accredited by both SHRM and the HR Certification Institute (HRCI), the other dominant human resources credentialing organization. HRCI grants several different HR certifications, including the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR).
You’ll earn personal development credits (PDCs) for the AIHR coursework you complete, which you can put toward recertifying with either SHRM or HRCI.
The AIHR Full Academy License runs $1,797 (as of February 2021), which gives you access to the full library for 18 months. A six-month payment plan is available. Plus, the academy periodically offers limited-time discounts.
Once your original 18 months is up, you can renew your membership at 12-month intervals. Renewals will cost approximately 10% of your initial purchase price.
With AIHR's 60-day guarantee, you can request a full refund if you're unhappy for any reason.
Best Data Analytics Program : Wharton HR Management and Analytics Certificate
Why We Chose It: The Wharton HR Management and Analytics Certificate program provides a close look at how human resources and data overlap.
Rigorous, well-planned course of study
Program only runs for two months
Payments plans are available
Program is somewhat expensive
Part of the University of Pennsylvania, the Wharton HR Management and Analytics Certificate Program delivers a robust curriculum students can complete in just two months.
This course of study may be right for you if you’re a seasoned human resources professional who is interested in how human resource management and data analytics intersect. The seven-module program includes:
- Introduction to People Analytics and Performance Evaluation
- Motivation and Reward
- Tasks, Jobs, and Systems of Work
- Strategic Staffing
- Collaboration Networks
- Talent Management and Analytics
- Managing Your Career as an HR Professional
The course curriculum is delivered via a combination of video and online live lectures. You should expect to devote four to six hours per week to your studies during the program. After the end of the last module, you’ll receive a digital certificate of completion.
As of February 2021, the Wharton HR Management and Analytics Certificate program costs $2,800. You can pay in full or over two to three installments. The school also offers a $280 discount for every student you refer that takes the program with you.
Best Legal Training : Employment Law Cornell Certificate Program
Why We Chose It: Employment Law Cornell Certificate Program helps human resources professionals develop a deep understanding of the laws governing work in the United States and abroad.
Robust curriculum that includes international employment law
Program includes downloadable tools
Program is expensive
We like the Employment Law Cornell Certificate Program because it provides the rigorous training required for human resources professionals to keep their employers compliant.
The instructor-led program lasts for about three months and includes the following courses:
- Employment Law and Policy Issues
- Equal Employment Opportunity and Employee Treatment Issues
- Benefits, Compensation, Safety, and Other Legal Issues
- Employment Laws Around the Globe
- HR Policies in International Contexts
While much of the program focuses on U.S.-based employment law, the last two courses delve into international laws and practices. The global content is especially helpful if you work in a multinational corporation.
The Employment Law Cornell Certificate Program also includes downloadable tools that you can use on the job. That way, your learning extends long after the program is complete.
After completing the last course, you’ll receive the Employment Law Certificate from the Cornell Industrial and Labor Relations School. You’ll also get four continuing education units (CEUs), which demonstrate your commitment to staying current in your profession and may be required by your employer or to maintain industry credentials.
The program normally costs $3,600, but discounts may be available along with payment plans. Courses run for two weeks, and you can expect to spend three to five hours per week studying and participating in the program.
Best for Short Time Commitments : American Management Association Fundamentals of Human Resources Management Certificate
Why We Chose It: The American Management Association’s Fundamentals of Human Resources Management Certificate can be completed in just 12 hours.
Program only lasts 12 hours
Program delivers the essentials for early-career human resources professionals
Program is somewhat pricey, and non-members pay more
We like the American Management Association’s Fundamentals of Human Resources Management Certificate program since it delivers what you need to learn in a short time frame.
The program could be a good fit for you if you’re relatively new to the human resources profession or duties and want a crash course on the essentials. Accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET), the program includes four instructor-led lessons.
Each lesson is three hours long and follows this curriculum:
- Lesson 1: The ever-changing role and function of HR
- Lesson 2: The legal components of HR, the recruiting process, and employee onboarding
- Lesson 3: Benefits administration and HR-related data processing
- Lesson 4: Compensation, performance management, and employee development
When you complete the program, you’ll receive 1.2 CEUs.
If you’re not a member of the American Management Association, the program costs $2,345. The member price is $2,095 (as of February 2021).
Best for Applied Learning : Southern New Hampshire University Human Resource Management Certificate
Why We Chose It: Southern New Hampshire University’s Human Resource Management Certificate program offers students the ability to put their new knowledge into action.
Includes hands-on learning opportunities
Helps to prepare the learner for the SHRM certification exam
Military discount is available
Program is costly
We like Southern New Hampshire University’s Human Resource Management Certificate program because it helps you apply your new skills in a real-world setting. The six-course self-study program is designed for entry-level human resources professionals and includes:
- Human Relations in Administration
- Human Resources Management
- Employee and Labor Relations
- Total Rewards
- Organizational Behavior
- HR Strategy and Development
To get the most out of what you learn via the lectures, you’ll also get practical experience through case study analysis, working in small groups with other students, and applying human resources best practices to your current workplace.
Aligned with SHRM competency standards, the program can help you prepare for the certification exam. Since you set the pace of learning, you can complete the coursework in as few as six months.
As of February 2021, the Human Resource Management Certificate program costs $5,910, which includes a $150 graduation fee. If you or your spouse is active duty military, discounts are available.
Many universities and private organizations offer online human resources certificate programs. The sheer number of programs available can make it difficult for you to choose the best course of study for your budget and career goals, but if you’re unsure where to start, consider our top choice, Villanova University’s Certificate in HR Management. Any of the other options on our list are also good choices, based on your goals.
But before you submit your tuition payment, we urge you to do additional, extensive research on any online human resources certificate program you’re considering. That way, you enroll in the best program for your unique needs.
|Certificate Program||Why We Chose It||Program Cost|
|Villanova University Certificate in HR Management||Includes SHRM certification test preparation materials||$5,883|
|Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR), Full Academy License||Provides the most educational content and support for the money||$1,797|
|Wharton HR Management and Analytics Certificate||Explores how human resources management and data analytics intersect||$2,800|
|Employment Law Cornell Certificate Program||Provides a thorough education about employment law, including international practices||$3,600|
|American Management Association Fundamentals of Human Resources Management Certificate||Teaches must-know information quickly||$2,095 for AMA Members, $2,345 for Non-Members|
|Southern New Hampshire University Human Resource Management Certificate||Offers a real-world, hands-on, and practical learning experience||$5,910|
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Become a Certified HR Professional?
To become a certified HR professional, you must pass a Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) or HR Certification Institute (HRCI) exam. Each organization offers different credentials and has its own eligibility requirements. Eligibility requirements vary based on the specific certification you pursue and include years of experience and level of college degree earned. Participating in an online human resources certificate program can help you prepare for the SHRM and HRCI exams. Some certificate programs are designed specifically for that purpose.
Can You Get an HR Certification Without a Degree?
Certificate programs are structured learning paths that include lessons to increase your understanding of human resources-related topics. Every program has different features to suit different education, career levels, and goals, and you do not need a degree to get an HR certification.
In fact, many certificate programs don’t have specific educational requirements to enroll, and they can help you advance within the human resources profession without having to complete a full degree program.
How Much Does It Cost to Get an HR Certification?
The cost to get an HR certification varies widely. Certificate programs from a university can cost several thousand dollars. Programs from other private companies may cost under $1,000.
Is It Worth Getting an HR Certification?
Depending on your career plans and goals, getting an HR certification may be worth it. Certificate programs help you increase your knowledge, which you can then apply to your work. Your improved skill set and commitment to your development may impress your manager, leading to a pay raise or promotion.
However, before enrolling in a certificate program, make sure the potential return on investment exceeds the upfront cost. For example, if a program runs $10,000, you’ll need the strong possibility of recouping that money in your career by way of a raise or a promotion to make earning the certificate worth your while.
How We Chose the Best Online HR Certification Programs
We carefully reviewed 11 online human resources certificate programs before choosing our top five selections. We considered curriculum, price, program structure, and notable perks. We also factored in whether the certificate helps learners earn their SHRM or HRCI credentials.
All of our top choices provide a rigorous and comprehensive course of study designed to help professionals advance their human resources careers.