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Is an MBA in Human Resources (HR) worth it?

MBA in Human Resources (HR) worth it

An MBA in human resources (HR) is a two-year degree program designed for HR professionals seeking to gain top qualifications in the recruitment, management, and training of the workforce. Robust HR systems and policies lie at the core of successful companies and institutions everywhere around the world.

The concept of HR management evolved out of the notion of personnel management conceived in the early 1900s when industrialization and technological advances were in full swing. Employer-employee relationships could no longer be based on utterly profit-seeking impetuses, tipping the balance in favor of employers. Employee interests could no longer be brushed under the carpet.

Prudent management practices evolved to encompass fair and incentive-based management of the workforce in order to avoid the risks of disruption and ineffectiveness. In the decades to follow, HR approaches kept evolving to test new ideas, correct malfunctioning practices, and improve overall efficiency.

It was only a matter of time before the world’s prestigious business schools would start offering purpose-designed MBA programs in HR. Harvard Business School is broadly considered to be the first to offer the first MBA with the introduction of the Human Resource management (HRM) in 1981.

Many MBAs that followed were modeled on this trailblazing program in one way or another. MBAs in HRM quickly gained recognition and currency in many parts of the world, including Europe, South-East Asia, and South Africa.

Is MBA in HR a good option?

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at various aspects of an MBA in HR including salary, scope, benefits, jobs and roles to help determine whether seeking an MBA in HR is a worthwhile investment.

MBA in Human Resource Management (HRM) salary

The obvious one is attractive remuneration. With an MBA in HR, you increase your chances of getting a well-paid job in some of the world’s top companies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, HR managers’ median annual salary exceeds $125,000 per annum.

With a range of job opportunities available, the overall job outlook also looks strong, given a projected growth rate of 7 percent in the next nine years. With an MBA in HR, you may as well seek the job of a vice president of HR in a leading company, which can land you an average salary of more than $240,000.

With solid academic credentials, you will also enjoy greater job security and further career advancement opportunities. HR managers are normally included in the senior executive teams, which gives them a say in making key decisions that shape corporate policies and practices.

MBA programs in HR also equip you with a comprehensive set of skills, insights, and data that are pivotal for operationalizing the long-term vision of your employer.

Value and benefits of MBA in HR

An MBA in HR is designed to help students develop skills in a broad range of areas, including organizational and project management skills, people management, leadership, organizational change, teamwork, communication, regulatory and legal requirements and more.

You also become adept at understanding the key factors affecting human performance, such as knowledge and skills, motivation, incentives, access to information, pay and benefits, career advancement, and professional development opportunities.

When you get a handle on these factors and their impact, you gain further insights into how individual performance fits in with broader institutional or company performance in the grand scheme of things. These skills and knowledge position you strategically to develop effective and mutually beneficial recruitment, training, retention, and talent management policies.

MBA in HR scope

One of the most widespread stereotypes about HR-related jobs is that they are all about hiring and firing people. While these are common tasks of a typical HR job role, the spectrum of responsibilities is much broader.

With an MBA in HR, you can expect to take on a senior leadership role in your company or organization. Your role can thus be of a strategic nature, helping top executives make decisions with far-reaching consequences. You can also switch between different HR-related functions within the same or different companies.

Options include the roles and responsibilities of a recruitment manager, talent management coordinator, senior HR manager, training fund administrator, organizational change management team leader, and so on.

Whatever the roles and responsibilities, you can rely on your solid academic background as an MBA graduate to innovate, experiment, and seek the type of management efficiencies that will reap benefits for both your employer and its personnel.

As part of your job, you need to become well-versed in the requirements of local law to ensure compliance and minimize the risk of litigation against your company. You must also design and administer equal employment opportunities for all employees. Many companies employ diversity managers to advance the goals of inclusion and diversity.

Factors affecting MBA in HR salary

Exact figures vary between different sources, but most of them indicate that with an MBA in HR, you can expect a base salary exceeding or close to $100,000 a year. Of course, the actual level depends on a number of factors, such as the specific type of job, company, country, sector, previous experience and the business school you graduate from.

A lot may be determined by the quality of your performance during an interview and the kind of impression you are able to make on recruiters. You can significantly up your game if you capitalize on your academic credentials by coming across as a self-aware, competent, motivated, value-adding, and development-oriented team player.

You should also look beyond the base salary to consider bonuses, perks, and career development opportunities. In some cases, these additional benefits may turn out to be significant enough to prompt you to accept a lower-than-average base salary.

Find out the top programs for MBA in HR

MBA in HR jobs – top recruiters

Among the top employers, you will find a lot of familiar brands. Many of them regularly rank in prestigious lists of top companies, such as the Forbes World’s Best Employers list. This includes tech giants (e.g., Apple, Microsoft, and IBM) as well as the leading consulting companies (e.g., Deloitte, KPMG, and PwC) in the United States.

Elsewhere in the world, Germany’s Deutsche Bank is known for its industry-leading employee diversity policies designed and led by highly qualified HR experts. In India, Reliance (a multinational company based in Mumbai) and Infosys (IT and business consulting), and Makemytrip (an online travel company) are leading the way.

Also read:  How I got into Vanderbilt Owen – MBA in HR (Human Resource Management)


Insights from Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management

The Vanderbilt MBA offers both the human and organizational performance (HOP) specialization and concentration. The specialization has been approved for Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Alignment.

In the last few years, companies that have recruited for Vanderbilt MBA HR talent have included: AWS, Bank of America, Cisco, Citi, Dell, Deloitte, HP, Microsoft, PayPal, Procter & Gamble, and Visa to name a few.

The salary range for the class of 2022 was $100k – $144K.

MBA Crystal Ball caught up with experts – Tim Vogus (Professor of Management) and Sandy Kinnett (Senior Associate Director, Career Management Center) – from Vanderbilt Owen to gain further insights.

MCB: In the post-pandemic world, have conventional HR processes and practices changed?

Tim: The most significant change is how work is conceived and designed. This has been especially powerful for the types of employees I research (i.e., employees with disabilities). For many years, these employees were denied accommodation requests for remote work because it would be too costly or disruptive. We’ve just conducted a large-scale experiment and the results suggest that remote work can work quite well for a much wider swath of employees than ever expected.

Despite the push in many organizations for employees to return to the office, a hybrid mix of in-person and remote looks sustainably viable. Emerging research suggests that employers and HR professionals would benefit from thinking differently about the work week and focusing on “anchor days” where employees need to be on-site given the nature of the work, with other days more locationally flexible.

MCB: What are the new challenges for the coming decade?

Tim: Being adaptable in the face of disruption and upheaval beyond what an organization (or HR) sees as its key business is crucial. We’ve seen it with climate threats and change, COVID-19, and in the U.S. reckoning with pushes for inclusion and racial justice. All of these have implications for organizations.

For employees, these big threats and social issues are more salient in their minds at work. There is increasing interest in people bringing their “full selves” to work and engaging in advocacy to make that possible. Employers desiring to shut down such conversations are experiencing especially high levels of turnover.

MCB: How is Vanderbilt preparing students to face them?

Tim: Collaborating with a variety of different people is foundational at Owen. We also have a set of courses that help students job craft (tailor their work to match their skills and interests) and influence others.

MCB: What are the various HR roles Vanderbilt MBA grads get into?

Sandy: Vanderbilt MBA graduates primarily go into Human Resources Leadership Development Programs, HR Business Partner roles, internal or external Human Capital/HR Consulting, or HR specialty roles.

In an HR Leadership Development Program, graduates have rotations of varying lengths that give candidates experiences in different Human Resources groups within the company, as well as across different lines of the business, and some of them even offer rotations internationally.

Regardless of the role, our candidates are expected to think strategically about how to leverage HR processes and frameworks to solve business challenges, recognize opportunities for organizational growth, analyze and interpret data, and most importantly, manage any new changes effectively for employees.

See the MBA Class of 2022 Employment Report for more details on recent outcomes.


Why MBA in HR – final thoughts

An MBA with an HR specialization provides a compelling proposition. If you’re interested in senior HR roles in an organization or you’re looking for a change of geography, an MBA in HR would be a good way to open the door to a broad range of well-paid employment opportunities coupled with enticing professional development prospects.

It can help you lay the foundation for a robust and coherent academic background that can land you your dream job with a top company.

Send us an email if you’re looking for some top-notch MBA admissions consulting help to get into your dream school: info [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com
Also read:
This HR consultant got a second MBA from Switzerland with scholarship
Best MBA in HR programs
Best HR consulting firms
Best ISB admissions consultant for ISB application essays

References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 ,16, 17, 18 | Image: Christina (Unsplash)

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About Swati
After working for over a decade in technical and managerial roles in the corporate world, Swati now works as a freelancer and writes on a variety of topics including education, career guidance and self-improvement.

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