Associate’s degrees can be used to start a career in the field of human resources, or as a stepping stone to a four-year institution. Most human resources associate’s degree programs are offered online, with some being offered online and at a physical location.
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The field of human resources is focused on managing a company’s biggest asset. It’s people. Corporate human resource departments are responsible for managing the life cycle of employees. This includes hiring, training, managing disputes, and firing. They are the heart of the company, and are key for employee satisfaction and retention.
Types of Associate Degree in Human Resource
Associate’s degrees are often sought from community colleges. These colleges only offer associate’s degree programs. They are typically smaller schools and tuition is much less expensive. There are three types of associate’s degree. Which one is right for you will depend on your goals.
Associates of Arts degrees also known as AA, focuses on providing a well-rounded educational foundation. These degrees are typically transferable to a four-year institution. You will learn skills that can transfer to an entry-level position in human resources, but the focus is on continuing education.
An Associate of Science degree, or AS, will have a greater focus on science, math, and practical considerations. AS degrees are also generally transferable to four-year institutions.
An Associate of Applied Science, or ASA, is designed to give you the knowledge you need to begin a career after graduation. Many of today’s online associate degrees in human resources are ASA. Traditionally, ASA degrees were very career-focused and not transferable to other institutions, but many of today’s ASA degrees offer some transferability.
Which degree is best for you will depend on your preference and the specific career you seek. If you plan to work in business management or accounting, an AS will serve your needs. If you plan on focusing on the human aspect of human resources, an AA degree has a greater focus on the humanities. Entry-level associate degree positions are limited, so you need to consider the career you hope to achieve long term when making this decision.
If you plan to further your education, you will need to select an accredited program. This means that the program has met standards set forth by the government and the industry. If you are seeking an associate’s degree in applied sciences or don’t plan on moving on to a bachelor’s degree, it’s less of a concern. Accreditation is still preferable because it shows potential employers you attended a quality program, but it is not required.
Regional accreditation typically means you can transfer credits to a four-year institution in the same region, because schools work together to set the requirements for accreditation.
There are also national accreditation. These are helpful as well, and shows that the human resources program you attended met certain standards. However, a four-year institution may be less likely to allow you to transfer credits with only a national accreditation.
Regional accreditation bodies:
- Accrediting Commission for Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACS WASC)
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWWCCU)
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools (MSA CESS)
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
- Higher Learning Commission (North Central) (HLC)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC)
National accreditation bodies:
|1||Minnesota State Community and Technical College||Fergus Falls, Minnesota|
|2||Rasmussen University||Ocala, Florida|
|3||Bryant and Stratton College||Cleveland, Ohio|
|4||San Joaquin Valley College||Visalia, California|
|5||Lakeshore Technical College||Cleveland, Wisconsin|
Best Colleges for Human Resources Associate Degree
Minnesota State Community and Technical College
Minnesota State Community and Technical College offers a Human Resource Associate’s degree. Students may take courses on campus, online, or both. It is the only community college in Minnesota that offers a human resources degree completely online.
They offer two programs. The AAS degree prepares students for entry or mid-level positions as a human relations specialist. The AS degree is designed for students who intend to pursue a bachelor’s degree after completion of the program. Both programs are 60 credits.
Students will learn state and federal employment laws and regulations, as well as record keeping. They will develop effective communication skills, including interviewing, negotiation, and training. They will understand business and human resources ethics, including procedures for hiring, firing, and evaluating employees.
Rasmussen University offers a Human Resources and Organizational Leadership associate’s degree. It’s available completely online. Students that wish to continue their education can also obtain a bachelor’s or master’s degree through Rasmussen. They offer an accelerated program, allowing you to complete an associate’s degree in 18 months. Those who are studying for their bachelors’ degree can also include master’s courses.
The program focuses on human resource management at the individual and organizational level. Courses include training, hiring, benefits, and retention of employees, as well as a focus on the big picture. This allows graduates to be of the greatest benefit to potential employers.
Bryant and Stratton College
Bryant and Stratton College offers a Human Resources Specialist Associate degree. It is available online and on campus. The program focuses on employment law, business ethics, and business administration skills. 39 of the 60 credit hours are focused on human resources. This provides a solid foundation to begin employment upon completion of your associate’s degree.
Courses include Accounting, Business Law, Human Resources Management, Recruiting and Staffing, Organizational Behavior and Leadership, and Computing Skills. English and math courses are major-specific, including Research and Writing for the Workplace and Workplace Mathematics. Students will also complete a capstone project or internship.
San Joaquin Valley College
San Joaquin Valley College offers an Associate of Science in Human Resource Administration. Courses include Payroll and Benefits Administration and Ethics in Human Resources.
The program prepares students for careers including Human Resources Specialist, Human Resources Generalist, Administrative Specialist, Training and Development Coordinator, and Accounts Payable Clerk. The program is available completely online, and it can be completed in as little as 14 months.
Lakeshore Technical College
Lakeshore Technical College offers a associate degree in human resource. The program is 60 credits. It prepares you for careers including human resource assistant, pay and benefit specialist, personnel specialist, and staff training specialist.
Courses are divided into general education and technical studies, with the majority of courses being technical studies. They include psychology, payroll applications, PowerPoint, supervision, training and management, and human resources studies.
Flexible learning allows you to attend day or evening classes in person, a combination of online and in-person classes, or complete your associate’s degree completely online. Students will receive the same coursework and instruction whether online or in person.
Olney Central College
Olney Central College offers a Human Resource Assistant (HRA) associate degree. The program focuses on training students for an entry-level position in human resources. The program is 65 hours, with classes in accounting, business, human resources, and psychology in addition to general education requirements. Students will learn about human resource management systems, staffing and hiring procedures, conflict management, and compensation and benefits administration. Credits are transferable to some other universities.
North Wisconsin Technical College
North Wisconsin Technical College offers a Human Resources Associate degree. Most courses are transferable to 4-year universities for those who wish to further their education after graduation. Courses include accounting, business finance, Excel and PowerPoint, legal issues and compliance, psychology, and labor relations and negotiations.
Career opportunities include hiring, payroll, and staffing coordinator, labor relations specialist, and training specialist. There is the possibility of advancing to human resources manager with further education or human resources experience.
The college is technically focused. It works closely with local businesses to provide the education students will need to succeed after graduation. They offer over 70 programs, including technical certifications and associate’s degrees.
Georgia Northwestern Technical College
Georgia Northwestern Technical College offers an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Management with a specialization in Human Resources. The program may be completed online or on campus. Upon graduation, students will be prepared for a position as a human resource management or specialist.
The program is 63 credits. General education is 18 credits. Occupational Curriculum is 33 credits. It focuses on business skills and education, including Accounting, Computer Literacy, Business Ethics, and Leadership. Specializations are 12 credits. The Human Resources Management Specialization includes Labor Management Relations, Employee Training and Development, Project Management, and Management Communication Techniques.
Trident Technical College
Trident Technical College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Human Resources Management. It is a lengthier program at 69 credit hours. All business and management programs through the college are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business School and Programs in addition to the school-wide regional accreditation.
The program prepares students for entry-level positions in the human resources department of government organizations and private businesses. Students will learn about wages, employment laws and regulations, hiring, and employee compensation. Courses include mathematics and statistics, accounting, business ethics, human resource management, and information systems security.
South Texas College
South Texas College offers a Human Resources Associate of Applied Science degree. It is available on campus or completely online. The program is 60 credits. Classes include accounting, employment law, employee relations, and human resources management. The program prepares you for careers including human resources assistant, human resources specialist, human resources associate, and human resources administrative assistant.
South Texas College is a large school, with over 30,000 students. It has grown from one to five campuses. It offers bachelors, associates, and certificate programs, and credits are transferable to other universities.
Montana State University Billings
Montana State University offers several associate degrees in human resource so students can choose the path that best suits their needs.
The Associate of Science degree (AS) allows students to continue their education and earn their Bachelor of Science (BS) or a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies (BLS) with a concentration on Human Resources Management. This program focuses on the basics of human resource management. Students will learn about employee relations, human resource planning and analysis, and risk management.
The College of Business Articulated Emphasis Associate Degree (AS) allows students to go directly to the Bachelor of Science College of Business (BSBA). Students can choose their concentration, including Management, Accounting, General Business, and Finance. Students will learn how to facilitate training and encourage organizational development, create compensation and benefits packages, and learn how to contribute to the overall success of the organization.
Waldorf University offers an Associate of Arts Human Resource Management degree. The program meets the standards of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). After the program is completed, students have the option to continue to a bachelor’s degree through the college. The courses satisfy the requirements for the Human Resource Management Concentration of the Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration.
The Waldorf associate degree in human resources is ideal for those who want a solid educational base and intend to continue on to a bachelor’s degree. It can take courses on campus or online.
The course is 60 credits. 45 of the credits are general education, and 15 are directly related to Human Resources. Students will take a Human Resources Management course. They will also choose four other courses. Options include Employment and Labor Law, Recruitment and Staffing, Human Resource Development, Compensation and Benefits, and Human Resources Management: Strategy and Emerging Issues.
Saint Paul College
Saint Paul College offers a certificate program and an Associate of Applied Science in Human Resources. The associate degree in human resource program is available on campus, online, or a combination of the two. Online courses are accessible through Brightspace so students can access them at their leisure. The program is 60 credits. 44 credits are business and human resources courses, and 16 are general education.
Students may continue on to their bachelor’s degree after earning the associate’s degree. The University has a full transfer agreement with Metropolitan State University, Saint Mary’s University, Minnesota State University, and Bethel University. Other colleges may accept part or all of the credits completed at Saint Paul at their discretion.
- BA Individualized Studies, Metropolitan State University
- BS Human Resource Management, Saint Mary’s University-Twin Cities Campus
- BS Applied Organizational Studies, Minnesota State University-Mankato
- BA Business, Bethel University
The program also prepares students for employment after graduation. They will be qualified for positions including Human Resource Specialist, Benefits Specialist, Compensation Analyst, Recruiter, Human Resource Generalist, and Human Resource Assistant.
While Saint Paul College is still currently accredited by the HLC, it is on probation. The HLC will review the accreditation criteria in June of 2021 and determine whether to restore it to full accreditation or remove its accreditation.
How We Rank Schools
We use the criteria of accreditation, student to teacher ratio, and tuition along with the program’s reputation to determine the overall value and suitability of the school. We also factor in flexibility. Flexibility is especially important for nontraditional students who often have a full-time job or family responsibilities. Nontraditional students now account for 74% of enrollment in postsecondary education, making it the norm instead of the exception.
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