Top 20 PhD Human Resources Management Programs Online 2024

human resources

In this article, we profile the top 20 online PhD in HR management degree programs.

The United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment for human resources managers will grow nine percent over the next several years. This is a slight increase over the average of all other occupations (7 percent). As new companies form and businesses and organizations expand, the need for human resources managers will increase. To accommodate demand to fill these roles, colleges and universities now offer PhD in HR management programs online via distance education technology.

Top 20 Online PhD in Human Resource Management Degree Programs Methodology

We conducted a program evaluation of approximately 55 colleges and universities listed by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) College Navigator. These were schools that offered at least one PhD in HR management online or degree programs in a closely related discipline such as organizational leadership or HR development. We narrowed our original pool of human resources programs by applying the following criteria: regional or national accreditation, online or hybrid degree completion pathways, and school rankings with a major publication like U.S. News and World Report. We then listed the PhD programs and schools according to raw affordability.

Featured Programs

Below is our list of the top 20 PhD in human resources programs in management online.

#20 – The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Online PhD in Organizational Leadership

Chicago, Illinois


The Chicago School of Professional Psychology - logo

Though not an online PhD program in HR management, Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers a PhD in organizational management with human resources applicable concentrations via distance education. Focus areas for the prospective graduate student include human diversity and ethics, interpersonal dynamics, organizational interventions, strategic change management, and team-building. The doctorate in human resources online is fully online and takes three years to complete. Admission requirements include three or more years of work experience and a 500-750-word essay. Other requirements include a statement of research and official transcripts. U.S. News recognizes the institution among top ranked schools and PhD programs. This coupled with affordable tuition earns the Chicago School of Professional Psychology a spot on our list. Moreover, federal grants and loans may be available to eligible students.


Online PhD Programs in Psychology

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $22,554

#19 – University of Illinois

Online EdD in HR Development

Champaign, Illinois

University of Illinois - logo


A public university founded in 1867, the University of Illinois offers an EdD program similar to PhD in HR management online programs. Successful completion of the online education degree earns an EdD in Diversity and Equity in Education with an emphasis in HR development. The program may be completed fully online and requires 64 credit hours. Courses for the online doctorate in human resources include diversity in the workplace, educational statistics and research methods, ethnographic methods in education, historical and social barriers, learning technologies, and organizational and workforce development education. A thesis and dissertation must also be completed for HR development programs. U.S. News ranks University of Illinois #46 in best national universities. Also, the online graduate education programs rank #16 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.

Grad Tuition/Online Cost: $14,635

#18 – Northcentral University

Online PhD in HRM

San Diego, California


Northcentral University -logo

One of the top online human resource PhD programs for working professionals can be completed 100% online. Northcentral University’s online doctorate degree explores human resources leadership, workforce development education, and interrelationships within an organization. A total of 20 courses that span 45 months make earning a doctoral degree via online education convenient and rigorous. The accelerated pace is ideal for working students, and classes are taught by distinguished faculty members. Online coursework offers complete flexibility and encourage critical thinking. Students enrolled in the program benefit from no scheduled times, no group assignments, and weekly course start dates. U.S. News recognizes Northcentral University among the top unranked national universities. Also, several online graduate programs have earned top 200 and top 300 rankings out of more than 1,200 programs surveyed by U.S. News.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,881

#17 – Sullivan University

Online Doctoral Degree in Management – Human Resources Leadership

Louisville, Kentucky


Sullivan University - logo

Sullivan University offers an affordable online doctorate degree in HR management. Admission to the PhD program requires no GRE or GMAT testing. The school is considered a teaching university, though research is required for online programs. Curriculum is broken into different cores, including the management core, research core, and concentration area. A total of 16 hours is required for primary concentration, which includes HR leadership. Near the end of the human resources online program, a comprehensive exam is offered, and credits awarded on a pass-fail basis. A minimum of twelve credits are awarded for dissertation research conducted by prospective training and development managers. U.S. News ranks Sullivan University among the pool of top regional universities in the South.

Grad Tuition/Online Cost: $15,840

#16 – California Baptist University

Online DBA

Riverside, California


California Baptist University - logo

Though not an online doctorate in management for human resources, California Baptist University offers an online DBA with courses applicable to the HRM field. The 50-unit program offers an eight-week online course format and follows a cohort model. This model allows students to progress together through coursework and the dissertation process. Courses run eight weeks in length, and residency participation may be required. Some of the courses that appeal to individuals interested in human resources online include ethics in organization and management, succession planning, foundations of organization and management, and topics in human capital and management. U.S. News ranks CBU #32 in best regional universities in the West and #20 in best value schools. Also, the online graduate business programs rank #86 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,590

#15 – Regent University

Online PhD in Organizational Leadership

Virginia Beach, Virginia


Regent University - logo

Regent University is one of the few colleges or universities to offer online Ph.D. in human resources programs for working professionals. The PhD in organizational leadership offers an emphasis in human resource development designed to prepare students to join the leadership ranks in human resources. This ACBSP-accredited PhD consists of 60 credits, two four-day residencies, and can be completed entirely online. Online human resource classes encourage critical thinking skills and include advanced analysis, autonomous learning and human resource development, design of adult learning communities, organizational learning, and ethical human resource development. Applicants to human resource development programs must hold a master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. U.S. News ranks Regent #201 in best national universities.

Grad Tuition/Online Cost: $15,590

#14 – Johnson & Wales University

Online DBA in Org. Development

Providence, Rhode Island


Johnson & Wales University -logo

Johnson & Wales University offers a DBA that is ideal for those seeking online human resources PhD programs. The online DBA offers a concentration in organizational development focusing on advancing employee and organizational performance. Flexible online classes run eight weeks in length and are taught by business professors. Students focus on one course at a time and are able to finish the program in three years. To graduate, human resources online students must complete all coursework, achieve a minimum GPA of 3.0, and complete dissertation requirements. U.S. News ranks Johnson & Wales #74 in best regional universities in the North.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,706

#13 – Atlantic International University

Online PhD HRM

Honolulu, Hawaii


Atlantic International University - logo

Atlantic International University’s online PhD HR management boasts flexibility and affordability. This fully online PhD program helps students consult, lead, and teach in the field of human resources within a global business environment. Courses include adult learning and motivation, cross-cultural management, diversity in the workplace, strategic management, leadership and communication, managing and organizing people, and theories of leadership. At the culmination of online learning, each PhD candidate completes, or is encouraged to complete, a doctoral dissertation. AIU is accredited by the Accrediting Service for International Schools, Colleges, and Universities (ASIC). AIU offers one of the most affordable web-based programs on our list, and federal financial aid may be available.

Grad Tuition/Online Cost: $13,000

#12 – Wayland Baptist University

Online Doctor of Management (DMGT)

Plainview, Texas


Wayland Baptist University -logo

One of the best online doctorate in HRM programs on our list is the online doctor of management program (DMGT) at Wayland Baptist University, a non profit university located in Plainview, Texas.. This totally online degree consists of 60 semester hours of coursework in areas of management theory, organizational behavior, and HR practices and management. The program uses a cohort model where students take courses as they are offered. Courses are available in an online format and often run in 11-week terms. Students engage in coursework for this doctorate in human resources that includes group and team processes, human resource development, HR strategy, strategic management, and theories of employee and labor relations. Admission to the program requires that prospective graduate students submit official GMAT or GRE scores and three professional or academic recommendations. U.S. News ranks Wayland Baptist #96-#127 in best regional universities in the West.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,896

#11 – Colorado State University

Online Doctorate in Human Resources Studies

Fort Collins, Colorado


Colorado State University - logo

Colorado State University’s online human resources PhD program pushes students to become leaders and researchers in the field through coursework and professional experience. The program takes 3.75 years to complete with most classes offered online and is considered one of the best online doctorate options in the field. Students take two courses per semester, and each course meets eight Saturdays per semester at the Denver Learning Center. Some of the required courses include evaluation and assessment in organizational learning, performance, and change (OLPC); foundations of educational research; scenario planning in organizations; systems leadership; and human capital development. Admission requires GRE or GMAT scores and ten to twelve years of advanced experience in a related discipline. In terms of quality education, U.S. News ranks Colorado State University #140 in best national universities and #141 in best value schools.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,834

#10 – Old Dominion University

Online EdD in Occupational and Technical Studies – Human Resources

Norfolk, Virginia


Old Dominion University -logo

Old Dominion University’s online PhD in HR management is a sixty-hour EdD program. This fully online program focuses on occupational / technical studies and human resources training. Students complete core courses, advanced topics electives, human resources concentration classes, and research projects. Two 2-week summer intensives are required at the main campus in Norfolk, Virginia. Courses include foundations of distance education, foundations of adult education and training, readings in occupational and technical studies, and trends and issues in training – modeling and simulation. U.S. News ranks Old Dominion University as a top national university and public institution offering a quality education in the field. Also, several online graduate programs have received top 50 and top 75 rankings out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.

Graduate Tuition/Online Cost: $10,207

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#8 – Bellevue University

Online Ph.D. in Human Capital Management

Bellevue, Nebraska


Bellevue University - logo

Bellevue University offers an accredited type of online doctorate in human resources degree for HR professionals. The Ph.D. in human capital management online degree equips graduates to be effective leaders in designing human capital development programs. Courses are delivered online and include advance analysis and presentation methods, economics of human derived capital valuation issues, human capital productivity, and research in organizations. An 18-credit dissertation in human resources is also required for the human capital doctorate from Bellevue University. Admission requirements for business schools like this one include a master’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a 3.0 GPA or better, five years of professional experience, and statement of interest. There is no GRE or GMAT requirement for this Ph.D. in human capital management. U.S. News ranks Bellevue University among the top regional universities in the Midwest.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,980

#7 – Bowling Green State University

Online PhD in Technology Management

Bowling Green, Ohio


Bowling Green State University -logo

Another alternative to the online doctorate in human resource management is the technology management degree at Bowling Green State University. Students begin by choosing one of five specializations for HR professionals, including human resources development and training. Eighteen hours of specialization courses in HRD & T are required. These courses are offered fully online and include career development theories and techniques in human resource development (HRD), evaluation of HR development programs, performance management and evaluation of learner performance improvement, legal and ethical dimensions in HRD practitioners, and management and coordination of training and development. To apply, the school requires a master’s degree in a relevant field with a strong GPA of at least 3.5. GRE or GMAT scores are also required. Federal financial aid is available to qualified applicants to business schools like this one. U.S. News ranks Bowling Green #215 in best national universities and #121 in top public schools.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,017

#6 – Liberty University

Online DBA in Human Resources

Lynchburg, Virginia


Liberty University - logo

Liberty University’s PhD in HRM online degree program requires 60 credits and takes three years to complete. The online Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in HR is a 100% online business education program designed to prepare individuals for high leadership roles in HR and business management. Classes are delivered online and include 48 hours of core courses and 12 hours of human resources cognate courses. Transfer credits may be accepted. Some of the courses for the doctorate in human resources include compensation management, contemporary issues in HR management, human capital development, strategic thinking and decision-making, labor relations, and workforce planning and employment. Admission requirements for prospective students include a regionally or nationally accredited master’s degree with a 3.0 or higher GPA. Once admitted, students may qualify for financial aid from the federal government. U.S. News ranks Liberty University #230-#301 in best national universities. The school holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,847

#5 – University of Arkansas

Online EdD in Human Resource Studies and Workplace Development Education

Fayetteville, Arkansas


University of Arkansas - logo

One alternative to the doctorate in human resources management online degree, like the one University of Arkansas offers, is the online EdD in human resources. This fully online program prepares doctoral students in fields like organizational psychology, organizational behavior, consulting, and the human resources field. Prospective students must take the GRE exam to be considered for admission to online PhD programs like this one. Also, admission requires a complete application, autobiographical sketch, and resumé. Human resource professionals have up to seven years to complete the online doctoral program. To graduate, individuals must also successfully demonstrate skills developed through a candidacy exam and dissertation based on qualitative research skills. In terms of quality education, U.S. News & World Report ranks University of Arkansas #152 in best national universities and #78 in top public schools.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,875

#4 – University of Southern Mississippi

Online Ph.D. Human Capital Development

Hattiesburg, Mississippi


University of Southern Mississippi -logo

The University of Southern Mississippi offers a type of online doctorate in human resource management degree known as the Ph.D. in human capital development. Through research and practice, the program prepares students to position themselves as leaders in human capital and organizational strategy and be successful in assessing human capital effectiveness and human capital valuation issues. Classes are delivered mostly online through web-based instruction. Minimal face-to-face meetings or courses may also be required for online students. The human resource leadership coursework you can expect to complete in online PhD programs like this one include advanced workforce analysis, organizational performance, foundations of human capital development, research in human capital development, survey design and administration, strategic human capital management, and workforce development models. U.S. News ranks the school #230-#301 in best national universities. The university holds its regional accreditation from the SACSCOC.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,094

#3 – Indiana State University

Online PhD in Technology Management

Terre Haute, Indiana


Indiana State University - logo

Indiana State University is one of our top affordable picks for an online doctorate in human resources, PhD, or related doctoral programs. The PhD in technology management is a 66-credit hour program that offers the option of earning a specialization in a particular area of interest. If HRM is an area you want to pursue, the degree may be personalized to include courses in human resource management or development. Courses are delivered online and include 12 credits in general technology, a minimum of 27 credits in research and dissertation, and a minimum of 18 credits in a technical specialization like HR development, human capital management, or organizational dynamics. Students also take at least nine credits of electives, and a comprehensive examination may be required. U.S. News ranks Indiana State #230-#301 in best national universities.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,776

#2 – The University of Texas

Online PhD in HRD

Tyler, Texas


The University of Texas - logo

The University of Texas offers an accredited online PhD human resource management degree intended primarily as one of the few executive-based doctoral programs. While the program is not fully online, an executive format is used whereby students only meet five times each semester. The curriculum covers topics in human capital management and business administration. Most classes will be delivered online. To apply to the program, certain requirements must be met. Admission requires unofficial transcripts from all universities from which you earned a degree, three letters of recommendation, a master’s degree in human resource development or closely related field, and satisfactory GMAT scores. Federal financial aid is available to qualified applicants. U.S. News ranks UT-Tyler #81 in best regional universities in the West and #27 in top public schools.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,264

#1 – California Miramar University

Online DBA

San Diego, California


California Miramar University - logo

A Doctor of Business Administration or DBA, like the one offered at California Miramar University, may provide an alternative route for individuals seeking online PhD HR management programs. The online DBA program offers an affordable education as well as various business management specializations that incorporate topics in human resources and organizational development. For example, the international business administration specialization offers courses in leadership theory and international HR management. This program is ideal for those interested in both business and HRM as well as human capital management. The program requires the completion of 66 graduate semester credits beyond the master’s degree. Also, degree candidates must conduct research and pass a comprehensive exam prior to approval of the dissertation proposal. California Miramar is the #1 most affordable school to offer an online doctoral program in HR.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,020


Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do with an online PhD in HR management?

Human resource management professionals work in a variety of business administration settings and HR departments to ensure the organization and workplace is safe and respectful. In the human resources field, HR managers use their advanced skills to implement policies that provide support, recruit new job candidates, and fill vacant positions. With a Ph.D. in human resource management online, leadership roles in HR are available.

Duties of human resources managers vary based on organizational mission, but most oversee the recruiting process, manage human resources personnel, and conduct interviews when hiring new staff. Human resource managers often work closely with top organization executives to coordinate the work of a team of specialists. They serve as consultants to department heads and other organization managers and advise them on issues specific to human resources. Issues involving sexual harassment and equal employment opportunity are typically handled by the human resource manager.

Other function of human resources management focuses on structuring competitive compensation packages. To remain competitive as an organization and attract qualified candidates, an equally attractive compensation package must be offered. HR managers who complete a doctoral program make recommendations on potential policy changes, benefits modifications, and pay scale structures.

With an online PhD in HR management and human resource training, teaching is also an option. Colleges and universities hire qualified instructors and professors to teach students within the human resources program. Some candidates may qualify for the position of labor relations director, benefits managers, or training and development specialists.

What is the career outlook for individuals with an online doctorate degree in HR management?

The United States Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports employment of managers in HR is projected to grow nine percent through the year 2026. This is a slightly faster growth rate than the average for all other occupations.

Employment growth depends largely on the expansion of companies and organizations over the next several years. As new companies form and businesses expand their services and operations, more human resource services will be needed to oversee hiring and recruitment, as well as day-to-day administrative HR duties.

Also, human resource managers will be in demand as policy changes occur within organizations. Complex employment laws, equal employment opportunities, and changes to retirement plans and healthcare will impact the need for qualified specialists. Candidates with adequate training and education, such as an online PhD in human resources management, will be sought after to fill leadership roles.

Candidates with a master’s degree or PhD should have the best job prospects, as education is highly valued in this field. Although job opportunities are expected, they will vary among industry. Healthcare, education, and tech companies should present the highest demand for HR personnel. Top level HR positions will face the strongest competition. Qualified candidates will be vying for few available positions, thus adequate education and experience are a must. Career services are available to human resource professionals through the National Human Resources Association (NHRA) as well as other professional associations.

What will I earn with a PhD in human resources online management degree?

The median annual wage for managers in the field, according to the BLS, was $126,230 in 2021. Today, the earnings for an individual with a Ph.D. in human resource management may be slightly higher.

PayScale, a global compensation research organization dedicated to gathering data and calculating average salaries, reports the average salary of an individual with a PhD or doctorate in human resources management earns $81,000 per year. The maximum salary reported for an individual with a doctorate in HRM is $117,000.

Education and years of experience impact compensation. The more educated and the more experience an individual has, the higher the earning potential. PayScale reports an experienced HR manager with employees and ten to twenty years of experience earns an average total compensation of $74,990.

Location also impacts earnings. Managers in large cities and urban locations generally earn more than their peers working in small and rural towns. The difference in pay may be offset by cost of living expenses. For example, San Francisco offers one of the highest earning potentials for HR managers but also has one of the highest cost of living indexes in the country.

How long does it take to earn a PhD in human resource management online?

Plan on taking time to earn the proper education needed to land a top-level HR management job. Candidates need a bachelor’s, master’s, and in some cases a PhD to secure management roles. Due to competition for the highest leadership positions in HR management, a PhD will add value to your resumé.

Earning a doctorate in human resources management online takes time. There are no shortcuts to earning a PhD, but online programs generally offer a work-at-your-own pace environment. Many of the PhD in HR management programs on our list take two to four years to complete on average.

Completion time varies with enrollment. If you plan to enroll in a full-time program, you may shave months off your completion time. A full load of classes means you will not take as long to complete your degree as a person taking few classes each year in a part-time program. However, there are benefits to enrolling part-time. Less class time, more freedom to balance outside obligations, and more time to focus on research adds value to a part-time program. This is something you must consider before enrolling in a PhD in HR management program online.

What are the admission requirements for a PhD in HR management online?

As with all PhD and doctoral programs, qualified individuals with academic promise are considered for admission. Programs vary in terms of requirements for admission, but for doctoral degrees in human resources management online, similar criteria apply.

The majority of programs look for the basics. Does the applicant have the required education for admission? Programs may ask for an earned bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, while others ask for a master’s degree. Not all programs require an undergraduate or graduate degree in human resources. Programs select candidates from all academic backgrounds. This means an applicant for a PhD in human resource management online program may hold an undergraduate degree in business or related field, not just a degree in human resources.

GRE or GMAT test scores are often required by top ranked programs and highly ranked institutions. If a program asks for GRE scores or other graduate examination scores, an average may be required. Most programs publish the average GRE or GMAT scores of accepted applicants, though not always. Also, some programs may offer a range or give no indication of qualifying test scores. Most programs do review the application as a whole.

Additional requirements vary among programs. Letters of recommendation from individuals at a professional organization who can attest to your academic and research potential, a statement of purpose, writing sample, and official transcripts are among the most common application requirements.

CVO Staff


This concludes our list of the top 20 PhD in human resource management programs online.