HR Degrees | Complete Subject Guide - FutureLearn (2024)

Discover how a human resources degree could propel your career forward, and get tips on how to apply, entry requirements, and online degree options.

HR Degrees | Complete Subject Guide - FutureLearn (1)

If you love working with people, but are also passionate about the inner-workings of runninga business, a career in HR degree could be right for you. At the end of the day, working in HR is all about striking the balance between business optimisation and employee satisfaction.

So if you’re a natural leader, a great communicator, business-savvy and want to help businesses find the right talent, a HR degree is the perfect stepping stone into a career where you can show off your skills.

Keep exploring our complete guide to HR management degrees to find out what you’ll be studying, how to apply, which skills you’ll learn, job satisfaction levels and much more.

What is human resource management?

HR management is pretty much what it sounds like – the management of employees and company structure within an organisation. Now, that may not sound very interesting at first glance, but there are lots of different aspects to HR, and the opportunities to work with all kinds of people on a day-to-day basis appeals to many.

But what does management of employees actually involve? Well, responsibilities of an HR department include recruiting new staff, upholding company rules, supporting employee development and creating a positive company culture. Such a diverse array of tasks can mean that no day is the same for HR workers.

What does a HR degree involve?

When undertaking a HR degree, you’re really preparing for your future career by learning all the practical and theoretical aspects of human resources. This means looking at a broad spectrum of business and people management skills. Below we have some examples of modules you might study for your degree.

Example modules

  • Managing people
  • Organisational behaviour
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Developing talent
  • Business ethics
  • Employment law
  • Training and development
  • Resolving disputes
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Performance management
  • Employment relations.

Skills you’ll learn on a human resource management degree

You’ll also pick up a wealth of hard and soft skills on a HR degree. While some of them will be transferable, interpersonal skills, others are more specialised and specific to employee management and business organisation.

Hard skills:

  • Interviewing applicants
  • Management theory
  • Legal terminology
  • Digital marketing
  • Training staff
  • Budgeting
  • Running meetings.

Soft skills:

  • Communication
  • Leadership and team management
  • Flexibility
  • Negotiation
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Public speaking.

Types of HR degree

The exact features of your degree will depend on where you study, but typically, undergraduate degrees include a placement year within HR, providing you with the opportunity to gain valuable practical experience in a business.

There are also plenty of master’s programs in human resource management, designed for people who may already have some experience in the field but want to be at the top of their game.

One thing you might want to look out for are degrees that are accredited by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the UK’s professional body for HR. Earning accreditation will mean you have the opportunity to get membership to the CIPD, which could lead to more networking and job opportunities.

Below, we go over the most common human resource management degree types.

  • BA Human Resources Management
  • BSc Management with Human Resources
  • MA Human Resources Management
  • MA Business with Human Resource Management
  • MSc Global Human Resource Management.

How long does it take to get a HR degree?

Everyone has varying levels of time they can dedicate to university studies. For instance, if you’re already employed at a business and need to continue working while pursuing your degree, an online program can be a lifesaver. This flexible option allows you to study in the evenings from home, maintaining your income and gaining valuable work experience during the day.

Below, we outline how long it typically takes to get an HR management degree, based on whether you choose to study full-time or part-time.

  • Bachelor’s degree: 3-4 years
  • Master’s degree: 1-2 years

Entry requirements for a human resource management degree

The required grades for HR degrees vary quite widely depending on how prestigious the university is. This can actually be quite helpful, as it means you can get into your first choice university if you get the grades you want, and one of your back-up options if you don’t quite hit the mark.

Generally though, for an undergraduate HR management degree, you’ll need to get somewhere between 112 and 153 UCAS points to get in. This is equivalent to the following qualification types:

A-levels: AAB–BBC


Scottish Highers: AAABB–BBBB

When it comes to postgraduate degrees, like MA Human Resource Management, you’ll need a relevant bachelor’s degree, preferably with a result of 2:1 or above. Some programs accept 2:2 results though, as long as you prove you’re passionate and dedicated through other means, like work experience.


  • Academic qualifications
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Organisational skills
  • Enjoys working with people
  • Highly adaptable.


  • Studied relevant subjects e.g. business, economics, psychology
  • Internship at a business
  • Admin or operational work experience
  • Managed a student group or organisation.

HR Degrees | Complete Subject Guide - FutureLearn (3)

Online Degree

MBA International Human Resource Management

  • 1 year
  • postgraduate
  • Flexible Learning

Apply now

How much does a HR degree cost?

Wondering whether you can afford to splash out on a HR degree? The average annual cost for an undergraduate degree in the UK is £9,250, although it’s lower in Northern Ireland and free in Scotland. As anticipated, international students face significantly higher fees. For master’s degrees, costs range from £12,000 to £25,000, depending on whether you study full-time or part-time.

If these numbers look scarily high to you, don’t worry. In the UK, students can access loans that cover tuition fees and assist with living expenses, with repayment beginning only after reaching a certain income threshold.

Funding options for HR degrees

Student finance isn’t your only option when it comes to helping you pay for your degree. Luckily, there are funding options available to you in the form of scholarships and grants, and some universities offer financial aid packages or payment plans to help you manage your money.

There’s also a chance you could get sponsored by your existing employer in HR, or at least work part-time at a business to support your studies.

Where to look

How to get into a degree in human resource management

So, you’ve got your heart set on a HR management degree and you’re ready to apply. What are the next steps you need to take? To apply for an undergraduate degree in the UK, you’ll need to submit an online UCAS application. If it’s a postgraduate program you’re looking at, you’ll most likely need to apply directly on the institution’s website.

One crucial aspect of your application is writing a personal statement, as this is your chance to prove you’re an ideal candidate for a HR management degree. You’ll need to include details about your qualifications, motivations, experience and aspirations, giving specific examples and showcasing your greatest strengths.

How will you be assessed on a HR degree?

For HR professionals, no working day is exactly the same – so it makes sense that the way you’re assessed on a HR degree varies to reflect real life. Assessment methods are usually a mixture of exams, coursework, presentations, group reports, and probably a final year dissertation. As a result, you’ll be sure to graduate with a set of highly transferable skills.

How difficult is a degree in HR management?

Difficulty is fairly subjective, and often it’s all about how you approach your degree. If you come at it with positivity, a passion for organisational change, a love of working with people and a strong work ethic, you’ll thrive in your HR management degree.

You may find certain topics harder than others, for example, employment law and finance can be tricky for some, but you’ll be fine with some practice and perseverance. At the end of the day, all kinds of people have the potential to succeed at this subject, as long as they’re passionate about it.

Job satisfaction and prospects for HR graduates

When it comes to job satisfaction, those working in HR are in a unique position where they can actually influence and change company culture to their advantage, improving work life for their fellow employees as well as themselves. The evidence also seems to point in this direction, with recent survey results from CIPHR showing that 65% of HR managers and directors either like or love their jobs.

If you need more reasons to get into HR, research from 2022 shows that the HR profession grew four times faster than the rest of the UK workforce in the last decade.That’s a staggering overall growth of 42%, meaning there is no shortage of jobs available for HR professionals.

What can you do with a human resource management degree?

We’re guessing you already know that you can become a HR manager with this degree. But did you know you have other options too? The world of human resources is bigger than you may have thought. Below are some career options to look into.

  • Human resources officer
  • Office manager
  • Occupational therapist
  • Payroll specialist
  • Customer success manager
  • Talent acquisition specialist
  • Training coordinator
  • Diversity & inclusion consultant
  • HR consultant
  • Compensation and benefits manager
  • Customer success manager
  • Growth executive
  • Recruitment consultant.

Salary prospects: How much do human resources graduates earn?

According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary for HR graduates is £33,234, which isn’t a bad starting point at all. But where can you go from there? Looking at nearly 10,000 HR salaries, the average salary for workers is listed as £37,438 per year, though higher salaries are not uncommon.

For example, HR managers have an average annual salary of £50,918, and occupational therapists earn £41,385 per year. The more senior you are, the better your salary is likely to be. You may also have more earning potential if you work for a big, highly reputable company.

Why choose a degree in HR?

Need a bit more convincing before you apply for a human resource management degree? Below we summarise the reasons why you should consider a career in HR, so you’re fully clued up before you make any decisions.

  • Good salaries
  • High job satisfaction
  • Diverse career opportunities
  • Highly transferable skills and experience
  • Positive impact on workplace culture
  • Great job security
  • Continuous learning and development.

Get an online human resource management degree with FutureLearn

Ready to take control of your future and maximise your chances at securing senior HR positions? We’ve got the perfect online degree for you. Studying online makes it significantly easier to balance all of your life commitments and work towards your dream career without putting everything else on pause.

Our MBA in International Human Resource Management by Coventry University will prepare you for the world of HR, so you’re able to strategically impact organisations at the highest level. The course is just one year long if you study full-time, or two years if you need more flexibility. Kickstart your career in HR today.

>> Explore our full collection of online human resources degrees

HR Degrees | Complete Subject Guide - FutureLearn (2024)
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