Human Resources Management Major

What is Human Resources Management?


Majors in human resources management tackle issues that affect men and women at work. Students study recruitment, pay and benefits, performance appraisal, labor relations, health and safety at work, and other topics to support union and nonunion, domestic and multinational organizations.

The major in human resources management trains specialists who provide staff support (advice, direction, research capability) to managers and employees both in business and in nonprofit organizations. Human resources specialists are in considerable demand by all kinds of organizations.

Because of the variety of persons and situations they would encounter in their work, human resources management majors must have a sound foundation in the humanities, fine arts, mathematics, and social sciences, as well as philosophy, psychology, and sociology. During the first two years, students typically take 40 to 60 percent of their course work in these areas. The remaining courses are related to business, economics, introduction to business, and introduction to management.

During the junior and senior years, students blend business administration and human resources management. Business administration courses are marketing, finance, accounting, information systems, statistics, and organizational behavior. Human resources management courses include the following:


Recruitment and selection: Students learn how to discover and attract potential employees and use job-related methods to select which employees to hire. Students learn about employment interviews, psychological tests, reference checking, and various screening devices to separate better candidates from less qualified ones.

Training and development: Students study techniques and procedures for designing, implementing, and evaluating programs intended to enhance knowledge, skills, and abilities of managers as well as lower-level workers.

Legal and social environments of business: Students study laws dealing with civil rights, pay, benefits, and worker health and safety, and court rulings that govern employment relationships. Majors in human resources management should be knowledgeable in these areas so that they can counsel managers and employees of their rights and obligations in employment relationships.

Compensation and benefits: The focus is on planning and implementing pay and benefit systems in unionized and non-unionized firms. Students learn about social security, unemployment and workers' compensation programs, life and health insurance, pensions, and several employee incentive programs.

Labor and industrial relations: Students study the history of labor-management relations in the U.S., plus the legal fabric that governs current relations between labor and management. They learn about collective bargaining, grievances, strikes, arbitration, and present problems that face both labor and management in unionized and non-unionized companies.

International human resources management: Given the growth of U.S. companies doing business overseas and foreign firms doing business in the United States, students need to understand the important differences between domestic and multinational human resources management. Topics that are crucial in domestic operations are examined in the international context.

 A lot of businesses offer internships to students in human resources management, which allow them to earn academic credit while attaining firsthand experience. Master's and doctoral programs in human resources management offer further specialization in such fields like organizational behavior, compensation, employment testing, and labor and industrial relations.