HRER professionals sitting at a table
Master of Professional Studies in
Human Resources and Employment Relations

Courses

The Master of Professional Studies in Human Resources and Employment Relations (HRER) is a 33-credit graduate degree program designed to meet the needs of working professionals. Students can typically complete their master's degree on a part-time basis in about two years, without ever setting foot on campus.

Online Learning Experience

Courses are structured to allow you to complete assignments when and where it's most convenient for you. While our 100% online courses are autonomous and asynchronous, you will have the opportunity to interact and engage with fellow classmates through integrated experiences. This peer-to-peer interaction enhances your learning experience while strengthening your professional network on a global scale.

Earn HRCI Recertification Credits

HRCI Approved Seal

The Master of Professional Studies in Human Resources and Employment Relations is an Approved Provider of the HR Certification Institute. Completing the entire program can grant you credits toward your PHR, SPHR, and GPHR recertifications.

This customizable program consists of nine required courses (27 credits) and two elective courses (6 credits). Elective courses are paired to create a concentration, which allows you to develop expertise on a topic specific to your personal career goals. 

Your course work culminates in a capstone class in which you will demonstrate an understanding of the curriculum and apply it to your professional areas of interest in human resources and employment relations.

Optional Engagement Opportunities

Each summer, select core courses are also offered at Penn State's main campus. This 5-day intensive session allows you to earn credits while enjoying the University Park campus experience. Participants can even enjoy an overnight stay in the dorms. This immersion experience is completely optional and ideal for students who seek a high level of engagement with faculty and peers. Learn more about these optional intensive courses

Required Courses (24 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    Legal context of employment in the United States.

  • 3
    credits

    Theory, process, and issues of industrial relations, including collective bargaining and contract administration.

  • 3
    credits

    Current human resource topics in the context of organizational strategy, planning, and responsibility.

  • 3
    credits

    This course provides students with an overview of selected managerial behavior and career topics in modern organizations.

  • 3
    credits

    This course examines current human resource management (HRM) systems worldwide and the influence of globalization on HRM practice.

  • 3
    credits

    This course connects Business Strategy, Financial Tools, and HR to an organization's strategic business objectives.

  • 3
    credits

    This course examines workplace diversity, gender, and race challenges facing employers and employees, and the skills for managing diversity.

  • 3
    credits

    Use of normative elements associated with ethical decision making, as well as the emerging interest in descriptive ethics, to address important problems human resource managers confront.

Culminating Experience (3 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    Supervised student activities on research projects identified on an individual or small-group basis.

Elective Courses (select 6 credits)

Select six credits from one of the following concentrations.

Benefits and Compensation (6 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    This course covers one of the main functional areas of Human Resource Management, employee compensation, and prepares students to create and implement effective compensation systems.

  • 3
    credits

    This course covers one of the main functional areas of Human Resource Management, employee benefits, and prepares students to create and implement effective benefit practices consistent with organization strategy.

Employment and Labor Law (select 6 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    Survey of employment and labor laws around the world that shape the practice of international human resource management (IHRM).

  • 3
    credits

    Acquire practical knowledge that HR practitioners need to deal with governmental regulation of the U.S. workplace.

    • Prerequisite

      HRER 501

  • 3
    credits

    Development of Anglo-American law regulating collective bargaining, with emphasis on American labor-management relations under Wagner, Taft-Hartley, and other acts.

Ethics and Leadership (select 6 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    Theory-and research-based communication skills for leaders dealing with work-related problems in contemporary groups and organizations.

    • 3
      credits

      The course examines the continuing influence of social and environmental factors in shaping leadership and leadership development.

    • or:
      3
      credits

      Application of theories of decision making to work-related issues in groups and organizations requiring collective resolution and action.

HR Analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) (6 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    Research design, sampling design, data collection, and analysis; modeling, means and comparison of means, correlation analysis; and case study.

  • 3
    credits

    Foundational knowledge for HR and ER practitioners to operate successfully in the age of AI.

International Human Resources and Employment Relations (select 6 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    Course exploring human resource management from an international perspective.

    • 3
      credits

      Survey of employment and labor laws around the world that shape the practice of international human resource management (IHRM).

    • or:
      3
      credits

      Analysis of structure and elements of employment relations systems in developed and developing areas.

Labor and Collective Bargaining (6 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    Development of Anglo-American law regulating collective bargaining, with emphasis on American labor-management relations under Wagner, Taft-Hartley, and other acts.

  • 3
    credits

    Upon completing this course, students should be able to identify the legal frameworks that govern collective bargaining between employers and unions in federal, state and local governments.

Labor Unions: Organization and Strategy (6 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    Comprehensive analysis of American Labor Unions/Labor Organizations: how structured, administered, and governed as they pursue economic, social, political objectives.

  • 3
    credits

    Students will examine, debate and gain a fundamental understanding of the current state of the American labor movement.

Staffing, Training, and Development (6 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    This course covers one of the main functional areas of Human Resource Management, staffing, and prepares students to be effective staffing professionals. The course focuses on the effective management of the flow of talent into, through, and out of organizations.

  • 3
    credits

    This course covers one of the main functional areas of Human Resource Management, training and development, and prepares students to be effective training and development professionals.

Optional Intensive Courses

Each summer, the Master of Professional Studies in Human Resources and Employment Relations offers a selection of the core program courses as five-day intensive courses at Penn State's University Park campus in State College, Pennsylvania. This unique blended course experience allows you to fulfill a three-credit course requirement in a condensed format while experiencing campus life at Penn State.

Class activities such as lectures, case studies, and individual and team exercises will be scheduled for six hours each day, and you may also be required to complete additional assignments outside of the classroom. Approximately two-thirds of the course work for a course will be completed during the five days you are on campus, with some preparation work required before arriving on campus, and a follow-up project to be completed after the week concludes. Because of this intensive schedule, you are only permitted to take one in-residence course at a time.

While this is not a required aspect of the master's degree program, students are encouraged to take advantage of this excellent opportunity to interact and network with your peers and the faculty and staff for the program. More information about registration for these intensive courses will be available upon your acceptance to the degree program. Please email the program office at [email protected] with questions.

*The use of the HRCI seal is not an endorsement by the HR Certification Institute of the quality of the program. It means that this program has met the HR Certification Institute's criteria to be pre-approved for recertification credit.

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.

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