Who can benefit from this program?

Individuals who can benefit from this program may be currently working in:

  • a professional human resources and/or employment relations capacity
  • HRER support positions who aspire to become HRER professionals
  • non-HRER fields (i.e. general management, accounting and finance, etc.), who want to switch careers and work in HRER
  • unions as staff or leaders

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What is the outlook for HR job growth?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), HR positions in the American economy will show steady growth through 2022. According to the BLS:

"Employment of human resources managers is projected to grow 13 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. As new companies form and organizations expand their operations, they will need more human resources staff to oversee and administer their programs. Very strong competition can be expected for most positions."

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What is the difference between an MS or MA and an MPS degree?

MS and/or MA degrees both prepare students for research-oriented careers. In many cases the purpose of an MA/MS degree is to prepare a person to enter a doctoral program.

The MPS degree is the equivalent of a Master's in Business Administration (MBA). Both are professional degrees and are considered "terminal" degrees in that they prepare students to immediately begin active and effective participation in their professions.  

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Who are the faculty? What are their backgrounds?

The diverse faculty at Penn State's School of LER is one of the fundamental strengths of the MPS program. Among our instructors is a number of full-time residential faculty who teach on Penn State's physical campuses. These experienced classroom instructors bring a wealth of knowledge in teaching as well as research in the field. In addition to the Penn State faculty, many HRER instructors are employment relations practitioners teaching in their respective areas of expertise and include corporate HR department heads, labor and employment lawyers, labor movement professionals, and government and public sector personnel.

A mix of accomplished scholars and experienced professionals, our faculty represent a diverse mix of strengths that benefit the learning experience. Read more about the individual faculty

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Is the MPS degree offered entirely online? Am I required to attend courses in residence?

All of the classes in the MPS program are delivered online through the Penn State World Campus. No one is required to attend a course in residence.

The School of LER also offers three elective courses each summer in a hybrid version — part of these courses is online and part is in person at University Park.

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What is the average time students take to complete the MPS degree?

On average, students graduate 2.5 years after beginning the program. It is rare for someone to graduate in less than two years; however, it is possible. Once enrolled in the program, students have eight years to complete the degree.

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How will I be able to accommodate my work (including travel) and family responsibilities as an MPS student?

World Campus HRER courses are designed to be asynchronous, meaning you don’t have to attend classes at a certain time. You can read, post to forums, and submit assignments around your schedule. This flexibility is the top reason cited for why MPS students choose the World Campus HRER program. Visit the How Online Learning Works page to learn more about the nature of our online courses.

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Can I transfer in courses from other universities?

The School of LER will accept a maximum of 6 graduate transfer credits under specific conditions. Credits must be:

  • earned from courses whose content resembles that of the MPS in HRER curriculum
  • acquired within the last 5 years
  • not have been used to earn any other degree
  • earned with at least a grade of B or higher (B- not acceptable)
  • from a regionally accredited university

If your circumstances meet this criteria, email a copy of the transcript with a syllabus or detailed course description (if syllabus is unavailable) to [email protected]. The graduate program director will determine whether your credits will transfer and if so, which courses they will replace in the HRER curriculum.

Note: Students must first be admitted to the program, in registered status, and have paid for their first course to be considered for transfer credit.

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Does the School award credit-for-life or professional experience or non-credit courses as alternatives to credits earned in the classroom?

We do not grant credit-for-life or professional experience or non-credit coursework.

However, we do consider life and/or professional experience in evaluating a candidate for admission to our program. Many of our applicants completed their undergraduate degrees many years ago. In some cases their G.P.A. might not meet the admissions standard of 3.0; however, we do make exceptions to this rule based on the professional and personal growth applicants have experienced in the years since they received their college degrees.

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What type of thesis does an MPS in HRER student submit?

HR degree candidates are not required to write a thesis or complete a comprehensive exam. Instead, they are required to complete a capstone course and project conducting "action research," a type of research that allows HRER professionals to develop skills as internal consultants within their own organizations.

The course asks students to identify a challenge in their organizations, or in the HRER field generally, and organize a research project that will:

  • identify potential solutions
  • evaluate each opportunity
  • choose the best option
  • create and implement a plan

Students work with a mentor in the field as well as the instructor to complete the capstone. 

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What computer skills must I have to be successful in this program?

Students should possess basic computing skills and be working comfortably within the Microsoft Office Suite (Word, PowerPoint, Excel). Access to high speed internet access (e.g., DSL, cable) is mandatory.

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What financial aid is available?

Students studying online through Penn State World Campus are eligible for student loans. You must meet enrollment and other criteria to qualify. The World Campus has a dedicated financial aid office that can help answer your questions and address your concerns. Visit the Financial Aid page of the World Campus website for more information.

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Do I have to pay tuition at the beginning of the semester?

Penn State offers a deferred payment plan, which allows you to pay your tuition over a period of three months. Payments are equal to one-third of the semester charges and are due beginning on the original due date, with the remaining balance payable over the subsequent two months. There is a $45 fee to use this plan, due with the first payment. Visit the World Campus student website to learn about all the options for paying your semester bill.

World Campus also offers an employer reimbursement and tuition deferment program for students whose workplace will reimburse education expenses. This program allows you to defer your tuition payments until completion of the semester with no finance or interest charges. View the Employer Reimbursement Application for complete details.

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How will I find employment or advancement opportunities after graduation?

There are several paths available to help you explore your career opportunities in HRER:

  • Student Services Coordinator in the School of LER — find job postings and receive assistance with job searches from our internal office staff
  • World Campus Licensed Distance Counselor — Learn about careers, internships, and access other resources including career-assessments
  • University Placement Service (UPS) — find a wide variety of career services
  • The LER alumni group — take advantage of internship opportunities as well as full time placement opportunities through the largest dues-paying alumni network in the world

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