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Graduate Certificate inStrategic Human Resources and Workplace Ethics

Program summary

Demonstrate and communicate knowledge of strategic human resources and ethics to excel in an HR leadership role. You can complete this fully online graduate certificate program on a part-time basis in about 9 months — while you continue to work.

100% Online

Complete your Penn State course work at your own pace and 100% online.

Application deadline

Apply by July 1 to start August 26

Credits and costs

9 Credits$1,017 per credit

Stackable Credentials

This program is embedded within the Master of Human Resources and Employment Relations.

Gain HR Skills to Boost Your Career

  • Analyze practical and ethical challenges faced by HR managers today, including bias, data privacy, discipline and termination, fair compensation structures, etc.

  • Champion ethical decision-making processes among leaders and assess their impact on the organization’s culture.

  • Align HR programs and policies with an organization’s business goals while also fostering a positive and productive work environment.

  • Use survey research and other analytical tools to strengthen human resource practice and theory.

  • Understand HR’s role in establishing, monitoring, and reinforcing the ethical standards of an organization.

Online Courses in HR Strategy and Ethics

This 9-credit program focuses on the strategic aspects of human resources management and the ethical considerations that underpin this critical function.

The courses required for this certificate can also be applied to the Penn State Master of Human Resources and Employment Relations, if you apply and are accepted into the program. If you have been accepted into this certificate program, you will not be charged an additional fee to apply for the Master of Human Resources and Employment Relations.

Required Courses (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

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

Electives (select 3 credits)

  • 3
    credits

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

  • 3
    credits

    This course will help students understand the importance and significance of advancing diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI) and ethical decision-making in the workplace. 

  • 1–12
    credits

    Courses offered in foreign countries by individual or group instruction.

All courses must be completed with a grade of C or better and a grade-point average of 3.0 to be awarded the certificate.

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.

Start or Advance Your Career

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You can use the knowledge gained from this program and the support of Penn State career resources to move into a strategic role where communication, analytical and critical thinking, leadership, and problem-solving skills are highly valued.

Potential disciplines may include:

  • human resources management
  • HR transformation or modernization
  • HR analytics
  • HR operations
  • employee engagement 
  • diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB)
  • HR ethics and risk management
  • human capital or talent management

Career Services to Set You Up for Success

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From the day you're accepted as a student, you can access resources and tools provided by Penn State World Campus Career Services to further your career. These resources are beneficial whether you're searching for a job or advancing in an established career.

  • Opportunities to connect with employers
  • Career counselor/coach support
  • Occupation and salary information
  • Internships
  • Graduate school resources 

Additional School of Labor and Employment Relations Career Services

We strive to put your success first. As a student, you may receive 1:1 career coaching with a Ph.D. faculty member to help you explore your career options. You also gain expanded access to career service resources from both the School of Labor and Employment Relations (LER) and Penn State World Campus, including:

  • 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 and internships and access other resources, including career assessments
  • 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

Ready to Learn More?

Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.

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Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State graduate certificate?

Apply by July 1 to start August 26. How to Apply 

Costs and Financial Aid

Learn about this program's tuition, fees, scholarship opportunities, grants, payment options, and military benefits.

Costs and Financial Aid

Graduate Tuition

Graduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register. Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.

2023–24 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2023, spring 2024, and summer 2024 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?Cost
11 or fewer$1,017 per credit
12 or more$12,203 per semester

2024–25 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2024, spring 2025, and summer 2025 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?Cost
11 or fewer$1,027 per credit
12 or more$12,325 per semester

Paying for Your Certificate

Students pursuing a certificate are considered "nondegree," a status that is not eligible for federal student aid, including the Federal Direct Stafford Loan program. A private alternative loan may be an option to consider.

Additionally, Penn State offers many ways to pay for your education, including an installment plan and third-party payments. Penn State World Campus also offers an Employer Reimbursement and Tuition Deferment Plan. Learn more about the options for paying for your education.

Students pursuing a degree and meeting all other eligibility requirements may qualify for financial aid.

Financial Aid and Military Benefits

Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.

To view the detailed list of cost of attendance elements, select “World Campus” as the location on the tuition site.

Earn Stackable Credentials on the Way to a Master's Degree

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This certificate can serve as a stand-alone credential and as a step on your journey toward the Penn State Master of Human Resources and Employment Relations. Stackable credentials recognize your new skills and knowledge while you work toward your master's degree — with no additional application fees.

Earning graduate certificates from Penn State World Campus is a great way to gain new skills and quickly add valuable credentials to your résumé.

This graduate certificate’s courses satisfy requirements toward the following degree:

This online master’s in human resources and employment relations can help you develop strategic programs and policies that align with your organization’s business goals. Build expertise in people and culture, diversity and inclusion, talent management, ethical decision-making, and employment law.

Learn more about the Master of Human Resources and Employment Relations

Recognized SHRM Education Partner and HRCI–Approved Provider

Get more value from your investment in your education. To support your professional development, Penn State’s HRER graduate programs:

  • are designed to align with SHRM’s highest standards
  • allow you to earn free SHRM and HRCI recertification credits both as a student and a program graduate

Finish Your Certificate in Less Than a Year

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Whether you are looking to finish your program as quickly as possible or balance your studies with your busy life, Penn State World Campus can help you achieve your education goals. Many students take one or two courses per semester.

Convenient Online Format

This program's convenient online format gives you the flexibility you need to study around your busy schedule. You can skip the lengthy commute without sacrificing the quality of your education and prepare yourself for more rewarding career opportunities without leaving your home.

A Trusted Leader in Online Education

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Penn State has a history of more than 100 years of distance education, and World Campus has been a leader in online learning for more than two decades. Our online learning environment offers the same quality education that our students experience on campus.

Information for Military and Veterans

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Are you a member of the military, a veteran, or a military spouse? Please visit our military website for additional information regarding financial aid, transfer credits, and application instructions.

Note: This program is under review for GI Bill® eligibility, and you may experience delays attempting to use GI Bill benefits toward this program until it has been officially approved.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.

How to Apply to Penn State

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Apply by July 1 to start August 26

Application Instructions

Deadlines and Important Dates

Complete your application and submit all required materials by the appropriate deadline. Your deadline will depend on the semester you plan to start your courses.

  • Fall Deadline

    Apply by July 1 to start August 26
  • Spring Deadline

    Apply by December 1 to start January 13
  • Summer Deadline

    Apply by April 1, 2025, to start May 19, 2025

Steps to Apply

  1. For admission to the Graduate School, an applicant must hold either (1) a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or (2) a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates. Applicants who are still completing their baccalaureate requirements at the time of application may be admitted to the Graduate School conditional on the awarding of the baccalaureate degree.

    Applicants are expected to have a 3.00 junior/senior grade-point average (on a 4.00 scale). Exceptions to the minimum grade-point average may be made at the discretion of the program for students with special backgrounds, abilities, and interests.

  2. You will need to upload the following items as part of your application:

    Official transcripts from each institution attended, regardless of the number of credits or semesters completed. Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Penn State alumni do not need to request transcripts for credits earned at Penn State but must list Penn State as part of your academic history. If you are admitted, you will be asked to send an additional official transcript. You will receive instructions at that time.

    English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. With some exceptions, international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Proficiency section on the Graduate School's "Requirements for Graduate Admission" page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.

    GRE test scores and references are NOT required.

    Vita or Résumé — A one- to two-page listing of your professional experience. Upload to the online application.

    Statement of Purpose — In 500 words or less, please describe your reasons for pursuing the Graduate Certificate in Strategic Human Resources and Workplace Ethics.

  3. To begin the online application, you will need a Penn State account.

    Create a New Penn State Account

    If you have any problems during this process, contact an admissions counselor at [email protected].

    Please note: Former Penn State students may not need to complete the admissions application or create a new Penn State account. Please visit our Returning Students page for instructions.

  4. If you have been previously accepted to a program with stackable credentials, you will not be charged an additional application fee for any associated programs.

    Associated programs in the HRER stack include:

    Certificates

    • Graduate Certificate in Human Resources and Employment Relations Foundations
    • Graduate Certificate in Labor and Employment Law
    • Graduate Certificate in Strategic Human Resources and Workplace Ethics
    • Graduate Certificate in Talent Management

    Degree

    • Master of Human Resources and Employment Relations

    If you begin with a certificate and are interested in pursuing the Master of Human Resources and Employment Relations, work with your adviser while completing your first certificate to determine which program to apply to next.

    Up to 15 credits earned in any of these certificate programs may be transferred to the master's degree in human resources and employment relations, subject to restrictions outlined in GCAC-309 Transfer Credit.

  5. You can begin your online application at any time. Your progress within the online application system will be saved as you go, allowing you to return at any point as you gather additional information and required materials.

    • Choose Enrollment Type: "Certificate Admission"
    • Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus

    Checking Your Status 
    You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form. 

    Technical Requirements  
    Review the technical requirements for this program.

  6. 6. Complete the application.

Admissions Help

If you have questions about the admissions process, contact an admissions counselor at [email protected].

Contact Us

Customer service representative wearing a headset

Have questions or want more information? We're happy to talk.

To learn more about the Graduate Certificate in Strategic Human Resources and Workplace Ethics, please contact:

Erin Hetzel
HRER Program Office
Phone: 814-867-4167
[email protected]

For general questions about Penn State World Campus:
World Campus Admissions Counselors
Phone: 814-863-5386
[email protected]

Learn from the Best

Study with highly regarded faculty who are world-renowned researchers and practitioners of strategic HR management, employment relations, labor studies, and organizational leadership. This program is offered in partnership with the nationally recognized Penn State School of Labor and Employment Relations.

School Director

Elaine Farndale

Director, School of Labor and Employment Relations

  • Degree
    Ph.D., Cranfield University of Management, United Kingdom
  • Degree
    M.A., Personnel Management, Kingston University, United Kingdom
  • Degree
    B.A., French and Modern Dutch Studies, University of Hull, United Kingdom

Dr. Elaine Farndale ​is director of the School of Labor and Employment Relations and a professor of human resource management. Dr. Farndale's areas of specialization and research include international and comparative human resource management (HRM); the power, professionalism, and roles of the HR department; HRM and firm performance; change management and HRM; eHRM and new HR delivery mechanisms; and HRM and employee engagement. She has presented numerous papers at international conferences and has published articles and chapters in both the practitioner and academic press. Dr. Farndale has also worked as an HR specialist for several years.

Lead Faculty

Brian Redmond

  • Degree
    Ph.D., I/O Psychology, Graduate Center, City University of New York
  • Degree
    M.A., I/O Psychology, New York University
  • Degree
    B.A., Psychology, Castleton State University

Dr. Brian Redmond is a teaching professor and the lead faculty for labor and human resources and organizational leadership. He worked in several organizations (manufacturing, financial, education, management, and service) before deciding that education was his true calling. He still performs organizational consulting, specifically in the realms of leadership, organizational behavior, and online education. Dr. Redmond teaches and authors courses in leadership that span the undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels. He has been teaching online since 2004. He has published and presented research and applied solutions regarding online education since 2003.

Faculty

  • Akram Al Ariss

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Norwich Business School, University of East Anglia
    • Degree
      B.S., Engineering, Lebanese American University

    Dr. Akram Al Ariss lectures at Champagne School of Management, ESC Troyes in France. His research focuses on international human resource management (IHRM). He has written several book chapters, book reviews, and journal articles — in English, French, and Arabic — on interdisciplinary issues related to IHRM, including articles in British Journal of Management; Thunderbird International Business Review; Career Development International; Work, Employment and Society; and Personnel Review.

  • Roland L. Bessette

    • Degree
      J.D., Michigan State University College of Law
    • Degree
      B.A., Journalism, Wayne State University

    Roland L. Bessette spent 34 years with the federal government as a senior executive (SES) with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of General Counsel, in the position of regional counsel (Michigan and Wisconsin), plus a 25-year collateral assignment as a Special Assistant United States Attorney. He was on active duty with the U.S. Navy for eight years. He has provided representation in hundreds of proceedings before the Federal Labor Relations Authority, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Merit Systems Protection Board, arbitrators, and various courts.

  • Carol Cameron

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Organization and Management, Capella University
    • Degree
      MBA, Organizational Behavior, Westminster College

    Dr. Carol Cameron has been a corporate leadership and organization development consultant for more than 20 years, working with a range of organizations, from Fortune 500 companies to entrepreneurial start-ups in industries that include health care, financial services, high tech, and more. She transitioned to the academic arena in 2012, joining Harvard University as an internal consultant and executive coach to its deans and department administrators, and leading curriculum design and facilitation efforts for executive education in Harvard's Center for Workplace Development.

  • Jerry Carbo

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University
    • Degree
      J.D., Dickinson School of Law, Penn State

    Dr. Jerry Carbo, an associate professor of management at the Grove College of Business at Shippensburg University, teaches courses in business and society, labor relations, and employment law. Dr. Carbo has been an adjunct professor in the Master's in HRER program since 2009. His research interests include socially sustainable business systems, workplace bullying, and union revitalization, and he has published articles in several academic journals, including Journal of Strategic Information Systems, Journal of Workplace Rights, and WorkingUSA.

  • Jeanne Charles

    • Degree
      J.D., DePaul University School of Law
    • Degree
      B.S., Business, Northern Illinois University

    Jeanne Charles has a multi-state Alternative Dispute Resolution practice with offices in the Chicago and Fort Lauderdale areas. Her practice includes both arbitration and mediation services. She serves as a labor arbitrator on permanent panels for the State of Illinois and AFSCME Council 31; the State of Florida and AFSCME Council 79; the Miami Dade County and IAFF Local 1403; the National Treasury Employees Union and IRS; and the United States Postal Service. She has been admitted into the National Academy of Arbitrators.

  • Steve Greenblatt

    • Degree
      J.D., New York Law School
    • Degree
      Master's Degree in Labor Law, New York University School of Law
    • Degree
      B.A., Political Science, Brooklyn College

    Steve Greenblatt has spent than 30 years of practice in human resources. At Downstate Medical Center (SUNY) he served as director of labor relations and director of workforce training and development. He also served as ethics officer and acting affirmative action officer. Prior to working with SUNY, he served as assistant district attorney in Bronx County and deputy inspector general for the New York City Department of Sanitation. He also trained attorneys, investigators, and human resource professionals in investigative, arbitration, and trial techniques.

  • Michael Pepe

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Psychology and Education, Washington University in St. Louis
    • Degree
      M.A., Psychology and Education, Washington University in St. Louis
    • Degree
      B.S., Business and Marketing, Fairleigh Dickinson University

    Dr. Michael Pepe is a senior partner and an executive coach in Meaningful Growth Associates, Inc. Previously, he served in a variety of high-level roles in the areas of human resources, staffing, and development. Among other positions that he has held, Dr. Pepe was the chief human resources officer for Virtua, Inc., and vice president and executive director for the Yale New Haven Health System.

  • Timothy Shick

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Administrative and Leadership Studies
    • Degree
      M.A., Industrial and Labor Relations, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
    • Degree
      B.S., Human Resource Management, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

    Dr. Timothy Shick has been in the field of human resources for more than 16 years, working in health care, service, and manufacturing settings. He has experience in the private and public sectors, as well. Dr. Shick is a part-time consultant and a lecturer, and he has been a part-time faculty member at Penn State for many years. His major areas of interest are staffing, training, labor and employee relations, and policy.

  • Rex Simpson

    • Degree
      J.D., University of Pittsburgh School of Law
    • Degree
      B.S., Labor Studies, Penn State

    Rex Simpson is a professor of practice in LER. He worked in human resources and employee relations in the retail industry (JCPenney and Macy's), the automotive industry (Honda), and tire manufacturing (Yokohama). He worked in all of the core areas of HR and eventually had responsibility for directing the entire HR operation. Along the way, he also worked as an in-house labor counsel. Prior to his time in private industry, he spent almost five years as a field attorney with the National Labor Relations Board at its Pittsburgh Regional Office.

  • Banci Tewolde

    • Degree
      J.D., University of Maryland School of Law
    • Degree
      M.A., English, Old Dominion University
    • Degree
      B.A., English, Metropolitan State College of Denver

    Banci Tewolde is an associate director for the Department of Planning and Budget in Virginia. Before joining the Office of the Governor, she was an Assistant Attorney General, where she represented officials and state employees and agencies sued in state and federal courts for alleged constitutional violations in the course of their employment. Prior to returning to Virginia in 2005, she was the manager of the immigration unit at Penn State within the Department of Human Resources.

  • Maja Vidović

    • Degree
      Post Doc, School of Labor and Employment Relations, Penn State
    • Degree
      Ph.D., Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb, Croatia
    • Degree
      M.S., Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb, Croatia
    • Degree
      B.S., Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb, Croatia

    Dr. Maja (read as Maya) Vidović is a professor, researcher, and enthusiast in the field of human resource management, with a specific focus on international HRM. She is a professor at RIT Croatia, in Zagreb, Croatia, and an adjunct faculty for the School of Labor and Employment Relations. Maja lived in State College on two separate occasions, adding up to two and a half years, both times while working for the School of Labor and Employment Relations, which made her a strong supporter of the school and the program. Maja is a passionate teacher, as recognized through receiving an Excellence in Teaching award from RIT Croatia, and the Kelley-Willits award for outstanding contribution to online programs at Penn State. She is the author of several book chapters and many scientific papers, predominantly focusing on human resource management.


Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State graduate certificate?

Apply by July 1 to start August 26. How to Apply