Your first step toward a career in human resources is to earn a bachelor’s degree in the subject. As a student of an undergraduate HR degree program, the classes you must take to graduate will range from the broadest general education courses to the most specialized upper-level human resources management courses. Part of the reason a curriculum in human resources is so diverse is because students of this field must develop a wide array of soft skills and a breadth of technical knowledge. During your four (or more) years of studies to earn your bachelor’s degree, you should expect to complete mandatory courses in all aspects of business, a minimum of four to six specialized HR classes and multidisciplinary coursework in subjects that complement HR skills.

What Classes Will I Have to Take for a Degree in Human Resources?

Core Business Classes for HR Majors

The field of human resources is a crucial component of business operations. The workers behind the company’s activities are among the organization’s most valuable resources. Without hard-working and productive employees, companies could not be profitable. Human resources specialists, generalists and managers are the ones who are responsible for recruiting, training and retaining these employees.

Despite the field’s importance in business activities, human resources roles exist in the context of the larger business field. HR professionals need to understand the foundations of business and each of its subfields. Human resources is connected to every business function, from accounting to marketing and from entry-level sales to senior-level management.

Completing core coursework in general business is essential for success in a human resources career. Undergraduate degree programs in HR should include core business studies in general management, strategic management, business law, accounting, finance, marketing, economics and statistics, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Most HR students start their college education by taking classes in principles of business or management and introductory coursework in each of these business fields.

Undergraduate HR programs include specialized Bachelor of Science in Human Resources programs and HR concentrations within Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degrees. Either type of program can align with SHRM curriculum guidelines.

Classes in Human Resources Development and Management

Once you develop your understanding of the business world, you can begin to understand the HR field’s place in it. Students acquire their most in-depth knowledge of human resources through specialized coursework in the subject. Typically, HR bachelor’s degree programs include at least four to six specialized classes in human resources, beginning with an introductory course like Introduction to Human Resource Management, the SHRM reported. These courses may focus on topics such as general human resource management, international human resource management, training and development, human relations and development, employment law, collective bargaining, performance management and compensation and benefits.

What Classes Will I Have to Take for a Degree in Human Resources?

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Studies in more general business management topics, including organizational communication, leadership and intercultural management, can help students round out their soft skills. Through required or elective HR coursework, you can also develop more focused technical knowledge in subjects like staffing organization operations, workforce planning, control and budgeting systems and organizational change.

All undergraduate HR programs that follow SHRM curriculum guidelines include a capstone course at the end of the program. In this capstone course, students apply their HR skills to a project that includes real-world scenarios and problems to solve.

Major Coursework from Diverse Disciplines

At some colleges, human resources is considered a multidisciplinary major because the curriculum brings together major coursework from a variety of fields of study.  Students in a human resources degree program often take classes in general business, accounting, industrial relations, business and professional writing and psychology, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Some of these classes are built into the program as major coursework, while others fulfill the college’s or university’s general education requirements. Coursework in psychology and sociology help HR students understand human thinking and behavior, which can be beneficial in their interactions and professional relationship-building efforts with individual employees and groups of workers. Courses in communication might include business communications and writing for the media along with university-wide required coursework in composition and public speaking.

Communication, relationship management, ethical practice, business acumen and leadership are just a sampling of the required competency areas for human resources programs based on the SHRM curriculum guidelines.

Additional Resources

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What Is the Difference Between a Certification in Human Resources and a Master’s Degree in HR?