As a human resources (HR) professional, you’ve mastered the required skills for your current job.

But you’re not satisfied with staying where you are. Instead, you’re focused on how to move your career forward.

Perhaps you are targeting a higher position within your current company, or want the education and experience necessary to make a bigger career change. Maybe you’d like to transition into the human resource management field and don’t have the necessary background.

Whatever your goal, it’s important to understand if an advanced degree is beneficial and, if so, which one is right for you.


What’s the Difference Between an MBA and MS?

There are two master’s programs in human resources offered through Capella University: Master of Science (MS) in General Human Resource Management and Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a specialization in Human Resource Management. Which one should you consider pursuing?

According to Shelley Robbins, PhD, leadership and human resource management faculty chair at Capella, the choice between degree programs is rooted in your career and your future career goals.

“Both of these master’s programs are aligned with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Curriculum Guidebook and Templates,” she notes. “You can seek out similar positions after completing either one. But you need to ask yourself a series of questions.”

Her suggestions:

  • What is your background?
  • What are your career goals?
  • Are you changing careers, or looking to advance further into an established HR career?

“If you already have a business background, you probably don’t want the MBA,” says Robbins. “That degree will include more general business skills, along with the human resources education. But if you’re changing careers or not sure you want to stay in HR for the rest of your career, the MBA will give you more flexibility to explore other business positions.”

Who should consider the MS degree? Someone with a foundational business background that wants to focus on a deeper knowledge of human resource management. The MS will help you develop skills to lead the HR function and to act as an internal consultant and strategic partner for the business.


There are additional options at Capella, Robbins notes. “There are combined degree programs in which students can earn undergraduate credits that apply toward the MBA or master’s.” Another related field is industrial and organizational psychology; Capella offers an MS in Psychology, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, as well as an MS in Education, Training and Performance Improvement.

Finally, for students who already have advanced degrees but want to focus on the HR component more closely, there is the option to take a certificate program. “Not everyone has the time or resources to study for multiple advanced degrees,” says Robbins. The HRM certificate program gives those students the option of strengthening their skills and education without the full master’s program commitment.


Learn more about Capella’s MBA with a specialization in Human Resource Management and a Master’s in General Human Resource Management.

Important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended this program.
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