FAQ: How Do I Qualify For a PhD Human Resources Program?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 23, 2022

Published September 29, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Human resources are key to business decision-making and ensuring corporate compliance with regulations and ethical practices for the fair treatment and compensation of company personnel. You can pursue a college degree to further your human resources knowledge and a P.h.D. to advance your career. It's helpful to learn what it takes to earn a Ph.D. in human resources to help you make a more informed career choice. In this article, we discuss frequently asked questions such as what the admission requirements are for a doctorate in human resources and what you can do with your Ph.D.

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What are the admission requirements for a human resources Ph.D. program?

The admission requirements for a Ph.D. program in human resources can vary depending on the program you want to enroll in, but there are some common requirements that you may find when researching different programs. The most common requirement is a bachelor's or master's degree in human resources, business or other related fields along with a preferred GPA of at least 3.0 out of a 4.0 grading scale. These programs often require transcripts you can request to be sent directly from your previous school to the new one to verify your degree and GPA.

Along with your coursework, an academic institution may ask for three letters of recommendation, a statement of your purpose or research, a writing sample and a resume or curriculum vitae. Some schools may also require GRE or GMAT scores, so you can check the school's website or other published program materials to find test score averages, preferences or ranges for accepted applicants. Your chosen program may also have a prerequisite of three or more years of work experience. Part of the admission process can include an interview with human resources program faculty members.

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How long does a human resources Ph.D. program take?

A human resources Ph.D. program can take between two to four years to complete, with the average time to complete a program at four years. The time it takes for you to receive your Ph.D. in human resources depends on the program you choose to enroll in and how you choose to enroll. Depending on the institution, you may enroll online, in-person, full-time or part-time. Some Ph.D. programs offer virtual residencies that you can complete as part of your required credits to graduate.

To graduate with a Ph.D. in human resources, the program may require the completion of a dissertation or residency project that can contribute to the time you take to complete your program. Completing a virtual residency or enrolling in an online doctorate program allows you to complete your program at your own pace. Which program you choose can depend on your current responsibilities and you can research programs to see what suits your schedule. Some online programs can give you up to seven years to complete a program which may be beneficial for those with other obligations.

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What do you learn in a human resources Ph.D. program?

In a human resources Ph.D. program, you learn about the economics, ethics, laws, psychology, sociology and statistics that contribute to human resource management and development. You learn how to evaluate personnel and business performance to create strategies and solutions for optimizing work processes and improving results. You can specialize in human resources for workforce planning and employment or research methods and training.

With a focus on workforce planning, you learn about employee engagement, retention, management, compensation, recruitment and training. This includes conflict resolution strategies, human capital valuation and job prospect screening. When learning research methods, you study qualitative and quantitative research methods, data collection, analysis and visualization processes. Studying these methods involves learning human resource management technologies to promote diversity and inclusion and minimize social barriers in the workplace.

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What can you do with a doctorate in human resources?

With a doctorate in human resources, you can work in fields such as education, healthcare, research or law, and it provides you with the skills and knowledge for roles managing personnel, training new company hires, developing compensation and benefits packages, and researching business policies and local regulations. While common human resources positions are human resources manager or director that directly oversee company departments, there are also human resource positions focused on other aspects of human resource development. You can consider specializing in the theory and research of human resources by becoming an instructor or researcher.

As a human resources instructor, you can teach online or in-person college courses. You may also instruct as you conduct research as part of your college's human resources program department faculty. In researching theories and developing new personnel strategies, you can write research papers or journals for publishing. You can also find a different form of instructing within consultant work where you work with various clients to build their human resource departments and provide them with advice on ethical and legal practices.

Related: Why Is Human Resources Important?

How do you decide what to do with your doctorate?

Deciding what to do with your Ph.D. in human resources depends on what your career goals are. Having a doctorate in human resources can help you gain higher-level career opportunities, and as a student, you may have had entry-level positions, internships or research projects that allowed you to experience different aspects of the industry. This experience can show you your strengths and weaknesses in the field and you may be more interested in improving your weaknesses or focusing on your strengths, which can guide what you choose to do.

You may find a job that allows you to conduct independent research to develop further human resource theories and strategies. Depending on your work style preferences, you can find roles that involve more or less interaction with others to accomplish your responsibilities. What you choose to do after you obtain your doctorate may also depend on the opportunities available to you and you can use those positions to help you develop your specialization and career path.

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