Illustration of computers with various symbols for human resources functions around it.

Human resources degrees at the University of Minnesota

Thursday, May 23, 2024

If you’re interested in pursuing a human resources degree at the University of Minnesota, you might’ve come across two programs:

What’s the difference between them and which program is best for you?

In this guide, you’ll learn the differences between the two human resources master’s programs and how to make an informed decision about your academic and career path.


Understanding the difference: HRIR vs. HRD

Master of Human Resources and Industrial Relations

The Carlson School’s MHRIR program prepares you for high-level decision-making roles within the human resources department of an organization. You’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of core functions:

  • Staffing, training, and development
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Labor relations and collective bargaining

You’ll also develop the leadership and strategic thinking skills needed to create, improve, and assess the impact of plans and visions of those core functions. Through the program, you’ll learn how to conduct human resource affairs like building a strategic staffing plan or compensation philosophy and negotiating contracts to retain talent.

Common human resources job titles:

  • Human resources generalist
  • Human resources specialist
  • Human resources manager
  • Human resources business partner


Master of Education in Human Resources Development

The College of Education and Human Development’s HRD program prepares you to lead, design, and implement talent development programs. You’ll learn to evaluate talent development strategies and create solutions for organizational change.

Through the program you’ll develop skills to:

  • Communicate effectively with small and large groups
  • Build, deliver, and assess curricular and training programs
  • Provide people-based solutions to organizational challenges

Common human resources development job titles:

  • Manager of training programs
  • Learning coach
  • Talent development consultant
  • Trainer or program facilitator

Determining the right program for you

It’s critical to evaluate your long-term career goals when considering which program to pursue. Some questions to consider:


1. Where do you see your skills and your career goals align?

Take time to define your career goals.

If you’re interested in high-level strategy and leadership roles within human resources, the MHRIR program may be a better fit. If you’re more interested in creating and leading trainings and seminars to solve organizational problems, the MEd HRD program may be a better fit.


2. What do you want your day-to-day job to look like?

Set up informational interviews with people working in the roles you’re interested in. Ask about their day-to-day tasks for a sense of what would best align with your interests and skills.


3. What experience are you interested in during the degree program and after?

Consider the student resources available during and after your program. For example, the Carlson School’s MHRIR program gives you access to an abundance of resources in our HR library, and you’ll have dedicated career support through the Carlson Business Career Center.

About the Carlson School’s Master's in Human Resources and Industrial Relations program

The MHRIR is available as a full-time and part-time program.

The full-time program has two tracks:

  • 20-month - extended program path to pursue a study abroad opportunity, add a graduate minor or certificate, or engage in Curricular Practical Training
  • 16-month - accelerated program path

The part-time program lets you progress at your own pace and offers flexible scheduling options such as evening classes. Study abroad opportunities are also available.

Whichever program and track you choose, you’ll have flexibility within the curriculum through electives. You can complete your 8 elective credits within the Carlson School or cross-pollinate at a different school or college at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. For example, if you’re interested in the intersection of human resources and public policies, you can take courses at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Pursuing a master’s business degree is a significant decision that can shape your career’s trajectory. Understanding different programs and evaluating your career goals and aspirations will help you make an informed choice.

More about the MHRIR Curriculum


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