The HRIR course allows students who encountered difficulty completing the program an opportunity to join the ranks of alumni

Due to a variety of unplanned circumstances, some HRIR students encounter challenges in their professional and personal lives that prevent them from completing the program. Unfortunately, some are only one capstone course or paper away from graduation.

The MA-HRIR program is encouraging those students to finish what they started and join the illustrious ranks of alumni, by offering an online capstone course that former students can take to help fulfill their graduation requirements.

"The MA-HRIR program has changed the capstone paper requirement to a capstone course instead," says Stacy Doepner-Hove, '09 MA-HRIR, director of the MA-HRIR program. "We've put together an online version of this class that can be used by people who may have been out of the program for a while, and only have this class left to complete their degree."

Once the course is complete, it is possible for students, many of whom have waited years, to complete the degree they started.

Ned Van Dellen completed his final capstone course in May of 2013, receiving his MA-HRIR degree 30 years after he began the program.

"After more than 25 years of putting 'degree in progress' on my resume, I can finally list it as completed," says Van Dellen. "It was an albatross around my neck, and it feels great to have the diploma hanging in my office."

Van Dellen was enrolled in the Full-Time MA-IR program, but began working at First Bank Systems during his final quarter. Between carrying a heavy load of work projects and later relocating, he did not finish the last part of the program.

When Van Dellen began the capstone course in 2013, he was concerned he would be "the old guy," and be bored with the course content due to his extensive experience in the human resources field. He was surprised to find that he learned new tools that he could apply to his current job.

"In all the classes I've taken, the professors kept me engaged, and added to my knowledge base," Van Dellen says.

Now that Van Dellen has finished the program, he advises others to focus on studying before finding a job.

"The best advice I never took was to 'complete your degree work before you start your new job,'" he says.

Chara Blanch was worried about balancing work, life and school when she finished her final course in the spring of 2013. She was pleased that her supervisor and coworkers understood her need for extra time to finish the program. Her advice to other students who simply need to finish the course to obtain the MA-HRIR degree is, "take the course. It feels great to be done!"

The capstone course, titled "HRIR in Practice: Strategy, Execution and Ethics," is offered online throughout the year and is taught by Professor Sid Benraouane. For more information about the course, including costs, registration and a course description, please contact Stacy Doepner-Hove at

"We hope our 'almost-completed' students will take advantage of this opportunity," says Doepner-Hove. "We look forward to welcoming them, officially, into the ranks of our alumni."