Advice » Career Development» Education & Training » MBAs Take Human Resources ...
MBAs Take Human Resources to a Higher Level

MBAs Take Human Resources to a Higher Level

Imagine you're sitting in the conference room with your CEO and the board of directors. This is the first closed-door executive meeting to which you've been invited. You quickly learn your company may merge with a 20,000-employee firm overseas. But just as you're biting into a sugar-glazed doughnut, the CEO turns to you and asks, "What do you think are the financial and HR issues at stake?" Instead of responding, you shake your head to signal that speaking with food in your mouth is impolite. The truth? You have no idea what to say.

"If you want to be taken seriously by senior management, then you must play at their level," says Doug Stirling, an employee development consultant at Frazer, Pennsylvania-based DecisionOne Corp., a provider of technology services. "Anyone with a desire to move into an HR management position, or move outside, should pursue an MBA."

Sure, the thought of grad school is daunting -- not to mention the extra time and costs of completing a demanding academic program. However, the payoff can be big, and there are a number of options to choose from. Pursuing an MBA will guarantee you the skill set needed to function in HR's new strategic role.

Why an MBA?

Stirling has obtained both his senior professional in HR (SPHR) certification and his MBA. He believes they're complementary and round out his human resources and business skills. His purpose in getting the former was to gain credibility and provide verification he possesses basic HR knowledge. The certificate indicates that an individual passed the HR exam awarded by Alexandria, Virginia-based Human Resource Certification Institute. "It's good enough for the HR world, but not for the general business world," he says. "I didn't have an undergraduate business degree, so I was still unfamiliar with many business processes." However, after attending Oklahoma State University for four and a half years, he completed his MBA in 1993.

The business competencies Stirling says he acquired were financial processes, basic economics, forecasting, marketing, statistical analysis, labor relations, organizational design and development, and strategic planning to address external factors (such as mergers and acquisitions, globalization and downsizings). He recommends that upwardly mobile HR professionals consider getting both the HR certificate and MBA degree, because it rounds out one's hard and soft business skills.

Although most HR professionals pursue an MBA to gain basic business fundamentals, it's also valuable to know that MBA programs are becoming more geared toward HR pros. Today, you can find programs that increasingly value the HR discipline -- they integrate practical HR management skills with core business competencies.

MBA Programs Stress HR Competencies

In fact, many MBA programs have undergone a significant metamorphosis -- expanding and modifying their curricula to better meet today's business needs. "Survey after survey of alumni, recruiters and executives found recurring criticism that graduate schools were not preparing MBAs for the real world of business," says Terence Hancock, chairman of the MBA program at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. "MBAs were seen as technically brilliant but lacking in social skills."

Thus, after years of criticism, academia is finally bending its ear to the needs of today's corporate challenges. Not only are MBA students learning business fundamentals, they're able to enroll in an emerging cluster of HR-related courses, such as "Power, Persuasion, Influence and Negotiation" and "Legal Issues in HRM: Health, Family and Privacy."

Whereas in the past, HR may have veered more toward master's programs in organizational development, leadership or HR management, today's MBA programs not only offer traditional curricula about finance and marketing issues but also change management, including how to get things done and the people side of business. At some institutions, students can major in HR management. At others, HR-related courses, such as team building, are offered as first-semester requirements or as electives.

"Our biggest challenge is moving from management education to management development," says Susan Ashford, associate dean at the University of Michigan Business School in Ann Arbor. "We want to develop the full person. We may debate the balance, but we don't debate the goal of developing [well-rounded] graduates."

So if you're stuck in corporate limbo, consider seeking your MBA -- but not for the short-term dream of a six-digit salary. It's not that you won't get a return on your educational investment. If you remain in the HR field, you may be qualified for a promotion and a 15 percent to 20 percent increase in your current salary, according to Stirling. First and foremost, pursue your MBA for long-term development and professional credentials. If you want to be a strategic player, you'll have to understand budgets, strategic planning, economic forecasts and change management. Indeed, an MBA isn't just for CEOs. It's increasingly valuable for HR leaders.

Learn more about human resources careers.

Latest Jobs

Posted: 05/22/2015
Fargo, ND, 58102
Creative Circle
Posted: 05/22/2015
Concord, NC, 28027
Signature Companies
Posted: 05/22/2015
Blackfoot, ID, 83221
Accounting Principals
Posted: 05/22/2015
Chicago, IL, 60602
Posted: 05/22/2015
Indianapolis, IN, 46278

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile


Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
Create and connect.
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.


100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2015 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2015.8.0.34-314