Best Online Associates in Human Resources Degrees for 2023

Associates Degree in Human Resources Career Options & Salary

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Overview of an Associates in Human Resources

One of the benefits of completing an associate degree program, a two-year degree, is that it takes less time to complete than a four-year bachelor's program and provides flexibility to students who wish to enter the workforce right away or find an affordable way to learn some new skills. In most cases, an associate degree program primarily focuses on general education courses like math, English, and a few classes in your chosen field. As such, a two-year degree, such as an associate degree in human resources or human resources management, may arm you with some foundational knowledge in HR, but you'll need to go on to earn a bachelor's degree, and potentially some certifications if you want to increase the chances of finding a well-paid, challenging position.

While you may be able to find entry-level work in human resources or human resources management with an associate degree, it's not clear if this investment will pay off in the form of a well-paying long-term career. Many HR jobs require a bachelor's degree, minimum, making it difficult to break into the business without first obtaining a four-year degree and nearly impossible to get into human resource management or human resource administration. That said, an associate can be a good starting point for those thinking about breaking into the HR field. An human resources associates degree program may include courses covering the following subjects and skills.

  • Employee Compensation and Benefits
  • Employee Training and Development
  • Human Resource Administration or Management
  • Employment Law
  • Employee Communication / Business Communication
  • How to Maintain Employee Satisfaction
  • Administrative Skills
  • Technology Skills
  • And More


The skills you'll learn in an associate degree program in human resources or human resources management will prepare human resources graduates for entry-level work in the HR or business field and similar administrative roles. You may find yourself working as a human resource specialist, payroll manager, etc. Pursuing this degree might be a good move for prospective students who want to quickly learn some transferable administration skills that they can use to find work in the near term. After earning their two-year degree by completing their human resources or human resources management program, human resources graduates can choose to earn work experience while earning their bachelor's degree or spend time working in the field as a professional in human resources or a similar business career.


As an end-point, a human resources associate degree or human resource administration might not be the best path toward a stable career. There aren't that many human resource jobs that allow you to work as a professional in human resources or human resources management with only a high school diploma or an associate degree in human resources, which may make it difficult to find work in a desirable position or really, earn more than about $16 per hour.

While earning this degree can land you an entry-level job, you'll likely be stuck in lower-level positions, as most HR positions, and those in the business field in general, require a bachelor's degree and a variety of careers require a master's or additional certifications.

It's also worth mentioning that there are very few associate degree programs that offer a human resources or human resources management degree or any degree in this field, particularly traditional on-campus programs. Online human resources degrees may be easier for prospective students to access due to their remote nature. A better option may be to pursue an associate in a related field such as business management or administration, which will qualify you to work in similar roles, such as that of a payroll manager.

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What are the Best Online Associate of Science in Human Resources Programs?


The Pennsylvania State University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $18,450
    • Out-of-State: $35,514
  • Net Price: $25,548
  • Retention Rate: 87%
  • Graduation Rate: 73%
  • Total Enrollment: 89,816
  • Undergrad Students: 74,446
  • Graduate Students: 15,370
  • Diplomas Awarded: NA
  • Grads Salary: $40,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 15:1
  • The Pennsylvania State University

American Public University System

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $7,360
    • Out-of-State: $7,360
  • Net Price: $11,503
  • Retention Rate: 98%
  • Graduation Rate: 48%
  • Total Enrollment: 50,047
  • Undergrad Students: 40,362
  • Graduate Students: 9,685
  • Diplomas Awarded: NA
  • Grads Salary: $40,200
  • Student-to-faculty: 23:1
  • American Public University System

Concordia University-Wisconsin

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $31,182
    • Out-of-State: $31,182
  • Net Price: $24,569
  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Graduation Rate: 61%
  • Total Enrollment: 5,492
  • Undergrad Students: 3,094
  • Graduate Students: 2,398
  • Diplomas Awarded: 1
  • Grads Salary: $42,800
  • Student-to-faculty: 11:1
  • Concordia University-Wisconsin

Saint Francis University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $39,278
    • Out-of-State: $39,278
  • Net Price: $29,393
  • Retention Rate: 96%
  • Graduation Rate: 63%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,769
  • Undergrad Students: 2,279
  • Graduate Students: 490
  • Diplomas Awarded: 1
  • Grads Salary: $39,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 14:1
  • Saint Francis University

Lakeshore Technical College

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $4,417
    • Out-of-State: $6,501
  • Net Price: $8,495
  • Retention Rate: 74%
  • Graduation Rate: 51%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,420
  • Undergrad Students: 2,420
  • Graduate Students: 0
  • Diplomas Awarded: 32
  • Grads Salary: $34,500
  • Student-to-faculty: 11:1
  • Lakeshore Technical College

Chippewa Valley Technical College

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $4,505
    • Out-of-State: $6,589
  • Net Price: $10,050
  • Retention Rate: 61%
  • Graduation Rate: 47%
  • Total Enrollment: 7,367
  • Undergrad Students: 7,367
  • Graduate Students: 0
  • Diplomas Awarded: 25
  • Grads Salary: $35,700
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • Chippewa Valley Technical College

Minnesota State Community and Technical College

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $5,560
    • Out-of-State: $5,560
  • Net Price: $10,233
  • Retention Rate: 62%
  • Graduation Rate: 42%
  • Total Enrollment: 5,757
  • Undergrad Students: 5,757
  • Graduate Students: 0
  • Diplomas Awarded: 21
  • Grads Salary: $36,200
  • Student-to-faculty: 24:1
  • Minnesota State Community and Technical College

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $4,659
    • Out-of-State: $6,743
  • Net Price: $10,207
  • Retention Rate: 60%
  • Graduation Rate: 43%
  • Total Enrollment: 10,763
  • Undergrad Students: 10,763
  • Graduate Students: 0
  • Diplomas Awarded: 41
  • Grads Salary: $35,900
  • Student-to-faculty: 15:1
  • Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

Northcentral Technical College

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $3,673
    • Out-of-State: $5,339
  • Net Price: $10,011
  • Retention Rate: 61%
  • Graduation Rate: 36%
  • Total Enrollment: 5,939
  • Undergrad Students: 5,939
  • Graduate Students: 0
  • Diplomas Awarded: NA
  • Grads Salary: $36,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 11:1
  • Northcentral Technical College

Waubonsee Community College

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $9,271
    • Out-of-State: $10,076
  • Net Price: $4,059
  • Retention Rate: 68%
  • Graduation Rate: 34%
  • Total Enrollment: 7,564
  • Undergrad Students: 7,564
  • Graduate Students: 0
  • Diplomas Awarded: 5
  • Grads Salary: $32,500
  • Student-to-faculty: 18:1
  • Waubonsee Community College
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Certificate vs. Associates

Certificate programs, like online associate degrees, are shorter programs designed to help students develop skills they can use in the workplace. However, certificates are often supplemental to an online bachelor's degree in human resource management or marketed as non-degree programs that help students acquire skills/knowledge needed to advance in their career or switch fields.

Many schools have what's called an extension program in which students take the classes that would make up the "major" portion of an online bachelor's degree, meaning, if you go for your certificate in HR management, you would only take courses related to HR and business management. Whereas, if you earned an online bachelor's degree, you'd take those same HR classes, as well as general education courses and a handful of electives.

An online associate degree essentially makes up the first two years of a bachelor's program. Meaning, you'll take your general education classes as well as classes that fall within your chosen major. An online certificate program will likely teach you more advanced skills than you'd get in an online associate program, but the online associate program will count as college credit that can then be used later toward an online bachelor's degree.

That said, whether you choose a certificate versus an associate in HR depends on your education level and your goals. A certificate program is best suited for someone who has an online bachelor's degree and wants to increase their skill set to advance their pay or help them move up in their career. In some cases, you might look toward an online certificate program to help you prepare for a master's degree if you're hoping to earn your degree in a field different from your online bachelor's degree major. First-time college students, however, should consider starting with an online associate degree and advancing from there.

What Human Resources Associate Degrees are Available Online?

There aren't many human resources associate degrees available in general. Students considering a career in HR may be better off pursuing a business Associate of Arts (AA) before specializing further during the next phase in their education.

  • AA in Human Resource Management:
    An AA in Human Resource Management is one of the few HR-specific associate degrees we've come across, though you typically won't find them in a traditional campus setting. We've come across several online human resources programs, and most teach students a combination of general business skills and practical knowledge you'd use in an HR role.
  • Associate in Business Administration:
    Many community colleges offer general business programs that provide a foundation for future pursuits in HR, accounting, management, and other professions that fall under the broader, business umbrella. In this type of program, you may be able to seek out electives that teach human resources best practices and prepare you for an entry-level role in this field or replace the first two years of an online bachelor's degree program that offers more advanced coursework within the HR field.

Admission Requirements

Most associate programs require a high school diploma or GED for admittance. At this level, students do not need to submit ACT or SAT scores as part of the application process.

How long does it take to earn a Human Resources Associates Degree Online?

Most online human resources programs take about two years to complete when you attend full-time. Some online human resources programs offer 18-month accelerated programs designed for working students who want to level up their career quickly.

Potential Careers in Human Resources with an Associates

  • HR Assistant
    HR assistants work in a support role and are often charged with completing administrative paperwork regarding wages, new hires, and more. We should mention that in many organizations, you might need a bachelor's degree to qualify. However, other companies may choose to hire assistants with an AA and sufficient work experience.
    Average Pay: $39,900
  • Training Coordinator
    Training coordinators are responsible for training and implementing programs for new employees, as well as current ones. Some training coordinators are responsible for designing an organization's training process from start to finish, while others work in a team setting and are responsible for one step in the training process. This person should enjoy teaching and must keep up with changing workplace demands and how to best prepare the workforce to use new technology/equipment.
    Average Pay: $49,100
  • Benefits Specialist
    The benefits assistant works in a clerical role within a company's human resources department. This person interacts with employees and provides them with information about benefits packages, retirement programs, paid time off, and other types of employee programs and benefits. Candidates must have excellent interpersonal skills and be able to protect sensitive information, maintain accurate records, and possess basic clerical skills.
    Average Pay: $50,000
  • Compliance Specialist
    Compliance specialists may work in a healthcare or legal setting or within the human resources department of a company. This person is responsible for making sure that relevant documents comply with industry standards, as well as legal and regulatory guidelines. This person must be highly organized and a skilled communicator.
    Average Pay: $55,700
  • Payroll Clerk
    Payroll assistants process payments for employees within an organization. This role requires a keen eye for detail, and the ability to check payroll calculations, process employee paperwork, and carry out basic accounting tasks. It's also worth pointing out that a payroll assistant must be discreet—as you're handling sensitive information regularly.
    Average Pay: $38,000
  • Administrative Assistant
    While this role isn't necessarily specific to HR, graduates of an AA program may be able to break into this field by earning office experience in an administrative assistant role, which may have some overlap with HR duties. Administrative assistants offer support by way of answering phones, scheduling appointments, and updating calendars. They are typically responsible for tasks like bookkeeping, filing, and maintaining databases.
    Average Pay: $39,000

Salary by Occupation

Occupation Entry-Level Mid-Career Late Career
HR Specialist $44,900 $54,500 $61,000
HR Manager $51,300 $68,500 $75,100
Compensation or Benefit Analyst $56,300 $72,600 $65,000
HR Information Systems Analyst $45,800 $59,400 $78,700

Options to Advance

In most cases, you'll need an online bachelor's degree at minimum to work in an office setting, so those human resources professionals with an online associate degree only will likely have trouble advancing into roles outside of support roles. That said, earning an online associate in HR is a great way to enter the workforce, in the capacity of an assistant or associate, so you can gain some work experience and learn whether HR is right for you before completing your online bachelor's degree.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some responsibilities you might have as a human resource manager?

There are plenty of responsibilities and tasks that you might have when you take on the role of a human resource manager. The number of responsibilities you have may depend on the size of your employer or how much experience you have. Here are just some things you might need to do. In smaller companies, you may run payroll. Some larger companies have specialists that maintain payroll accounts, but even there you are likely to need to keep an eye on these accounts and make sure that everything is applied correctly week to week. If you are fully in charge of payroll, you will have to make sure that deductions are applied appropriately; if you have employees that live in separate cities then you may need to apply different taxation standards; and if you offer multiple benefits plans then you will need to track those deductions as well. And, speaking of benefits packages, you will be responsible for considering the plans available, perhaps even negotiating for a better plan to cover a larger workforce, and ensuring that the agreement is in place in time to allow employees to choose the new plan before the net year starts. You will also likely write job descriptions when the company is looking for new employees, and you may write new company policies. At the very least, you will provide facts about whether or not new policies are needed and give suggestions when they are being written.

Will I have to fire people if I work in human resource management?

If you find yourself working in the human resource management role, you may very well be in the position where it will be your responsibility to fire employees who are underperforming, breaking the rules of the company, or even being laid off because their job no longer exists. This can be a stressful part of this role, so it’s important to consider whether or not you will be comfortable doing this before you end up in the position where you have to.

What is the course work like for earning a human resources associate degree?

A human resources associate degree is an excellent choice for those interested in developing their career in the field of human resources. The course work for a human resources degree involves a blend of both theoretical and practical learning, allowing students to gain knowledge and skills that can help them excel in their future careers.

The core curriculum for a human resource associate degree typically includes topics like business management, employee relations, payroll administration, legal responsibilities, labor relations and laws and regulations, safety management as well as recruitment and selection processes. Students will also learn about the various aspects of organizational behavior such as motivation, communication styles and conflict resolution strategies. Along with these courses, students may be required to take courses related to accounting or finance depending on the college they are attending. Moreover, some colleges may even offer elective courses that allow students to specialize in certain areas such as compensation systems or risk management methods.

Can I take online classes to earn my Associate Degree in Human Resources?

Yes! Earning an human resources degree online is a great way to get ahead in the competitive job market. As employers increasingly look for qualified candidates with specialized skills, an human resources program can give you the knowledge and credentials you need to stand out from the competition. With online classes, earning your degree through an human resources program is easier than ever before.

Taking a human resources degree online provides flexibility and convenience that makes it easy to fit the human resources program into your already busy schedule. Online classes provide access to lectures, assignments, tests and other activities that mirror those found in traditional classrooms but allow students to attend virtually at any time of day or night. Additionally, many online programs are designed to be self-paced so that students can complete their studies at the speed they feel comfortable with while still meeting course deadlines.

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