Learn About a PhD in HR
A PhD in HR is a doctoral degree in human resources (HR). Human resources encompasses how people in a working environment or organization interact and relate to one another. Students exploring a PhD in HR often have lengthy work experience in HR and are looking to increase their career opportunities. A PhD allows a student to study human resources, conduct research, and focus on an area of concentration that will aid them in a career after graduating. Students obtaining a PhD in HR are looking to stay in their industry for the duration of their careers. A PhD in HR should have a few areas of concentration that will make the experience ideal for a student specializing in corporate HR or non-profit HR. While the principles of these positions are the same, the execution and how business is carried out varies greatly.
How Long Does a PhD in HR Take to Complete?
Most PhD in HR programs take five years to complete. Over this time, students will conduct research, participate in internships or teaching assistant programs, and complete their dissertations. The application and enrollment process for a PhD in HR can also be time consuming, making it essential to start this process when you begin thinking a doctoral degree in HR is a good fit for your future.
What Are Some of the Prerequisites for a PhD in HR?
To obtain a PhD in HR, you need to have taken the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and have substantial work experience in the field. This is common for all HR programs as they are building upon a student’s prior knowledge in the field. It is common to be turned down from a PhD HR program because of limited work experience. Many obtaining a PhD in HR have worked in the industry at least three to five years before enrolling in a doctoral program. Some PhD programs for HR require a work resume along with the standard essay and letter of recommendation. Often online PhD programs require less work experience for HR degrees, but it is important to note that you will most likely not be accepted into a program when you have completed your master’s degree and have no real work experience in the field. The most elite PhD for HR programs are designed for students with anywhere from a year to five years of work experience. Candidates should already know the fundamentals of the field.
When Do I Take the GRE?
Some may have taken the GRE to get into a master’s degree program. If that is the case, you can use that score to apply for a PhD program, provided you are satisfied with that score. If you are not satisfied with that score for a PhD application, you can retake the GRE. This is common practice for students who have learned more, understand the test format, and wish to increase their chances of getting into the program of their choice. Take the GRE as early as possible, to allow for time to retest if you need to. The GRE is a long test and if you are not used to the format, you may not do as well as hoped. The format and test strategies and tips are available through many free websites. There are also books, paid sites, and webinars to help you prepare for the GRE.
What Am I Learning in a PhD in HR Program?
A PhD in HR program shows students how to assess the demographic of their setting and how to enhance the dynamic between people. These strategies and tactics have proven useful for corporate environments, which is why companies take advantage of HR experts to increase the quality of work experience for employees. Studies show that happy employees perform the best and are the most effective for a company. An above satisfactory and encouraging work environment ranks above pay for the qualities appreciated most by people working in any field. A PhD in HR shows students how to maximize this experience for work settings and organizations. A PhD in HR also shows students how to identify what tactics work best for their demographic. Other areas of study are diversity in the work place and skills and qualifications for a changing job market.
What Kind of Job Experience Do I Need to Apply for a PhD in HR Program?
You need to have worked in HR for at least one year before the majority of schools will consider your application. Understand this is the minimum, so if a school is very selective and only accepts half a dozen doctoral candidates for HR a year, you may not be accepted. It is important to gain considerable experience in HR before applying for a PhD program. This is done by entering the work force at an entry level position. You may stay at this position for a few years, but you will learn how HR pertains to a corporation, organization, or non-profit setting. Whatever area of HR you come from should be your area of concentration once you are working toward your PhD. Most schools will require this, so understand you will most likely not have the opportunity to jump from non-profit experience to a PhD focus in corporate HR.
How Will I Get a Letter of Recommendation if I Have Been Working Full Time?
A PhD application often requires a letter of recommendation; some applications may call for multiple letters of recommendation. These recommendations do not have to be from an academic source. They should be from professionals within the field who know you and your work well. You should know someone at least a year, or have worked closely with the individual for a number of months, before approaching him or her for a letter of recommendation.
Those from the academic world are often easier to approach, which is why it is important to stay in contact with professors from undergraduate and graduate school if you think you may eventually obtain a PhD. Keep in contact by emailing every few months, learning of books or papers the professor is working on, and following up with a positive critique of the work. Remember these are past instructors, so mild interaction is acceptable and many students stay close to professors when they go on to work in a similar field (that the instructor teaches).
Because HR applicants often have considerable work experience, asking a colleague or supervisor for a letter of recommendation is common. Past employers are also acceptable for a letter of recommendation. It should be someone in an authoritative position who has seen your quality of work and will present you in a positive light in the letter. There is no requirement on whom the letter must be from, as long as it is a professional in that field and they have known you long enough to judge your academic or work skills.
If I Am Not Accepted to a PhD in HR Program, Can I Reapply?
Typically, you will have to wait at least a year before reapplying to the program. Most programs allow you to apply when the new application is available, which is usually in the winter (December or January). You are allowed to reapply, but you must conduct the application from scratch, submitting a new essay and letter of recommendation. You should also use this time to retake the GRE and gain any HR experience through work or volunteer hours.
Can I Get a PhD in HR Through an Online PhD Program?
There are many PhD programs available through online schools or through an online outlet of a traditional university or college. Choosing a PhD in HR online degree program can be difficult, but there are many valid programs out there that will provide you with the same quality of education as a traditional school. From an employer perspective, a doctoral degree in HR from an online degree program is the same as one from a traditional school. The first thing to examine is the school’s accreditation. If you are researching an online program that is an extension of a traditional university or college, you do not have to worry about accreditation. These online programs have the same accreditation as their sister traditional programs at that school.
For online only schools, you should ask many questions about accreditation, how long the program has existed, and how experienced the professors are at conducting online classes. These things are reflective of the quality of education you receive from that school. For a PhD program at an online school, it is common to have a follow-up with candidates after they are selected to ensure they are the right student for the program. This also gives you as a student, the opportunity to ask program directors about the online experience at their school. A PhD is a commitment, even when obtained through an online degree program. Online PhD programs are intense and should be done part time if a student is working full time. These things will be covered by your academic adviser who can help you better assess your schedule and explain the best PhD planning for your individual needs.