For most of you, I’ll go ahead and said it: You should not get a master’s degree in HR. Really. While that doesn’t apply to everyone, it does apply to a large number of the people that email, comment, and interact with me online. That’s mainly because this question looks a lot like this template:
- I just completed my bachelor’s in xyz. I have decided/now want/think I should get into human resources. Should I get my master’s degree in HR?
- I just completed my bachelor’s degree in HR, but I haven’t been able to find a job. Should I get my master’s degree in human resources?
No. No. And no.
In each of these cases, you lack something very important that most of you overlook when you’re asking the question: do you even like HR?
No, really. How do you know? What evidence do you have? What proof?
All too often I hear about someone finishing their bachelor’s on student loans and jumping right into the master’s degree in hopes it will make them more marketable, only to find out later that HR wasn’t a field they actually enjoyed working in. If only you could drop the loans because you didn’t like the profession, but it doesn’t work that way.
And even if you pay for it outright by choosing an affordable college (like this one, for instance) how do you know that HR is going to be a career field you even like?
For me, I didn’t even consider a master’s degree for the first few years of working after college. That’s because I wanted to make sure of what I wanted to do. Now I’m actually enrolled in an MBA program because I realize that while HR is the love of my life, I also need to be crystal clear about how HR intersects and interacts with the rest of the business. Hint: you need to be able to understand that as well.
But I have some HR experience
Now, if you have some HR experience under your belt and you’re wondering if you need to get an advanced degree, we can have a conversation about that. It is often interwoven with the certification conversation (Should I get the PHR OR SHRM certification?), because people wonder about the value of each and how they interrelate.
If you have experience and you want to pursue an advanced degree, you need to understand the purpose and intent very clearly. Are you hoping to move up the ladder? Is there another job you need it to be qualified for? Are you trying to make yourself more marketable? Do you need it to perform better in your own work?
In some of these cases, depending on how you answer the question, education might not be the right answer for you at all. On the other hand, it’s possible that additional education could help you to achieve a goal you’ve set for yourself.
I’ll be doing a series in the coming week addressing two other related questions. First, should I get an HR degree or an HR certification? I’ll also address another fundamental question around HR education, which is this: Should I get an MBA or a Master’s in Human Resources?
I’d love to get your take on this commentary. Am I spot on? Way off the mark? What’s your reasoning?