Our MS in HRER is a practitioner-based program designed to be the terminal professional degree for both human resource management and employee relations professionals. Class instruction is grounded in theory but delivered with a practitioner application including many hands-on projects and activities designed to build practical and professional skills to prepare our students to have successful careers in human resources, labor and employment relations. Our graduates regularly secure challenging, rewarding positions with large and small corporations, consulting firms, labor organizations, federal agencies, and global NGOs. Our program admits students from a variety of countries, majors, and backgrounds, and does not require a business degree for admission.
For admission to begin in the fall semester: all application materials including reference letters and test scores must be received by February 1 for full consideration.
No, you may not. We expect and require all applicants to individually complete their application materials without the use of consultants, agents, credentials services, editors, or any other form of paid professional assistance. The use of any such service or assistance may lead to the rejection of an application, the revocation of an offer of admission, withdrawal or cancellation of an existing offer of admission, or involuntary withdrawal of the student from Penn State University.
Work experience is not required for admission to our program, but most of our students have at least some related internship experience. We will provide assistance in finding a relevant, paid internship and permanent position for you while you are in the program. These internships often result in permanent job offers and great careers for our students.
Although we do not have a hybrid degree, we do have the top-ranked online master’s degree in human resources and employee relations. The program requires two years of full-time work experience and the majority of students in the program are early-to-mid career HRER professionals. The program also attracts individuals wishing to transition to the HRER field.
Our students are placed in a variety of quality organizations every year. Our recent HR alumni are employed in positions ranging from talent analytics specialist, compensation and benefits analyst, HR consultant, HR generalist, HR business partner, global mobility specialist, talent acquisition specialist, professionals in rotational leadership development programs, and many other roles. Recent ER alumni have found positions as labor relations representatives, union organizers, labor researchers, and policy analysts. Leading regional, national, and global corporations; unions; and government and nonprofit organizations recently hiring our graduates include GE, Lockheed Martin, TE Connectivity, EY, International Paper, Textron, PepsiCo, Schlumberger, American Rights at Work, SEIU, and United Public Employees of California Local 792.
The HR option prepares students for a career in the human resource management field, whereas the ER option prepares students for a career in employment relations. All students receive some exposure to the other field, but coursework in each option is focused on preparing students for success in either the HRM or ER professions. For more information about the options, please see the Graduate Handbook.
Recognizing that the School cannot satisfy all students’ learning objectives, the Graduate Director may give a student permission to take courses in other academic departments to satisfy his or her emphasis. However, courses taken outside the School cannot substitute for HRER required credits. No course should be taken outside the School without first securing approval from the Graduate Director.
Admission to our MS in HRER program is very competitive. Applications are reviewed by a committee of three faculty members who consider applicants’ academic background as well as how each applicant would shape both the cohort being admitted at that time and the program itself. Our acceptance rate varies depending on the number of applications we receive each year and is usually around 25 percent.
You are welcome to visit and meet with our instructors, staff, and students at any time and tour our beautiful campus. If the timing allows, you might be able to sit in on all or part of a class and have lunch with some current students as well. The best time to visit is from early September through April, when classes are in session.
Our students have the opportunity to join our award-winning Society of Human Resource Management/Society for Labor and Employment Relations. SHRM-SLER is a student group that is affiliated with the national Society for Human Resource Management—the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management, representing more than 200,000 individual members. Because of this affiliation, SHRM-SLER’s activities focus on both professional opportunities through SHRM and also opportunities to engage and network with the School of Labor and Employment Relation’s alumni and faculty through different events and activities.
SHRM-SLER’s major goal is to increase members’ professional development in the fields of human resources and employment relations. They do this through a number of events including professional development workshops, alumni conversations, monthly member meetings, a mentorship program, and a networking trip where members travel to different companies to learn about their HR departments and employee relations policies.
They also have activities geared toward networking and engaging with fellow club members along with the School of Labor and Employment Relation’s alumni, faculty, and staff. These activities include fundraising efforts for both THON and Relay for Life, a fall hayride, a student-faculty bowling event, intramural sports, and much more!
Students in the MS in HRER program can also join Student Works at Penn State (SWAPS). SWAPS works to bring together students with local and statewide unions and their members. Students and workers and their families share an interest in many issues including voting rights, student debt, immigration reform, and minimum wage increases. SWAPS students have worked to educate themselves, other students, and the community about these issues by doing research, organizing teach-ins, collecting petition signatures, and even by producing their own documentary. SWAPS students work to promote a fair and just workplace and an understanding of the important role of unions in our society. SWAPS student members have secured paid internships with Pennsylvania unions and SWAPS has provided many networking opportunities for students interested in a career in labor or in other social justice organizations.
United Students Against Sweatshops is a student activist organization with over 150 chapters across the country. Working with the global labor movement, USAS advocate for workers’ rights locally and internationally. They are committed to holding Penn State and the brands that produce its university logo apparel responsible for ethical business practices. USAS has successfully won campaigns against Adidas, Nike, and Russell, as well as campaigns in support of local campus workers. Meeting weekly, USAS works closely with the national network to coordinate actions to bring about positive change.
Our MS in HRER Admissions Committee considers a variety of factors in assessing an applicant’s academic success and potential, only one of which is your GRE or GMAT score. In general, we look for test scores to be in at least the 60th percentile, but this component of the application is only one piece of the student profile that we consider in our evaluation.
Students taking the GRE, IELTS, and TOEFL should use school code 2660 to send scores to Penn State.
Students taking the GMAT should select “Pennsylvania State University – College of Liberal Arts – MS in HR & ER”.
GRE and GMAT scores are valid for 5 years from the date they are taken. TOEFL and IELT scores are valid for two years from the date they are taken.
GRE or GMAT scores are NOT required for Penn State undergraduates or graduates.
Because the language of instruction at Penn State is English, international applicants must take and submit scores for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), with the exceptions noted below. The minimum acceptable score for the TOEFL is 550 for the paper-based test or a total score of 80 with 19 on the speaking section on the internet-based test (iBT). The minimum acceptable composite score for the IELTS is 6.5.
The TOEFL/IELTS is not needed for permanent U.S. residents or anyone with a Penn State or other U.S. institution’s undergraduate or Master’s degree, including international students.
International applicants are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement if they have or about to receive a baccalaureate or graduate degree from a college/university/institution in any of the following countries: Australia, Belize, British Caribbean, and British West Indies, Canada (except Quebec), England, Guyana, Republic of Ireland, Liberia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the United States, and Wales. You must submit a transcript that shows you have attended college in one of these approved locations.
There is, unfortunately, no way for you to check the status of your application. We try to send out emails when applications are complete and you are welcome to email Erin Hetzel to let her know when you have received all three reference submission confirmation emails. Application delays are typically caused by unreceived reference letters, so keeping track of which ones have been confirmed as received by the Graduate School and following up with those that have not been submitted in a timely manner will help your application be processed on time.
We do consider deferral requests on a case-by-case basis. If you are considering a deferral to the following fall semester after being accepted to our program, please contact our office to discuss your options.