online course human resources

After our recent articles on HR courses for beginners, professionals with a few years of experience, and seasoned practitioners, it only makes sense to complete our HR training series with a piece on Human Resource Management courses. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the key components of HR management training. We’ll also list 5 top Human Resource management courses for you to check out.

Key components of HR management training
– Subject-matter and teacher
– Learning on-demand
– Offline vs. online
– Leadership skills
– Vision and Strategy
5 Top Human Resource Management Courses
Wrapping up

Key components in HR Management Training

Before you choose a Human Resources Management course, it’s good to take a couple of elements into consideration. Depending on, among other things, the type of organization you work for and, of course, your personal needs and preferences, not every training will be suitable.    

General factors to take into account, like with any other kind of Human Resources training, are:

Subject-matter & teacher

Human Resource Management is about optimizing company performance through better management of human resources. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing in a small company as it does in a big international organization.

In a smaller company, for instance, you might want to focus more on the people management side of things while in a larger organization you might want to focus more on strategic topics. Instructor-wise you may want to read some reviews and watch some course material to get a feel for their teaching style before signing up.

Learning on-demand

Put simply, do you have the option to learn when, where and how you want? Is the course material available on all sorts of devices? And can you start a module, take in the first 15 minutes of it and then continue at a later point in time (in other words, is the course self-paced)? 

Offline vs. online

Some of us learn best in a more traditional classroom setting and might, therefore, prefer an actual Human Resource Management class, while others prefer learning online, using videos and other types of digital content. You should choose the type of course that suits you best.

Apart from the above-mentioned general factors, there are other factors that play a role too when you’re looking into Human Resource Management courses. Naturally, these are related to the management part of the course as this is what distinguishes an HR management course from a ‘general’ HR training course. Think for instance of: 

Leadership skills

Besides understanding the key Human Resources roles (such as recruitment & selection, performance managementcompensation, and benefits, etc.), an HR manager has to have strong leadership skills. This means that the HR management training you choose should cover this part (extensively).

Vision & Strategy

A Human Resources management course should also touch on the topic of strategic thinking (and planning) and, therefore, it should cover strategic human resource management.


Being an HR manager comes with its own challenges, issues sometimes only a fellow HR manager can understand. This is why having access to a community of other HR managers-to-be is so important. This kind of (online) practitioners community is a great place to share experiences, ask questions, solve problems – and celebrate victories! – together.    Digital HR Certificate ProgramFuture-Proof Your
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Sometimes, course instructors are also part of these kinds of communities. This is an added bonus, as it means you’ll be able to ask questions about the course you did or exchange opinions on subject-matters.   

5 Top Human Resource Management Courses

Below we’ve listed five Human Resource Management courses for you to take a look at. Here goes (in alphabetical order).

Please note that this list is compiled based on publicly available information. We have not tried the courses ourselves, with the exception of AIHR’s People Analytics courses.

1. AIHR – People Analytics Courses

Starting with our favorite, of course. The Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR) offers globally accredited, online HR courses that enable HR professionals to work on real-world projects and case studies. 

When it comes to HR management training, you can choose a total-package kind of course or one that focuses on a particular topic, such as the strategic side of being an HR manager. If you prefer the latter, AIHR’s People Analytics offering has some great options.

Our Building a People Analytics Strategy course, for instance, teaches you, among other things: 

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  • how to identify which people-related challenges are a priority 
  • how to align people analytics with the overall business strategy
  • to understand how strategic workforce planning can be integrated with your people analytics strategy  

2. Coursera – Human Resource Management: HR for People Managers

Coursera offers 100% online learning from the world’s best universities and companies. Its HR offering groups together HR courses from world-famous institutions such as Stanford, ESSEC Business School and the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. 

Coursera’s HR for People Managers Specialization program has a strong focus on managing people (in the US) and less on the strategic side of being an HR manager. Therefore, it seems more suited for HR managers (or entrepreneurs) in smaller companies.

The program consists of a module that considers alternative approaches to managing human resources, and modules on hiring, evaluating and rewarding employees.   


3. HRCI – Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) 

The HR Certification Institute is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the HR profession by developing and administering best-in-class accredited certifications.

The Institute’s SPHR program covers topics such as Business Leadership, Talent Development and Management, HR Service Delivery and Measurement and Analysis. As such, it teaches you about the strategic and policy-making aspects of HR management.

The SPHR program is focused on the US. The international version of this HR management course is called (quite logically) the Senior Professional in Human Resources – International.    


4. SHRM – Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP)

If you successfully finish this Human Resources management course – or certification if you like – you’ve got physical ‘proof’ that you are an HR professional who knows:

  • how to develop strategies
  • lead the HR function
  • foster influence in the community
  • analyze performance metrics; and
  • align HR strategies to organizational goals.  

SHRM has various learning options varying from self-study programs to virtual, or in-person classroom settings or customized staff training at your location. So if you want to do their SHRM-SCP certification, you can choose whichever option you prefer.    


5. Wharton Online: HR Management and Analytics

Wharton Online is part of the Wharton University of Pennsylvania. Among other things, this means that Wharton Online courses are taught by the same world-renowned leaders who teach in Wharton’s on-campus programs.

Their HR Management and Analytics online program is a combination of theory with practical application. It aims to give you a holistic view of strategic HR management including an overview of People Analytics. You will learn to (among other things): 

  • Understand the basic principles of using HR analytics
  • Initiate and manage people analytics projects 
  • Design an organizational structure

Wrapping up

Well, that’s it for our list of Human Resource Management courses. As usual, we don’t want to pretend this list is exhaustive. So, if you feel we missed out on a great HR management course, please share it with us in the comment section below.


What are Human Resource Management courses?

HR management courses are a type of training that’s aimed at teaching HR managers (immediately) applicable knowledge, skills, and attitudes to be used in their job.What are the key components of Human Resource Management courses?

When choosing an HR management course, factors to take into account include subject matter & teacher, on-demand learning options, offline vs. online learning, and whether the course touches on leadership skills as well as strategic topics.What is the advantage of having access to an (online) community when I take a Human Resources Management course?

An online practitioners community is a great place to share experiences, ask questions, solve problems – and celebrate victories! – together with fellow HR managers.    

Top 8 (some free) online courses for HR managers

As a current or aspiring HR manager, it is essential that you have the skills you need to distinguish yourself from the competition and excel in an increasingly crowded field.

As the global HR industry continues to experience double-digit annual growth, there are greater opportunities in the field than ever before. What matters is that you have the skills that you need to fully take advantage of them.

Fortunately, you do not need to go back to grad school to upgrade your skill set. Rather, you can simply choose from these high-quality online courses that all HR managers can use to make themselves more marketable in the global job market.

Read on to find out the best online courses that any successful HR manager should be taking in 2021. 

1. AIHR Essentials

If you want to master the skills and know-how that you need to effectively manage people within an organization, you need a truly holistic training experience. This is where the award-winning Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR) comes in.

With their all-in-one HR management training course, you can access 30 online modules and receive a widely recognized management certificate upon completion. The courses cover highly relevant areas of the HR field, including people analytics, L&D, and HR metrics. 

2. Preply Language Course

For anyone wishing to pursue a truly global HR career at some of the planet’s top corporate titans, getting your English language skills up to scratch is essential. Fortunately, this is where the immersive business English online language training from Preply comes in.

Preply offers dedicated tutors from all over the world that can provide you with the expert training you need to speak the language of global HR. Without a thorough understanding of business English and English language HR terminology, you may find it difficult to distinguish yourself in a global candidate field, so this is a useful tool to ensure your linguistic skills are as sharp as possible. 

3. MIT People Management

For a complete free-of-charge online HR course from one of the world’s top educational institutions, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s “People and Organizations” program is about as good as it gets.

Rather than simply offering generic HR instruction, this innovative course gets into the theory of how effective management of people can allow any organization to excel. Signup is straightforward and instruction takes place via twice-weekly 90-minute lectures, with exams and essays between. 

4. Open University Recruitment

The UK’s Open University has won widespread acclaim for its commitment to bringing truly top-tier remote instruction to people all over the world, free-of-charge. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that this institution offers one of the best online courses on recruitment strategy that you will find anywhere.

This completely free course teaches you all of the essentials of constructing and managing a fair and effective recruitment process so that you can always attract the very best talent to your organization. There are 12 hours of instruction with this one, all of which can be taken at your own pace.

5. MIT Labor Policy

Bringing it back to MIT for this incredibly useful online course, which looks specifically at labor markets and where HR managers fit into this important element. More specifically, the free-of-charge ‘Labor Markets & Employment Policy’ course looks at how HR managers can keep their organizations compliant with ever-evolving policies and employment laws.

It also examines emerging trends in labor policy and how HR managers can effectively incorporate these into their long-term strategies. If you are aspiring to work in HR in the public sector, this course can be a very useful way to launch your career in that direction. 

6. Wharton Human Capital

Wharton Business School has built a sterling reputation in recent years for offering unparalleled online courses in a wide variety of business-related topics. If you want your very own certificate from Wharton, you can take their acclaimed Human Capital program, a free online program that looks at how you can use your position as an HR manager to bring out the full potential in every single member of your organization.

The course contains seven hours of remote teaching from two Wharton professors, who will walk you through the ways that you can reshape company culture to bring out the best in your team, no matter where you work. 

7. Josh Bersin’s Future of HR

The Josh Bersin Academy is highly respected within the field, owing to the fact that it is an online-only school that is created by top HR managers and aimed solely at ambitious HR managers who wish to advance in their careers.

If you want a skillset that is future-proof and focused on the issues and trends that truly matter within the industry, you should enroll in the Future of HR course, which looks at a range of trends that are reshaping HR and the priorities that managers should have. More importantly, this course focuses heavily on HR in a world of remote working, teaching you how to create a functional remote working culture in which nobody is left behind. 

8. Grovo Unconscious Bias 

We all know the importance of making sure that everyone in the team is able to address their unconscious biases to ensure that nobody is excluded. However, HR managers have a unique and significant responsibility to make sure that everyone in the team is able to make the necessary effort to dismantle discriminatory workplace practices.

If you want to empower your team to create a truly equal opportunity workplace, Grovo’s essential “Addressing Unconscious Bias” course is an incomparable resource. The program consists of 20 micro-learning courses, where you go through a multitude of real-life scenarios and identify the ways in which an effective HR manager can work to prevent unconscious biases from holding your organization back.

These are the top online courses that you can take right now to improve your skills and marketability as an HR manager. By investing the time to learn about the latest trends in HR from some of the field’s top educators, you can get the qualifications that will allow you to take your career anywhere. 

The 10 Best Free Online Courses in Human Resources

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” It’s hard to argue with this time-honored adage, yet freebies do exist in the world. In fact, the internet abounds with free things. If your occupation is in Human Resource management, free internet courses can make a difference in your day-to-day workload. The following free courses are filled with helpful suggestions and ideas for motivating the people under your supervision. Properly motivated, employees will find greater satisfaction in work and go on to achieve greater productivity.

Featured Programs

Disclaimer: Some courses may include an affiliate link. Courses were chosen first based on the methodology with affiliate links only added after the ranking was complete.

In searching the web for the best free courses in human resources, we apply a methodology we’ve developed to sort out only the top online offerings. You will find a solid list of options here, including general HR, recruitment, management, engagement, and more. Each review gives you an idea of how long it may take to complete each course and whether a certificate can be expected. In certain cases, transcripts or lecture notes are available.

1. Diploma in HR

Offered by Alison

This free human resource course on covers topics from hiring to termination, and from which situations call for an HR consultant to which call for an internal HR manager. The diploma upon course completion is available for purchase in the shop. Students must achieve 80% or higher to graduate from the course. This certification is recognized by top employers and would look great on any resume or CV. The diploma in human resources is valuable for recent graduates and established professionals alike.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with a fee

Time to Complete: 8-10 hours

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Good


  • Nearly 120,000 students have enrolled in the course
  • Covers all the key functions and roles of HR personnel
  • Signup is easy with Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, or an email


  • Certificates of completion must be purchased in the Alison shop

2. Free HR Course

Offered by Oxford Home Study College

With year-round open enrollment, this free online course covers three main areas of human resources: HR management; recruiting fundamentals; and staff development and training. Oxford Home Study Centre is based in the UK but could prove useful to those new to HR or those long established in the field with an eye to the multinational workplace or a career abroad. The free HR course online can be completed in 20 hours and results in a free certificate sent to your email.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes

Time to Complete: 20 hours

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Good


  • Free certification offered
  • Covers HR in theory and in practical terms
  • Signup is simple with no strings attached


  • Platform needs updating for a better user experience

3. People and Organizations


This course from 2005 may not bring you cutting-edge HR strategy, but with the clout of MIT at its back, it boasts a solid dose of the theory underpinning successful people operations in business. The undergraduate course is administered in bi-weekly 1.5 hour sessions and is part of MIT’s Sloan School of Management’s minor in management. The free HR online course covers the history of “going to work” as well as studying how organizations adapt to stress and change. Many of the required readings are available as downloadable PDFs.

Cost: Free

Certificate: No

Time to Complete: Varies

Curriculum: Intermediate

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Good


  • Offered through one of the world’s leading institutions
  • Taught by Prof. Thomas A. Kochan
  • Signup is simple with no strings attached


  • Platform can be difficult to navigate

4. Human Resources – Recruitment and Selection

Offered by Open Learn

This free course from Open Learn results in a complementary statement of participation upon completion. Covering the often onerous hiring process, this free online HR course emphasizes a full and fair recruitment process that results in satisfied employees and appreciative employers who have followed the law. Other topics this course includes are the tension of person-job fit versus person-organization fit, writing effective recruiting descriptions, and conducting meaningful job interviews.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, statement of participation

Time to Complete: 12 hours

Curriculum: Intermediate

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Good


  • Free statement of participation to verify you completed the course
  • Quizzes and other ways to track your progress easily
  • Go at your own pace


  • Some students find it difficult to access the participation statement

5. Preparing to Manage HR

Offered by Preparing to Manage Human Resources – University of Minnesota

This course is designed for anyone interested in using human resource management principles to get more out of their workforce. It is part of the five course series: Human Resource Management: HR for People Managers Specialization. Non-monetary compensation; the manager as part of the work ecosystem; and alternative human resource approaches are topics covered in this introductory level course offering free enrollment. It comes with a self-paced education option, course videos, readings, and practice quizzes.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with an upgrade fee

Time to Complete: 14 hours

Curriculum: Introductory to Intermediate

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent


  • Comprehensive and thorough offering
  • Great mix of theory and practical skills
  • Taught by a professor from the center for human resources and labor studies


  • Certification only offered at the paid level of the course

6. Urban Labor Markets and Employment Policy

Offered by MIT

This MIT course from 2005 by Professor Paul Osterman addresses urban labor markets and their functioning. It is organized into one three hour session per week, lasting eleven weeks. Lecture notes are available in PDF format and the course covers issues like the youth labor market, living wage campaigns, and unions. The free online HR graduate level course is part of the curriculum for the Sloan School of Management.

Cost: Free

Certificate: No

Time to Complete: 11 Weeks

Curriculum: Advanced

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Good


  • Offered through a prestigious college
  • One of the few advanced level HR courses on our list
  • No sign-ups necessary


  • User experience is a bit rough around the edges

7. Managing Human Capital

Offered by Managing Human Capital – Wharton School

From the Wharton School at UPenn, comes this course about managing the most valuable and unpredictable resource of every business, the workforce. Getting and keeping good people, and maintaining a company culture that reinforces those goals, the class shores up these underserved areas of the HR curriculum. Taught by Wharton faculty Michael Useem and Peter Cappelli, Managing Social and Human Capital is available free from Coursera as a four week course requiring about 2-3 hours per week of study.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with an upgrade

Time to Complete: Seven hours

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent


  • Taught by two highly rated Wharton Instructors
  • Offered through a popular US University
  • Great learning platform


  • Certification is only offered at the paid level of Coursera

8. Strategic HR Management

Offered by MIT

This graduate level course from MIT is offering to teach students the ins and outs of how best to manage your organization’s human assets and how best to implement strategies to bring your vision to life. This free online human resources course is presented from the perspective of a general manager and concerns HR fields like reward systems, EEOC law, diversity in the workplace, and how to retain the best employees. Features of this top free online HR course include selected lecture notes, written assignments, and exams.

Cost: Free

Certificate: No

Time to Complete: Varies

Curriculum: Advanced

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Excellent


  • Taught by expert MIT instructors
  • Graduate-level offering
  • Easy to get started with no personal information required


  • Course will be too difficult for students new to human resources

9. International and Strategic Human Resource Management

Offered by Alison

This 2-3 hour course covers the diverse skill set required to manage an international team. Coping strategies and sustainability are two of the skills on offer with this program. The history of international human relations and the phases of “internationalization” experienced by an organization are also touched on. This class includes an end-of-class assessment and certification is available through This is one of several free courses provided by the National Program on Technology Enhanced Learning.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with a small fee

Time to Complete: Two to three hours

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Good


  • Several certifications available in the Alison store for a small fee
  • Six modules plus a course assessment
  • Nice platform for learning


  • Too short

10. Creating Meaning For Employees

Offered by Alison

Alignment is business-speak for making sure that employees’ personal goals link up with your organization’s business and cultural goals. And alignment is a big part of creating a meaningful work experience. Without that “buy-in,” you just have a collection of drones buzzing from task to task. With proper alignment, workers feel connected to the company and will use the full range of their talents to bring about professional success for them and for their employer. This free course from Alison can be completed in a couple of hours and receives high marks for its video elements.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with a small fee

Time to Complete: One-two hours

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Good


  • Free certification offered for a small fee at the Alison store upon successful completion
  • Engaging topic
  • Taught by experienced entrepreneur Janice Fraser


  • Too short for the subject matter

Bonus: Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Offered by ESSEC Business School via Coursera

 If you only choose one class from this list of free online human resources courses, choose this diversity and inclusion offering on the Coursera platform. The lessons provided have never been more timely, and this nine-hour course will help you understand more than just the paradox of diversity. You will walk away with practical and useful skills about how to channel the diversity potential of those in your workplace to create better innovation and performance.

It is taught by professor Junko Takagi and is free to take on the Coursera platform in audit mode. Certification can also be had for a fee.

Frequently Asked Questions About Free Human Resources Courses

HR 3

If you are considering taking some free online courses in human resources, you probably have lots of questions. In this section, we will bring you up to speed on how online learning platforms operate and get you on the road to learning about HR at no cost.


Typically there are few requirements for enrollment in a free human resources course. You won’t need to present your previous transcripts, take a test, or verify your grades.  You will only need a computer and internet connection along with some basic computer skills so you can navigate the various online learning platforms.

Our courses specify whether they are introductory, intermediate, or advanced level courses. We highly recommend you check out the syllabus for each course and see if you think you are up to the challenge. Some courses suggest a few years of college under your belt, while others can be taken at any level of prior education. However, these are only suggestions and you should not hold yourself back from learning if it’s something that interests you. That’s why these courses are there.


The courses on this list are intended to be taken at your own pace, so there are no specific start or stop times. Enrollment is open as soon as you sign up, and in many cases, you can simply access the browser page and start without providing any personal information at all. Students can complete their lessons whenever and wherever they want. This is one of the great things about taking classes online. There are no time constraints, and you can work them into your own schedule. Our list includes courses that take only a few hours and others that take several months to realistically complete.


There are as many personalities and experience levels in human resources as there are positions in the field, and there is no one set of skills that apply to being a human resource specialist. However, to be successful in this industry, you should definitely be OK with a position that requires you to spend a lot of time with people. After all, it’s HUMAN resources we’re discussing. A few other soft skills that can help you in this profession include:

  • Recruiting, interviewing, and hiring skills
  • Good organizational skills
  • Solid knowledge of employee compensation and benefits
  • Ability to train others if necessary
  • Good written and verbal communication skills


In some organizations, experienced employees within the company can move into roles in the human resources department without a formal education. However, most entry level and higher paying positions in HR require a bachelor’s or master’s degree. The courses on our list are all a.) intended to introduce you to the field of HR to see if it is something you enjoy or wish to pursue or b.) listed for those who are already in HR to further develop their skills.


According to PayScale, human resource specialists typically make between $38,000 to $74,000 annually, with the average salary being $51,237.


If you want to break into human resources, there are several options. Nearly every field has an HR department, so you can often find a position in an interest that is related, such as healthcare, manufacturing, construction, education, hospitality, and many more. Within each organization, there may also be human resources specializations, depending upon the size of the company and the number of employees they manage. A few options include:

  • Compensation and benefits manager
  • Training and development specialist
  • Employment, recruitment, and placement specialist
  • Human resources information system (HRIS) analyst
  • Employee Assistance plan manager


The best way to get started as a human resources specialist is to check out some of the best free online HR courses we have listed above. Take some time to read through them and see what each offers. When something piques your interest, there is no harm in signing up to learn more, even participating for a few hours to see if you enjoy the course materials. If you don’t like the class, move on to the next one until you find the right fit for you. Everyone learns differently, so you may prefer one platform over another.

Of course, you also may find that you don’t enjoy human resources at all, which is a good thing to know before you invest in a four year degree. Remember to keep an open mind about your future. 

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