Your FAQs on HR graduate degrees answered

May 30, 2014

How to maximize your learning to stand out in the crowd to hiring managers

Why is the HR degree housed in the school of education?
The basic understanding of what drives this field is L&D in an organizational context. It’s about adult education and development and growth, and those things are grounded in what schools of education typically are about. In other countries we’ll see HR in other kinds of schools across campus, like management. But here in the US, most are in schools of education. Very few HR development programs are in schools of business.

What can I do with a HR development degree?
Anything having to do with learning and development, whether it’s face-to-face or helping people facilitate online training. We have quite a number of people who end up being chief learning officers. A lot of people become internal or external consultants to organizational practices. There are three main practice areas people go into: organizational development, HR development, and career development.

Where can it take my career?
A former student of mine had been a K-6 elementary school teacher before getting married, and wanted to go back to work, so she decided she wanted to do a Masters in HR development and take all that learning stuff from her previous job but apply it in a different context at the end of her Masters program. She took a portfolio of what she had learned from her Masters program and went to apply for a position at a very, very large international bank and immediately got the position of VP of career development for the Southwest region, having no other job and having been an elementary school teacher and having taken a break for 12 years. Because she was able to demonstrate what she had learnt, she was able to land a very high power position. So that’s the power of what a grad degree in this field can do.

Why should I choose Drexel?
One of the things we find is that working adults don’t have time to come into the city and get a degree, so an online degree can facilitate that learning without having to quit their job and without having to travel. Some online learning programs require that you actually be present in a synchronous environment, and while we have some synchronous ones, most of our programs are asynchronous, meaning you don’t have to be online at a part time every week. So if you’re working particular hours and you can’t attend at certain hours, you can still take a Drexel program, because we don’t have as many structured synchronous programs. You can take the classes at any time and you can access them from anywhere, so if you want to travel a lot you can still reach in and take this class. Most of our students are working adults who require a class that fits in with their busy schedule.

How much homework is standard?
Typically I say it’s at least as much if not more than a face-to-face class. I typically say if you’re doing a face-to-face class you’re doing three hours a week in class and at least three hours each week after class. It’s not any different in an online environment. You can access it whenever you want, but in order to do all the projects, you’re looking at at least the same amount of time: six hours a week, and it could be more than that, about eight hours per week. It’s not less rigorous, and it isn’t less time consuming. You have to structure your time in such a way that you can find the time to engage in lectures, in videos, in content you have to access. If I were budgeting for myself, I would budget at least six to eight hours per week, per class. Some people can do it in less, but I wouldn’t have been able to.

How many classes do most people take at a time?
We’re on a quarterly system, so there are 10 weeks per sector. We try to maximize the learning while minimizing the graded requirements: we don’t have a lot of frivolous assignments to fill time. Everything is very meaningful within that period of time. I would always recommend getting started with one per term the first time you’re going through it. There are some who take more than that, but I think two is a really manageable load if you’re working, especially if you manage your classes in such a way that you have similar kinds of topics at the same time. If you’ve got a class on foundations of adult learning, you might want to take at the same time another class that’s about learning in workplaces, or another foundation field. You want to take courses that have some cognitive overlap, so it makes it easier to pull from readings.

Why do people fail?
I’ve been teaching online for about 10 years, and there are two key things that people struggle with. First off is when they fail to turn in assignments. In a face-to-face class, it’s much easier for the professor to give those reminders. Online, if the student doesn’t happen to check in, the student doesn’t get that message. I have a few people that have not passed, but it’s because they didn’t turn in major milestone assignments. That lack of personal interaction means that you have to have the initiative to get online to get the interaction, and it doesn’t happen just face-to-face. The other biggest reason is there are lots of different learning styles that people have. Those who need the stimulation of the peer pressure of being with other individuals to engage them in interaction, they will also find it more challenging. You have to be disciplined to direct yourself to get online. Those who haven’t set a structured schedule for themselves, they’re going to struggle.

What’s a good way to face the challenges of online learning?
Just because we’re online doesn’t mean that making face-to-face connection with either your classmates or professors isn’t a good idea. If you’ve got a question, see if you can set up a face-to-face appointment. Try using Skype. Try to create opportunities that you can engage with other people in more ways than just the written word online. When you do that kind of thing, you will feel less alienated and less alone.

How do I know if an online degree is right for me?
Are you able to organize yourself to do something on a structured regular basis without having someone remind you? Are you someone that is comfortable with writing? You do need to be comfortable with sending and receiving written formats, and some people might have learning disabilities that might make it more challenging. You have to know you’re comfortable with reading and comfortable with reading a lot.

How competitive is the application process?
The Educational Doctorate program is very, very competitive. I’d say that maybe our last term roughly maybe 25% were accepted. The MBA’s not quite that selective but it’s pretty close. And the Human Resources Development Masters program, that one’s, going to be a little less selective.
When people are applying to our program, it’s good for them to know that in terms of the written section, you want to keep talking about what you do professionally, not a narrative. Talk about what you’re bringing to the program and what you’d like to do. That’s always much more competitive than a narrative piece. And as always, include a resume. Your experience is going to be an important piece coming into the program.

How far in advance do prospective students need to apply?
As soon as they know they want to do it. We do rolling admissions, which means as soon as people’s materials get in, we start to consider them. This is especially the case with cohorted programs like the Education Doctorate and the MBA. You can be a qualified applicant and get in by the deadline, and still not get in because the places were already filled. With the Masters, it’s not cohorted, but even so, it’s important to start early, especially if you want to use financial aid.
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How to maximize your learning to stand out in the crowd to hiring managers

Founded in 1891 in Philadelphia, Drexel University is a global research university ranked among the top 100 in the nation. Drexel is recognized for its focus on experiential learning, commitment to cutting-edge academic technology, and growing enterprise of use-inspired research.  Drexel University began offering online courses in 1996, a pioneer among institutions of higher education.  Today, Drexel Online provides over 100 degrees and certificates in a multitude of fields to aspiring students everywhere. Online programs include an MS in Human Resource Development, Master of Legal Studies – Human Resource Compliance Specialization, and more.  Learn more.