Online Human Resources Associate Degree | Penn Foster College

Online Human Resources Management Degree

Get financial and academic credit for previous classes taken.

Learn more about our
transfer credit policy and process.

Program Overview

Learn the skills relevant to the growing field of human resources management. As a student in Penn Foster College’s Human Resources Management Associate Online Degree Program, you’ll learn how to perform key human resources functions, such as hiring, training, and compensating employees.

This program can also help you understand how to handle the various types of challenges that human resources professionals are faced with everyday by learning fundamental concepts in business, law, management, and accounting. You’ll even have the chance to complete hands-on activities and research assignments to practice what you’re learning and hone your new skills!

Associate Degrees from Penn Foster College are awarded under licensing from the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education.

Curriculum Details

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal

To prepare students for entry-level employment in human resources management and provide a foundation for further training.

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate effective written and interpersonal communication skills.
  • Demonstrate a high level of inquiry, analytical, and problem-solving skills.
  • Demonstrate effective quantitative skills.
  • Demonstrate computer and information literacy.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the liberal arts, natural sciences, and social sciences.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the principles and processes involved in the functional areas and the need for collaboration among the different functions.
  • Discuss the management function and its application to the business organization.
  • Understand the steps of the accounting cycle and utilize financial document information as a management planning tool.
  • Discuss and apply ethical and legal standards to the business environment.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of economics and the business economy.
  • Discuss the fundamentals of human resources as they relate to the business environment .
  • Describe the basic components, development, implementation, and maintenance of a total compensation package.
  • Describe the legally required social insurance programs for employees in the United States, the difference between group and individual insurance, and the requirements for qualified pension plans.
  • Discuss the interaction between organized labor unions and company management pertaining to rights and responsibilities, negotiations, and collective bargaining.
  • Explain accepted theories regarding training and the management of the training function in organizations; identify successful and unsuccessful training practices.

Semester 1

Basic Skills Assessment

All degree applicants are required to complete two Basic Skills Assessments, one in reading and one in math, to determine their level of readiness for beginning their selected program. Additional studies may be required.

BUS100 Business Orientation 1 credit

Succeed by learning how to use your Penn Foster program, and learn how to effectively manage your time, talents, and resources in your personal life, academics, and in your career.


  • Understand how to use your Student Portal, including your My Homepage and My Courses pages.
  • Access the Penn Foster Community and use it to find answers.
  • Connect with Penn Foster on various social media sites.
  • Examine your individual life goals and the steps needed to fulfill them.
  • Recognize how your personal financial goals mirror that of most businesses.
  • Use time management skills to make the most of your day.
  • Determine personal financial goals.
  • Set up a typical budget.
  • Explain why creative thinking, research, planning, gathering resources, and production and marketing are vital for the start-up and maintenance of a business.
ENG103 Information Literacy 1 credit

Get better at finding and using information!


  • Search the Internet more effectively.
  • Get tips about search engines and reliable websites.
  • Learn how to search libraries and other information centers for important, useful information.

Graded Project

BUS101 Introduction to Business 3 credits

This course is designed to introduce you to basic business concepts, theories, and perspectives. It will serve as a basis for further learning in your program.


  • Understand the principles of business ethics and basic economics.
  • Compare the different types of business ownership.
  • Describe the basics of organizational structure.
  • Identify the differences between management and leadership.
  • Understand the importance of information technology in today’s business environments.

Textbook: Introduction to Business

BUS110 Principles of Management 3 credits

This course will review the functions of management and its role in planning, leading, organizing, motivating, and controlling.


  • Define and correctly use business terms.
  • Explain the importance of communication.
  • Identify the steps of managerial decision making.
  • Explain the relevance of the basic skills required by managers.
  • Describe major components of various management perspectives.
  • Discuss the ever-increasing employee diversity and the management activities required for the changing workforce.

Textbook: Management: A Real World Approach

HUM102 Art Appreciation 3 credits

This course will provide you with the foundational knowledge needed to critique a variety of artwork.


  • Understand artistic media.
  • Identify historical periods and artistic movements.
  • Explain the roles of the artist and the viewer.
HRM201 Human Resources Management 3 credits

Learn the basics of human resources management and practices.


  • Discover techniques for selecting, placing, assessing, developing, and compensating employees.
  • Examine other HR goals and processes, such as labor relations, employee rights and disciplinary procedures, and high-performance work systems.

Research Assignment

Textbook: Fundamentals of Human Resource Management

MAT106 Mathematics for Business and Finance 3 credits

This course will hone your math skills so you are able to successfully use them in business and finance industries.


  • Use percentages, discounts, and interest formulas effectively.
  • Analyze present worth and sinking funds.
  • Understand how to buy in installments and price merchandise.
  • Explain depreciation, insurance, equations, and formulas.
  • Discuss investments and statistics.

Textbook: Practical Business Math Procedures

Proctored Examination

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

Semester 2

CSC104 Computer Applications 3 credits

This course will allow you to build your computer skills through a combination of reading and hands-on practice. You will navigate popular software tools such as Windows® and Microsoft® Office.


  • Create, edit, and illustrate Microsoft® Word™ documents.
  • Apply formulas and functions to large data sets in Microsoft® Excel.®
  • Incorporate useful charts and graphs to summarize data.
  • Add, delete, sort, and lay out table data.
  • Create presentations in Microsoft® PowerPoint® using advanced tools, tables, and charts.
ENG100 English Composition 3 credits

This course will allow you to polish and enhance your writing skills.


  • Effectively use free writing and brainstorming.
  • Perfect your ability to edit and revise your writing.
  • Apply techniques for getting the reader’s attention.
  • Write descriptive essays, first-person narratives, reflective essays, persuasive essays, and effective thesis statements.

Textbook: Successful College Writing

Supplement: The Little, Brown Essential Handbook

Arts and Humanities Elective (Choose one) 3 credits

HUM104 - Music Appreciation

This course will allow you to understand and appreciate the art of music.


  • Identify the basic principles of music theory, including melody, harmony, dynamics, and timbre.
  • Name the main types of musical instruments.
  • Distinguish various styles of music.
  • Identify influential composers of various periods of musical history.

ENG115 - Introduction to Literature 

This course will allow you to develop your critical thinking skills and broaden your knowledge of literature.


  • Identify themes and forms of literature.
  • Define the main genres of literature—poetry, fiction, and drama.
BUS213 Business Law 1 3 credits

This course is an introduction to the legal environment of business. Topics covered include American court practice and procedure, alternative dispute resolutions, employment law, business organization and regulation, contract law, and agency relationships.


  • Explain the sources of law.
  • Discuss the judicial process and alternative dispute resolution.
  • Describe different forms of business organization and their characteristics.
  • Explain the elements of contracts and rules pertaining to contracts.
  • Explain the law of agency and laws concerning employment.

Textbook: Business Law

BUS214 Business Law 2 3 credits

This course will complete the exploration of the legal aspects of business that you began with in Business Law 1.


  • Handle legal matters dealing with wills, trusts, and estates.
  • Understand laws pertaining to ownership, leasing, and transfer of property.
  • Write sales and lease contracts.
  • Identify the rights of secured and unsecured creditors and the consequences of bankruptcy.
  • Describe the principles of torts and criminal law as they relate to business.
  • Explain laws pertaining to ownership and transfer of property Describe the general principles involved in wills, trusts, and estates
  • Discuss the formation of sales and lease contracts and the legal issues arising from those types of contracts
  • Explain the purpose and types of negotiable instruments and the role they play in business
  • Explain the rights of secured and unsecured creditors and the consequences of bankruptcy
  • Define risk management and discuss the purpose of different types of insurance, including life, property, automobile, and health
  • Discuss the principles of torts, the different types of torts, and criminal law as it relates to business
HRM355 Training Concepts 3 credits

This course provides a synthesis of accepted theory regarding training and the management of the training function in organizations and an examination of successful and unsuccessful training practices.


  • Learn the strategic planning process, its components, and their relationships.
  • Get theoretical approaches to learning and the importance of a training needs analysis.
  • Write effective learning objectives.
  • Discover the strengths and weaknesses of different training delivery methods.
  • Identify elements of the development and implementation of training.
  • Learn best practies in various training areas.
  • Discover different types of management development.

Research Assignment

Textbook: Effective Training

Proctored Examination

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

Semester 3

SSC130 Essentials of Psychology 3 credits

This course will introduce you to the relationship between biology and behavior. You will learn about human development throughout the life span.


  • Identify major psychological theories.
  • Discuss consciousness, memory, thought, and language.
  • Define intelligence, personality, and stress.
  • Analyze the role of gender in psychology.
  • Explain how community influences behavior.

Textbook: Psychology and Your Life

ACC111 Financial Accounting 3 credits

This course will allow you to develop a basic understanding of the principles of financial accounting. 


  • Understand important accounting principles and concepts in order to prepare basic financial statements.
  • Understand the fundamentals of bookkeeping while using the general journal, general ledger, and trial balance to prepare financial statements.
  • Account for inventory, the use of different inventory costing methods, and their effects on financial statements.
  • Distinguish between different liabilities and account for and report current liabilities and long-term debt on the balance sheet.
  • Prepare a statement of cash flows using the direct and indirect methods and evaluate the company’s performance as it relates to cash.

Textbook: Financial Accounting

HRM210 Compensation Management 3 credits

Discover the basic components of a total compensation package (salary, bonus, and benefits).


  • Explore the development, implementation, and maintenance of a program.
  • Analyze the impact of internal and external equity.
  • Examine additional factors that must be considered for the overall success of a program.

Research Project

Textbook: Compensation

ENG121 Business and Technical Writing 3 credits

Learn how to write business and technical documents.


  • Organize your material logically and systematically.
  • Use action verbs effectively and construct paragraphs.
  • Conduct research and document sources.
HRM320 Employee Benefits 3 credits

This course examines employer and employee objectives for benefit plans.


  • Discover legally required social insurance programs for employees in the United States.
  • Learn about the characteristics of group insurance and individual insurance in the categories of life, medical, dental, and disability.
  • Compare managed care plans with traditional medical expense plans.
  • Study the general requirements that must be met by qualified pension plans with respect to eligibility and plan coverage; nondiscrimination in benefits and contributions; funding; vesting; limitations on benefits and contributions; payout restrictions; and top-heavy rules.
  • Learn the difference in pension benefit formulas.
  • Discover general features of pension funding instruments and when each might best be used.
  • Interpret qualified and nonqualified pension plans.

Research Assignment

Textbook: Employee Benefits

BUS121 Economics I 3 credits

This course provides an overview of macroeconomics and the modern market economy. You will learn about economy-wide phenomena such as unemployment, national income, and price levels.


  • Identify the basic function of economics in our society
  • Examine various economic tradeoffs that people face
  • Explain the laws of supply and demand
  • Use the concept of elasticity to explain changes in a market
  • Discuss the pros and cons of trade restrictions
  • Calculate and interpret the unemployment rate and the labor-force participation rate
  • Describe the notion of deadweight loss and its relevance to taxes
  • Draw and interpret short-run and long-run Phillips curves
  • Explain why economists focus on GDP, inflation, and unemployment when assessing economic health
  • Describe how comparative advantage and specialization affect international trade
  • Describe how differences between world prices and domestic prices prompt exports and imports
  • Describe how changes in income affect consumption and saving

Textbook: Macroeconomics

Proctored Examination

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

Semester 4

MAT115 Intermediate Algebra 3 credits

This course introduces basic algebraic concepts that you’ll need to be successful in your career.


  • Understand the systems of equations, polynomials, and radicals.
  • Factor polynomial expressions.
  • Simplify rational expressions.
ENG200 Speech 3 credits

This course provides students with a foundation in the basic concepts of public speaking. Students will learn how to research, organize and write effective speeches, incorporate presentation aids, and rehearse and deliver speeches effectively. Students will prepare, rehearse, record and submit speeches in a number of rhetorical styles to be graded.


  • Demonstrate knowledge of the importance and benefits of public speaking
  • Demonstrate knowledge of communication apprehension, identify the causes of communication apprehension, and apply strategies to overcome communication apprehension
  • Identify the audience for a speech
  • Identify the purpose of a speech, select a topic and write a thesis, plan supporting materials and organize a speech effectively
  • Use research and presentation aids appropriately and effectively
  • Prepare speeches in different rhetorical styles, including narrative, informative and persuasive
  • Identify and develop effective delivery and presentation techniques through practice and rehearsal
MAT210 Business Statistics 3 credits

This course will provide you the opportunity to explore statistics and how they affect business.


  • Interpret and present data.
  • Analyze frequency distribution, averages, dispersion, and index numbers.
  • Conduct time series analysis.
  • Forecast business.
  • Apply the theory of probability and statistical inference.

Textbook: Statistics for Business and Economics

HRM350 Labor Relations 3 credits

This course examines the interaction between organized labor unions and company management pertaining to rights and responsibilities, negotiations, and collective bargaining.


  • Learn the current trends in labor organization in light of changes in the labor force, such as the trend toward a two-tier wage system.
  • Discover why workers join unions and why management is sometimes not enthusiastic about unions.
  • Study the long struggle to establish the voice of organized labor in America from the nineteenth century to the present.
  • Discover the relationship between national and local unions.
  • Learn characteristics of the collective bargaining process and why early negotiations are marked by exaggerated demands.
  • Study variables that impact labor management negotiations
  • Find out the two major approaches to wage adjustments: escalator clauses and wage reopeners.
  • Study the nature of concessionary bargaining on the part of organized labor.
  • Study administrative issues under collective bargaining, including the role of seniority and affirmative action.

Research Assignment

Textbook: Labor Relations

Science Elective (Choose one) 3 credits

SCI110 - Earth Science

This course will allow you to learn about planet Earth and the various aspects of the environment.


  • Describe specific characteristics of Earth.
  • Describe different types of rocks and minerals.

SCI120 - Introduction to Biology

This course will allow you to explore the origin of life and the relationships among all living things.


  • Explain how organisms are structured and how they work.
  • Discuss the various forms of life and their processes.

SCI140 - Nutrition

This course will allow you to develop a healthier lifestyle by making smarter nutritional decisions.


  • Explain the various components of nutrition as a science.
  • Describe nutrition from a global viewpoint.
  • Understand the importance of water and exercise.
  • Identify the basics of human growth and aging.
  • Discuss food safety procedures.
BUS340 Organizational Behavior 3 credits

This course provides an overview of management approaches.


  • Learn the process of human decision-making.
  • Study conflict management, communication in groups, power and influence, and organizational environment, structure, and design.
  • Learn about the fundamental forces of change.
Proctored Examination

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

Computer Specifications
You will need high-speed internet access to begin your program. You will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows® 7 or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running OS X® or later, Microsoft® Office 2013, and an email account to complete your program with Penn Foster.

Graduation Requirements

  • Complete all 4 semesters.
  • Pass all courses.
  • Achieve a cumulative Quality Point Average (QPA) of 2.0 or higher.

NOTE: Advanced standing student shipments may vary from the above schedule.
Although this outline covers all four semesters of your program, you receive lesson materials for each semester as you enroll.
We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Credits earned in Penn Foster programs may transfer to some, but not all, learning institutions. If you are planning to continue your education with another school after you earn your degree from Penn Foster, you should check with that school regarding credit transfer policies.
Microsoft, Windows, Excel, and PowerPoint are registered trademarks and Word is a trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and OS X are trademarks of Apple, Inc. registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.

Sample Lesson

To view a Human Resources Management sample lesson, click here.

Human Resources Management Program Details

In the Penn Foster Human Resources Management Associate Online Degree Program you’ll cover how to:

Associate Degree Human Resources Degree Program

The Online Human Resources Management Degree Program will teach students to keep employee information secure, provide updates on law standards for safety, health, equal employment and wages, and run the hiring and termination process for a company. Here are a few qualities that skilled human resources managers have in common:

  • Honest: Handling employees’ issues and concerns requires that you are ethical and responsible.
  • Amicable: It’s important to be welcoming and approachable for other employees.
  • Flexible: You are able to handle stressful situations in a calm and productive way.
  • Organized: A business has a lot of moving pieces to keep on track.

Penn Foster has a great faculty and staff that truly care about the well-being of their current and future students. Penn Foster has truly helped me obtain my degree through distance learning. I am a military spouse and, up until my last semester, I worked full-time and the convenience to be able to work at my own pace is excellent. My shipments are always on time and I never had any problems with getting the answers I needed regarding my coursework. Penn Foster has given me a life and a career. I feel joy to be graduating in just a few short months and I'm very happy knowing Penn Foster provided me with the knowledge I need to excel in my career. Don't think twice... please enroll today!

- Shantell P., Penn Foster College Graduate

Having a degree will increase my chances of being put at the top of the promotion list. I suggest Penn Foster programs all of the time to my coworkers. I am in the military, and Penn Foster is a very military-friendly school. I got all of my materials shipped to me while I was overseas for deployment.

- Amy G., Penn Foster College Graduate

After earning my degree I received a pay increase and a promotion to a supervisor position. The instructors are superb, helpful, and are there with you every step of the way. Also, the student services representatives are courteous and understanding; they are there to answer any questions you may have. After each assignment I completed, the staff of Penn Foster always had encouraging statements that helped me to stay on course. Congrats to Penn Foster College on being the best and bringing the best out of me.

- Shawn C., Penn Foster College Graduate

Your program includes:

  • Customized payment plans with 0% interest
  • Books and learning aids
  • Goal-setting and progress-tracking tools
  • Instructional support from our experienced faculty
  • Access 24/7 to Penn Foster’s online community, plus immediate membership in the Human Resources Management academic group
  • Your personalized online student homepage and learning portal
  • Additional resources such as our online library and career guidance from Career Cruising

What is the difference between Penn Foster College's Human Resources Management Associate Degree, Undergraduate Certificate in Human Resources, and Human Resources Management Essentials Certificate?

The difference between the three credentials (Associate Degree, Undergraduate Certificate, and Certificate), is based on the amount of coursework that is required to earn each credential. The Penn Foster College Associate Degree requires the most coursework, with the Penn Foster College Essentials Certificate having the least. The Penn Foster College Undergraduate Certificate credits are transferable to the Penn Foster College Associate Degree Program, and the Penn Foster College Essentials Certificate credits are transferable to both the Penn Foster College Undergraduate Certificate and Penn Foster College Associate Degree Programs.

Will my Penn Foster College credits transfer to other schools?

Penn Foster College credits have been accepted for transfer into many colleges across the country. Students should check with a specific college to see if they accept our credits, as credit transfer can vary depending on the school. Also, the American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT) has evaluated and recommended college credit for many Penn Foster College courses. No form of accreditation guarantees that any learning institution will accept credits from any school as transfer credits. For more information on transferring credits, click here.

More FAQs >

Find us on Google+