Human Resources and Employment Relations (Master of Professional Studies)

Penn State’s Human Resources and Employment Relations master degree program is designed for experienced HR or labor professionals.

Students in the program will deepen their knowledge in topics such as employment law, compensation, collective bargaining, and staffing, and will be better positioned to enter a variety of positions in upper-level human resource management or labor relations.

Optional Pages: 

You can connect with the human resources and employment relations program through some of our social media outlets.

Penn State's Department of Labor Studies and Employment Relations website


Our Facebook pages give you the opportunity to connect with other students and alumni from the program. This also gives the department a forum to share pictures, announcements, and videos.

We have two Facebook pages:


You can use our LinkedIn group to keep up-to-date on the happenings in the human resources and employment relations field. Joining the LinkedIn group will allow you to:

  • meet other Penn State LER alumni and current students
  • start discussions, pose questions, and submit responses
  • share relevant news or articles with your colleagues
  • search for and post jobs or internships that you or others may be interested in

If you are a member of LinkedIn, simply search groups for Penn State Department of Labor Studies and Employment Relations. This group is private, so you will have to request to join, and once an administrator has approved your request, you will have access to all the resources within the group.

Contact Us

We welcome questions and comments. Please feel free to contact us at the information listed below:

Trisha Everhart, Graduate Program Coordinator
Trisha is the graduate program coordinator for the MPS program. She coordinates the admissions process, handles record-keeping, and assists with scheduling. She can also help answer your questions about the program. Contact her at or 814-865-0747.

Amy Dietz, Academic Adviser/Program Manager
Amy is the program administrator and adviser for the MPS in HRER Program. You can contact her with your questions about requirements, course schedules, registration, or anything else related to the program, at or 814-863-4026.

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Transfer Credits

The Department of Labor Studies and Employment Relations will accept transfer credits from an external institution if the courses adhere closely with the MPS in HRER curriculum. In addition, the following criteria must be met:

  • the credits appear on the graduate transcript of a regionally accredited university
  • the credits were earned within the last five years
  • you have a grade of B or higher in the completed courses (B- not acceptable)
  • the credits cannot have been used to earn any other degree

If the above criteria are met, you should email Trisha Everhart ( a copy of your transcript—along with a copy of the syllabus—or a detailed course description when a syllabus is not available. The graduate program director will determine whether the course(s) transfer and if so, which courses they replace in the HRER curriculum. We will accept a maximum of only 6 credits for transfer.

Before we can process the transfer you must first be registered and have paid for your first class. In order to process the transfer, you will need to have the university send us an officially sealed transcript.

Credit for Noncredit Coursework

We cannot accept noncredit course work in place of MPS in HRER credits. This is because it is difficult for us to evaluate the quality of, and work involved in, such programs. Noncredit training programs offer training on a wide range of issues. Unfortunately, these types of programs vary widely.

Grade Policy

The Graduate School at Penn State requires that as a master's student, you must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in order to graduate and to remain in good academic standing. Educate yourself on the complete policy by viewing Penn State’s master’s degree requirements

If you receive a failing grade (D or F) in any course, that course cannot be used to meet your degree requirements; therefore, you would be required to retake the course. However, the failing grade would remain on your transcript and factor into your overall GPA.

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Academic Success

Penn State has recently adopted a requirement that all graduate students must complete Scholarship and Research Integrity (SARI) Training in order to meet the requirements for graduation. For MPS students, this involves five hours of out-of-class, online discussion about the ethical responsibilities that accompany the research process. 

If you were accepted to the program prior to fall 2009 and have completed at least one course, you are exempt from this requirement. If you were accepted to the program in fall of 2009, or after, you are required to complete the SARI Training prior to graduation.

To sign up for SARI training, contact Trisha Everhart at; she will enroll you in the next offering of the program. 

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HRER 894: Capstone Course

You must have completed all other courses required for the program before registering for HRER 894, the capstone course. If you are required to take only 6 credits, an exception to the prerequisite requirement can be requested.

Course Description

You will design and present an action research project based on a real-world challenge, while working with a faculty adviser and an executive mentor. You will conceive, design, and present a research project—using elements from courses you have taken in the HRER program—to analyze a business or labor challenge and recommend a proposed solution.

The project has to be a new initiative and cannot be a recycled project. This research project is to be designed in a methodical and systematic manner.  

Course Objectives

The purpose of this course is to provide you with a culminating experience in preparation for entry into or advancement in the field of human resources and employment relations.

If you have further questions about the course, please email Professor Tom Hogan at

HRER Summer Course

One-Week, Intensive Summer Courses

In order to offer our online masters students the opportunity to take an on campus, face to face course with HRER faculty and fellow students, as well as to visit the University Park campus, the department offers optional one week, intensive summer courses. With students scattered across the country, the one week, intensive summer courses allows MPS in HRER students to experience campus life while completing a 3 credit required course in the program in a short period of time.

Course Expectations

The one-week intensive MPS courses allows you to complete approximately two-thirds of the course work during one week on campus. You complete the remainder of the work online prior to and after the one week in-residence. In order to complete this much of the work in one week, class is scheduled for six hours over five days (although each class day will include a variety of activities, e.g. lecture, case studies, and individual and team exercises). You will also be expected to work approximately two hours each day outside of the classroom. Because of this intensive schedule, you are only allowed to take one in-residence course.

Tuition and Fees

Tuition is the same as for any other MPS course. However, you should plan on additional costs for accommodations, meals, and transportation. You are free to make your own arrangements for accommodation, but we recommend that you stay on campus in the University's newest dorm complex. Single rooms sharing a bathroom with an adjoining single room are available at a cost substantially below that of a hotel room. This option is available only to singles; students bringing spouses or children for the week should make other arrangements. Please refer to the tuition estimator for further cost details.


You will need to provide a $100 registration fee in order to sign up for the course. Students will be added to the course roster as applications are received. Once all seats in a course are filled, we will close registration. The $100 registration fee will cover the cost of two group dinners, a reception, and other events during the week. It will only be refunded if you cancel up to 45 days prior to the first day of classes. The deposit will not be refunded for cancellations after that date.

For further information on registration, please contact Erin Hetzel at

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Additional Course Information
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Additional Course Information
Tuition Info: 

Tuition rates are for the 2014–15 academic year and are assessed every semester of enrollment.

  • If you are taking less than 12 credits per semester: $815 per credit
  • If you are taking 12 or more credits per semester (flat rate): $9,780
Information Technology Fee: 

The information technology fee is assessed each semester and is automatically added to your semester bill in eLion.

  • 9 or more credits: $252
  • 5 to less than 9 credits: $189
  • Less than 5 credits: $86
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<p>The Master of Professional Studies in Human Resources and Employment Relations (HRER) is a <strong>33-credit master&#39;s degree for professionals already working in human resources/employment relations field or those with a strong, fundamental understanding of HRER.</strong> A typical student will take one or two 3-credit courses per semester.</p> <p>The human resources and employment relations master&#39;s degree is designed to help you:</p> <ul> <li>understand the roles that employers, employees, unions, and government play in the employment relationship</li> <li>analyze the complex personal, legal, and organizational issues inherent in this relationship</li> <li>understand the ethical dimensions of human resource and employment relations</li> <li>analyze complex employment issues</li> <li>administer labor and human resource systems</li> </ul> <p>Your course work culminates in a capstone class in which you will demonstrate an understanding of the curriculum and apply it to your professional areas of interest in human resources and employment relations.</p> <h3 class="p-subhead">Optional Intensive Courses</h3> <p>Each summer, the Master of Professional Studies in Human Resources and Employment Relations offers a selection of the core program courses as five-day intensive courses at Penn State&#39;s University Park campus in State College, Pennsylvania. This unique blended course experience allows you to fulfill a three-credit course requirement in a condensed format while experiencing campus life at Penn State.</p> <p>Class activities such as lectures, case studies, and individual and team exercises will be scheduled for six hours each day, and you may also be required to complete additional assignments outside of the classroom. Approximately two-thirds of the course work for a course will be completed during the five days you are on campus, with some preparation work required before arriving on campus, and a follow-up project to be completed after the week concludes. Because of this intensive schedule, you are only permitted to take one in-residence course at a time.</p> <p>While this is not a required aspect of the master&#39;s degree program, students are encouraged to take advantage of this excellent opportunity to interact and network with your peers and the faculty and staff for the program. More information about registration for these intensive courses will be available upon your acceptance to the degree program.</p> <h3 class="p-subhead">Earn HRCI Recertification Credits</h3> <p><img alt="HRCI-Approved Provider" src="/sites/default/files/HRCI-approved-provider-seal-small.jpg" style="width: 150px; height: 136px; float: right; " title="Penn State is an HRCI-Approved Provider" />The Master of Professional Studies in Human Resources and Employment Relations is an Approved Provider of the HR Certification Institute. Any course you successfully complete in the program can grant you <strong>45 credits</strong> you can use toward your&nbsp;PHR, SPHR, and GPHR recertifications. For a list of our courses, visit the <a href="internal:degrees-and-certificates/human-resources-and-employment-relations-masters/course-list" title="HRER course list page">Course List</a>&nbsp;page.</p> <p><em>The use of this seal is not an endorsement by the HR Certification Institute of the quality of the program. It means that this program has met the HR Certification Institute&#39;s criteria to be pre-approved for recertification credit.</em></p>
Course List: 

The master of professional studies in human resources and employment relations (HRER) consists of eight required courses (24 credits) and three elective courses (9 credits). Two of your elective courses (6 of the 9 credits) will determine your area of concentration for the HRER master's degree.

While the program is designed to be a part-time program that can be finished over two to four years, it may be possible to complete the program in less time by carefully planning your progress.

It is the intention of the program to offer all courses every semester. You may speak with your adviser about how the course offerings each semester can best match your individual schedule.

This program is an Approved Provider of the HR Certification Institute. All of the courses listed below can grant you 45 credits toward your PHR, SPHR, or GPHR recertifications.

Required Courses (24 credits)
Title Abbreviation Description Credits
Labor and Employment Law HRER 501 Legal context of employment in the United States. 3 credits
Seminar in Employment Relations HRER 504 Theory, process, and issues of industrial relations, including collective bargaining and contract administration. 3 credits
Seminar in Human Resources HRER 505 Current human resource topics in the context of organizational strategy, planning, and responsibility. 3 credits
International and Comparative Employment Relations HRER 800 This course examines employment relations systems in the world today and the influence of globalization on employment relations practice. 3 credits
Organizations in the Workplace HRER 802 This course provides students with an overview of selected managerial behavior and career topics in modern organizations. 3 credits
Labor Market Analysis


Strategic Business Tools for HRER Professionals
HRER 816


HRER 825
Neoclassical economic and institutional theoretical perspectives on labor supply, demand for labor, internal labor markets, wage determination and labor policies.
This course connects Business Strategy, Financial Tools, and HR to an organization's strategic business objectives.
3 credits
Diversity in the Workplace HRER 836 This course examines workplace diversity, gender, and race challenges facing employers and employees, and the skills for managing diversity. 3 credits
Research Project HRER 894 Supervised student activities on research projects identified on an individual or small-group basis. 3 credits
Elective Courses (select 9 credits, 6 of which correspond to an area of concentration)
Title Abbreviation Description Credits
The Law of Labor-Management Relations LER 401 Development of Anglo-American law regulating collective bargaining, with emphasis on American labor-management relations under Wagner, Taft-Hartley, and other acts. 3 credits
Employment Compensation LER 424 Development and management of employee compensation systems. 3 credits
Employee Benefits LER 425 The examination of employee benefits programs used by employers to meet the welfare needs of employees and their families. 3 credits
Staffing and Training LER 426 This course focuses on the theory and practice of human resource staffing and training in organizations. 3 credits
Labor Relations in the Public Sector LER 435 Analysis of labor relations problems within different areas of public employment. 3 credits
Workplace Dispute Resolution LER 437 This course examines dispute resolution procedures in unionized and nonunion workplaces. 3 credits
Workplace Safety and Health: Principles and Practices LER 444 This course focuses on the roles of employees, unions, employers, and government in addressing work-related safety and health issues. 3 credits
Ethics Seminar LER 460 Critical investigation of philosophical problems in ethics and viability of historical and contemporary ethical positions; course content varies with instructor. 3 credits
Work-Life Practices and Policies LER 472 This course addresses the reasons this field developed, relevant theoretical perspectives regarding the issues, and related problems as well as proposed solutions at both the public and private sector levels. 3 credits
Labor and Employment Law II HRER 811 Acquire practical knowledge that HR practitioners need to deal with governmental regulation of the U.S. workplace.

Prerequisite: HRER 501
3 credits
Needs Assessment for Industrial Trainers WF ED 573 Acquire skills to identify training and development needs, distinguish problems with management versus training solutions, develop and evaluate training solutions. 3 credits

Areas of concentration (student must complete one):

Benefits and Compensation
Title Abbreviation
Seminar in Human Resources HRER 505
Employment Compensation LER 424
Employment Benefits LER 425
Research Project HRER 894
Labor and Collective Bargaining
Title Abbreviation
Seminar in Employment Relations HRER 504
Law of Labor-Management Relations LER 401
Labor Relations in the Public Sector LER 435
Research Project HRER 894
Employment and Labor Law
Title Abbreviation
Labor and Employment Law HRER 501
Law of Labor-Management Relations LER 401
Labor and Employment Law II HRER 811
Research Project HRER 894
Staffing, Training, and Development
Title Abbreviation
Seminar in Human Resources HRER 505
Staffing and Training LER 426
Needs Assessment for Industrial Trainers WF ED 573
Research Project HRER 894


Program Title: 
Human Resources and Employment Relations
Title Description: 
Master of Professional Studies
Page Title (meta): 
Human Resources and Employment Relations Master's Degree
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